Sunday, December 31, 2006

Me and Moet

Oh man, I forgot how much I love this champagne. It's been two years since I've had a bottle. Last year I screwed up and didn't get one at all because I missed the wine store. Silly me, I thought the state ABC store would sell champagne and by the time I figured out that they didn't, it was too late.

I almost didn't get one this year even though I got to the right store in time. They had a whole wall of champagne and a few odd displays of special orders but I didn't see a single bottle of Moet. I had to ask the clerk who unearthed the last one from the very bottom of the display. The bottle was jammed up out of sight. I took it as a sign that 07 is going to be a good year for me.

Why is Moet so damned important, you ask? It's a fair question. I'm a superstitous person. I'm not naturally lucky so I have a slew of little odd traditions I've developed to increase my luck factor. One of them is that my last drink of the old year, and my first drink of the new, be Moet.

I love the stuff. It goes down smooth and easy and if it doesn't make a liar of me this year, you can get shit-faced drunk on it and still wake up without a hangover. How I came to love it so, is another story altogether.

How I Came to Stop Worrying and Love Moet

Having made several failed starts here, I'm finding it's hard to explain. To put it as simply as possible, I discovered over a course of failed relationships that long distance romances work the best for me. Thus it was that I lived in lovely downtown Noho, a seething hotbed of Peyton Place proportions of intrigue and casual opportunity, without ever having entered into a sexual union with a local guy. I made it a kind of unofficial rule because it simplified the politics of living downtown.

When I broke that embargo, being me, I did it in the most radical manner possible and entered into a torrid affair with my next door neighbor Jamie. And what a tumultous affair it was. It swung from bliss to the abyss more than once over the course of the year or two it went on. It was crazy and decadent and just so much fun. The affair ended well before we stopped being neighbors but our bond remained strong to this day.

You can't get me drunk enough to confess everything we did. All I'll tell you now is Jamie was an inventive lover and an endlessly entertaining companion. Together we invented the Moet Sunday Brunch for which we also invented the best dice game in the world - "5s" and "2s" - that none can lose but few understand.

The tradition survived the end of the affair and we kept it going until the day he left the hood. We both cried the day our paths finally diverged when he moved out of Randolph Place, but distance didn't break the bond we formed in those days and nights of reckless abandon. And so I created the New Year Moet tradition to honor that time in my life when for a brief moment, anything seemed possible. And I keep it every year so I don't stop believing that it's true.

Party of One

Well it looks like it's me and Mr. Moet ringing in the new year tonight. I just popped the cork and it's still as delicious as ever. I expect I'll make a dent in the bottle before midnight so expect some blogging while intoxicated as I ring out the new year.

How ever you're celebrating this evening, Happy New Year. If you're venturing away from home, have tons of fun but remember to drive defensively -- there's a lot of amateurs on the road.

Saturday, December 30, 2006

Slow day

I had to work today so nothing of import has happened to me. I did manage to get to town and buy an absurdly expensive bottle of champagne and I have the next three days off so I will be back.

On another note, I recently joined the local Freecycle chapter in the area, which I recommend for anyone who likes free stuff and doesn't mind used items. The list is pretty active but not overwhelming. It's mostly stuff I don't want but I did get four fabulous martini glasses and big red bucket so far and I was pretty tempted by this item today.
Offer: one pair of insulted bottoms, gray size l (38-40)
If it came in a black medium, I might have gone for it. It's not everyday someone offers you an insulted bottom. But then you have to find an appreciated top to go with it, so I passed.

Friday, December 29, 2006

Buyer beware

Sorry if I was bit dramatic last night about my important news. In the light of the day, this is only important if you were planning to get this video I told you about. Since I posted this, the subject came up on a discussion Iist I'm on and I've found out some things about the ex-narc who is running this site that warrants issuing a warning about dealing with him.

Let me say, I don't know this guy from Adam's cat and for all I know he could be legitimately interested in ending the war on some drugs, but from what I've heard he's been very sleazy about his marketing scheme and the more I hear about it, the more it feels like some kind of DEA sting.

To begin with, he got an enormous amount of MSM exposure on an out of the blue press release while the real reformers can barely get a mention. Now you can probably explain that away as the story has a good hook. It's more interesting to hear about an ex-cop who wants to teach you to successfully break the law than say LEAP, who are working to change the laws but don't advocate breaking them. However, this guy Cooper is trying to trade on the non-profs within the reform community's work to promote his profit making scheme.

As I understand the story, Cooper came out of nowhere about three weeks ago and asked to join LEAP's speaker's bureau. He also asked, even before he was accepted as a speaker, whether he could use LEAP's name in promoting the video and was told unequivocally, that he could not. He also approached NORML with the same request and they also declined to be associated with his enterprise. Nonetheless, Cooper was interviewed extensively and falsely claimed to be a speaker for LEAP and at least implied that he had the endorsement of both organizations.

Furthermore, Cooper is only accepting credit cards as payment for the video. I understand he's claiming on his website that he's not keeping people's information but I have to ask if you can trust a guy who starts out by lying in order to sell his product. If he's also lying about how he'll handle your personal info, it would be a great way for law enforcement to track his customers. With a mailing addy and credit card info, they could find out everything about you and keep track of your habits. It's not much of a stretch to imagine the guy is really working for the DEA now.

As I pointed out on the discussion list, I have to question Cooper's sincerity about being concerned about the injustice of the drug laws. He's not trying to change the laws so no one ever gets busted again. He's trying to profit from the prohibition. It's really not in his best interest to see the WOsD end, because then no one would need his product. So while I'm all about people NOT getting busted and I would hope this guy has something legit to offer, I am NOT endorsing his video or his website and I urge people to be very careful if you decide to deal with him. It all feels very dicey to me.

Thursday, December 28, 2006

Sometimes you got it...

Sometimes you don't. I can't complain really because I've had so much time off this month but I put in a 12 hour day today on 5 hours of sleep and I'm fried. Even the afternoon coffee won't be able to keep me up tonight. I'm on my way to dreamland but I've got the morning off tomorrow and I have something important to tell you, so I'll be back.

Wednesday, December 27, 2006

Is there a doctor in the House?

I don't watch much television. I keep it on a lot for the soothing noise in the background but mostly it's on the Weather station, which is main reason I even pay for cable. I think I might be hooked on the Muzak on the 8s that comes with the local forecast. At night, I often switch to the station that has Law and Order reruns because I like the sound of the da-dum thingy and listening to lawyer talk in the background is kind of like comfort food to my ears after all the years at the law firm. But in recent weeks, I've become completely hooked on the program House.

I have such a huge crush on the main character I wish he was real. There's something I find so utterly sexy about that curmudgeonly doctor. I can't put my finger on why. Maybe it's the caustic wit, the impossible analogies, his rebellious nature or maybe it's the look in his eyes and the music he listens to when he's alone with his thoughts at the end of the show.

Anyway I just love it but I often miss the program because it plays at 11:00 at night on the station I usually have on. I don't always manage to stay awake that long. So you can imagine my delight in finding out that I've been watching reruns and that the original episodes actually air at a decent hour on another station. I watched it last night instead of blogging, even though those are reruns as well, because they were of the new storyline which I think is terrific and they happen to fit into our theme here.

One of House's quirks is he pops Oxycotin like candy on account of chronic pain in his leg. I'm late coming into the show so I don't know the history of the ailment but he is obviously needs the meds for pain relief. In the new story line, he pisses off a cop when he is examining him and the cop has embarked on a total vendetta against House.

Now in the medical sense, the show is a complete fairy tale. In the real world, four doctors do not spend days and millions on every medical test known to man to diagnose some obscure ailment. Not to mention, the good doctor's residents would be more likely to come up with the diagnosis than he would, and he always is right in the end. But as far as the cop's persecution of him in the last few episodes I've seen, it reads like the DEA's playbook.

The cop arrested House on a drug DUI, He raided his house and took all his pills and is threatening his co-workers and freezing their assets in an attempt to get them to rat House out for faking prescriptions. In the real world, as poor Richard Paey found out, these tactics work.

Fortunately for the story line, it's not working on House's peers in the hospital. One expects eventually, the cop will come down with some obscure disease and only House will be able to save him -- the drama will be in whether he does it or lets the SOB die. I'm betting he'll save his life and the cop won't appreciate it but frankly, the cop character is so horrible you really want something bad to happen to him.

Meanwhile, on a related note, what's up with Christmas programming this year? I remember when the whole month of December was one big Christmas special after another. This year, I managed to catch Its a Wonderful Life -- and cried my eyes out at the end of course -- but there were no other classic Christmas movies. I even checked the listings looking for them.

I mean, I caught Miracle on 34th Street, but there was little else besides cheesy made for TV movies and that BB gun one that I've still never seen. No White Christmas with Bing Crosby. No Meet in St. Louis with Judy Garland. And even worse, No Scrooge movies. I used to love watching every version of that story -- my favorite is the Alistar Cook version -- and there wasn't a single one. What's up with that?

Tuesday, December 26, 2006

Happy Holidaze

Well I hope everyone had a good Christmas. I ended up spending most of the day and much of the evening with the family. We ended up having the big meal and I ate myself comatose by 9:00pm. I didn't get the hot air blimp I wanted, in fact I only got one real gift since the family just gave a little much needed extra cash but spending time with my loved ones in a relaxed state felt like a real present and nobody cooks a goose like they do at the homestead.

Much thanks to my friend Michael from Boston who sent me the most fabulous book on hummingbirds. It was nice to have something to open in the morning Mike and I had a great time leafing through the incredible photos. Perfect choice. You're still the best shopper I know.

Anyway, I hope all the gifts you gave and received were as good as mine and if they weren't -- well -- at least it's over for another year and now we have St. Patrick's Day and 4:20 to look forward to again. Meanwhile, blogging will be a little slow today. I'm nursing this little hangover from going a tiny bit overboard on the good ale last night.

Sunday, December 24, 2006

Merry Christmas

My Christmas wish for all of you is for a peaceful and joyous holiday season and a happy and prosperous New Year.

In the spirit of the day, I'll put aside weightier matters for a moment and offer you these lighter stories of the season. Here's a man who found the true meaning of Christmas. If only we could all keep such a spirit of giving throughout the year. And in remarkably good timing, yes there is such a thing as a virgin birth. We wish the mother and child all the best. And finally, on twist to the classic story, not a creature was stirring except for a mouse.

Thanks to Cher Ford-McCullough for the graphic. Cher has graciously made four pages of additional images available, free for the taking.

A green Christmas

Well we're in no danger of having a white Christmas here in the northern south. Yesterday I had the doors open in the afternoon and today was little chillier but I went out in just a fleece to do the last of the shopping. I ran down to the high class grocery store and bought my Christmas feast. It's amazing how little you get for fifty bucks when you're buying insanely expensive treats. But I got enough rich food to put myself into immediate cardiac arrest if I ate it all at once.

I'll be spending most of the day alone and I know I'm not going to want to cook much so I got exotic cheese, and big fat fresh olives and fancy bread and crackers. I figure I'll cook the brussels sprouts and the big potato which I plan to drown in butter, sour cream and fresh chives.

I opted out of the porto, even thought they had my favorite brand and settled on a nut brown ale from a local microbrewery that I've never tried. It was almost as expensive as the good port. They charge ridiculously expensive prices for beer in this state. Bud is cheap and Miller is practically free but everything else is outrageous, even run of the mill beers like Pete's and Saranac. Interestingly, the most overpriced are the Mexican beers. Modelo is more expensive than much better beers. Weird.

Lost my marbles

When I lived in Atlanta, besides being mugged at gunpoint, I was also robbed of everything of value I owned and many things only of value to me. All my photographs were taken. All my ballooning memorabilia including my crew t-shirts from the festivals. Those two things I still miss today. And even this many years later, once in a while I remember something else that was lost in that robbery.

For some reason, I just remembered my marble collection. I had an old goldfish bowl almost full of marbles that I collected over the years. Many of them I had found while walking or gardening. Some I bought. I had every kind of marble imaginable. Aggies and jennies and cat's eyes in a million different colors.

They were kind of a PITA to keep really. I used to have to wash the whole lot every once in a while because dust would collect in the open bowl and then I would hand dry every one, admiring its beauty as I tossed it back in.

It wasn't like I did anything else with them but today I wished they were still with me so I could scoop up handfuls and listen to the sound they made when I let them trickle through my fingers back into the bowl.

Everybody does drugs

It's like I've always said. Chances are, someone whom you like and even admire and whom you least suspect is using drugs.
WAYLAND TOWNSHIP, Mich. -- A government official and his wife were charged Friday with operating and maintaining a methamphetamine laboratory in their home.
And as is customary with well connected defendants, they will be celebrating Christmas at home.
He was released on a personal recognizance bond after being arraigned on two counts of operating and maintaining a meth lab and one count of possession.
Don't get me wrong. I have no objection to that but it's too bad the same can't be said of the many less connected, lower level offenders who will spending the holidays in jail.

Saturday, December 23, 2006

One man's idiot is another woman's genius

This guy Ron reminded me today of one of my great heroes, Larry the Lawn Chair Guy. Larry was a guy with a dream. He wanted to fly -- in a lawn chair. And he did it.

He attached a bunch of helium balloons to a lawn chair and flew off into the big blue with a CB radio, a BB gun and a six pack of beer. Okay, I made that last part up but he did fly, although as with most experimental flights, things didn't go entirely smoothly.

One supposes because he couldn't anchor all that helium on the ground, he had to get into lawn chair from the roof. He launched unexpectly early when the sharp edge of the roof eaves cut the tether lines. There were some tense moments when he disappeared into the fog, out of sight of his ground crew. Ron has a link of the audio from the flight and the exchanges with his girlfriend are priceless.

That was one dumb thing he did, launching on a foggy day. Any balloonist knows that you don't rise through cloud cover since you never know what's flying above it. But then again. Larry wasn't a pilot. He had no license to fly anything. Which was a good thing because the FAA was not amused and would have pulled his license if he had one. The pilots of the 737 that passed him in the sky didn't think it was all that funny either and really that was the other dumb thing he did. He went up to 14,000 feet. He could have killed a lot of people if he had collided with a passenger plane.

Fortunately, no one was hurt, he landed safely and enjoyed some notoriety post flight. He made the rounds on the talk show circuit for a while and even inspired another guy to duplicate the feat. Unfortunately, that was the high point of his life. His girlfriend left him, he went broke and ultimately commited suicide.

Nonetheless, Larry is hero of mine. You have to admire a guy with that kind of sense of adventure and what's not to like about a man who refuses to give up on his dream?

[graphic gratitude]

Friday, December 22, 2006

How Technotardy Am I?

Look, I'm no Luddite. I enjoy the basic creature comforts that technology has come to provide but I've always been a little suspicious of electronics. I'm always the last person to get the latest technotoy. So I don't have a Crackberry, I don't have an iPod, I don't even own a DVD player unless you count my laptop. Heck I didn't get a serious computer until about 2002 and I didn't break down and get a digitial camera until about a year ago. I never really learned how to use all the fancy features on either of those.

So I have this stove with a digital clock and timer on it. It's also self-cleaning. Since I never really cook, I don't know how to use anything but the burners and I've learned how to reset the clock after our frequent power outages here. Now the thing is, every once in a while, the built in timer has this little nervous breakdown and starts urgently beeping. The display shows some code that means nothing to me, but if I punch some buttons, it usually settles down. Sometimes I have to do it two or three times to get it to stop. But it always stops when I hit the right combo of choices -- which I never remember.

It started beeping today and nothing fixed it. All day long at oddly regular intervals it would beep once. No matter what combination of fiddling with features, could I get it to stop. I was thinking as I finally headed out to the grocery store, that I wasn't going to be able to sleep unless I put an end to that relentless beeping. I wondered how difficult it would be to pull the plug on the whole damn stove...

So I stop at the convenience store on my way out to get a lottery ticket and I hear the same beep. I thought it was the cash register. Then I'm in aisle four at the grocery store and I hear it again and finally realize it's coming from the bottom of my bag. It's my farookin cell phone. It's telling me I have a missed call. I didn't recognize the number and I couldn't figure out how to call from that screen. But I did push enough buttons to stop the noise.

Now that phone number is stuck in that little cell phone limbo. I will never be able to find again until I miss another call. This is how technolazy I am. I've had this phone for months and not only do I apparently occassionally inadvertently turn the ringer off, I still don't know how to use it. I don't know how to change screens or speed dial or even take pictures. Hell, I only have about a 90% success rate in actually making phone calls. Every once in a while I hit the wrong button.

It's not like I'm too dumb to learn, I'm just not motivated to try. Besides, I don't really need to. After almost two decades of relentless phone contact, I'm in a place in life that is blessedly free of phone calls. Sometimes that feels a litle lonely, but most of time, I'm kind of liking the quiet.

Justice served 16 years later

This is how dissent works. Tyrone Brown was sentenced to life in prison for smoking a joint while on probation for a petty crime in which he robbed some guy of two bucks. Needless to say he also commited the crime of being poor and black in Texas.

The judge who sentenced him, ignored the greater violations of a rich white defendant at around the same time. The TV show 20/20 picked up the story and a huge public outcry formed in support of Brown. The judge lost his reelection bid a short time later. He's now written a letter saying he agress with the prosecutor that the sentence should be rescinded. I expect the prosecutor has to answer to the voters as well.

This is how we're going to end the war. It's clear showing the politicians what they have to gain isn't working, but if we show them what they have to lose -- which is their cushy offices -- they're more likely to listen.

They come for peace

Thanks to the relentlessly funny Kvatch for reminding us it's Global Orgasm Day. I'll be sure to -- ahem -- do my part. Hope you all join in on the fun.

For the children - SWAT teams and sexual harrassment

Under the heading WTF? How can this be happening in America? A SWAT team descended on a high school student's home and confiscated $20,000 worth of electronics because he changed the headline of a story about a football game on the school website from "defeated" to "crushed." He didn't even hack into the site. His web design teacher gave him permissions so he could work on upgrading it. Couldn't they have just given him detention?

Even more incredible, During the 2005-06 school year, 28 kindergarten students in Maryland were suspended for sex offenses, including sexual assault, sexual harassment and sexual activity, according to state data. Are they effin' kidding me?

In my day they called it playing doctor and if you were caught, usually your parents gave you a spanking and sent you to your room for a couple of days. I wonder if these 5 year olds will have to register as sex offenders?

Ex narc instructs on how to beat the system

I don't know quite what to make of this.
TYLER, Texas - A one-time Texas drug agent described by his former boss as perhaps the best narcotics officer in the country plans to market a how-to video on concealing drugs and fooling police.

Barry Cooper, who has worked for small police departments in East Texas, plans to launch a Web site next week where he will sell his video, “Never Get Busted Again,” the Tyler Morning Telegraph reported in its online edition Thursday. A promotional video says Cooper will show viewers how to “conceal their stash,” “avoid narcotics profiling” and “fool canines every time.”

Cooper, who said he favors the legalization of marijuana, made the video in part because he believes the nation’s fight against drugs is a waste of resources. Busting marijuana users fills up prisons with nonviolent offenders, he said.

“My main motivation in all of this is to teach Americans their civil liberties and what drives me in this is injustice and unfairness in our system,” Cooper told the newspaper.
The website should be operating by Tuesday. Although it's a realistic position, I'm not sure it really helps the cause of reform to actively encourage drug use. It just gives the prohibs more ammunition to paint our "true agenda" as being solely about being able to legally use our favorite drugs and takes the focus off the wider social issues we're trying to address. However, I predict the site will be a rousing success.

UPDATE: Mike Smithson checks in to remind me that there are more cops out there fighting against the drug war. Actually, I thought immediately of LEAP when I read this too, but in contrast, they are putting forth a much more responsible and palatable message to the non-consumers. Personally I think they have the better approach but I'm betting this other site will be more immediately popular.

Cough syrup and crime

The annual study by the National Institute on Drug Abuse is unsurprising. It shows miniscule changes in teenage drug use. Illegal drug use is slightly down, Ritalin abuse is up. What else could expect when you start dosing the kids with the drug starting in kindergarten or earlier? But the big news is in OTC drug abuse. Get ready for the war on cough syrup. It's surely around the corner, now that the prohibitionists have declared it an epidemic.
In its own surveys, the Partnership has seen an increase over three years in the number of kids who said they get a buzz from cold medicine that contains dextromethorphan — commonly known as “Dex” or “skittles.”

“People may say this is a passing fad, but it represents a whole new tier of substance abuse,” Steve Pasierb, president and chief executive of the New York-based Partnership for Drug Free America said.
I had to laugh when I saw this last night. I tried drinking cough syrup as a teen. It was awful. I also fell for the urban legends that smoking banana peels and drinking nutmeg would get you high. Also awful and didn't work.

There's nothing new under the sun. The only thing this proves is that kids will try anything to get high because they want to see what it feels like. Parents should be praying their kids turn to pot for experimentation. It's the least toxic way to satisfy their curiosity.

Meanwhile, on a somewhat related note, Pat at Left Independent takes a look at the latest crime statistics and finds the nexus between the war on some drugs and the crime rate.

Thursday, December 21, 2006

Happy Solstice

Whew. It's the longest night of the year folks. We made it to another solstice. Starting tomorrow the sun will be winning again. It will take at least three weeks to really notice the difference but I'll be able to tell even tomorrow.

And how even more lucky, I'm home from work and looking at another six days off. I feel better already.

Wednesday, December 20, 2006

Guest Squirrel Post

Thanks to Scott who sent me these great photos and a sweet story to go with them. This is one very lucky Texas squirrel.

I especially like this story because my dear friends Karen and Annie had a similar experience and also saved a little grey's squirrel's life once. And besides, I really like squirrels. Maybe it's because of all the years I spent watching Rocky and Bullwinkle, but I find them much more fun than say, hamsters.

So back to the story, Scott was taking down a tree and found this little critter in a hollow branch. I happen to know, it's a lot of work to keep one of those little babies alive.

It's like having any other baby, with feedings around the clock and frequent checks on their comfort levels. It's a lot of work just to keep one tiny animal alive that going to face a thousand other dangers once it's back in the wild. But what are the choices? The wildlife refuge centers won't take squirrels...

I would done the same. But like I said, I like squirrels.

They're as amusing as kittens, chasing each other around in the yard. And they're easily tamed. We had one in our backyard when my daughter was little that eventually would take crackers and peanut butter right out of our hand.

And they're pretty smart. My Dad takes a walk in the same park every day and brings peanuts for the squirrels there. They recognize him and start running to meet him when they see him coming.

Oh wait, all I want for Christmas really... some petrified whale vomit.

Okay, hold the phone. The blimp is too expensive and let's face it, petrified whale vomit doesn't grow on trees, so maybe I should ask for this instead. Does that look like fun or what?

Tuesday, December 19, 2006

All I Want for Christmas... my own hot air blimp.

Sullum on marijuana

In his piece, Would Legal Marijuana Mean an Excise Tax Bonanza?,
Jacob Sullum tells us reformers have it all wrong. He says the exicise taxes won't be the economic boon it's being painted to be, and reformers would do better to focus on the savings in law enforcement. Since Sullum really did "write the book" on legalization, I tend to listen to what he has to say.

I think we've been doing that here already pretty much already. But I do think the tax benefits should also be taken into account. It's not just the excise taxes on the product that will create a postive tax flow, but also the businesses that will spring up to deliver the product will pay taxes on property and they will create employment, providing spendable income which would radiate into the larger economy. The wide ranging effects are almost all positive.

Guest fungi

This is growing in Bostick's yard. I'm not sure it's really a mushroom. I think it might really be an alien life form and if you get too close to it, that little tongue at the bottom may flick out like a frog's and shoot spores into your eyeballs.

Anyway, I'm on the work rotation through Thursday, so go over check out what else is springing up in Bostick's world while I put together a post. It's a lovely place, I promise you won't be disappointed.

Monday, December 18, 2006

Yes Virgina, there is Christmas spirit

The shopping trip was successful. The worst part was was the ride on the highway. I hate the highways here. Three to five lanes across and every lane filled with the throbbing trucks and weaving traffic. It's not fun to drive.

I was going to take the secondary road but I got a late start and the old Ford pickup in front of me, with an even older driver, was going 30 miles an hour in the 55 zone and the passing zones are far and few between. Besides, he was weaving a little. I had a feeling he might be drunk. When the entrance came up, I just jumped on the fast road.

It was worth going out though. I found everything I needed and there were no long lines of surly shoppers in the stores I went to. In fact I had a moment of true Christmas spirit. I went into a store that was going out of business. It was down almost to the bare walls but I cruised through anyway. You never know when you're going to find a really great angel. I didn't but on the way out, there was a woman holding a really nice creche. I asked her if that the last one even though it would have been hard to miss if there had been another.

She said there were two and she couldn't decide which one she wanted but the woman in front of her took the other one while she was deciding, so the decision was made for her. It was a really nice creche. Traditional wooden stable with thatch on the roof and good quality figures. I said it was too bad, because I would have bought one for my kids. That's what I call my daughter and son-in-law even though of course, they're middle aged. Our old one disappeared and it would have made a good gift. They're so hard to buy for.

I kept walking and she called after me and said she would give it to me if I wanted it because it was for my kids. I was so touched by that gesture. Of course, I didn't take it but I thanked her for blessing me with such a beautiful Christmas spirit moment. That's so rare in this frantic consumer age, with people killing each other electronics, for someone to make such a kind offer. It just knocked me out.

I told her she made my Christmas. I meant it. This is what Christmas is all about folks. It's not about fancy gifts. It's about sharing. It's about doing something unexpectedly nice for a stranger, just because it's Christmas.

Baby, it's warm outside

Sorry I disappeared yesterday folks. The weather has been so good here that I spent a lot of time outdoors yesterday and then got caught up in the Lord of the Rings which was aired in its entirety yesterday on TV. I passed out early from all the fresh air and lack of sleep in the last couple of days. I think I slept for about 12 hours. I never used to be able to do that.

It's going to be another beautiful day here in the sunny northern south. This is the part I love about living here. No heavy coats and bundling up in seven layers to go out just to check the mailbox. I've had the door open in the afternoons for the last few days and I still dress warmer than most people but I was out in just a fleece yesterday and this time of year there's no nasty bugs to ruin the fun.

On the wildlife front, I haven't seen my deer since I had the leaves blown away but the birds are coming in droves to peck away at the lawn. I seem to have more cardinals. There's at least four that come to the windowsill to investigate the spider webs and I saw a whole treeful of them on my walk yesterday. I love those the best but the wrens and sparrows are also sweet and there's some new tiny little one that I haven't been able to identify yet.

The squirrels are really cheered up too. They were looking a little down and determined during the cold snap a couple of weeks ago, but they're back to frolicking and chasing each other madly around the trees. I've taken to throwing the heels of my bread outside for them. I noticed this morning, they're getting a little snobbish about it though. I use grainy bread and break the slices up into fairly large chunks. They used to eat the whole piece but now they just chew out the grain and leave the bread part for the birds. It works out though because they break the chunks up into crumbs so the birds can eat it more easily.

Meanwhile, I'm trying to work up the energy to make my one trip to the stores today. I'm not doing much gift giving this year on account of being nearly broke but there's a couple of things I haven't been able to find online and I still don't have an angel for my daughter. I've given a new one every year since she was born. I can't break the tradition now. Either way, I should be back later.

This will probably be the buzz of the day on the policy reform blogs. Pot is called biggest cash crop. The latest government figures provide more proof of the value of marijuana. Estimated at $35-billion, using a very conservative criteria, the market value of U.S.-grown cannabis tops that of such heartland staples as corn and hay.
The report estimates that marijuana production has increased tenfold in the past quarter century despite an exhaustive anti-drug effort by law enforcement.

Jon Gettman, the report's author, is a public policy consultant. He argues that the data support his push to begin treating cannabis like tobacco and alcohol by legalizing and reaping a tax windfall from it, while controlling production and distribution to better restrict use by teenagers.

"Despite years of effort by law enforcement, they're not getting rid of it," Gettman said. "Not only is the problem worse in terms of magnitude of cultivation, but production has spread all around the country. To say the genie is out of the bottle is a profound understatement."
The prohibitionists of course counter his logic with illogic.
Tom Riley, a spokesman for the White House Office of National Drug Control Policy, cited examples of foreign countries that have struggled with big crops used to produce cocaine and heroin. "Coca is Colombia's largest cash crop and that hasn't worked out for them, and opium poppies are Afghanistan's largest crop, and that has worked out disastrously for them," Riley said. "I don't know why we would venture down that road."
One might remind Mr. Riley that in those countries, the plants are still illegal as well. It rather proves the point that prohibition causes more harm than good, rather than disproving it.

Saturday, December 16, 2006

A Real Tear Jerker

I've been moving slow today because I stayed up late last night watching Lord of the Rings and the sun woke me up early and I couldn't fall back to sleep. It was part three, Return of the King, which I hadn't seen yet, so now I've seen the whole thing, albeit out of order. I saw part two first, not that it matters, since I've read the books at least ten times in the last forty years and know the plot and most dialogue by heart.

I really liked the movies. I thought the casting was great, and they recreated Tolkien's world pretty much as I had envisioned it, but still, they have to cut out so much of the backstory that even with the rich imagery, a fan of the series like me is left feeling just a little unsatisfied. I wanted Bombadil and the Barrow Downs and the Scouring of the Shire.

As I said, I've read the books at least ten times, maybe more, and I cry at the end when Bilbo and Frodo leave on the ship - every single time. And I'm talking major sobbing. It doesn't matter that I know what's going to happen. By then I'm so caught up in Middle Earth that my heart breaks for the Fellowship all over again. I was wondering if the movie would make me cry or not, since I wasn't as invested in it, but sure enough, the tears started rolling as soon as they reached the dock and lasted long after the closing credits.

That got me to thinking about other movies that have moved me to tears. Old Yeller of course. I don't know anybody who doesn't cry at the end of that one. There was a lesser known one done around the same time called The Yearling. Cried when they had to shoot the deer. I came out of the theater sniffling at the end of Midnight Cowboy. I was still wiping my eyes when I walked out of ET. And the last scene in It's a Wonderful Life? Hand me a box of kleenex as soon as George finds ZuZu's petals back in his pocket and starts running home through the snow.

So how about you folks? What movies make you cry?

Lost, but still feel like a winner

The Weblog awards are over and The Impolitic came in a distant but very respectable third.

I think it was a rather remarkable turnaround from dead last and even though I didn't win the contest, your kind support leaves me feeling like a winner nonetheless. Thanks so much to everyone who voted for me. I really appreciate the help and the encouragement. And if you're interested in the longer schmaltzy concession speech, it's posted here.

Thanks again. You folks are the greatest.

Friday, December 15, 2006

Old ways are best

I'm finally feeling more human again. I woke up at 7:00 this morning out of a nightmare. I dreamt I was living in this really weird apartment in Thornes Market in lovely downtown Noho. Oddly, I dreamt about the same place the night before but it wasn't scary that time. This time it was even bigger and more convoluted. Even the bus station was inside the building.

I was trying to move into the apartment. Jim Armenti was there painting the whole place orange and told me there was no room. So I left and I found myself in the front seat of a car with two strange men. I was trying to get to my old law firm. When the car turned on to a dirt road with huge gaping potholes in it, I said I was getting out but the guy next to me held the door and said I couldn't leave. I tried to bite his hand. It crumbled like rust. I looked over to see he was some kind of zombie. Then I woke up. I didn't try to go back to sleep. I've already slept away most of the last two days.

I went to bed feeling horrible again. I was achy, my sinuses were impacted, my throat hurt so bad I could hardly swallow and both my ears ached. Having tried every other remedy known to man to shake this thing, I finally broke down and used my mother's old folk remedy. My mom is big on folk medicine, most of it centering on hot vinegar which I would rather die than drink, but gargling with salt water is one I occassionally use when pressed.

I dumped a shitload of salt into a little hot water and gargled the hell out of it. It opened up my sinuses and damn if I didn't wake up feeling almost good. The sore throat is gone anyway and I can breathe again. Sometimes, the old ways really are best. Beats the hell out of spending the morning at the doctor's office to get a script for antibotics for sure.

SWAT team raids Tank Johnson

At least they came during the daylight hours and nobody died . I already blogged this at the Detroit News but I'll add this here. I know Chicago Bears defensive lineman Tank Johnson is no angel but a major league football player is unlikely to enter into an armed standoff with the cops when he can afford the best lawyers money can buy and no matter what the cops thought they were going to find, he only faces misdemeanor charges on gun possession and his houseguest got bagged for two ounces of pot. That's personal possession, not dealing in my book. So why do they need 20 cops to break down the door and traumatize tiny children with flash bombs to serve a freaking warrant?

I'm telling you we're becoming more like a police state every day. When the cops start acting like criminals in a home invasion, it's time to put the kibosh on these no-knock, low-knock warrants. It seems to me they're only putting the cops in more danger, not less and they also diminish any respect for law enforcement that was left in this country. [hat tip Vig]

Thursday, December 14, 2006

Drug war bytes

I'm losing steam here and think another early night is in order, so let me just post a few quick links to news of interest.

Hat tip to Vig for this excellent column on our criminal injustice system.

Vig also sends news of discontent in South America over Colombia's fumigation of coca crops. Ecuador's new president considers the activity on his border to be hostile and is trying to organize the other countries into demanding the eradication program be ended. Good luck with that though, when Uribe is receiving millions in US Aid to conduct the program. You can sure a lot of money isn't going into eradication anyway.

I meant to post this one earlier. When I started this blog, my intent was to work for marijuana legalization only but as I learned more, I realized that even "bad" drugs should be legalized so stuff like this wouldn't happen. If we gave the stuff out for free in regulated clinics, it would cost a lot less money, we could offer addiction treatment at the same time, and half-crazed meth heads wouldn't be wandering around stealing dangerous chemicals.

And here's another disturbing chapter in the violation of student's privacy rights. This sounds like my mother.
Two University of Massachusetts police officers sniffed the air as they walked the seventh-floor corridor of Washington Hall, a 22-story dormitory. As the smell of freshly-burned marijuana thickened, the officers stopped at individual doors, nearly pressing their noses to the cracks.
Mom was a big sniffer. It started with cigarettes and progessed to pot back when I was a teenager. It used to piss me off then and I don't doubt the students feel the same. The worst part is that there is lot of violent crime on that campus - rapes and robberies and drunken brawls. The police clearly have better things to do instead of roaming the dorms harassing harmless pot tokers who probably won't leave their room. [hat tip Jules Siegel]

And finally, vote for your favorite marijuana radio ad here.

The Ants go marching two by two....

Well, it appears although I'm still feeling kind of yucky, I'm going to live so let me tell you about my pest problem. This is my third winter here and of course the ants showed up again. All summer long I don't see a one, but I know by the end of November they're going to be looking for warmer digs and my kitchen counter is their resort of choice. Why? I don't know.

I barely cook and I never have dishes in the sink. I mean there is absolutely nothing for them to eat but they come around anyway. But I find I'm not so freaked out by it this year. Maybe I'm just getting used to them.

Long time readers know I've tried several methods to get rid of them. The ant traps were useless. The holistic remedies of boric acid and borax didn't work for long. This year I went out and got myself some real ant poison but I'm afraid to use it. It's some kind of buggy nerve gas and I'm such a klutz, I'm afraid I'll end up poisoning myself, so I developed a new strategy. I'm trying to convince them their little resort is really the Island of Dr. Moreau.

I find they come in cycles. The first group is little and vigorous. There's usually about a dozen and a half wandering around the counter and in the sink. I wipe them out with a wet paper towel. They're fast little critters and they're smart. I get a dozen on the first strafing but the survivors either freeze completely still, hoping to resemble a stray coffee ground I guess, or they hide under the bottle of dish detergent. I pick those off, one by one.

Within an hour or two there's usually a half dozen new scouts searching for their lost comrades. You can almost hear their little buggy voices.

"Charlie. Joe. Sam. Are you out there buddies?"

The secondary troops are also tiny and clever but none escape the dreaded wet towel of death. Usually I throw it away but sometimes, when there's only a couple of dead ants on it, I leave it on the counter to warn the next team. They show up the next day. They're bigger and slower and there's less of them. The pattern continues for about three days until there's only a couple of fat slow guys sort of wandering aimlessly around. Their heart is just not in it. I figure they're from the inner circle of the queen's guard.

I can almost hear them debating down in the colony, to see who has to go up and check out the status of the island. I imagine they draw straws and say tearful goodbyes to their families knowing they won't be back. After that, they disappear altogether. For three of four days I won't see a one.

Then it starts all over again. It's funny, I thought she so mean at the time, but I finally understand why my mother wouldn't let me get that ant farm I so badly wanted for Christmas.

Wednesday, December 13, 2006

The 2006 Weblog Awards*Sticky post - new content below*

A Shameless Bleg for Votes

I've been nominated a few times for awards but I'm always a finalist - never a winner. Last One Speaks was in the running for a Koufax a couple of times and lost. Now my poliblog The Impolitic is up for Wizbang's Weblog Award and my ass is getting kicked by a guy who calls himself Bubblehead and a guy in Boston called mAss Backwards who might be faking being a conservative.

Now I have to tell you, I've engaged in coversation with some of my competitors and I rather like them. Bubblehead, who blogs at The Stupid Shall be Punished, in particular seems to be a very nice guy who was much too kind to me in his "impartial" voter's guide. Now I know some of you may hate my politics but how about helping an old girl out anyway with her dream of finally winning something for the first time in her life and voting for The Impolitic here. It would make my momma very proud.

And speaking of voting, a couple of the Rumblers are in the running for these awards as well, so as long as you're clicking, vote for Just dot Christina here and Jim of Parkway Rest Stop here (he's winning at the moment). Take a peek at the whole list here to see if any of your other favs are on the list.

Meanwhile, I've been making light of the competition but let me recover my manners here for a moment and thank Wizbang for the honor of being named a finalist. As Elisson reminds me, it's a pretty big deal to make the cut when it was winnowed down from 4,500 to 450 nominations in 45 categories.

Sick Day

Sorry folks, I know I promised to post today but I am so sick, I can barely get out of bed. I have chills. I have a headache. My throat hurts, my skin hurts, my hair hurts, my clothes hurt.... I feel so awful, it's like being on a bad acid trip. I'm hoping it will pass quickly, but if I don't come back until tomorrow, forgive me would you?

Tuesday, December 12, 2006

Time Out

Well, I was in the middle of a post when I got called out on an emergency. I just got back again and I developed a wicked bad sore throat this afternoon that is not improving with cold beer, so I'm off to bed with a warm brandy.

But I am looking at six days off, so I will be back tomorrow. Don't expect me too early though. I'm planning on sleeping in. .

Monday, December 11, 2006

Waiting for the sun

If you haven't seen me in your comments lately, it's because I've managed to get to a sum total of three in my blogroll in the last two weeks. My seasonal affective disorder gets worse every year. Even when I'm off work, I'm just off in general and get nothing done in the black months. It's not just the getting up in the dark, it's the living in the dark that pulls me into the abyss. I live for this moment.
In 2006 at precisely 7:22 p.m. Eastern Standard Time on December 21 (00:22 UTC on December 22) winter begins in the Northern Hemisphere and summer begins in the Southern Hemisphere.
My favorite day of the year. I know if I've made it this far, I'll feel brighter again with the return of the light.

Last minute Christmas shopping

Stumped for what to get those difficult to buy for crap bloggers on your Christmas gift list? Wondering how to say, you stink -- but I'm getting you a gift anyway? I have just the thing. Yep, you guessed it.

Fart candy. It's not clear to me how this works, but you can't get this stuff just anywhere folks and even better it's on sale at 40% off -- that's for the incredibly low price of $1.79, with no handling charges. At this price you can get one for everybody on your list.

Sunday, December 10, 2006

Our System of Injustice

Not to turn this into a mirror site for The Agitator but Vig sent me all these links and in my current nearly brain dead state, it's better you get the news from a coherent source. Radley has more on the Atlanta granny who died in the SWAT team raid, here and here. The whole mess stinks like month old fish. Read his posts but basically they killed this woman based solely on a career felon's word that she possessed a kilo of cocaine and will justify it because they found less than two grams of pot in her house.

To balance this tragedy however, Radley also finds a SWAT team done right. Like Radley, I'm not against SWAT team use under appropriate circumstances. I believe in law and order, and I think most cops are good cops and want them to be protected. But it's also wrong for them to condone careless use of the teams by their silence or worse, covering up misconduct and shoddy police work.

Moving on, another lying informant was exposed in Texas. One had hoped that kind of injustice ended with Tulia, but at least this time it wasn't covered up.

And finally a a drug war roundup featuring some of the lesser known scandals of recent vintage including a kid who was suspended for putting a piece of Smarty candy up his nose, and calling it "nose candy." But he wasn't suspended for that. He was punished for not joining the principal's student narc force to rat out other students. Apparently the prinicpal princibly recruits from kids who are in trouble at school.

Radley also has links to another story of a ridiculous sentence for marijuana. This kid got 55 years for a small time marijuana deal because of mandatory sentencing. The judge publicly objected to having to impose the sentence and prosecutors from around the country wrote a amicus brief in protest. Via MAP, this graf from an editorial on Weldon Angelos says it all.
As the brief filed by 145 one-time prosecutors, including four former U.S. attorneys general, pointed out, Angelos' sentence is double what would be handed down to someone who was convicted of hijacking an airliner or being the kingpin behind a death-dealing drug cartel.
That's just not right.

Paey appeal denied

I've been following Richard Paey's case for well over two years. Few matters better illustrate the cruel insanity of our current drug policies. There's no reason that this father of three, who suffers from such great pain that the prison now gives him more drugs at state expense than he was convicted of possessing, should remain in jail.

Due my exhaustion this week, I'm late in getting to this latest news on the denial of his appeal, but the always reliable Radley Balko has it covered so I'll just send you there for the details and here's a link to the best editorial I saw on the continued injustice this poor man is suffering. Here's the money quote from that.
{Dissently Justice] Seals laid out the absurdity of this result: "I suggest that it is unusual, illogical, and unjust that Mr. Paey could conceivably go to prison for a longer stretch for peacefully but unlawfully purchasing 100 oxycodone pills from a pharmacist than had he robbed the pharmacist at knife point, stolen 50 oxycodone pills which he intended to sell to children waiting outside, and then stabbed the pharmacist."
Some might call Paey a fool for not taking the prosecutor's deal way back when he was at trial, but he refused it because he didn't want to plead guilty to a crime he didn't commit and wanted to believe that the system of justice would not fail him. Unfortunately it failed so utterly, that not only Paey, but also his wife and children, will pay the price for the rest of their lifetimes.

For myself, I think Paey is a hero. He bravely stood up for his principles and this travesty diminishes us all as a civil society. If you do nothing more for drug policy reform in your lifetime, call, write or email Gov. Jeb Bush and ask him to reverse this injustice and pardon Paey for Christmas.

Cannabis growers make good neighbors

There was a fairly major bust in my old stomping grounds in the Happy Valley this week. Police busted a grow-op in an old factory building with somewhere between 400-500 plants in various stages of maturity. Frankly, I thought the mature plants were rather unimpressive looking but police estimates of their value were at least more realistic than usual. Records found at the scene suggest the operation has been ongoing for about ten years, which brings me to the point of this post.

The Union News notes the only reason this place was busted is because someone ratted them out. I can't link to the Gazette since they have a subscription only site, but they reported that neighbors had no complaints about the operation and were in fact unaware that anything at all was going on at the old factory.

The prohibitionists like to spread scare stories about the dangers of grow-ops but that's just bullshit. The greatest danger comes from jerry rigged bypasses to electricity the growers are forced to use in order to avoid attention to their energy use. A cost they would gladly pay if it didn't result in arrest. The owners of this building no doubt paid to the taxes to the town on the property and would have been happy to pay taxes on the crop if it were legal.

As it stands, the building will no doubt be seized under forfeiture, removing it from the tax rolls and the consumers this op served will be forced to deal with someone else to get their product. Chances are good it will be a dealer who is less responsible than these men were. As prohibition forces out the small growers, organized criminals inevitably take over. So I ask you, how is this making you more safe from drugs?

[graphic gratitude]

Friday, December 08, 2006

Strawberry Fields Forever

My favorite Beatle, John Lennon, died 26 years ago today. I don't quite remember what I was doing when I heard the news but I do remember the sense of sit-down shock. The not wanting to believe it was true because it seemed so senseless. I remember watching on television, the building of the shrine on his stoop as his fans expressed their anguish.

But I dither with half formed memories. The best post on this sad occassion always comes from Jeralyn, who gave birth the day John died.

To sleep, to dream....

I've got the weirdest brain. It barely matters how hours of sleep I get, my functionality rests on when I have to wake up. I've been crashing out for the last two days by 9:00pm and have sort of been getting 7 or 8 hours of sleep, but as long as I have to get up in the dark, it doesn't matter. Unless I get to sleep in until around 8:00am, the old grey matter just doesn't want to work.

I've been trying to get some blogging done while I have a couple of hours to myself but I'd probably be better off just giving it up and taking another little snooze. I think it's because I don't dream until after 7:00 and without the dreaming part, I just never feel rested. I also tend to wake up a lot more often in the middle of the night when I know I have to get up early - even though I know I can trust my alarm clock to wake me up.

I'm telling you folks, it's not easy being neurotic.

Wednesday, December 06, 2006

Fear of meth worse than meth itself

Having been up since before dawn, I'm fading fast tonight so I'm just going to say this is a really stupid idea and I'm sorry to see it gaining steam in the states. A meth offender registry is going to cause more trouble than it solves and I can't imagine a better way for a curious teenager to seek out the drug than to advertise the people who know how to get it and/or make it. What are these people thinking?

Weeds arrested for marijuana possession

I'm back on the work rotation for a week and Blogger has only been working in fits and starts, so I don't know how much I'll get posted today but here's one for your afternoon amusement. This is one of those stories that you love for the irony, not for the importance of the news.
BETHEL -- Two teens from Cheshire were arrested on drug charges Sunday.

According to a statement sent by Bethel police this morning, officers stopped a car that was driving erratically on Route 6 at about 9:20 p.m. Officers then brought in a canine unit and searched the car. Police said they found marijuana and drug paraphernalia in the car.

Gregory Weed, 18, was charged with driving under the influence, possession of drug paraphernalia and failure to use a turn signal. Timothy Weed, 19, was charged with possession of marijuana and possession of drug paraphernalia. Both were released on $100 cash bonds pending a Dec. 12 court date.
If you like puns check out the comment section. There's some real groaners in there as suggested alternate titles for the item. As one guy notes, you would think the cops would have given them a break just on the humor factor.

Tuesday, December 05, 2006

Happy Anniversary

On Dec. 5, 1933, national alocohol Prohibition came to an end as Utah became the 36th state to ratify the 21st Amendment to the Constitution, repealing the 18th Amendment.

Thanks to Preston Peet for reminding us to celebrate.

NoPorn Noho debate -- my last word

The one thing I've learned in all these of years poli-blogging is that you'll never change an ideologue's mind -- especially a "holier than thou" moralizer. But I'm going to do one more post on this anyway in a last attempt to enlighten NoPorn Northampton.

First of all Adam, let's drop the pretense that you give a flying leap about the workers in the porn industry. Your agenda is clear by the name of your organization and your disingenous claims of concern for the poor exploited workers ring hollow.

Yes, they tested hundreds of porn workers, 483 in SoCal to be exact and 30% of the STDs they contracted commonly occur in the general population. Chalmydia happens in the best of families. Foundry workers have just as much a chance of injury or illness on the job and when they get hurt, it's a lot worse than a easily treatable case of the clap.

As far as AIDS, since 1998 less than a dozen performers have contracted it and none have died. Furthermore no porn performer has ever been killed on a set. There are many more dangerous occupations. I'm sure a workers' rights guy like yourself must be concerned about their welfare too. Are you spending any money to improve their safety?

And while I'm complacently espousing my illiberal view, perhaps I could draw your attention to this excellent piece, written by Mark Kernes, an expert in the field, on the myth of secondary effects. Maybe you could give your readers both sides of the story. And let me leave with this quote from Radley Balko of the Cato Institute.
The evidence of a link between porn and sex crimes is scant. Sex crime rates in Europe, for example, have remained stagnant or declined since the onset of the porn age. Japan is notorious for its widely accessible, particularly violent varieties of pornography, yet its rape rate (2.4 per 100,000 people) is far lower than that of the U.S. (32 per 100,000). The U.S. rate has dropped by about 25 percent since the early 1990s, when porn first became widely available over the Internet. This happened even as the stigma against rape victims has eased, making the crime more likely to be reported.
So, Mr. NoPornNorthampton, your agenda is clear but your propaganda is muddy. I judge the honesty of an argument by how long it takes the ad hominems to begin. It didn't take you long to come here and hurl insults. I don't think anyone has ever called me complacent or illiberal before so let me pose the same question to my dear readers. Who seems more narrowminded to you?

Quote of the day

From my own Detroit News, a short op-ed in the editorial section.

Apparently mandatory minimum prison sentences, civil asset forfeiture, random drug testing and racial profiling are not necessarily the most cost-effective means of discouraging unhealthy choices. Drug abuse is bad, but the drug war is worse.

Robert Sharpe
Policy Analyst
Common Sense for Drug Policy
Washington, D.C.

Monday, December 04, 2006

NoPorn Northampton talks back

Yikes. Adam Cohen checks into comments at this post and leaves a whole lotta links to his site. I was going to just answer in comments but I really love the irony that his front page features this picture of my old law firm. I spent almost two decades of my life in that building and since I wanted to steal it for the blog, it seemed only fair to respond in a whole post.

So thanks for dropping by Adam with your answer to my question about your funding. For those who been following along, his answer is, "We paid it, Libby, with our personal funds, the same funds with which we bought our home and buy our groceries." I'm impressed it only took two whole days to come up with that voluminous response. And how nice to have an extra $21,000 to spend on enforcing your morals on the rest of the community and have all this free time to spend on your cause. Not everybody is that lucky.

As far as your "evidence" in the many links you left, you would make a better case if I didn't have to click through two or three screens of your blog, to maybe get to a source link. Near as I can tell your arguments are based on outdated studies from other towns, Gloria Steinem's opinion and Linda Lovelace's book in which she repudiates her willing participation in a movie that she got paid pratically nothing for, and eventually grossed millions. No chance she did that to cash in on the money when she didn't get a cut of the profits.

In addition you offer up blurbs from S&M videos to "prove" that porn promotes violence. It's called role playing Adam and there are many thousands of Americans who enter into such conduct consenually. I know this because I've spoken to dozens of them in conjunction with another project. I've also met workers in many different aspects of the sex industry who enjoyed their work. They were all normal, decent people, but most of them didn't have an extra 20 grand to fritter away on a personal campaign to prove it. How many workers have you talked to Adam, before condemning them?

I might also note that you failed to account for the S&M shop that operated on Pleasant St for many years that had no adverse effect on the neighborhood. I know, because I lived in that neighborhood. It eventually went out of business for lack of trade. And therein lies the real irony.

In trying to force the business off the site, you have merely increased their visibility and their likelihood of success. It's a stupid place to put a porn shop. No one local would go there and take a chance on their car being seen by the neighbors. Negotiating Noho traffic to get there wouldn't be worth it to out of towners, when there's a huge store just off the highway in Enfield. If they had been simply allowed to open without any fanfare, I'd bet they would have been out of business in six months.

Nonetheless, misguided as I think it is, I fully support your right to protest the store. But I also claim my right to object to your hysterical fear mongering, based on the most marginal of "evidence," and your judgemental moralizing.

Unintended consequences of drug prohibition

Our southern border used to be a pretty friendly place. You hear about the big cities but there were numerous points where small towns straddling the border were casually accessed and family businesses thrived doing small trade in sundries and services between the two countries. Now, between drugs and illegal immigration the Border Patrol has hefted up its enforcement along that imaginary line between the US and Mexico and shut down all those low traffic access points.

The idea was to increase security but it had the opposite effect. The little mom and pop operations went out of business without the cross border trade and the families moved out of those little towns and the drug dealers and other criminals moved in. What do they care if the border is open or shut? They sneak in anyway and what perfect cover for digging tunnels. So today, the border is much more dangerous place.

Take Laredo for instance. People used to cross over the bridge for lunch and shopping. They don't do that anymore since 60 U.S. citizens have been kidnapped in the area in the last two years, and 21 of those cases are still open. Just this week 30 or so armed bandits stormed a ranch and kidnapped 6 people.

[An FBI spokesman] said "the abductions are the result of increasing lawlessness as two major drug cartels - the Gulf cartel and the Sinaloa cartel - fight for control of the cocaine and marijuana trafficking routes into the United States." One might also note that the violence has increased dramatically since the feds started their crackdown on meth and drove the trade straight into the Mexicans hands.

Cause and effect folks. Demand will always find a supplier and prohibition creates crime, it doesn't solve it. Drug prohition is like that whack a mole game. You knock it down in one place and it pops up in another.

Sunday, December 03, 2006

House of Death revisited

This is an old story that has been resurrected by the UK Guardian. It has everything. Paid informants, government malfeasance, inter-agency squabbling between Customs, now know as Immigration and Customs Executive, the DEA and the FBI, a cover up that reaches all the way into the White House and the death of a legal US resident at least enabled, if not conducted by the informant.

It never really received wide play in mainstream news outlets here, one would think because it's too complicated to be explained easily in sound bytes and since only Hispanics were dying, no one really cares. The Guardian does a good job of boiling it down to its essential elements though and it's worth reading, if only to see how jaded our prohibitionists have become that they pay an informant $200,000 to actively engage in high level drug dealing and murder in order to catch a relatively small fish in a drug cartel.

The drug war warriors will claim it as a success even though it will have zero impact on the cartel's ability to continue to smuggle drugs into the country and will write off the mother and children who lost a good, hard-working, law-abiding father and husband to their deception, as mere collateral damage. How sad.

True confessions - Part III

Continuing on my lazy theme this morning, I'm stealing this from Parkway Jim who just celebrated his 4th Bloggiversary. Here's what we've both done.

1. Bought everyone in the bar a drink - I've done this more than once.
2. Climbed a mountain–More like a big hill but it felt like a mountain
3. Said “I love you’ and meant it.
4. Watched a lightning storm at sea– I love thunder storms
5. Stayed up all night long and saw the sun rise–Yes, many, many times.
6. Gone to a huge sports game–Yes. I've been to Fenway to see the Sox and I saw some football game in Atlanta but not being a football fan, I forget who played
7. Grown and eaten your own vegetables– Hey I'm a former farm girl. I've had some really big gardens.
8. Slept under the stars–Yes, if sleeping in a tent counts.
9. Changed a baby’s diaper– Many times
10. Drunk champagne–Yes, and I've been drunk on champagne many times. In my ballooning days, this often happened before 9:00am. If the landowner doesn't show up you get to drink the champagne yourself. I still love it for breakfast.
11. Had an uncontrollable giggling fit at the worst possible moment
12. Had a good fight– It's hard to get me mad, but watch out when you get me going...
13. Bet on a winning horse–Yes, but rarely, very rarely.
14. Had a snowball fight– Of course. I grew up in New England
15. Screamed as loudly as you possibly can–Yes, but not in anger.
16. Ridden a roller coaster
17. Scored a winning goal–Highlight of my sports life. I slid into home and scored the winning run at the playground softball game when I was ten.
18. Danced like a fool and not cared who was looking–Yes, often.
19. Actually felt happy about your life, even for just a moment–Yes, often.
20. Taken care of someone who was drunk– Many times.
21. Danced with a stranger in a foreign country– more than once.
22. Taken a road-trip
23. Midnight walk on the beach
24. Taken a train through Europe
25. Been heartbroken longer than you were actually in love
26. In a restaurant, sat at a stranger’s table, and had a meal with them
27. Kissed in the rain
28. Gone to a drive-in theatre–Yes, often in my yoot.
29. Performed on stage
30. Walked a famous bridge– The fabled Brooklyn Bridge. It's longer than it looks.
31. Read a good book–One or two.
32. Had your picture in the newspaper
33. Pretended to be “sick”–Yes, and often on Mondays and Fridays.
34. Swam in the Pacific Ocean
35. Fainted
36. Hitchhiked
37. Been caught daydreaming–In high school, daydreaming was my major.

I've also done these things that Jim hasn't:

1. Hugged a tree– We were measuring it at the time. It took five people with our arms totally stretched out to circle it. It was a really big tree.
2. Held a lamb– Like I said I was a farm girl. I've also held a pig, a goat or two, chickens and rabbits.
3. Seen a total eclipse– Lunar more than once. Solar only once, I was tripping out on LSD at the time.
4. Adopted an accent for an entire day– I used to pretend to be British sometimes and I was in a play that required an Irish brogue.
5. Crashed a party– More than once.
6. Petted a stingray– I've also petted a wild manatee.
7. Broken someone’s heart–I didn't mean to.
8. Eaten sushi– don't really like it though.
9. Skipped all your school reunions

Google searches of the week

I've been burning leaves for the last three days and I'm whipped so here's a lazy post to start the day. I haven't looked at the google hits in a while and these amused me.
video of woman being attached by a kanagroo
butt pimples and polysporin
"aliens with white eyes"
Jackl porn
23 years old porn
tits of the week
texas law growing one pot plant in house
see a sneak peace og black christmas
I'm embarrassed to admit that I did misspell kangaroo exactly that way on one point but I don't have a video of a kanagroo attached to a woman. And for the guy who's wondering about growing only one plant in Texas. I'm pretty sure you'll still get busted. Might as well grow a dozen.

Saturday, December 02, 2006

Virtual strip search coming your way

Word up if you're a traveler. I first covered this story a year and a half ago when Chertoff pronounced he was going to install these x-ray machines in airports and "doesn't want an 'endless debate' over privacy issues." Well, just in time for the holidays, the TSA announced that one machine will be up and running at Sky Harbor's Terminal 4 by Christmas. They're expected to be installed in other selected airports by early 2007.

I find it interesting that the agency isn't going to release information on the technology until later in the month. Could that be because...
The $100,000 machines bounce low-radiation X-rays off a person's skin to produce photo-like computer images of metal, plastic and organic materials hidden under clothes, says American Science and Engineering.
What with all that radiation poisoning the news, it's probably not a good time to tell people they're about to be subject to searches that requires the use of it. What else they won't tell you is this system has almost nothing to do with terrorism. It's about finding drugs. Customs already uses it on suspected drug mules and it's used in prisons for drug detection.

They've figured out how to blur nipples and pubic hair to make the virtual strip search more palatable to the public and for now it's only going to used as a secondary search method, with an option for a pat down instead. But it's only a matter of time before we all will be expected to march through one to get on a plane, just like common criminals. I'm betting they won't catch many guns but they will probably catch a whole bunch of people with a couple of grams of pot in their pocket.

And if you've traveled in or out of the country since 2002, the latest super secret domestic surveillance program was just revealed. You've been assigned a terrorist rating number. They're going to keep it on record for 40 years. It's based on a whole bunch of data including your credit records and seating and meal preference. You can't see it but if you ever need a security clearance, a whole bunch of agencies, foreign governments and private contractors will be able to access it. Why doesn't that make me feel more secure?

Afghan poppies hit peak production

No surprise here
. Afghan poppy production reached record breaking levels this year. What a catch-22. The Afghan economy depends on the drug trade for fully one third of its GDP. The peasant farmers depend on the flowers as the only crop that provides enough income to barely support their families. The Taliban and other insurgent groups are also being funded by the trade and the poppy resurgence has contributed to their resurgence.

Eradicating the poppies will only foment more instability and could very well topple Karzai's tentative hold on the government. Leaving the poppies alone will do the same. The only sensible solution is the one proposed by the Senlis Council but it's being ignored.

The US should simply buy the crop from the farmers and sell it to the pharma corps for use in legally prescribed drugs. There is after all a worldwide shortage at the moment. Of course, lowering the shortage would bring down the price and cut into the pharmas profits, which in turn would diminish the pharmas political donations.

Once again, politics trumps common sense and the common good.

[Tag: ]

Friday, December 01, 2006

I support pornography

There's been a huge imbroglio going on in lovely downtown Northampton for months now over a porn store that wants to open a business in an empty storefront a few blocks down from Main Street. I've been following the issue because I still consider Noho my hometown and I'm interested in the matter because I've worked on First Amendment cases to allow such businesses to open in communities that don't want them.

Pornography whether you like it or consider it an evil scourge on society, is protected speech. The case law is long established on the right of such businesses to exist. Of course no community actively solicits a porn shop and no one wants one in their neighborhood but it can't be decided on moral grounds.

Me, I've got nothing against porn. I enjoy viewing well done erotica and I don't buy into the feminist argument that it actively and generally exploits women. While it's true some women have been coerced into the business and badly treated, for the most part women in the sex industry are there by choice. For many women, the industry provides a level of income that would otherwise be unattainable and in fact many enjoy the work. The truth be told, the jeans you're wearing or the designer sneakers on your feet are more likely to have exploited women and children working in foreign sweatshops, than any pornographers have.

I've been sitting on sidelines until recently when NoPorn Northampton, an organization created to oppose the opening of the shop, decided to throw some baseless accusations against a local Noho blogger, Andrew Shelffo who had challenged their arguments. NoPorn accused Shelffo of violating some imaginary "code of citizen journalism" and demanded to know if he was on the porn shop's payroll. When Andrew rightfully ignored such an inappropriate demand, NoPorn launched a smear campaign against him and I was inspired to engage in the debate.

In an interesting twist, Shelffo has finally declared he is not receiving money from the porn shop but it now appears that NoPorn is the one that has something to hide and is violating the code of ethics it demanded Shelffo comply with. When I asked Adam Cohen, who runs their website to disclose his financial backers, he at first ignored my request and didn't publish my comment on his site, until after I had published it as a comment to Shelffo's blog.

Since then Cohen has disclosed NoPorn spent $21,000 and is operating at a deficit, having received only $3,500 in donations. I left another comment asking who then is guaranteeing payment to their vendors and how will they honor their obligation to them?

Cohen immediately replied that they are not in debt and all bills have paid, his point being NoPorn was not organized as profit making venture and that they are acting out of concern for the community. All well and good but it still doesn't answer my initial question. I countered with this comment that hasn't yet appeared on the NoPorn blog.
How interesting. It begs the question, if you're not in debt and you only received $3,500 in donations, then who paid the rest of the $17,500 in expenses? Under your own criteria for full disclosure, it would seem to be material in establishing the credibility of your position and the veracity of the information you present, on which you ask the public to judge the issue.
Mr Cohen may yet regret opening up this can of worms. If he doesn't post my comment and answer it at NoPorn, I may just reactivate my account at MassLive and ask it there.

Ironically, I actually agree with Cohen's group. I think the proposed location for the business is inappropriate and I don't want to see it open there. However, Noho has had other sex shops operating within the city limits and no secondary ill effects occurred. I engaged in this debate because I think it's far more dangerous to the community to discriminate against this business based solely on personal revulsion and via the nanny government regulations that NoPorn is demanding, than all the smut in the world. Destroying First Amendment protections for disliked speech, endangers all speech. That shouldn't be an acceptable outcome in any civilized society.


[Graphic gratitude]

Bringing the WOsD to the MSM

I don't post a lot on drug policy at the Detroit News but I try to work it in whenever the time seems right. Here's three of my latest forays among the unbelievers.

Medical mariujana stalled but not dead in Lansing.

Want more cops - stop fighting drugs.

Atlanta SWAT team death squad a big story.