Chretien announces that marijuana possession will be decriminalized

April 30, 2003 at 9:16 pm | In yulelogStories | Comments Off on Chretien announces that marijuana possession will be decriminalized

Myself, I don’t smoke, but I’m glad to hear that my federal government plans to decriminalize marijuana possession by June 2003. I’m glad that tax money in Canada will no longer be wasted to prosecute users, to bring them up before the courts, and to have them take up space and resources in jails where they don’t belong. The de facto reality is that people smoke pot in public here, but the police need resources to go after profiteering dealers, not some kid with a joint. I don’t want to sit next to *any* smoker, regardless of what he has rolled, and I’m opinionated enough to desire seeing smoking relegated to isolation cubicles preferably located on another planet, but I don’t think that it’s worth my society’s resources to go after users. Big tobacco companies and drug cartels should get the scrutiny instead. My main gripe with regular users is that, just as old social drunks (who think they’re so witty) can be a royal pain when routinely in their cups, old dopeheads have a tendency to become irrationally paranoid and tediously fractious, and are actually painful to be around.

But to the fretting parents and on-the-hustings politicians, hear me: Marijuana as such is not a “gateway” to hard drugs, either. For better or for worse, other people are the gateways in our lives. If a kid doesn’t understand that, perhaps because something is ethically or morally missing in the environment, then he or she won’t be thoughtfully able to handle, over the long-term, those lower-grade substances like pot or wine or beer, either. The drugs-as-gateways analogy only holds if the subject can’t relate to or in fact has no community with real people in it, or rather: an alternate community of users presents itself as an attractive alternative. Increasingly, of course, everything in our society provokes the child into abandoning the kind of ties where accountable, accounted for, and accounting individuals have any qualitative purchase. The rationale of the rat race — the world of the parents, and the world the child is being trained for daily — is to have dealings with professional identities, not with actual people, but those identities can’t be held to account at the end of the day: they were only doing their job.

My Son’s Blog

April 29, 2003 at 9:37 pm | In yulelogStories | Comments Off on My Son’s Blog

Of course it was inevitable: first, the younger sister Emma starts blogging (scroll down to that day’s 2nd entry), then the first-born older brother gets into the act, too. Read about war games for the computer from a 12-year old’s point of view on Adam’s blog, aka My Son’s Blog, today. And I promise that this is my last display of nepotism on this site.

Group Decision

April 28, 2003 at 9:09 pm | In yulelogStories | Comments Off on Group Decision

Here in British Columbia, the Women in the Woods today posted a last ditch message on Victoria’s Indymedia. Betty Krawczyk writes, “The ancient forests hold the history of human and animal evolution as well as the earth’s evolution. We humans evolved along with these awesome wonders, and to degrade them for the momentary profit of a few is to degrade the human race and the earth itself.” She concludes with a plea for more help, for more women to come to the Walbran Forest: “We, Women In the Woods, and our supporters, are making a last-ditch stand to save these wild forests that hold our biological and spiritual evolution. Please come join us. We need you. The forest needs you. All that is beautiful of this earth needs you. Come to the Walbran.” As it happens, my husband sent me a transcript he found through of a talk by Jared Diamond called, “Why do some societies make disastrous decisions?” Diamond’s analysis focusses on how and why groups make the wrong decisions, and it’s perfectly applicable to my provincial government. Apropos of environmental disasters, Diamond describes how the failures of group decision making pile up: “First of all, a group may fail to anticipate a problem before the problem actually arrives. Secondly, when the problem arrives, the group may fail to perceive the problem. Then, after they perceive the problem, they may fail even to try to solve the problem. Finally, they may try to solve it but may fail in their attempts to do so. While all this talking about reasons for failure and collapses of society may seem pessimistic, the flip side is optimism: namely, successful decision-making. Perhaps if we understand the reasons why groups make bad decisions, we can use that knowledge as a check list to help groups make good decisions.” To read the entire transcript, click on Jared Diamond and scroll nearly halfway down the page. It’s a very richly illustrated, concretely made, argument, and it will help people to understand why their governments or business leaders might, despite all appearances of expertise to the contrary, still be making the wrong decisions, and why the warnings of a small assembly of opposition in the face of organized power can be right.

Skull, once removed

April 28, 2003 at 8:24 pm | In yulelogStories | 2 Comments

I usually look forward to reading anything by New York Times journalist Thomas Friedman, but his weekend op-ed piece has me shaking my head. Friedman hinges his piece around a photograph of a group of Iraqis surrounding a freshly exhumed skull, the human remains of one of Saddam Hussein’s many political prisoners. For Friedman, the photograph symbolizes the freedom now given to the Iraqis, the freedom from tyranny. “America did the right thing here,” Friedman intones. What appalls me is the singular amnesia: who enabled Saddam to be in power, to stay in power? What country didn’t want to go into Kosovo to liberate its people from terror and tyranny? And what country continues to condone similar human rights’ abuses in other Arab countries, in Africa, and so forth? And are we now supposed to jubilate when that country unilaterally decides it’s time for regime change in other countries whose despots it has singled out because they happen to control some commodity we need? Where are the standards here, and what kind of world is this?

More from the totem pole

April 28, 2003 at 7:53 pm | In yulelogStories | Comments Off on More from the totem pole

In today’s Toronto Star, Mitch Potter relates the ‘cruel lesson in newfound capitalism’ that his translator Amir Mohsen learned in the wake of finding the documents that link Osama and Saddam.


April 27, 2003 at 10:13 am | In yulelogStories | Comments Off on Rankism

It’s probably real and not a CIA plot (see my blog yesterday about Documents), and I shouldn’t be so paranoid myself. But if it’s not a plot, here’s what it actually is: rankism. Yesterday, the Toronto Star had a story that their reporter, Mitch Potter, found the documents indicating an al Qaeda-Saddam Hussein link. It wasn’t on, it wasn’t on the UP or AP ticker tapes. Today, it’s on, but when I follow the links, I get to The Sydney Morning Herald in Australia for an article by Inigo Gilmore, a reporter for the Daily Telegraph in London. He had worked with Potter, but didn’t find the documents himself. In his article, he says, “Papers found by a journalist….” He doesn’t say, “found by me” (and might I point out that passive voice troubles me). The other links, however, including BBC, all stated that Gilmore found the documents, and nowhere in these articles is Potter even mentioned. On the Canadian side of the press room, the story is different: Potter found them, Gilmore was tagging along. For Potter’s full account, see today’s Toronto Star article.

I had a similar “grrr” moment when the UBC scientists at the Michael Smith Genome Sciences Centre in Vancouver broke the SARS riddle, while it was non-news in the US media until the CDC in Atlanta caught up. I always thought I was being so petty, but now I have a name for this: rankism, which coincidentally I had just read about in an AlterNet article called, “The Somebody Mystique and the Rise of the Uppity Nobody.” It’s an interview with Robert Fuller, author of Somebodies and Nobodies; Overcoming the Abuse of Rank. Modelling his analysis somewhat on Betty Friedan’s The Feminine Mystique, Fuller identifies rankism, which is an ism akin to racism, classism, etc., as giving birth to a counter-force he calls the dignitarian movement. It’s appealing, like the Second Superpower idea, and here in Canada we finally have a name for the daily BS we put up with from the US. Yes, I know that the American media haven’t had anything to do with this particular story development, but the Brits — Sunday Heralds, Sunday Telegraphs, Daily Telegraphs, and so on — also know a thing or two, particularly in the guise of colonialism, about rankism.


April 26, 2003 at 10:09 pm | In yulelogStories | Comments Off on Documentation

“Top-secret Iraqi intelligence documents, unearthed by the Toronto Star in the bombed-out headquarters of the dreaded Mukhabarat intelligence service in Baghdad, have established the first clear link between Saddam Hussein and Osama bin Laden’s Al Qaeda organization.”
The Toronto Star, today at 8:50 pm EST

If the documents found by Mitch Potter of the Toronto Star turn out to be accurate, proving the link between Al Qaeda and Saddam Hussein, it strengthens the hawks in their claim that the war against Iraq was legitimate, although it will do nothing to alleviate the wrongs done to the Iraqi people. If, however, it turns out to be more than mere coincidence that the bombed Mukhabarat headquarters, where Potter found the documents, had just been gone over by the CIA — that is, if the documents turn out to be a CIA plant — then the resiliency of people of good faith will be weakened even further. Cynical enlightenment, in which resignation (to a status quo of social darwinism) and paranoia (about the world of affairs) determine the parameters of our perspectives, will have our tongues.

My Daughter’s Blog

April 26, 2003 at 1:46 pm | In yulelogStories | Comments Off on My Daughter’s Blog

Ok, this blogging thingy is evolving, right?, and it involves ever-expanding circles of individuals, right? How about blogging from a nine-year old’s perspective? It’s My Daughter’s Blog (Really!). In light of the NYTimes article about students not spending enough time writing, blogs for children might be a good thing.


April 25, 2003 at 11:23 pm | In yulelogStories | Comments Off on Diplomacy

The report that Weyerhaeuser representatives tried to intimidate the protesters blockading a logging road in the Walbran Forest actually made its way into the local paper today, albeit by way of denial. Weyerhaeuser representatives told the press today that they were peaceful in their dealings with the protesters, but it’s certainly the case that they have on past occasions used force against people who tried to stop them. Issues come down to playground blueprints, become battleground blueprints: he said, she said, he did, she did. It’s uncanny how familiar playground bullying still rules the world, and how we just don’t seem to know how to deal with it. I’ll go on record to say that I believe the protesters and that I think Weyerhaeuser is a corporate bully. I’ll digress: I did something once, to a bully. It must have been around the time I was 9 or 10. This obnoxious older boy named Jamie went out of his way to taunt, strike, and spit huge flying goobers at anyone he didn’t like, whether at school or at the playground. No one could stop him. He wasn’t very bulky, instead having the wiry build that some small, but unbelievably strong, moving men have. We were all afraid of him because when he hit you, it really hurt. But one day — in my secret-agent-defender-of-the-free-world mindset, i.e.: completely insane and after getting spat on for the umpteenth time — I jumped on him, pummeled him to the ground, and then sat on his prone body. It was the proverbial tiger by the tail situation: I couldn’t let go. Alll my little friends were impressed and simultaneously scared, as I was. At that moment, the paper boy, on whom I had a total crush, came by and explained a dirty trick to me which I promptly used. (It involved applying pressure, via my interlocked fingers, to the root of Jamie’s nose.) I hurt Jamie so badly that he started crying, and when I shifted aside a bit, he managed to get up, scrambling off, in tears, completely humiliated. Interestingly, I felt like crap for having done it. There was no moment of triumph, it was all ashes. Maybe my brain isn’t wired right, or maybe it is, because maybe all this “conquer and kick ass” hype is just that, hype. A few days ago I heard a woman on a CBC Radio interview say something that stopped me, figuratively, in my tracks: “Diplomacy is taking care of yourself while you’re taking care of others.” Part of me (lots of me, actually) wanted to scream “NO!” and it took me a minute to figure that out. It had something to do with not having been taken care of myself, when I was little. Beating Jamie up was one of the many last straws expressing anger over a certain, shall we say, lack of diplomacy in my life. And what if it were as simple as that, after all? That if as individuals we were taken care of well and diplomatically, we could behave diplomatically towards the world, that is, take care of ourselves while we take care of others? Wouldn’t that be a change, or has the “kick ass and conquer and exploit” mindset, used in the frontline vs as a last resort, become too overweaningly seductive? It’s the bully who needs to learn diplomacy. But how to teach it?

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