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Oh, there it is.

It can be easy to miss, from this deep in the well. It doesn't look much like a marble from down here.

Sure, achieve enough altitude and its gorgeous curves can be descried, but not many get to see them. As for the rest of us, we see the horizon, and we see the phases of the moon, but few reflect much on what they mean. The horizon from the surface, after all, looks perfectly flat. It makes me sympathize a little with all the people back in the day who thought the world actually is flat, because its true shape is not a tangible, indisputable reality most of the time.

This causes us to forget what it is we are really standing on. And in turn it becomes easy to forget that, despite its apparent strength, our place within that strength is still very tenuous. It becomes easy to forget that our niche is still quite narrow.

It's easy to forget that our home is so terribly, terribly tiny.

This expanse of land and sea all around us is deceptive. Relatively speaking it is much less than a marble. It's a pale blue dot. It's a peaceful speck in a hostile universe.

These are things we need to remember, if we value this dot we call home. I think they're things we need to think about a lot more often than we do. We are at the dangerous time now, we're just smart enough to do something horribly stupid.

We need to be mindful of the narrowness of our niche, and how we are currently pushing ourselves right out of it.

Our very survival depends on remembering these things. Unfortunately, the vast majority of us will likely never see the shape of the earth in living color. Showing it in pictures is the next best thing.

But wait, I hear someone say, compared to us, and our measly mortal selves, the security of the earth doesn't seem worth all that upset. I mean, how could we possibly influence an entire planet? It's a lot bigger than a marble, or a dot, or a speck. Right?

Like most things, that depends on where you're standing.

How can government function without trust?

How can a country's people, after discovering they've been misled by their government, continue to trust it?

Agents of our government have been misleading us all with regards to cannabis for nearly 80 years. This deception has resulted in untold millions of people jailed, and untold millions more lives ruined.

And I am far from alone in possessing a mountain of anecdotal evidence which shows that our nation's official policy towards cannabis is one of the biggest piles of steaming mendacity ever unloaded on the American people.

To be clear, I don't deny that use of cannabis carries risks. I deny that its risks are some sort of existential threat. I deny that it's risks are so dangerous as to justify the enormous forces hunting nearly everybody who dares to partake in its use, cultivation or trade. I deny that its risks are prevalent and persistent enough to pose a threat to society, a threat worthy of the intervention of the heavy hand of the law into the lives of otherwise model adults who just want to smoke some pot. The notion is flatly ludicrous. And an increasing majority of Americans agree with me.

Still, though, the spook stories about cannabis are believed, even the oxymoronic "gateway drug" smear. Even in the highest echelons of power the lies are believed, and to this day they are propagated as truth. I've been hearing them since I was a teenager; and all along, from those impressionable years onward to the present, I have known they are lies.

More below the fold.

Continue Reading

Just trying to solve a circular argument. Don't mind me.

Anybody want any pi?

Math is delicious

Wed Feb 04, 2015 at 06:46 PM PST

Take The Ladder Rightward And Down

by Hammerhand

Just keep fighting you'll soon have it made
Always be ruthless you'll surely get paid
I swear you won't find any reason to frown
If you take the ladder rightward and down

I'm lying of course you'll do plenty of frowning
As you get used to the feeling of drowning
Guess what buddy no one throws out the line
Just keep heading downwards and you will be fine

Another lie there but that one's more obvious
What with my words so chokingly ominous
Don't give up though I mean it don't fret
You've plenty of reasons to not back down yet

All of those millions and billions of others
Those who'd hail you and avail you as brothers
Do not listen to them their malice runs deep
They'll steal all your stuff and sell it real cheap
Every blue heart from Boston to Beijing
From Nome to Queensland, from Rome to Sing-sing
They'll strip you down naked and they won't spare a thing

Oops that's lie number three but it won't matter
I've worked your fear and hate to a good lather
You'll wash yourself with it every day of your life
And go to your grave fair pleased with your strife

You'll swear to all that you've fought the good fight
And teach your kids greed and conflict are right

You'll run humanity right into the ground
If you take the ladder rightward and down


Just recently I found a gem.

They seem to pop out at me whenever I delve into the good ol' Red Book of Westmarch. But this one is different. It has a more somber tint than most. No "'chance' meeting in Bree" or "Felarof, father of horses" this. The Professor addresses our world, using his only for comparison, and he speaks to matters far more serious than one man's imaginings. While I'm sure I had at least scanned the words before, I'd never grokked them for what they are: a scorching indictment of the behavior of the Powers during and post WWII.

The real war does not resemble the legendary war in its process or its conclusion. If it had inspired or directed the development of the legend, then certainly the Ring would have been seized and used against Sauron; he would not have been annihilated but enslaved, and Barad-Dûr would not have been destroyed but occupied. Saruman, failing to get possession of the Ring, would in the confusion and treacheries of the time have found in Mordor the missing links in his own researches into Ring-lore, and before long he would have made a Great Ring of his own with which to challenge the self-styled Ruler of Middle-earth. In that conflict both sides would have held hobbits in hatred and contempt: they would not long have survived even as slaves.

Lord of the Rings
Forward to the second edition
JRR Tolkien

He wasn't pulling any punches with that. His words are pretty pointedly harsh, a righteous rant, once they're unraveled a bit. I think there's a lot of frustration showing through his cynical half-snark.

To me it's really no wonder why.

Recalling from the book; the destruction and, just as important, forbearance of the Ring, the Ringbearer's quest, was the only viable option. The One Ring was too potent a weapon for any person to wield, or even possess, without being seduced into evil by it, no matter that person's native constitution. Such power was rightly seen to be too much for anyone to control.

Yet Middle-earth's Very Serious People saw the quest as "madness" and "folly" and "a fool's hope". In another world they might have called it "hippy liberal peacenik talk". Boromir. Denethor. They wanted a war. They wanted the ultimate contest with Sauron, and wanted the Ring, the ultimate weapon, to win it. They wanted the scenario described above, and were it not for the clear-sighted restraint of such hippies as Faramir, they would surely have had it. And the Third Age would have ended in just such a contest, and then in a second darkness.

So we have found ourselves, living out Tolkien's grim and almost prescient account of modern history.

Among those people who've had their hands on or near the reins of power, few have refused a Great Ring if one were offered. Few of the already powerful have refused a bump in power if such were available. Many grasped right hold of it with both hands, even spent their tenures actively pursuing greater and greater personal power, and very little else, with little or no regard for future cost or consequence.

For many decades globally we've devoted vast resources to the research and development of new and increasingly devastating Great Rings, often with slim reasoning for having them other than to simply HAVE them. Everyone's striving to be a Ring-lord these days, and have a Barad-Dûr of their own.

And the lovers of peace and quiet and good-tilled earth have indeed been held in hatred and contempt, and are scorned as naive or lazy or worse.

Our own Very Serious People have largely been granted their desire for the ultimate weapons, and even though the ultimate contest with Sauron hasn't happened yet, the drums of war have not stopped for a long, long time.

The Professor was right to be frustrated, and cynical, and harsh.

For we sure as hell seized that Ring.
And turned that sucker up to eleven


Our past has many dark spots. It is an inescapable truth. And like the water marks on certain venerated and dilapidated pages of hemp, the stains on the pages of our history can never be washed away, not at least without destroying the whole works.

We haven't been alone in our ugliness, far from it. But we certainly own our share of blame, and a big ol' slice of humble pie it is.

There has been murder, and there has been slavery. There has been hatred and cruelty. There has been theft both petty and grand. There has been extortion and torture and lies. There has been war. There has been genocide.

Those are facts, as hard and cold as February ice.

But there have been a great many good things also, and I for one have always known about both the good and even the worst of the ugly. The curricula I remember didn't include too much discussion of both aspects, but from a very early age my dad and my teachers in school did an excellent job of filling in the blanks. And, guess what conservatives, I think the good wins out in the end. I still love my country, warts and all. It's one reason I've always been thankful to my teachers. I've always wished everyone else could have the same thing, could see our nation as what it is, instead of seeing the utopia it certainly is not.

Because for my part, unlike the Jefferson County, Colorado school board and the rest of the right wing today, I want no illusions about those that I love. I'd rather reality than some prettied-up phony.

Not to mention I'd rather not be pissed on and told it's raining while our peers around the globe turn away, and leave us to sink alone into our mire of self-righteous fantasy.

I love my species a great deal more than I do my country, and I think that if there is one thing we almost globally have in common, at least on the surface, it's respect for the truth. Liars lie about being liars. Well, WE are liars, so long as we deny or whitewash the awful things we have done. We lie to ourselves, to our neighbors, and worst of all to our kids. Admitted and unabashed liars are shunned even by their families, and, despite what many think, the United States will not survive being shunned by our brothers and sisters. No matter how many megatons we're packing or how many terabytes we can store.

I'm from a tiny Michigan backwoods town that nobody's ever heard of. I'm from the kind of place where your choice basically is get along with your neighbors or be lonely and miserable, so I know the danger, especially for the most powerful, of misrepresenting oneself.

People talk, and when they find out about your bullshit they turn their hand away and don't forget.

It's best to come clean


Because of course she was.

From the Daily Beast:

In April 2014, University of Arizona assistant professor Dr. Sue Sisley made headlines after winning federal approval to test marijuana on veterans suffering from PTSD. That made her the only academic in America to get a government go-ahead for cannabis research—and one of just 15 people to get such approval in the last two decades. The occasion hailed not only as a historic shift in public policy for the marijuana community but a huge victory for the 21.2 million veterans living in the U.S. today.
You really should follow that link. Her story is a great one. A lifelong conservative, who had previously held typically conservative views, not only on cannabis, but on anybody who thought they might need cannabis in a medical capacity. Including veterans seeking it to help with PTSD.
But the stories didn’t stop. Recurring nightmares, insomnia, loss of interest, anger, sadness, and irritability—the hallmark symptoms of Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder—were paralyzing her patients. The medicine wasn’t working. Zoloft and Paxil, the only two FDA-approved medicines for the condition, left the soldiers feeling numb, dizzy, and in a constant state of fog. Marijuana, many found, was stronger than all of them combined.
In short, Dr Sisley changed her mind. And fought for years to get approval to study cannabis for use in helping with PTSD.

Then she got it.

And then the reefer madness caught up.

As Sisley awaits the fate of her marijuana research, she’s still baffled by how difficult it is to study a drug that’s medically legal in 23 states. “It’s so clearly about politics, not science. Republicans feel like this is the pill they need to die on,” she says. “We keep asking, ‘What are you afraid of?’”
Good damn question, for America to ask themselves.

Update: Dr Sisley's homepage can be found here. There is a "Donate" button, top right, PayPal accepted. Many thanks in advance to any who are able and willing.

And thanks to Notreadytobenice in the comments

The degree of civilization in a society can be judged by entering its prisons - Fyodor Dostoevsky
Or by counting them.

Ponder the phrase a moment.


For-profit prison industry.


Just writing it makes me feel soiled. I feel disgusted that the words can be used together, actually describing something that is. I see it as one of the most horrible things I can think of. When I consider it I feel pretty much the same way I feel when I'm pondering slavery. Sickened by and for my species.

Laws as dragnets, law-breakers as commodities. Turn and burn, baby, turn and burn. Rehabilitation? Like the man said, it becomes just a made-up word, with no meaning whatsoever. What would be the point? Where's the profit incentive in escape from the system? The point is to make money. Have to make those investors happy yaknow.

The whole thing is, well, utterly despicable on its face.

"But..but.. criminals... thieves... murderers... teh druggzzzz!!"

Ah now. That is the chewy center. The drugs. Talk about a dragnet. Time to bust the speakeasies and smash the barrels again, with an ever-loving WAR this time. A war on each other, and to some people every warm body filing off the bus and into the booking room is just another gold piece for their hoard. A windfall Satan himself would be proud of.

And that's not even mentioning the devilishly gratuitous market-corner that was cannabis prohibition. Turn and burn. "Gateway" drug indeed. I think the reefer madness was the best thing to ever happen to the for-profit prison industry. Or it's possible that I have that backwards. Regardless it has paid off big.

The formula was simple enough, to use heroin as an example:

Criminalize both cannabis and heroin. Equate the two. Convince people you're serious.

Repeat ad nauseam.

Watch the units fly.

Like shooting fish in a barrel. Or busting hippies.

Utterly despicable


It's a bit like adding a pinch of carbon to a batch of molten iron, or a bit more like adding water to a cement/aggregate mixture.

What will emerge from the mix will be orders of magnitude greater than what it was. If it's tended properly.

And the comparisons both hold doubly true, for the tending can be bitter work. Just as it is right now with us.

The "Roberts Five" of our Supreme Court have shown, with their ruling on Burwell vs Hobby Lobby, that they are allied with the old male guard. They've shown that they believe that males are and should remain in charge of women's sexuality, or at the very least that they stand with those who do.

But their decision was rooted in fear. Not "closely-held beliefs", and certainly not the principles embodied in our Constitution.


Almost anywhere on earth you can hear it rumbling. Of course, sometimes it's blaring in your ears. It's fear all the same. For, quite suddenly, a crushing weight has been released, and half our species has departed a bondage that probably goes all the way back to our beginnings on the African plain. Men were the ones in charge, by way of both biology and brutality.

Now the field is level.

Equilibrium is a long ways off yet, for a great many men are not at all pleased and are fighting like mad, and they have been every step of the way. For decades.

The thing is, they have already lost. Humanity will never again be what it was, and though the mixing and casting of our sexy lot will be hard work, the humanity that emerges will be a thousand times what we are now.

In the meantime, of course, we have to get the mix right. We have to overcome their current play.

I think they have only one card left.

In a word: chaos


Tue Jul 01, 2014 at 08:10 PM PDT

Losing Sucks. Relatively Speaking

by Hammerhand

I love the game, just as I love a few others. I'm loving this wacky tournament. Around my house these days oft is heard a refrain: "oo. ooo. OOO. Aww..." And of course, rarely: "AHHH GOOOOOOOOAAAL."

But the part at the end, when all the decisions are made and questions answered, when the hitherto all-out competition has been won or lost, that part is my favorite.

Not necessarily the parts I enjoy watching most at the time. The juke n' jive seeming to dance ever closer and closer to the goal, the blast out of nowhere in the top-left corner, the leaping kung fu save that bounces off the upper bar, the surgical cross that seems to place the ball almost dead in space relative to the forward's head. That stuff, all that stuff, it's just awesome. Epicamazingawesome. Also, too, heartbreaking.

But the moments I remember most afterwards happen at the end. I think they're the moments that really scare the wits out of the Ann Coulters of the world.

Colombia's Fredy Guarin consoles Japan's Yuto Nagatomo after the group C World Cup soccer match between Japan and Colombia at the Arena Pantanal in Cuiaba, Brazil, Tuesday, June 24, 2014. Colombia won the match 4-1. (AP Photo/Thanassis Stavrakis)
And another

Because losing is hard. It's tough. I played in high school, and it's been a little while but I remember it well.

Losing is hard.

But things like respect, friendship, empathy, sportsmanship; these things make it easier. They make the game what it is. To see it on the world stage, well I think that is simply awesome.

I often can't stop myself from seeing the shade of history, of the often bloody context, behind everyday events. I look at these sorts of acts, and I think of war. I think sport is a sort of proxy for war. Conquest by other means.

The aftermath of old-school conquest never looks like that. Not ever.

Losing a soccer match is hard, and losing your shot at the World Cup is harder. But relatively it ain't so bad.

And the likes of Ann Coulter and Rush Limbaugh are scared of that. Because, I think, it may signal a long-hoped-for decline in their favorite sport.

Namely old-school conquest


Sat Jun 28, 2014 at 10:22 PM PDT

A Rant: Everyday Senseless Horror

by Hammerhand


Every goddamned day. Sun rises, sun sets, the lives of 30 people senselessly end to the sound of gunfire.

Honestly, I get tired of the word "senseless" being such a fucking PERFECT descriptor.

Senseless. Sans sense.

It's the year 2014, and with a little bit of work just about any person can legally walk around with the technology to shoot dozens of people in a matter of seconds. That's fucking senseless.

The United States has the most lax gun laws of any civilized nation, and has by far the most gun violence. But the simple logic that seems to dictate a solution to that problem is met by shrieking about "government tyranny". That's fucking senseless.

The vast majority of Americans support more stringent background checks, but because of the aforementioned shrieking, and truckloads and truckloads of hard currency, a very small minority holds despotic sway over our legislative process with respect to anything having to do with guns. That's fucking senseless.

It's the front-line of the crazy, and so, of course, that's where to send the berserker shock troops. And watch any sane counter-attacks get pushed back by slobbering paranoia and hate.

Recently I came face-to-face with it, after a fashion, and that was the impetus behind this little rant. Honestly I'm not sure how to deal with the situation. New guy on my crew. Older, loud-mouth, know-it-all-but-not-really type. So far he's not as angry as some, but he's very far from even-tempered. And he keeps at least one gun in his pick-up, and is loudmouth enough to have told me, his boss, that it's there the first day he worked with me. The jobsite is on a secluded back road on a lake. In an area with very little violent crime.

I don't know what kind of gun it is, or anything about it, and I don't want to ask.

He also showed me his arrow signed by Ted Nugent, and rants incoherently about Obama/Democrats taking his guns and his freedom. He told me a charming story about how he made sure to show his "old lady" a bullet with her name written on it right before they got married. And he said casually yesterday that between the two of them they put away a fifth of whiskey a night, and immediately afterwards (no shit) said that it would the most horrible thing ever if Michigan legalized marijuana.

The dude is both armed AND completely around the bend.

And I/we have to somehow work with this guy/these people? We have to somehow get things done?

Fuckin great


Fri Jun 20, 2014 at 05:29 PM PDT

It Is Not About Making You Smile

by Hammerhand

It's not about a beautiful game

It's not about telling you a story

It's not about challenging you

It's not about figuring anything out

It's not about survival

It's not about the frontier

It's not about your curiosity

Or your safety

Or your health

Or your comfort

Or your laughter

Or your tears

Or your anger

Or your fear

It's not about the future

Or the present

Or the past

It's not about getting you to believe

Or love

Or hate

It's not about your dream vacation

It's not about your "custom-built dream house on the lake"



It's not about journalism

It's not about democracy



It has nothing to do with honesty, rationality or compassion

It is about the money. Always the money. More, and more

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