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]

Continue reading Michael Phelps Should Not Be Sorry

Do Warm Climates Really Thin Your Blood?

portland maine storm sky 2
photo by me

This is my third winter away from New England and my second one here in lovely Venice, California.  I’m proud to say I’ve braved dozens of brutally cold New England winters.  I’ve never considered myself a “cold baby.”

After spending almost two years here, though, I am officially a “cold baby.”  When it drops into the low 50s here at night, I notice it.  I feel cold.  I don’t like it.  I whine like an old lady.  I want to bring a jacket or turn on the heat a little bit in the car.  I never would have done this just a couple years ago.  As a Maine schoolkid, I would have laughed at the notion that I’d ever feel cold at such temps.  I recently reminisced with a friend about the miles we would walk as kids in brutally cold weather (because we had no other option.)  It really had to be arctic for us to feel uncomfortably cold.

A few people have responded to my recent whining with remarks such as, “living in warmer climates thins your blood.”

So I got to thinking – is climate acclimation a psychological process or is there a physiological component to it as well?  Is the “blood thinning” thing an old wives’ tale, or is there really something to it? (I’m not knocking old wives’ tales here – some certainly turn out to be true, such as my grandma’s eat your colors rule)

And here’s what I learned: no, it doesn’t thin your blood.  Recently, Doctor Ashok Kumar told Mary Ann Roser at the Austin Statesman that: “the blood viscosity, the technical term for the thickness, doesn’t change” and goes on to suggest that the myth might have started because high altitude can thicken your blood.

I don’t think this necessarily obviates that there may be other physiological changes, but it sounds like the simple answer is: you just get used to it (or unused to it.)  I certainly have acclimated.  It happens fast, I guess.

A Coastal Maine Halloween Mystery

Here’s an intriguing Halloween week mystery from my home state of Maine.  While the coast of New England is well known for its haunted houses, this one is a bit more obscure; apparently the tides went bezerk earlier this week, with several dramatic back-and-forth shifts of more than eight feet.  The National Weather Service could only describe it as “a mystery.”  Weird enough for me.  [h/t Jim].

The DNC’s Three Color Rule

Guys – are you kidding me?  Now, my grandma used to tell us that we had to “get all our colors” when eating – and bushels of recent science has proven her correct.  But the DNC’s three-color rule for convention food is silly at best – first of all, it feeds into all the stereotypes about the neoliberal nanny state mentality; and second, most people are probably unaware of the health benefits and will see it as some sort of aesthetic ideal.