Michael Phelps Should Not Be Sorry

This Product Contains Cannabis [by me]
ZOMG, this product contains cannabis!

Michael Phelps has nothing to apologize for.  I understand the reality he faces, however, and why he has to say what he said.  But let’s go beyond the breathless theatrics and think about the core issue.  “He broke the law,” the pundits are saying, as if that is necessarily the end of the conversation.  Sorry, but Phelps was not wrong; our marijuana laws are wrong.  Really wrong.

Does anybody alive even remember why it was outlawed?  No, of course you don’t – but you’ll do yourself well to look over the historical – and hysterical – record.

Let’s take a few choice quotes from the era of marijuana criminalization, shall we?

“Marihuana influences Negroes to look at white people in the eye, step on white men’s shadows and look at a white woman twice.”
[1934 newspaper editorial in favor of criminalization]

“All Mexicans are crazy, and this stuff is what makes them crazy.”
[Texas legislator arguing for criminalization]

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Breadlines and Battlecries

Scoble Blames You

Valleywag picked up a FriendFeed discussion between a few of us yesterday regarding the bailout bill within which Scoble blames “people like [me]” for the coming “breadlines”.  It rings a little hollow considering where I’ve been on all this and where he’s been (i.e. nowhere), but it brings a much more important issue to the fore.

To the thread in particular, I realize how acerbic my tone can be when discussing such things and try to be cognizant of that every time I write.  Sometimes my frustration – the result of a bit too much anguish about our national slumber – gets the best of me.  But Americans sat mostly silent as international and domestic crimes were perpetrated in their names and their economy was wrecked – choosing to glide along as if they had far more important things to think about.

Robert is right to describe the financial mess as the result of our collective idiocy.  The bill for one or two generations of stupidity has now come due and our remaining credit cards have been declined.  And for the moment, the social media characters participating in the specific tendril of web masturbation that is Robert’s “what to do” post have come up substantially empty.  So, I’ll see what I can come up with.

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The State Murder of Peter McWilliams

Growing up, there was a book that first got me excited about computers.  I’d never really forgotten it, but over the years it had faded deep into memory.  And fond memories they were – the book was whimsical, full of strange artwork and far-out metaphors.  It really helped me – a middle-school kid in the middle of nowhere trying desperately to think big – to see outside my small world and into a universe of infinite technological possibility.  I was probably 12 or 13, just starting to tinker with TRS-80s and early Apples and really having my mind opened up by these strange little boxes.

A few months ago – for some reason – that book popped back into my mind.  Who was that guyWhat was that book?  And off I went to figure it out.

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FriendFeed, Blogging, and Crossing the Streams

I’ve often whined in these pages about various modalities I enjoy online and, also, my frustrations with some of them.  A couple of years ago, right after the great big anorexia brouhaha of 2006, I remarked that folks seemed to be starving for conversation, and online tools hadn’t matured to the point where it could happen very well.

What I really love about blogging – other than getting my opinion out there and pissing people off – is curating.  I love finding cool, random things that inspire or touch me in some way and sharing them with all of you.  My hope is that you see, read, or feel things you would not have otherwise.

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Personal Destruction As Entertainment

A few years ago I used to opine that those faux-daredevil shows like “Fear Factor” were only interesting to see the gross (but undangerous) things people would do for small amounts of cash – and I joked that they’d only really be good when the people were actually in danger. Sure, it’s sickly fun to watch a cute 19 year old girl in a cutoff t-shirt struggle to eat a dozen plump, fresh bull testicles – but hardly is there any real risk involved. Those shows need real stakes, I thought.

However, having been exposed to FOX’s “Moment of Truth” show tonight, I see that we’re there, and in a much more tragic way than I had imagined. Continue reading Personal Destruction As Entertainment

An Accidental Interview with Lieutenant Phil Dreyer

Some folks at the Bexar County Sheriff’s Office have a very different view of the law than I do, and this “accidental interview” should demonstrate those differences rather clearly. We’ve all heard the myths about Texas lawmen and their, errr.. improvisational legislative interpretations. I’m sure one Lieutenant Phillip Dreyer doesn’t take much shame in this myth – in fact, he seems to be doing his best to live up to that stereotype. But I’m getting ahead of myself, kids … first, despite several weeks passing since the incident, my notes were taken that evening. So, I believe the below to be a very accurate and fair encapsulation.

On the night of Feburary 5, 2007, while walking around San Antonio to get some night shots, I noted the rather cool way one of the canals was being lit on East Nueva Street, so decided to take some pictures of it.
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God, Intellect and Universal Truth

For someone who doesn’t believe in God, I think about God a lot.

Exploring Texas, where megachurches are more common than oil wells (and probably more profitable), lately it’s made my mind itch a little more than usual. I was raised a Pentecostal Christian, and these places remind me of the intellectual darkness I experienced inside the stifling walls of organized religion.

Sagittarius Star Cloud by J P Stanley
        Sagittarius Star Cloud by J P Stanley

That a hundred million of my fellow Americans believe these buildings are their best gateway to the Ultimate is heartbreaking indeed.
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Train to Paris

First of all, this train scene is bullshit. The compartments are evenly divided among smoking and non-smoking, which I think is unfair. One could be forgiven for thinking that all Europeans smoke, because there seems to be smoking just about everywhere. I saw folks smoking in a sushi restaurant in Amsterdam and remember thinking, how can you taste the sushi?

Anyway, I choose a smoking compartment because the non-smoking compartments are stuffed full, and I’m hoping to spread out and get some writing done. I am listening to my iPod as I settle in.
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Train to Budapest

Last night, i decided I would take a train to Budapest in the morning. The plan was to get up early and check the train schedules online. My hotel was one of the very few who offered free Internet access in my hotel room, a nice luxury. But of course when i awoke, the Internet access was down. Oh well, I’ll give it a little time… took a shower, went downstairs for breakfast, and returned to my room to prepare for check-out. Tried the ‘net again, no deal.
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After some inner debate, I decided to take a day trip from Vienna into Bratislava, Slovakia. It would be my first time behind the old “iron curtain,” and I was excited. I took a mid-day train out of Vienna and as we went along I decided to try to snap a few photos out the train window. It’s basically impossible to shoot a decent photograph through a train window because of the interior reflections, but this train had upper windows that slid down. Since there was no one near me who would be bothered by it, I slid the window down and began gawking out and snapped a couple of shots.
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