| 21 Nov 2003 @ 12:26|
Note: Seems to me we need to look deeper than just eliminate drugs. Western culture is self-medicating with many, many different types of mood altering modalities, some good, some not so good. It is time to unweave the fabric of an addictive society. The question is do we have the courage to move through the changes?
"The system in which we live is an addictive system. It has all the characteristics and exhibits all the processes of the individual alcoholic or addict. It functions in precisely the same ways. To say the society is an addictive system is not to condemn the society, just as an intervention with an alcoholic does not condemn the alcoholic. In fact, those of us who work with addicts know that the most caring thing to do is not to embrace the denial and to confront the disease. That is the only possibility the addict has to recover."
Anne Wilson Schaef
When Society Becomes an Addict
Story from Alternet
By Glenn Backes, Drug Policy Alliance
November 19, 2003
Rush Limbaugh is addicted to OxyContin. Arnold Schwarzenegger smoked pot and consumed anabolic steroids. Most Americans enjoy a daily cup of coffee. The fact is, this country is filled with drugs – prescription, over-the-counter, illegal and otherwise. The drug warriors have been promising for decades to make America drug-free. Billions of dollars have been spent and hundreds of thousands of people are locked up. Yet drugs are as prevalent and easy-to-get as ever.
It's time for a new approach. First off, let's abandon the "drug-free" myth. Clinging to this impossible goal clouds our common sense and perverts our policy priorities. Instead, we should focus on implementing new drug policies that are fiscally responsible and have the goal of keeping Americans safe and healthy.
Drug treatment, for example, works better than prison in helping to stop the cycle of addiction. Just ask Rush. Or Noelle Bush. Or Cindy McCain (John's wife). Unfortunately, half of Americans who need treatment cannot get it. Instead they are taken away from their families and locked in a jail cell for crimes committed primarily against themselves. Those who struggle every day with addiction need help, not a drug charge on their record that could ruin their future chances for jobs, school loans, or public housing.
Federal and state governments flush about $40 billion a year trying to win the war on drugs. The lion's share goes toward busting, trying, and incarcerating nonviolent drug users and petty dealers. The federal prison bill for housing over 78,000 drug offenders exceeds $1.8 billion every year. Most of the men and women in federal prisons for drug offenses are first-time, nonviolent offenders.
Although the feds have the option of running up deficits, states do not. Burdened with massive prison bureaucracies, states are now forced to slash funds for everything else, including schools, healthcare, job creation, and even law enforcement. Yes, that's right. There are fewer cops on the street because states are employing guards, cooks, builders, accountants, and doctors (among others) to provide 24-hour services to petty drug offenders.
In order to save money on prisons, we should roll back the draconian sentencing regimes for nonviolent drug crimes. For instance, in California, possession of less than one ounce of heroin or selling a $10 bag of marijuana can send any adult on an all-expenses-paid trip to the gray bar hotel for three years or more. Three years of prison time costs California taxpayers around $84,000 per prisoner, not including the expenses related to enforcement and legal proceedings.
By abandoning the impossible goal of becoming a "drug-free" society, we can begin to focus our drug education programs on keeping people, especially young people, safe. Instead of programs being evaluated solely on whether they increase or decrease non-problematic, occasional drug use, we can look at how our policies affect rates of death, disease, crime, suffering and their cost to the hard-working taxpayer.
We all live with drugs all around us, whether it's cigarettes or Prozac or pot. We know we can't get rid of them, so let's try instead to reduce the risks associated with them. We can support designated driver campaigns for alcohol drinkers, for example, or syringe exchange programs to help heroin users prevent the spread of HIV/AIDS to each other and their families. We can support drug treatment as an inexpensive and effective way of deterring drug abuse, rather than continuing to try and arrest and incarcerate our way out of the problem.
Lawmakers should reduce or even eliminate the jail time for nonviolent drug crimes, and earmark the savings from prisons for community policing, drug treatment, and healthcare. Or give it back to us in the form of tax rebates. But for the sake of reason, health, and ultimately justice, we should stop pursuing the hopeless ideal of a "drug-free America".
Glenn Backes, MSW, MPH, is Director of the California Capital Office of Drug Policy Alliance
, a national membership organization dedicated to developing alternatives to the war on drugs.
| 21 Nov 2003 @ 11:05|
I escaped from a corporate data processing environment. As a project manager for a service bureau, I had plenty of practice finding bugs in software, or trying to use software in ways it was never intended to be used - I was creative, let's say.
I recall being challenged by one of my first mentors to try to break the system. He always said to me if I could find a way to 'stump' the system, it should not be on the market. And well, I felt free to explore both hardware and software. Together he and I collaborated to create a system for end users with little knowledge of computers or technology. It was a fun way to be appreciated for breaking things and to help in the de-bugging process.
Today Ming worked me through a bug that was eating one of my blog entries from 11/20 It's all better now, Thanks Ming!
And here is a different kind of bug story. One that is just as weird. And how did they get the funding to watch headless cockroachs race around?
COCKROACHES AFFECTED BY OLD AGE
Ananova November 19, 2003
Scientists have discovered cockroaches get doddery in their old age, just like humans.
In the first detailed study of insect ageing, researchers found that the bugs' joints seize up and they have trouble walking up hills.
American scientists noticed that cockroaches that survive into old age reduce the time they spend moving around by about 40%.
When the team put the insects on a mini treadmill, adults that had reached the ripe old age of 60 weeks took half as many steps per second as one-week old individuals.
Many of the old timers developed a stumbling gait as their front foot caught on their second leg.
Angela Ridgel, who led the study at Case Western Reserve University in Cleveland, Ohio, told New Scientist magazine: "It happens every couple of steps. It does slow them down."
The constant tripping happened because the insects' joints had stiffened up. By 65 weeks old, more than 80% of the cockroaches were tripping over themselves.
Old cockroaches also did badly at climbing a 45 degree slope. While all the younger insects managed the task, 58% of the older ones failed.
There was one rather drastic way to speed up an old cockroach, the researchers discovered.
Ridgel tested the ability of one cockroach species to run off when nudged. She found that elderly individuals were more likely to escape after being decapitated.
A different kind of bug:
We recently discovered Yellow Jackets nesting in the ground near the jujubee tree. These can be nasty and would like to get rid of them. There is plenty of land for us all to live in harmony. Just need to figure out a way to encourage them to leave and move else where. Any suggestions?