Thursday, December 22, 2011

Marriage. Marriage is what brings us together, today.

To the editor,
I get frustrated easily. The reason I generally do not read the paper is because I tire of the ceaseless back and forth banter, arguing over problems whose solutions are painfully obvious to me. Yes, I am aware that I’m an arrogant asshole, but if a man does not think himself above the mindless drivel which pours out of our presses in this day in age, I do not think he has very much at all. In David Blankenhorn’s “Protecting Marriage to Protect Children” he makes the case that a ban on gay marriage is necessary to protect the future generations of Americans. I am completely dumbfounded that it could be unlawful, criminal even, for two people to wed. The Supreme Court long ago ruled in favor of equality in freedom and opportunity, (something called the civil rights movement, you may have heard of it.) Yet somehow it is still not clear to all Americans that there is no legal basis for granting rights to a certain group of people and not others.
I shall outline a few basic arguments against gay marriage in David Blankenhorn’s piece, and attempt to demonstrate why they are completely absurd.
Marriage is a license to have children (Blankenhorn 1).
Oops. You don’t need this “license” to have kids; as of 2006 there are twelve point nine million households being led by a single parent, according to the US census bureau (Families and living arrangements 2006). Clearly, there is no such thing as a license to have children. How can you say that a one night stand which results in a child being raised by a single mother is more legitimate than a child being raised by a married gay couple, yet how can you deny these people the right to reproduce and raise the children of their loins? Furthermore, gay couples could provide shelter and raise the children whose biological parents either can’t, or won’t, take proper care of them.
“Every child being raised by gay or lesbian couples will be denied his birthright to both parents who made him. Every single one (Blankenhorn 2).”
I must admit, I’m perplexed by that one. Will “legalizing” gay marriage suddenly give LGBT couples the right to whisk children away from their biological parents in the night? Will otherwise eager and willing parents throw up their arms, drop their babies, and declare “What’s the use anymore!? It’s all meaningless now, why don’t we just let our children be raised by some fucking queers or something!?” I think not. Few people would argue that the best way for a child to be raised is by their biological parents who love each other and the child very much. Blankenhorn sets up the conflict of one of good versus good (Blankenhorn 2). On one hand the goodness of giving proper dignity to LGBT couples, and on the other, the goodness of children being raised in an ideal atmosphere. This is not the case. As I’ve already stated, “Legalizing” gay marriage will not take any children away from their biological parents and place them instead in the care of homosexuals. Rather, concerning the children, it is a conflict of good versus bad. The good of giving loving couples the same rights, the same opportunity, and the same dignity to marry, create a home, and raise children regardless of their sexual orientation. Versus the bad of children either being told that their parents aren’t accepted and respected by the state, or even worse, growing up in an orphanage.
Opponents to gay marriage argue that marriage is a sacred and ancient institution. They will say it is not a question of rights, but a question of definition. Marriage is between man and woman, and has been an integral part of our society for centuries. Gay couples can be given equal rights thru civil unions, without undermining the foundation of traditional marriage. The doctrine of separate but equal does not work. It is impossible to segregate between two institutions; granting a certain group entrance into one of them, and another group to the other. There has to be a way to grant complete equality to all citizens without offending people’s religious sensibilities.
We have this concept in America of separating the church and state. It’s about time we use it. Here’s what I propose: We protect the sanctity of marriage and the rights of LGBT by separating the two. We have no need for a legal institution of marriage; all of the social and monetary benefits should be made available under the umbrella term “civil union.” This would no longer refer only to gay couples, but to any two people who live together and are mutually dependent on each other. Why should the law differentiate between homo-sexual couples and hereto-sexual couples? There cannot be rights granted only to people who fall in love with someone of the opposite sex-in fact, falling in love isn't even a requirement. Rather any two people who make a commitment to spend their lives together and support each other, whether their motives are love or otherwise, should be treated the same. Let the Church define marriage, and let the government concern itself with what is relevant to it, without encroaching upon an institution which people hold to be sacred.

Protecting marriage to protect children
The rights and needs of kids are being lost in the debate over gay rights and Prop. 8.
September 19, 2008|David Blankenhorn | David Blankenhorn is president of the New York-based Institute for American Values and the author of "The Future of Marriage."
I'm a liberal Democrat. And I do not favor same-sex marriage. Do those positions sound contradictory? To me, they fit together.
Many seem to believe that marriage is simply a private love relationship between two people. They accept this view, in part, because Americans have increasingly emphasized and come to value the intimate, emotional side of marriage, and in part because almost all opinion leaders today, from journalists to judges, strongly embrace this position. That's certainly the idea that underpinned the California Supreme Court's legalization of same-sex marriage.
But I spent a year studying the history and anthropology of marriage, and I've come to a different conclusion.
Marriage as a human institution is constantly evolving, and many of its features vary across groups and cultures. But there is one constant. In all societies, marriage shapes the rights and obligations of parenthood. Among us humans, the scholars report, marriage is not primarily a license to have sex. Nor is it primarily a license to receive benefits or social recognition. It is primarily a license to have children.
In this sense, marriage is a gift that society bestows on its next generation. Marriage (and only marriage) unites the three core dimensions of parenthood -- biological, social and legal -- into one pro-child form: the married couple. Marriage says to a child: The man and the woman whose sexual union made you will also be there to love and raise you. Marriage says to society as a whole: For every child born, there is a recognized mother and a father, accountable to the child and to each other.
These days, because of the gay marriage debate, one can be sent to bed without supper for saying such things. But until very recently, almost no one denied this core fact about marriage. Summing up the cross-cultural evidence, the anthropologist Helen Fisher in 1992 put it simply: "People wed primarily to reproduce." The philosopher and Nobel laureate Bertrand Russell, certainly no friend of conventional sexual morality, was only repeating the obvious a few decades earlier when he concluded that "it is through children alone that sexual relations become important to society, and worthy to be taken cognizance of by a legal institution."
Marriage is society's most pro-child institution. In 2002 -- just moments before it became highly unfashionable to say so -- a team of researchers from Child Trends, a nonpartisan research center, reported that "family structure clearly matters for children, and the family structure that helps children the most is a family headed by two biological parents in a low-conflict marriage."
All our scholarly instruments seem to agree: For healthy development, what a child needs more than anything else is the mother and father who together made the child, who love the child and love each other.
For these reasons, children have the right, insofar as society can make it possible, to know and to be cared for by the two parents who brought them into this world. The foundational human rights document in the world today regarding children, the 1989 U.N. Convention on the Rights of the Child, specifically guarantees children this right. The last time I checked, liberals like me were supposed to be in favor of internationally recognized human rights, particularly concerning children, who are typically society's most voiceless and vulnerable group. Or have I now said something I shouldn't?
Every child being raised by gay or lesbian couples will be denied his birthright to both parents who made him. Every single one. Moreover, losing that right will not be a consequence of something that at least most of us view as tragic, such as a marriage that didn't last, or an unexpected pregnancy where the father-to-be has no intention of sticking around. On the contrary, in the case of same-sex marriage and the children of those unions, it will be explained to everyone, including the children, that something wonderful has happened!
For me, what we are encouraged or permitted to say, or not say, to one another about what our society owes its children is crucially important in the debate over initiatives like California's Proposition 8, which would reinstate marriage's customary man-woman form. Do you think that every child deserves his mother and father, with adoption available for those children whose natural parents cannot care for them? Do you suspect that fathers and mothers are different from one another? Do you imagine that biological ties matter to children? How many parents per child is best? Do you think that "two" is a better answer than one, three, four or whatever? If you do, be careful. In making the case for same-sex marriage, more than a few grown-ups will be quite willing to question your integrity and goodwill. Children, of course, are rarely consulted.
The liberal philosopher Isaiah Berlin famously argued that, in many cases, the real conflict we face is not good versus bad but good versus good. Reducing homophobia is good. Protecting the birthright of the child is good. How should we reason together as a society when these two good things conflict?
Here is my reasoning. I reject homophobia and believe in the equal dignity of gay and lesbian love. Because I also believe with all my heart in the right of the child to the mother and father who made her, I believe that we as a society should seek to maintain and to strengthen the only human institution -- marriage -- that is specifically intended to safeguard that right and make it real for our children.
Legalized same-sex marriage almost certainly benefits those same-sex couples who choose to marry, as well as the children being raised in those homes. But changing the meaning of marriage to accommodate homosexual orientation further and perhaps definitively undermines for all of us the very thing -- the gift, the birthright -- that is marriage's most distinctive contribution to human society. That's a change that, in the final analysis, I cannot support.

Thursday, June 16, 2011

Marino Ancient & Medieval Philosophy Professor Johnson May 2011
The First Way of Thomas
            The text of the body of his argument reads as follows:
"The first and more manifest way is the argument from motion. It is certain, and evident to our senses, that in the world some things are in motion. Now whatever is in motion is put in motion by another, for nothing can be in motion except it is in potentiality to that towards which it is in motion; whereas a thing moves inasmuch as it is in act. For motion is nothing else than the reduction of something from potentiality to actuality. But nothing can be reduced from potentiality to actuality, except by something in a state of actuality. Thus that which is actually hot, as fire, makes wood, which is potentially hot, to be actually hot, and thereby moves and changes it. Now it is not possible that the same thing should be at once in actuality and potentiality in the same respect, but only in different respects. For what is actually hot cannot simultaneously be potentially hot; but it is simultaneously potentially cold. It is therefore impossible that in the same respect and in the same way a thing should be both mover and moved, i.e. that it should move itself. Therefore, whatever is in motion must be put in motion by another. If that by which it is put in motion be itself put in motion, then this also must needs be put in motion by another, and that by another again. But this cannot go on to infinity, because then there would be no first mover, and, consequently, no other mover; seeing that subsequent movers move only inasmuch as they are put in motion by the first mover; as the staff moves only because it is put in motion by the hand. Therefore it is necessary to arrive at a first mover, put in motion by no other; and this everyone understands to be God."
(Taken from new advent translation

The first problem with Thomas is his somewhat confusing language, therefore it must be cleared up that when he speaks of something moving from potentiality to actuality he speaks in terms of its being in motion, and not of simply being. That is, the potential for something to be in motion versus something actually being in motion. A thing’s being in a state of potentiality in one aspect of motion does not restrict it from being actual in another aspect, as opposed to something being in a state of potentiality for a state of being which does negate all aspects of actuality. Also, the word potential, as he uses it does not mean simply the ability to be something, but also as the opposite of actually being so. Therefore, a thing cannot be in a potential state of being hot if it is on fire, for it is actually hot-but it is potentially cold, for one could pour ice-water on it. It is also unclear what Thomas means when he says “But nothing can be reduced from potentiality to actuality, except by something in a state of actuality.” We must remember here how Thomas uses the words potential and actual. A thing which is not hot cannot cause something to become hot, for it is not hot itself. Therefore, something which is potentially hot cannot cause itself to become actually hot, for it is not hot, and it requires something which is actually hot to cause it to be reduced from potentiality to actuality. These points being cleared up, let's look at the actual form of his argument.

1. "It is certain, and evident to our senses, that in the world some things are in motion."
2. Things move when potential motion becomes actual motion.
3. "But nothing can be reduced from potentiality to actuality, except by something in a state of actuality."
4." Now it is not possible that the same thing should be at once in actuality and potentiality in the same respect.."
5."It is therefore impossible that in the same respect and in the same way a thing should be both mover and moved, i.e. that it should move itself."
6."Therefore, whatever is in motion must be put in motion by another."
7.Every moving thing must be moved by a prior moving thing, which was moved by a prior moving thing, "But this cannot go on to infinity, because then there would be no first mover, and, consequently, no other mover; seeing that subsequent movers move only inasmuch as they are put in motion by the first mover."
8."Therefore it is necessary to arrive at a first mover, put in motion by no other; and this everyone understands to be God."
            Ignoring the irrationality of having the foundation of a logical proof of God's existence rest on our notedly flawed sensory perception, Thomas’ arguments rely heavily on inductive reasoning. He argues that all things must be caused to move by a separate moving thing(3) and that there can be no thing which moves itself(5). While these claims seem intuitively true, and indeed agree with our experiences, they are not logically sound. Simply because we do not observe things to move themselves, it does not follow that they cannot. In fact, Thomas later contradicts this premise, stating that there is such a being as an unmoved mover. Why then, are we justified in believeing that there are not many unmoved movers, constantly acting internally on themselves in way unbeknownst to us?
            However, even if you accept the testimony of your senses, and conclusions based on limited experience, you have only up to step six. In premise seven, Thomas claims to prove the first mover by pointing to the impossibility of an infinite regress. However, it is equally implausible to our thinking that there be an unmoved mover as an infinite regress. Furthermore, Thomas relies on circular logic to prove an unmoved mover by citing the impossibility of an infinite regress, which is impossible “because then there would be no first (unmoved) mover.”
Failing to prove an unmoved mover, Thomas then claims that this unmoved mover is God. Even if we are to believe that there is only one unmoved mover, why must this being be all-powerful, absolutely good and eternal?
            Thomas’ argument is filled with specious reasoning, and cannot stand as a logical proof of God’s existence. What Thomas really proves here is the inadequacy of this technique, and the impossibility of producing a logical proof for an infinite being that defies logic.

Tuesday, May 31, 2011

My freshman thesis paper: On Prohibition

On prohibition.
            America touts itself as the land of the free. The Declaration of Independence guarantees all citizens the right to “life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.” The freedom to decide what goes into one’s body is an essential right of any free person, and is clearly guaranteed by the US Constitution. In accordance with this view, I argue that all drugs should be legalized or decriminalized, as the government does not have the authority to determine which states of mind citizens may enter, or to restrict the pursuit of happiness of any person who neither harms nor transgresses against anyone but themselves.

            In the 1920s, an amendment was added to the US Constitution prohibiting alcohol. Not only did that bill fail to decrease alcohol consumption, but it created a black market where violent criminals thrived. Additionally, because drinks were made by bootleggers and “bathtub brewers,” some of the product was toxic, and many people died from drinking “bathtub gin.” Alcohol prohibition was overturned, and the black market and street violence it spawned disappeared with it.

            Similarly, the current war on drugs is a failure. Prohibition has been unsuccessful at limiting drug use and availability in the United States. Every city in the US has a flourishing black market for both “hard drugs” (represented in this essay by heroin,) and “soft drugs” (represented by marijuana).

            According to “Jim,” my anonymous source who has been a heroin addict for nearly fifty years, in the early seventies, before the war on drugs began, heroin cost thirty dollars for a bag of about five percent pure heroin. Today, heroin sells for five dollars or less per bag, with purity levels up to eighty or ninety percent and can be found in every major US city(“Jim”).[1]  Supporters of the war on drugs argue that the increase in availability and purity of street heroin is due to modern methods of narcotic manufacturing and smuggling, even if this were true, it is clear that the war on drugs has had no meaningful success in its stated goal of reducing the availability of hard drugs.           
            A walk through inner city America proves that the war on drugs has failed. Drug addicts and dealers stand about on the corners, and their paraphernalia lie dirty and used on the street(“Jim” and “James’). Many claim that laissez faire tactics simply don’t work, and that it is society’s responsibility to help transform these people from dangerous criminals to healthy, productive individuals. Prohibition cannot stop the drug trade. Addicts will do whatever it takes to get their fix, and there will always be risk takers ready to endanger themselves for a lucrative reward(“James”). Criminalizing drug use creates a black market for violent and dangerous criminals, and does not stop the drug trade.

            Under current US law, heroin is a schedule I substance, meaning it has a high potential for abuse, and no accepted medical uses. The most effective treatment for opiate dependence is Heroin Assisted Treatment(Pubmed 2007). Heroin Assisted Treatments currently operate in Switzerland, Germany, The UK, Denmark, and The Netherlands. Under these programs, addicts can receive daily doses of heroin if they comply with the set standards. They have been shown to be highly effective, not only in rehabilitating addicts, but in preventing nonusers from becoming addicts. A majority of heroin addicts on the program have cleaned themselves up, desisted from criminal activities, and gotten themselves homes(Uchtenhagen. 2002). Some even started families after years of drug abuse and homelessness. Prohibitionists are outraged by the idea of paying for junkies to shoot up, but HAT supporters argue that it offers great benefits to those affected by drug addiction, at a fraction of the cost we currently pay to imprison non-violent criminals who harm only themselves(Pubmed 2002). In addition, Heroin Assisted Treatment can be offered to long-term users with a fee. Since they are already buying the drug, this would give them a way to more safely use without supporting the black market and dealing with criminals who can cut the drug with any substance.

            Another objection to Heroin Assisted Treatment is that it is seen as legitimizing heroin use. Critics argue that decriminalizing it gives children the impression that it is acceptable(Statement on “Harm Reduction” Strategies). This is not the case. Hard drug use has decreased in countries with Heroin Assisted Treatment, children in those countries have highly negative views of hard drugs such as heroin(Nordt and Stohler 2006), and these countries have lower percentages of their population using illicit drugs, not only than before these Harm Reduction policies, but even lower than the US today[2](Lap) .Furthermore, the US already has programs such as halfway houses and needle exchange programs which were protested for the exact same reason, but have been continued because of their great success in preventing the spread of HIV/AIDS.
            The costs of the war on drugs are great:  every year the American government spends over forty four billion dollars of taxpayer money, and imprisons a million people for violating drug laws(Grinspoon and James). The phenomenon of incarceration is so great that the private sector has taken notice. There are currently over two hundred and fifty privately run and owned prisons in America, jailing nearly a hundred thousand prisoners(Schmalleger). Proponents of private prisons argue that they are cheaper than public prisons(Blumstein), but a study released  by the US Bureau of justice statistics as well as several other studies found that private prisons are just as costly as public prisons, if not even more expensive(The Sentencing Project). Furthermore, private prisons cut costs by refusing expensive prisoners and sacrificing security. Lower staff levels in private prisons result in more escapes, and roughly fifty percent more incidences of violence within the prisons(The Sentencing Project). These prisons also do little in terms of rehabilitating prisoners, since a rehabilitated prisoner is of no use to a for-profit prison. The cost to tax payers is enormous: not only must they pay for prisoners’ food and necessities, they must pay for the upkeep of prison facilities which are less safe, and the prisons’ owners profit on top of that! Even worse, these private prisons fund lobbyists to fight for harsher drug laws, and longer sentences(The Sentencing Project). There was even a scandal in Pennsylvania where a private prison company paid millions of dollars to judges to send minor to the prisons they operated(Monbiot).
            The war on drugs has vast consequences on our foreign policy. The illegal drug trade in the US, especially along the (southern) border states funds the Mexican Cartels whose violent clashes with each other and Mexican Authorities claim thousands of lives(Robinson). The United States sponsors the spraying of herbicides over South and Central America in attempts to kill cocoa and poppy crops. These chemicals are highly toxic, and destroy legitimate crops which are the only form of income for many farmers(Bingwood). Additionally, the toxic chemicals are detrimental to fragile tropical ecosystems, as well as the health of the people living in these areas(Bingwood).
            Heroin is a semi-synthetic drug derived from opium. The largest producer of opium in the world is Afghanistan. Over ninety percent of illicit opium in the world originates in Afghanistan, where poppies are the main cash crop a poor farmer can grow(UN Office of Drugs and Crime “The Opium Economy in Afghanistan). Under Taliban rule, the opium trade flourished, reaching its peak in nineteen ninety nine until the Taliban banned poppy cultivation(UN Poppy Survey 2001). However, when the US invaded Afghanistan and removed the Taliban, poppy cultivation returned to pre-ban levels(Glaze). Today, the estimated export value of Afghani opium is over sixty billion dollars. Although US policy is decidedly counter-narcotic, the military can do little do fight opium production, as the warlords we align ourselves with to fight the Taliban control the opium trade(Schweich). If the US decriminalized heroin, we could grow poppy for medical heroin domestically. What remained of the black market for heroin would stay within the borders, instead of supporting drug lords over seas.

            The war on drugs includes a strong focus on education. Marijuana, as the most widely used illegal drug, is the main focusing of advertising campaigns. Prohibitionists claim that marijuana is just as dangerous as “hard drugs,” and that it is the leading cause of teenage deaths. Furthermore, they argue that it is a gateway drug, and using it causes one to then move on to harder drugs.

            It is physically impossible to die from marijuana overdose. It is simply not that toxic(Holubek 2010). A study intended to demonstrate the lethality of marijuana succeeded in killing their test group of rats after exposing them to so much smoke that they suffered brain damage due to oxygen deprivation. The researchers were unable to produce similar results with dogs(Grotenhermen 2003). According to those findings, the average human being would have to smoke fifteen hundred pounds of weed in fifteen minutes, a feat that is completely impossible by any stretch of the imagination(Holubek 2010).

            But what of the gateway effect? While it certainly is a legitimate point that exposure to inebriating substances could result in further exploration of drugs, the first exposure to drugs for most Americans comes not from marijuana, but from alcohol. Furthermore, if the goal of the war on drugs is to eliminate the gateway effect of marijuana, it has greatly backfired.

            The demonizing of marijuana in government adverts sets pot up as a great evil; it is classified as a schedule I substance, as is heroin. (Cocaine and Methamphetamine are schedule II.) Studies show that almost fifty percent of American teenagers try marijuana by the time they graduate high school. The average teen knows many regular and occasional marijuana users, none of which have died or suffered from serious medical conditions because of cannabis. When such a teenager tries marijuana, and enjoys it, they realize that they have been misled about the true nature of the drug, and are taught to distrust information in government advertisements(Zeller). Furthermore, by criminalizing pot, users must buy from black market dealers, thus increasing their contact with other illicit substances and criminal behavior.
            The war against marijuana has another great casualty: Hemp. Hemp is a non-psychoactive species of cannabis, specifically cannabis ruderalis. A nineteen thirty-eight article published in Popular mechanics before they realized hemp was outlawed cited it as a billion dollar miracle crop(Popular Mechanics). Hemp can be used for textiles as well as ropes; it grows quickly without the use of harmful chemicals, and produces more fiber than cotton or flax. Its seeds contain all essential amino and fatty acids, as well as being a viable source of alternative fuel(Syke). The first law regarding hemp in America was a Jamestown colony law in 1619 requiring all settlers to grow cannabis, and the founding fathers cultivated hemp and sang it’s praises(The Pot Book 5). Not only is hemp an extraordinarily useful industrial crop, it's easy to grow and helps prevent soil erosion(Popular Mechanics). Hemp is, as its namesake suggests, a weed. It grows wild across North America, especially in the West and Midwest(Syke). If one were to simply buy a plot of farmland in Iowa and do nothing to it, they could be in violation of US law for the weed growing on their property.
            Marijuana is an increasingly large agricultural business. Legislature cannot stop supply and demand capitalism, and youths are unmoved by false advertisements of the dangers of cannabis. Alcohol and tobacco are respectively more deadly and addicting than marijuana, but they enjoy a legal status in the US. Marijuana and all other “soft drugs” should be legalized and taxed. Not only would this create billions of dollars in tax revenue, but it would save billions of dollars on the federal budget prosecuting and punishing non violent, otherwise law abiding citizens(Jefferey 2010). Heroin and all other “hard drugs” should be decriminalized. This would defang the black market, and lead to a decrease in street violence. Additionally, the state would be able to regulate who could buy heroin, (drug dealers don’t check ID) and how it is produced.
Drug addiction is a real problem facing many Americans. Ending prohibition will not put an end to drug addiction, nor drug trade. However, it is shown to be the case that prohibition is harmful to drug addicts, and the country at large. Additionally, the war on drugs benefits those who the war is supposedly fighting against (drug dealers and cartels). It is not possible to eradicate drugs, or the black market, but it is however the responsibility of the state to reduce the damage they inflict on society, and to respect the rights of citizens to make personal choices.
            Who benefits from prohibition? Organized crime profits from an inflated black market. Private prison companies profit from the creation of millions of criminals. Afghani warlords profit from a crop that costs nearly nothing to produce, and has an export value of billions of dollars. Addicts do not benefit from laws that make them criminals. Taxpayers do not benefit from costly campaigns to find and imprison non-violent criminals. America does not benefit from spending billions of dollars to fight legitimate industries which could create billions of dollars in revenue. It’s time to end prohibition.

“Jim.” Personal Interview. 3 March 2011.
“James.” Personal Interview. 3 March 2011.

United States. National Institutes of Health. United States National Library of Medicine. Heroin-assisted treatment for opioid dependence: randomised controlled trial. By Haasen C, Verthein U, Degkwitz P, Berger J, Krausz M, Naber D. 2007. Pubmed. 8 March 2011

Canada. 37th Parliament-First Session. Committee on Illegal Drugs. Heroin Assisted Treatment for Opiate Addicts – The Swiss Experience. By Ambros Uchtenhagen. 2002. Parl.Gc.Ca. 8 March 2011

ijkgraaf, Marcel G W, Zanden, Bart P van der. “Cost utility analysis of co-prescribed heroin compared with
methadone maintenance treatment in heroin addicts in two

United Nations. International Task Force on Strategic Drug Policy. STATEMENT ON SO-CALLED `HARM REDUCTION´ POLICIES.  2005

Nordt, Carlos, and Rudolf, Stohler, "Incidence of Heroin Use in Zurich, Switzerland: A Treatment Case Register Analysis."
The Lancet 367 (2006): 830.

Grotenhermen, F. “Pharmacokinetics and Pharmacodynamics of Cannabinoids.” Clinical Pharmacokinetics 42 (2003): 327-60

Holland, Julie, eds. The Pot Book: A complete guide to cannabis. Rochester, Vermont: Park Street Press, 2010

            Holubek, William. “Medical Risk and Toxicology.” 141-152

            Lap, Mario. “Dutch Drug Policy.” 441-446

            Miron, Jefferey. “A Cost Benefit Analysis of Legalizing Marijuana.” 447-453

Grinspoon, Lester, and Balkalar, James, "The Way on Drugs- A Peace Proposal." New England Journal of Medicine. 330 (February 3, 1994)357–360.

 Debusmann, Bernd. "Einstein, Insanity and the War on Drugs." Reuters 3 Dec. 2008. 29 Apr. 2011

Cheung, Amy. "Prison Privatization and the Use of Incarceration." The Sentencing Project. Sep. 2004. 19 Apr. 2011.

Schmalleger, F., & Smykla, J. (2007, 2005, 2002). Corrections in the 21st Century. New York: McGraw-Hill.

Blumstein, James F., Cohen, Mark A. and Seth, Suman, Do Government Agencies Respond to Market Pressures? Evidence from Private Prisons (December 2007). Vanderbilt Law and Economics Research Paper No. 03-16; Vanderbilt Public Law Research Paper No. 03-05.

Monbiot, George. "This revolting trade in human lives is an incentive to lock people up." The Guardian. 3 Mar. 2009. 29 Apr. 2011.

Robinson, Eugene. "Drugs, Guns, and a Reality Check." The Washington Post. 27 Mar. 2009. 24 May 2011

Bingwood, Jeremy. "Toxic Drift: Monsanto and the Drug War in Columbia." CorpWatch. 21 June 2001. 29 Apr. 2011.

UNITED NATIONS Office on Drugs and Crime. Afghanistan Opium Survey 2007. 29 Apr. 2011

UNITED NATIONS Office on Drugs and Crime. The Opium Economy in Afghanistan. 29 Apr. 2011<T>

UNITED NATIONS International Drug Control Programme. Annual Opium Poppy Survey 2001. 29 Apr. 2011

United States. Department of Defense. Strategic Studies Institute, U.S. Army War College. Opium and Afghanistan: Reassessing U.S. Counternarcotics Strategy. By John Glaze 2007. 29 Apr. 2011

Schweich, Thomas."Is Afghanistan a Narco State?" New York Times. 27 July 2008. 29 Apr. 2011

Zeller, Shawn. "Ads, Drugs & Money." Government Executive Magazine. 19 Sep. 2003. 29 Apr. 2011

"New Billion Dollar Crop" Popular Mechanics. Feb. 1938. 29 Apr. 2011.

Syke, Dan. "Where the Wild Hemp Grows."  High Times. 30 Oct. 2008. 29 Apr. 2011.


[1] Rural areas that are further from the shipping centers and therefore beyond the reach of heroin, are often ravaged by methamphetamine. A volatile substance, derived from cough syrup, drain cleaner, and other over the counter household chemicals.
[2] The Netherlands, where marijuana use is legal, even has less users than the United States(Lap).

Monday, May 2, 2011

You have no idea what you're talking about.

I want to make this clear:
I am not saying Osama Bin Laden is not dead.

I am simply saying, that you have no idea whether or not he is truly alive or not.
You don't even have a very good reason to believe, he's dead.
Nor a very good reason to believe he's not.
You have, nothing.
No proof, no clue.
You have the word of your gov't, notorious twisters of the truth,
and your president, notorious liar.

For all you know, Osama Bin Laden is dead,
and has been
for the last five years.

Who knows? I don't. You don't. Hell, Barak Obama might not even know.

Either way, i don't imagine it's very important. Osama has been a powerless figurehead mostly since nine eleven. Al Qeida exists as a call to action for Islamist militants, not an organization that poses any real threat to US soil.

So what am i getting at? Someone ask me, (please)
"Is Osama Bin Laden dead?"
Don't know, don't care.

Monday, April 4, 2011

Whose to blame in the media game?

I saw an article in the local paper,
apparently a school teacher in paterson posted something on his facebook about teaching a bunch of "future criminals."

Yes, this is pretty offensive, and yes, it is largely true.
But what does it matter? People post dumb shit on their facbeook all the time.
The difference here is that some parents noticed it, and took offense.
Then they made a big stink about it.

Why is that bad?
Because the only negative effect that the teacher's comments could have, is his students seeing it, and feeling like they have no hope in life, and even their teachers expect nothing of them, and since they're only going to be criminals when they grow up, they might as well get a head start.
And the only reason his students will see it is because the parents made a big stink of it, and it ended up in the newspaper.

Thursday, March 24, 2011

Don't criticize what you can't understand: You better start swimming or you'll sink like a stone

Newspapers have got to find a way to survive in the new market of the internet age. People want information, they want it for free, and they don't want to look too hard.
Bob Woodward doesn't like facebook, and thinks google killed the newspaper. He may be right about that last part.
If you remember Hilary Clinton's comments about the state of our media, you may remember her saying that Al Jazeera appears to be a better than american news.
Hilary points out that it covers a wider variety of relevant news topics for a broader audience without "feeling like you're listening to a bunch of talking heads."
May i point out that it even has a live stream available for free, online, in ENGLISH!

Score one for Al Jazeera.

It's always political

I don't care for cable news. Its always seemed silly to me to watch a bunch of people talk about what just happened, basically repeating themselves, waiting for some new developement, so they can talk about something new, and then repeat themselves some more.

But if you're into that, why is it surprising that news channels focused on a practical armegedon rather than a horrific murder.
And for all the complaints i've heard about the coverage being politically motivated, and news channels choosing to ignore the tragedy in Itamar, I haven't heard many people point out that news channels who covered the masacre were doing so for the SAME political reasons. (Actually the opposite, and probably to claim a higher ground and make a big stink about how the other side is biased and ignoring certain stories etc.)

It's always political.