Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Drugs, Redux

In light of the whole Michael Phelps brouhaha, I'm going to rehash (heh) my feelings on marijuana once more. The way I see it, there's two major problematic things with the way this all is going down:

1.) A 23-year-old smoked pot. Stop the fucking presses. Steroids or anything that's actually performance-enhancing would be a real, newsworthy issue, sure... but pot, in the off season no less, really shouldn't be seen as a career-ending moral failing or whatever. He's a spectacular athlete, and by every account I've ever heard a fairly stand-up guy; all that was true BEFORE this debacle and it's still true NOW. As far as bad behavior by role models goes, this one's pretty tame. Moral panic is, as usual, uncalled for.

2.) There's no mention anywhere in this of prosecution. Now, don't get me wrong, I certainly don't WANT Phelps to be prosecuted for pot use, as that would turn silly brouhaha into flat-out tragedy and farce. But, the fact that it's nowhere near the table highlights the point of my previous post: pot prosecution is entirely discretionary, and the discretionary habits of prosecutors follow the classical lines of privilege. Famous white dude gets different treatment than a poor black dude would. And that's fucked up.

Monday, February 2, 2009

On Hitchens

I'm generally at odds with nearly everything that comes out of Christopher Hitchen's mouth, except his thoughts on atheism (and even then, there's some disagreement). However, there's two things, two very important things, that I will give him credit for.

1.) When unequivocally smacked upside the head by reality, he will publicly, openly, and loudly admit that he was wrong. Witness his advocation for restraint and lack of torture after himself being waterboarded, a departure from his general hawkishness in the Iraq war. Witness also his realization that the more hawkish candidate in the US was just not running a serious campaign after the selection of Palin.

2.) He's a smarter bloke than his dumbass brother.

(I'm permalinking to what is currently his latest blather, but a glance through the archive tells me there normally should be stupidity a-plenty on his front page on the Daily Fail.)


So, I'm a San Diegan. We lost to the Steelers a coupla weeks back. I spent 5 goddamn years in Central PA with both Eagles and Steelers fans, which instilled in me a mile-wide streak of contrarianism (I also root for the Red Sox as well as the Padres... here in NYC). So, while I care little and less about AZ, I had, had, HAD to root against those #%#@%$@ Steelers.

If I put aside my tribalism for a second, I have to admit... holy crap, they deserved this. Much as I would have been all happily schadenfreudey if they hadn't gotten that twinkletoes touchdown, and lost by less than that challenged-and-overturned TD->Field Goal thing in the first half... that was a good game, they were the better team, and they deserved it just for that run by a man who was obviously not built to run, but, perhaps... was born to run.

Oh, and the halftime show was fucking awesome. Bruce's rocked a few shows before, that much was obvious from the first words out of his mouth. Though the attack-a-camera-with-your-crotch move was a little much...

And now we get to the things I really wanted to talk about this morning. Commercials! Some of the commercials were pretty darn good, some were meh, and some were just plain facepalm. So, without further ado, here were some of the ads I found most memorable, and my reactions to them:

Transformers 2: This gave me a tingly feeling in my lower bits.

Race to Witch Mountain: Well, this actually looks surprisingly good. Maybe they're NOT futzing with my childhood too badly this time.

Bridgestone: O! How delightfully clever and droll! Ms. Potato Head is a NAG! And then her mouth goes flying away! And Mr. Potato Head is pleased, although the angry eyes come out, but it's worth it because that annoying bitch is finally quiet! How edgy! How original! How my eyes hurt from rolling!

GoDaddy: Damn, I'm almost insulted more as a Comp Sci than as a woman. I certainly am much less inclined to buy their product. PROTIP: Insulting your potential market on several levels ("hey, you fat slob nerds just wanna look at nekkid hawt chicks all day!", "hey, no female geeks exist! If they do, they're weird and abnormal!") can actually lead to lower market share.

Budweiser: Hate your beer, but damned if the horsey commercials weren't awesome. Fetch the giant stick! A heartwarming story of immigration! The relentless pursuit of True Love, wherever it was taken to! All too fucking cute. :-)

Bud Light: Your commercials would be funny, if I could look past the fact that you're trying to make "our beer tastes like water!" into a SELLING point! "Drinkability" my ass!

Doritos: Argh! These were awesome, with that one exception! Why, yes, causing a woman to be naked and exposed in public is TEH FUN-NEE. It's not like, say, finding yourself naked in public is nightmare-worthy, or that she'd have trouble getting to where a change of clothes was, or that her day and schedule is absolutely ruined ten ways from Sunday... no, all that matters is that the dude saw hawt chick flesh. Bah.

Sobe: If I had to pick one commercial, this would probably be my favorite. The football-players-doing ballet was quirky, but didn't seemed played up for homophobia (although the gender narratives behind football and ballet contributed to the humor of incongruity, it almost seemed a subversion of it. But maybe I'm optimistic.), the lizards were cool, and it all kinda melded into a kaleidoscope of amusement and colors. Hmmm. In a bit, I'm gonna go search the internets to see how many David Icke fans FLIPPED THEIR FUCKING SHIT at the end with the human-reptilian shapeshifting thing.

Well, that's it for my reactions to the Bowl. Sigh... and now I gotta face all those Steelers fans I've talked shit to. Dammit!

Thursday, January 29, 2009


So, I was reading a Greenwald article over at Salon today. It's a good article, well worth the read, about some of the more facepalm-worthy aspects of our criminal justice system. His main point is how we have completely different levels of enforcement for the different classes in society. As part of this argument, he mentions the weirdness of our drug laws, particularly with regards to marijuana, and, well, that prompted me to go off on this tangent right here:

There is no goddamn reason marijuana should be illegal.

Now, I'm a bit of a social (not fiscal, though) libertarian, and I'm generally against government outright-banning of things that cause no harm to others. So, I'm in philosophical favor of pretty much all drugs being legal and subject to licensing, regulations, and quality control. But, I can certainly see an argument being made that coca-derivatives and opiates and especially meth cause enough damage to not be available to the citizenry. I don't *agree* with that argument, but there's a reasonably valid argument to be made.

That valid argument does not exist for marijuana.

Marijuana is far, far less toxic than either alcohol or tobacco, and quite possibly has less detrimental effects than caffiene does. It's also not chemically addictive, unlike tobacco or opiates. The high is obviously associated with lack of productivity during the period of effect, but, well, so is alcohol. Getting high also doesn't induce anywhere NEAR the level of violence (except to the food budget, of course) or other crazy-ass behavior that alcohol can. I love me my booze, and I homebrew when I can, but Demon Rum is far worse for society than Mary Jane is. Frankly, outside of moral panics, OMG DRUGS!!1! , and its association with "the wrong kinds of people" (read: brown, hippies, or both), I've never seen any reason it should be demonized at all.

I'd brought up this topic in class a few times, and gotten the weird-ass response of "well, but would you want your professors or fellow students showing up high? No! So we shouldn't legalize marijuana, or everyone will toke up all the time." This 'counter-argument' obviously ignores the general role of social mores and the threat of censure in policing behavior. After all, alcohol is legal, and yet (ok, except for around House Party Weekend) folks don't show up to class or work drunk. If they did, they'd be fired or kicked out of class or just generally shunned. If anything, being high would be *less* acceptable than being drunk, given the social hangups about it, while drinking is grandfathered in under centuries (or even millenia) of acceptability.

Oh, and to bring it back to Glenn's original point, marijuana criminalization is one of the issues that really does highlight class and racial divides in this country. It's illegal, and prosecutable, but most everybody (including cops) doesn't really thing of it as that bad. So, suppose you're a random teenager with a stash of pot that is somehow seen by a neighborhood cop. Whether you're arrested for that, or let off with a warning, is ENTIRELY due to that cop's reaction to you.

Are you a white, well-dressed, generally "All-American" (and what a messed-up descriptor THAT is) kid, perhaps relaxing after a rousing game of tag football in the park with your similarly middle-class friends? Well, maybe you go home with a warning. No sense messing up a good kid's life with a frivolous drug charge.

Are you brown or black, wearing "ghetto" clothes, maybe kinda "thug" looking, smoking a joint to finish off a pickup game of basketball? Urban decay! Moral failings of the youth of color! Zero tolerance, lest the menace engulf us all! Plus, that's just what you can be gotten on, obviously you're up to no good anyway, so it was just a matter of time. Good thing they got you in time.

Now, I've actually never had pot myself. This wasn't for lack of opportunity, or even really a lack of desire, but until this past year (and my GPA shooting to fuck and damnation) I had the ambition of working in national security, and didn't want to bother with the potential issues with getting clearance. But if I *had* taken a drag back in college, it would have been with the reasonable assumption that nobody would fucking care, even if folks in 'authority' knew. My bosses would *facepalm*, and maybe verbally smack me upside the head, but there'd be no real disciplinary action. The admins I knew in the housing office would pull strings to let me off with a warning. Lots of folks, obviously, don't have these assurances.

Ultimately, our drug laws are an excercise in hypocrisy. It's outlawed, but everybody does it. Everybody does it, but very few are prosecuted. Very few are prosecuted, but they get mandatroy minimum sentences. Holy fuck. This shit is insane!

Thursday, January 22, 2009

Let's try this thing again!

So, yeah. I'm a lazy fuck. It's been a while.

How 'bout that Inauguration, eh? :-D