Category Archives: business

How E-Cigarettes and E-Joints Can Save the World

ecigs changed my life

Lately, I hear a lot about e-cigarettes in the news. I’ve also noticed them popping up for sale in our local gas stations and grocery stores. Even though I’m not a cigarette smoker, anything involving both electronics and drugs, naturally arouses my interest.

arouse

I’ve only seen a couple of people using e-cigarettes, but I find them much less unpleasant to endure than regular cigarettes. I can see how e-cigarettes could do a lot to improve relations between smokers and non-smokers. E-cigarettes might even make the exiled smoker, the lone individual standing outside, under the eves, a thing of the past.

bad habit

The price of e-cigarettes seems like the sticking point for most smokers. I haven’t done the math, but the device costs more than a couple of packs of smokes, and the refills for it don’t come cheap either. It already costs a lot to smoke cigarettes these days, and most of my friends who smoke, hand roll, with the cheapest tobacco they can get, if they don’t pick up cigarette butts they find on the sidewalk. There’s another problem e-cigarettes might solve; no more cigarette butts on the sidewalk, at least if they can bring the price of e-cigarettes down to a price more smokers can afford.

cheap smokes

E-cigarettes look kind of cool too. The one I saw close up, had a blue LED that glowed bright whenever the smoker took a drag from it. I love blue LEDs.

ecig blue led

I’ll bet you can get them with color-changing LEDs. I’m sure you could bling them out in a million different ways. You could get them made out of 24K gold or platinum. They’ll have pink ones for girls,

ecig pink

..and black, or camo-colored ones for guys.

ecigs fancy

They’ll even have ones that look just like a classic Marlboro for old geezers who still remember what real cigarettes looked like.

ecig marlboro

Even so, I’m not about to take them up. First, I’m too cheap. Second, there’s really no “cool” way to announce that you have a drug problem, and third, I don’t need another drug problem. Nicotine and I never saw eye to eye. I tried it back when I was a teenager. I gave it a chance, and it didn’t do anything for me. If only these e-cigs had something I liked in them…

dont like

Now I understand that that you can get e-joints. That is, an e-cigarette loaded with THC instead of nicotine. A new shop just opened up on the plaza in Arcata that specializes in just such devices. I love good old-fashioned marijuana buds, but I think these new e-joints, or “vaporizer pens” as I’ve heard them called, generically, could be a real game-changer in the marijuana industry, as we move inexorably towards legalization.

vaporizer pen

Right now, the biggest bottleneck to scaling up the whole marijuana industry, is trimming. Currently, the market demands manicured sinsemilla buds, which require a lot of manual labor. It takes about an hour to trim an ounce of buds, a really proficient trimmer might be able to trim an ounce and a quarter per hour, either way, there’s at least 12 hours of excruciatingly dull, manual labor in every pound of marijuana bud, just in trimming alone.

trimming weed

Several companies make automated trimming machines, but thus far, none of them produce a product that can compare to hand trimmed buds. With the high prices of black-market marijuana, every gram has to be marketable, and a poor trim job can break the deal, so trimming machines have not become very popular with growers.

trimming machine

Sinsemilla buds also have a very limited shelf life, and must be handled with care. Like potato chips they can become stale, or get crunched down to worthless powder. The way I see it, e-joints can solve all of these problems, and more.

problem-solved

Back in the early “90s in Boston, when I worked for the Mass. Cannabis Reform Coalition, I met a guy, I can’t remember his name, who owns a patent for a method of extracting pure THC from raw cannabis herb.

THC extraction

He described a future world in which he was a multimillionaire, and everyone “smoked” these little electronic devices that would deliver a precise dosage of pure THC, along with whatever flavor you might enjoy.

ecig guy

At the time, I thought “Fuck that! I don’t want some corporation getting between me and my marijuana. I want to smoke the marijuana that I grow in my own back-yard, not some soulless corporate cannabis extract.” Today, I feel differently. Today, I think that guy is a genius. Think about it.

lemme_think_about_it

On the production side, the difference between e-joints and sinsemilla buds is like the difference between Heinz 57 Ketchup and fresh heirloom tomatoes. E-joints offer these advantages:
1. You can make extract from the whole plant, male or female, mature or immature. Growers wouldn’t lose the THC contained in shake, trim, leaf or stem. I’ll bet they could even extract clean THC from moldy bud. All cannabis contains some THC, so probably any cannabis could be made into “fuel” for e-joints.
2. Extraction would completely bypass the need for trimming, and greatly reduce the cost of production. A single industrial extraction facility could replace an army of trimmers.
3. Subjective qualities like aroma and flavor, as well as aesthetic flaws, like spindly buds or brown leaves make no difference in an extract. Manufacturers could produce a very consistent e-joint product, as consistent as a Budweiser or a Big Mac.
4. Cannabis extract for e-joints would be easy to store and transport, vastly simplifying national distribution.

e-cig-truck

On the consumer side the advantages are obvious:
1. No joints to roll
2. No lighter to burn yourself with
3. No smoke, which means no carcinogenic combustion products
4. No smell
5. No ashes
6. No roaches
7. No gooey sticky resin clogged pipes
8. No bongwater
9. No coughing
10. No raw throat
11. Most importantly, e-joints should bring down the cost of getting high. Around here I hear a lot of talk about “boutique growers” serving “marijuana connoisseurs,” but in the open market, a lot of consumers want a product of reliable quality at a reasonable price. Marijuana consumers have been denied that for far too long, and these e-joints just might be the ticket to a mass-produced, nationally distributed, recreational cannabis product with a price based on the economy of scale.

economy-of-scale

I might still prefer to smoke my own home-grown marijuana rather than the soulless corporate substitute, but e-joints, complicated little gadgets though they are, might simplify the process of getting high for everyone.

simplify simplify

My younger, hipper friends are all down with e-joints. They all have vaporizers already. They see e-joints as a major advance in stoner technology, the wave of the future. They say vaporizing is cleaner and healthier than smoking, and that it gets you just as stoned. I’m sure they’d all embrace e-joints, at the right price point, even here in Humboldt County.

humboldt-county-young people

Yes, I think these “vaporizer pens” could change the world. For one thing, it won’t be long before no one knows how to roll a cigarette anymore. Imagine it. People will have to go to The Haight in San Fransisco, which by then, (because nobody could afford the rent to live there anymore) will have been turned into a theme park for Hippie nostalgia,. It will be like Colonial Williamsburg, except that instead of having people in period costumes making tallow candles and shoeing horses, they’ll have actors wearing wigs, grannie glasses and tie-dye t-shirts, show people how they used to roll joints in the old days.

hippie rolling joint

By that time everyone will have an e-cig of one form or another. They’ll have e-crack, e-meth, and e-heroin. They’ll have e-MDMA and e-LSD. They’ll have e-Prozac for mom and e-Adderall for the kids. They’ll even have drug-free e-flavor for people who don’t take drugs but want to enjoy a refreshing calorie-free vapor-snack.

ecig smoker

Thanks to e-cigarettes the future will look like Humphrey Bogart meets Obi Wan Kenobe.

humphrey bogart obi wan kenobi

We’ll all have our own little rechargeable, chrome plated, illuminated pacifiers to fondle endlessly, and no one will have to stand outside to get their fix anymore. Doesn’t that sound like brighter e-tomorrow? Now I think I’ll just unplug my e-joint and enjoy a celebratory e-toke. ecig cartoon


A Different 1%

 

A Different 1%

save-the-one-percent-

NPR recently reported on a scientific paper that predicted 1% of girls who live in the area effected by the Fukushima nuclear disaster, and were one year old at the time of the meltdown, would get cancer from the radiation exposure resulting from the incident. The report concluded that cancers resulting from the Fukushima nuclear disaster would not raise Japan’s cancer rate very much at all, since about half, or 50% of all Japanese people get cancer at some point in their lives already.

fukushimas irradiated children

My brain almost exploded when I heard that report. First, I can scarcely imagine what kind of statistical gymnastics it took for them to jump to that conclusion, especially considering that the disaster continues unabated. I mean, the reactors continue to melt, producing heat, steam and huge quantities of deadly radioactive material, that is by no means contained. This material continues to contaminate soil and groundwater in the area, and few believe that anyone can prevent the heavily contaminated groundwater from flowing into the Pacific Ocean. Clearly, the best is yet to come.

JAPAN-DISASTER-NUCLEAR-POLITICS

Second: Half of all Japanese people can expect to get cancer in their lifetime! That shocked me. Cancer was relatively rare before the Industrial Revolution, which is why they call cancer a “disease of civilization”. Doctors identified the first causes of cancers in the 18th Century, which appeared as rare tumors on the scrota of chimney-sweeps with poor hygiene. 300 years of carcinogenic industrial pollutants later, so many people get cancer that even an ongoing nuclear catastrophe will hardly make a dent in the national cancer rate.

japan radiation

Isn’t that reassuring. Really, why worry about Fukushima? Your dryer sheets will kill you before it does. Your nail polish, oven cleaner, deodorant, air freshener, the smell of your new car, carpet, paint, and furniture will help. Vehicle emissions, industrial incinerators, coal fired power plants, chemical plants and plastics factories provide free carcinogens for people who can’t afford to buy products that contain them. The body burden of pesticides, flame retardants, rocket propellants and a couple hundred other chemicals we inherited from our parents, gave them all a head start. How could one nuclear disaster hope to compete with a full-court press like that.

Dryer-Sheets-toxic

Finally, even assuming this dubious estimate turns out to be accurate, what kind of metric is the estimated number of additional cancers in one year old girls from Fukushima, for measuring the magnitude of the Fukushima disaster? What about two year old girls? What about five year old girls? What about boys? What about adults? What about kids who haven’t been born yet?

pregnant japanese women

How many of those one year old girls will suffer miscarriages, or have children with birth defects because of radiation from Fukushima? What about 15 year old girls, or 25 year old women? How many miscarriages and birth defects have already resulted from the Fukushima nuclear disaster. How many of those babies will develop cancer later in life?

japanese birth manequin

How does 1% sound for a wild ass guess for any and all of the above questions. I’ll bet that’s as accurate of a guess as the study I heard quoted. Does that sound like an acceptable cost? 1% sounds like almost nothing, doesn’t it? That’s probably why they chose that number for their prediction. One bullet, one hundred people, Russian Roulette anyone? This still doesn’t get to the heart of the issue, because Fukushima is the gift that keeps on giving.

gift that keeps on giving

What happens the next time an earthquake triggers a tsunami in the area, and it stirs up all of the radioactive mud just off the coast of the plant, that will probably never be cleaned up, and dumps it all over the countryside? It’s bound to happen, in 50, 100, or 500 yrs or so, and all of that plutonium will be just as fresh and deadly as it is today. What happens in 10,000 yrs when no one there speaks Japanese anymore, or has any idea why this lovely oceanfront real-estate has remained undeveloped? What happens in 10,000,000 yrs, when bipedal felines plant the whole area in catnip? I’ll hazard a guess that 1% of bipedal felines exposed to contaminated catnip develop feline leukemia, using the same math as the researchers quoted on NPR.

bipedal feline1

…And for what? A few fleeting megawatts of electricity, mostly wasted on garish signage, excessive lighting, electronic toilets and Japanese game shows. Unlike the electricity generated at the Fukushima nuclear power station, the Fukushima nuclear disaster will not go away. The deadly impacts of Fukushima will even outlast the fortunes of Tepco’s shareholders, who profited from the massive public investment in, inherently dangerous, uncompetitively expensive, nuclear power.

japanese game show

The lasting radioactive legacy of the Fukushima nuclear disaster will remain a threat, and an impediment to life on Earth until the sun goes super-nova and burns the Earth to a cinder. Radioactivity from Fukushima, and the contaminated area around it, like Chernobyl, not to mention every other nuclear power plant, laboratory, or weapons facility ever built, will continue to take lives, cause sickness and make life harder on Planet Earth until the end of time.

end-of-time

Life on Planet Earth is hard enough, thank you very much, and we really don’t need the additional burden.

burden rock


Unfamiliar Faces, Familiar Theme

 

Unfamiliar Faces, Familiar Theme

The following letter appears in our local papers this week.  The more I hear other people voice their frustration with the abundance of poor, young people in our area, the more I feel compelled to vent my hatred for the dope yuppies, moochie merchants and real-estate goons who make up the middle-class around here.

yuppie irradication project

Dear Editor,

Before we give voice to any more unkind thoughts we may have about the influx of new faces in our little town, we should remember that these are the faces of marijuana smokers, and that they are the source of our community’s prosperity. The next time you see a cluster of unfamiliar faces cluttering a stretch of sidewalk, ask yourself, “How much money did they spend on marijuana last year?” and “How much will they spend on marijuana next year?” The answer to both questions is “More than they can afford.”

too damn high

They will do without decent clothing, a car, or even a place to live, but they will not go without marijuana. This whole community was built with their money. Not only that, they pay prohibition prices for what would otherwise be a common weed. In order to make big money from marijuana, you need cops, and you need to arrest a lot of people. A million people, more or less, every year, for the last thirty years or so, have worn handcuffs, been strip searched, and made prisoners, in order to support marijuana prices, and profits for local growers.

marijuana_arrests_chart500

Ask yourself, “How many of them have been arrested for marijuana?, How many of them spent time in jail for it? How many of them have been on probation? How much did they spend on lawyers and fines? How many of them have lost, or been denied jobs because they failed a drug test? How much has their enthusiasm for marijuana cost them?”

Marijuana-Laws-750x412

Yes, the unfamiliar faces we see around town pay for the prosperity that this community enjoys in money, time, agony and humiliation. They have, and will, continue to suffer needlessly, just so that this community can continue to demand a princely sum for a common fast growing weed.

pot prisoners

Every merchant and grower in SoHum owes them a huge debt of gratitude, and should celebrate their enthusiasm for marijuana. The least we could do is provide them with a restroom and clean up after them, just like we do at Reggae on the River.

Reggaeontheriver

If you really don’t want to see lots of raggedy looking strangers around town, don’t harass them or vandalize their meager possessions. Instead, donate money to NORML and other organizations working to legalize marijuana, sign the petition to get the Jack Herer initiative on the ballot, and find another way to earn a living that isn’t so dependent on them.

Jack_Herer_1

 

 


10 Great Ideas to Bring More Traffic to Your Blog

10 Great Ideas to Bring More Traffic to Your Blog

blog traffic

When I started this blog, over two years ago now, I had no idea what I was doing. I didn’t understand why people wrote blogs, or what made one blog more popular that another, or why anyone reads blogs at all. I never read blogs myself. I have better things to do with my time, and feel terribly sad for those who don’t.

feeling sad

After a couple of years in the blogosphere, however, I have discovered that the key to understanding the blog phenomena, and to blogging successfully lies in understanding one critical fact. That fact is, people are idiots.

full of idiots

Yes, the web is full of suckers, in fact, the web was designed for suckers, and these suckers roam the web looking for something to suck on. If you want them to suck your blog, the first thing you have to do is:

suck

  1. Think like an idiot. If you visit the web’s most popular blogs, you’ll find yourself wondering, “Who would be stupid enough to read this tripe?” The answer is that among today’s, “media savvy” content consumers, you won’t find many with an IQ higher than your average hamster. Intelligent people think for themselves, based on their own experience, and learn from doing things themselves. Consequently, intelligent people have little use for the internet, and spend very little time online.intelligent people

  2. Create the illusion that you are providing useful information. Your blog should look, on first glance, as though it might really supply something useful or insightful. Of course it doesn’t, because if you knew how to do anything, you would have something better to do that write a blog.something better to do

  3. State your opinion. Like the old saying goes: opinions are like assholes, everyone has one, and mostly they’re full of shit. Chances are, your stupid opinion falls somewhere on the continuum of idiocy between flaming liberal and lock and load libertarian. So, no matter how pea-brained, ill-considered or moronic your opinion, most idiots will either agree, or disagree with it. This encourages “reader engagement”, and soon your blog will overflow with stupid comments.stupid_comments

  4. Celebrity endorsements. Sure, it would be great if you could convince a major celebrity to endorse your blog, but you probably don’t know any major celebrities, and they will never return your calls because they have better things to do than read your stupid blog. Instead, to increase traffic at your blog, I suggest that you endorse some celebrities For instance, I wholeheartedly endorse Mylee Cyrus’ decision to go braless.cyrus braless

  5. Find a way to inject some T and A into your blog. Sure, sexualized images are exploitative and degrading, besides that, they are cruel, but if it weren’t for exploitative, degrading and cruel uses of technology, we’d all still live in teepees and hunt bears with stone tipped spears. Adding T+A to your blog is as close as you can come to directly injecting your readers with drugs. Sure it’s great if people enjoy your writing, but to keep them coming back, you want them to physically desire your blog.early ass

  6. Ask a provocative question that keeps people hanging until they click on a link. For instance: Is this a picture of Tom Hanks diseased penis? Click here to find out.California sea lion

  7. Write about famous brand name products, like this: McDonald’s to open luxury drive through lane for Lexus owners serving Crystal champagne and Absolut Vodka bloody marys. Not only are brand names like Starbucks, GAP and KFC some of the few words that idiots rarely misspell, brand name companies tend to google themselves a lot.google-yourself-cartoon-snakes

  8. Use lots of photographs. Idiots don’t have much of an attention span. The quickest way to get them to leave your site is to post a whole page of text without a single picture, and the best way to get an idiot to read the copy you write, is to insert an intriguing, but inscrutable photograph into it.inscrutable

  9. Lists. 5 reasons lists work:

    1. Eliminate the need for pesky context

    2. Suit short attention spans

    3. No need to index

    4. Easy to pad out

    5. No need to think in complete sentencesStupid-list-740x280

  10. Offer to help people attract more traffic to their website. Everyone wants more traffic at their website. They don’t care where it comes from, or how it got there. When it comes to web traffic, more is always better. You’ll never know if people actually read your post, but on the web, all that really matters is that they looked at the page. If, after reading a sentence or two, they decide to go looking for something else, that counts as much as someone who read every word, so all you really need is a title that sucks people in, followed by a bunch of blah… blah… blah…BLAH BLAH BLAH

Try these ten tips and see if they don’t dramatically improve the stats on your blog.


Slightly Less Obvious Consequences of Ending Marijuana Prohibition

While we’re on the subject of marijuana prohibition:

Rand-Corporation

The Rand Corporation recently published the results of their latest study on the economic effects of legalizing cannabis.  To great fanfare, they predicted that if legalized, the price of pot will fall, while the number of users will rise. This prediction shocked people who were also surprised to learn of the Pope’s religious affiliation, and that bears shit right on the ground in the middle of the woods. Since this kind of speculation seems popular these days, I offer:

Slightly Less Obvious Consequences of Ending Marijuana Prohibition

california bear high

Farmers Markets – sales rise

Grow Shops – sales fall

With legal farmers growing cannabis in local soil fertilized with manure from animals that live on the farm, we’ll finally taste Humboldt County’s Terroir. But, we’ll no longer import enough potting soil every year to build a small island nation off the coast of Petrolia.

island nation

Head Shops – sales rise

Hair Salons – sales fall

With the prices falling and availability increasing, demand for marijuana rises, which means more people will need, pipes, rolling papers, bongs etc., and since pot is so cheap, I’ll also take a couple of those black-light posters, some incense, and a glow-in-the-dark Frisbee. On the other hand, stoners hate getting their hair cut. The more pot you smoke, the more averse to haircuts you become. Anthropologists believe this well documented side effect of marijuana use to be at the heart of many tonsorial religious traditions from Rastafarianism to Sikhism. Business booms for makers of tams, turbans, and ponytail-holders, but barbershops take a beating.

dreads round

Grow lights – sales fall

Lava lamps – sales rise

As grow houses close down, makers of HID lamps, ballasts, and reflectors see sales tumble. As more of us discover the pleasures of cheap, plentiful marijuana, sales of lava lamps, plasma spheres and mirrored balls soar.

lava lamp rainbow

Custom Trucks – sales fall

Custom Bicycles – sales rise

As more people get stoned, fewer people want to drive large, loud or fast vehicles and a plethora of unique pedal powered and electric vehicles, conceived in a hashish reverie, and hand built by stoners, take the streets. Others will have to chop a lot of firewood to pay for that new truck. A lift kit only means they’ll have to lift that firewood that much higher. They’ll skip the custom bumper, wheels and headache rack because they might need to take a day-off sometime in the next six years.

custom-aztlan-bicycle

Energy – demand falls

Energy drinks – demand rises

As grow houses become a thing of the past, those electric meters won’t spin nearly as fast, but you can’t get your stoned ass to work without 300mg of caffeine in your system.

more energy

Unemployment – rises

Interest in work – falls

As grow shops, truck dealerships and hair salons lay-off workers and outlaw growers lose their source of income, the ranks of the jobless swell. However, thanks to the 80% drop in the price of marijuana, pot smokers will only have to work half as much to enjoy the same quality of life. Why work harder than you have to?

work

Reggae music – sales rise

Classical music – sales fall

Who am I kidding? No one buys music anymore.

record store closed

Pit bull popularity – falls

Cat popularity – rises

With pot legal, fewer growers need dangerous watch dogs to guard their grow or stash. Stoners, on the other hand, prefer a pet they can relax with, and no one knows how to relax like a cat.

relaxed cat

Costa-Rican real estate – sales fall

Costco – sales rise

Pot growers often used illegal profits to buy real estate in Costa-Rica, Mexico or Hawaii. With those profits gone, tropical real estate markets feel the pinch. But, with the price of an ounce of bud dropping to about $35, pot smokers can afford to buy Oreos by the pallet.

pallet of oreos

Incidents of arrest – fall

Incident of “I’m sorry, what did you just say” – rise

With pot finally legalized, the cops have one less tool with which to fuck people over. And…I’m sorry, what was I talking about?

what was I talking about


Murder v Money

 

Murder v Money

murder and money

In response to last week’s post about marijuana prohibition, I received a notable comment from Joel Meilke. I found the comment notable not because it was especially well thought out, or because it brought up a fresh perspective, quite the contrary. Joel’s comment was notable because it articulated the most common knee jerk reaction to any discussion about ending marijuana prohibition around here. Joel described Humboldt County’s tradition of almost weekly, prohibition related homicides and disappearances as “a conundrum”, weighing them against the amount of money the black market marijuana industry brings into Humboldt County.

mielke

I like Joel, I mean, I’ve never met him, but I enjoy his cartoons in the North Coast Journal, and he did post the very first comment in this blog, back in May of 2011, so I appreciate him as a reader, but money ain’t everything folks, and counting the dollars is no way to measure the effects of prohibition on Humboldt County. Joel lamented that the local economy might contract by as much as one-third without the massive government subsidies that pay for the arrest, conviction and incarceration of millions of innocent, mostly poor, mostly minority, and mostly young Americans across the country.

kids in prison

They say “Money talks”, and I’ve lived behind “The Redwood Curtain” long enough to know that most people here really don’t give a rat’s ass about what goes on in the rest of the country, and couldn’t care less about the people who pay for Humboldt County’s marijuana crop, so long as someone shows up with the cash to buy it from them. That’s why I wrote about the ways marijuana prohibition negatively affects us, the predominantly white, middle-class residents of Humboldt County, despite the influx of illicit funds it brings.

humboldt county line

Even so, last week’s post barely scratched the surface of the negative side-effects of prohibition on our local community. It would take many volumes to analyze to real cost of prohibition here in Humboldt County, but we all suffer the consequences of marijuana prohibition, and often in ways you might not consider.

consider this

For instance: Haven’t you noticed the proliferation of overpriced mediocre restaurants around here? Aren’t you tired of paying through the nose for disappointing meals out? If so, you can thank marijuana prohibition. How’s that?”, you ask.

disappointing restaurant

Simple. Drug dealers are the quintessential nouveau riche. They don’t mind being overcharged, so long as they get to flash the cash. Drug dealers spend money much more indiscriminately than working people. They also tend to value convenience more than quality, appearance more than substance and generally lack good taste. The restaurants in Humboldt County reflect that.

nouveau riche

Were it not for prohibition, we might have fewer restaurants, but we would certainly have better restaurants, and we would have cheaper restaurants. Besides that, the restaurants would have much less trouble finding decent help, and the people who work at the restaurants would have an easier time finding a place to live that they could afford, because half of the available housing would not be full of grow lights and pot plants. That’s how marijuana prohibition makes restaurants in Humboldt County suck.

bad-restaurant-experience

Fewer murders, better restaurants, cheaper eats and more affordable housing are just a few of the ways that ending marijuana prohibition would improve the quality of life for the residents of Humboldt County. Sure, less money will come into the county, but most of that money ends up in the hands of a few rich, greedy bastards who mostly use it to fuck the rest of us over. Besides, without the financial incentive that marijuana prohibition provides, a lot of those bottom-feeders would move out of the county to search for some other dark, murky slime-pit in which to lurk.

Bottom Feeder Food

So don’t worry about the economy. The economy will not suffer. The economy never suffers. Grieving mothers suffer. Crime victims suffer. Children who see their parents hauled away in handcuffs at gunpoint suffer, but the economy does not suffer. People who pay too much for mediocre food suffer. People who work for a living but can’t find an affordable place to live suffer, and people who pay too much for pot suffer, but the economy doesn’t suffer. Salmon suffer, the environment suffers, and the community suffers, but the economy does not suffer. The economy never suffers because the economy is not alive. The economy doesn’t feel a thing. No matter how much we suffer for the economy, the economy will never return the favor.

Bees and the economy cartoon 1

Remember, Reagan broke the unions to help the economy. Bush relaxed environmental standards to help the economy. Clinton signed NAFTA to help the economy. Bush II cut taxes on the rich to help the economy, and then we all bailed out the bankers to save the economy. How stupid can we be that we haven’t figured out that when they tell us something is helping the economy, that means it’s hurting most of us?

illegalization

So fuck the economy! If you want forests and salmon and a place to live, and you think there should be plenty of marijuana for everyone, then work to end marijuana prohibition. If you want overpriced mediocre restaurants full of nouveau riche drug dealers, murderers, and greedy slimeball bottom-feeders, because it’s “good for the economy”, I suppose there should be a place for you. Call it Hell, and go there.

acdc-acdc-funny-highway-to-hell-led-zeppelin-Favim.com-352202_large


On The Money; A Brief History of Private Property

 

 

On The Money;

Economics for the 99%

A Brief History of Private Property

 

quote-if-history-could-teach-us-anything-it-would-be-that-private-property-is-inextricably-linked-with-ludwig-von-mises-128364

 

For most of human history, the modern concept of private property would have been unimaginable. Early humans, as individuals, had very few possessions indeed. Early humans would have used possessive pronouns, in reference to things literally attached to them, my hair, my hand, my penis etc, if they even had pronouns at all, which they probably didn’t. Early humans were not even possessive enough to own pronouns, but they did recognize that some things, the things that grew on their own bodies, belonged to them exclusively.

 

Early-man

 

Early humans also recognized that things that grew on other creatures belonged to those creatures as well. A bear’s claw belonged to the bear. A deer’s antler belonged to the deer, and so on. Early humans needed stuff from these animals, food especially, so early humans hunted these animals and took theses things for themselves.

 

early man village

 

Still, early humans acknowledged that the meat they ate, the skins they wore, and the bones they used for tools still belonged to the animals from which they had taken them. They believed that the spirits of these animals continued to inhabit these things. Early man did not so much feel that they owned these animals, as they felt that these animals inhabited them and the things they made from them. The more bear you ate, the more bear inhabited you. If you wore buckskin clothing, the spirit of the deer that inhabited those skins kept you warm.

 

Paleolithic Cave Painting of Cattle at Lascaux

 

These early possessions, tools, clothes, furs etc could not be considered private property in the modern sense, however. They would instead be considered “belongings”. The clothes you wore, the fur you slept on, the hunting bow you used, belonged to you. You inhabited them more than owned them. Other items, like shelters, fire rings, and food were shared among the entire band. Still other items, ornamental items, game pieces, fishhooks arrowheads or arrows, drums and whistles, were often traded, or used for gambling.

 

prehistoric_man_tools

 

Early humans depended much more on the people in their band or tribe, than they relied on their few possessions. These cultures developed quite extensive social software to prevent anyone from becoming too possessive with objects. They treated greed with scorn. Gambling on games of chance provided entertainment, and insured that prized items changed hands often.

 

cavemenoutcave

 

Early humans valued equality, and their cultures reflect that. Many tribal cultures strongly avoided debt and obligation between tribal members. Gift-giving was frowned on, especially of valuable items, because of this aversion to interpersonal obligations. . However, gifts of arrows made hunting even more communal. A kill made with a gifted arrow, involved the efforts of both the hunter and the arrow-maker.

 

prehistory-hunting

 

Humility helped to insure the stability of the band, and tribal people often took it to extreme. If a hunter made a kill, instead of bragging about it, he might say it was a lucky shot, or praise the gifted arrow that made the kill. Then he would say that it seems like a tired old animal that will probably be too tough to eat. The men who help him carry the kill home will complain about how bony and mangy it looks, and ask why he even bothered to hunt such a worthless quarry, and waste their time with it, but the whole band will feast on it together.

 

cave man feast

 

Early man lived a nomadic life, moving seasonally to take advantage of a variety of wild foods. This encouraged them to keep possessions to a minimum, as they would have to carry them all, often long distances, on foot. Again, the things they carried with them would be more accurately described as “belongings” than private property.

 

Nomad Bushmen

 

Early humans lived together in small groups, usually consisting of between 15-40 members on average. These groups, although very close knit, might be quite wary of other groups, depending on their history with them. If another group of humans got too close to your camp, you might interpret that as a sign of aggression, and try to drive them off.

 

warriors

 

As with most animals, these confrontations between groups of humans often involved little more than bluster, before one group backed down. If the confrontation escalated to violence, and especially if it resulted in death, the two groups would likely remain enemies for a very long time. Hostile raids and revenge killings would be expected.

 

care for the dead

 

You could call these kinds of conflicts “territorial” but they were really more personal than territorial. The territory between the groups created a buffer that allowed hostile groups to avoid each other, but no one thought they owned the territory. For millions of years, human beings lived this way, and, where they haven’t been wiped out, they continue to live this way. This is not a primitive lifestyle. This is who we are.

 

indigenous tribe

 

About 10,000 years ago, one particular group of humans became especially fond of a fermented grain beverage. Today, we would call it beer, but who knows what they called it then. They began burning large tracts of land to cultivate grain to make it. This burned and planted land must have been quite jealously guarded, not only from other humans, but from animals seeking to graze there.

 

early Agriculture

 

Thus began the concept of private property. Still, this had more to do with labor than land. In those days, they didn’t know much about fertility, so a burned patch of forest land would only produce grain for a few years before exhausting the soil. Before long, they would need to burn more forest land leaving the old exhausted fields abandoned. In these early days, private property was kind of like a roll of toilet paper in a public restroom. It was there. You took what you needed, and when you were done with it, no one else really wanted it.

 

toilet paper

 

As sometimes happens in public restrooms, eventually the roll ran out. That is, they ran out of virgin forest land to burn. They did what you or I would do when confronted with an exhausted roll of toilet paper in a restroom stall. They checked the adjacent stall. If they found the adjacent stall empty, that solved their problem.

 

public-restrooms

 

On the other hand, if they found the stall occupied, and the occupant felt nervous about the dwindling supply of toilet paper roll in that stall, they might find themselves in a conflict situation, as “Elaine” once did in a memorable episode of the TV series Seinfeld. For those of you unfamiliar with history, I’ll remind you that in that episode, “Elaine” found herself in a restroom stall with an empty roll of toilet paper, a fact she discovered too late. She pleaded with the woman in the next stall for a length of toilet paper, but the woman refused, claiming that she could not even spare one square of toilet paper for “Elaine”.

square to spare

 

 

This made “Elaine” extremely angry, and hilarity ensued. If you substitute land for toilet paper, and violence for hilarity, the history of agricultural man followed more or less the same plot as that episode of Seinfeld. That is why you won’t find a scrap of proverbial toilet paper left on the proverbial roll in any proverbial restroom stall from Morocco to Afghanistan, but you will find a lot of angry people.

 

seinfeld_episode076

 

As time went on, this metaphorical “hilarity” escalated, and became more common. Before long “hilarity” became the standard method for acquiring agricultural land, leading to the rise of “funny” men, who did not farm at all, but specialized in hacking people to bits. These “professional comedians” as we’ll call them. Fought each other for scraps of agricultural “toilet paper”, and the farmers who tended them.

 

feudal village

 

These farmers then became the subjects of these “professional comedians”, so called because these “comedians” subjected the farmers to “punchlines” of very pointed “jokes” if they refused to provide them with a share of the crops they harvested. While farmers remained with the land they tended, these “professional comedians” slayed each other for control of them, if you catch my drift.

 

fontenoy-bat

 

Military might became increasingly central to the control of resources, especially land. While farmers continued to work the land, the “professional comedians”, the dukes, kings and warlords who fought over the land claimed “ownership” of it. Farmers became terrorized peasants, while the military class took control of their lands by violence, and demanded payment from them, in the form of crops and livestock.

 

feudal system

 

Everything that these conquerors could extract from conquered lands became known as “the spoils of war”. They took people, especially women, as slaves, people’s belongings, livestock, any thing of value quickly became the property of the conquering forces. Wild game and natural resources also became “private property” as military forces plundered the entire known world.

 

the-spoils-of-war-booty

 

In this way, military power trumped the labor of the farmers who worked the land, the belongings of people who lived on the land, and the natural integrity of the land itself, as the modern definition of private property fully crystallized. Since then, military powers have measured the value of everything, according to their own short-term purposes, and their own ability to plunder and exploit. Economists use this same skewed perspective to this day, which partially explains why they get things so wrong.

 

spoils_of_war_on_holiday_table_hurwitt_large

 

As this method of resource distribution became more institutionalized, military violence grew in scale, and military forces became increasingly hierarchical. To insure the loyalty of the vast armies necessary for this kind of conquest, the kings, dukes, robber barons and warlords who led these conquests needed to pay their soldiers. This they did by issuing contracts or covenants, promising each soldier, according to his rank, a share of the spoils, which might include land, slaves, other people’s belongings and natural resources.

 

feudal war

 

The age of naval conquest vastly expanded the lands available to become private property through the process of conquest and plunder. Adventurous plunderers like Christopher Columbus and Cortez exported this new concept of private property, as they began the colonial plunder of the Americas, commencing the most abominable undertaking in all of human history, at least in terms of human lives extinguished, the American genocide.

 

cortez-montezuma-mexico-city

 

European conquerors spread like locusts around the globe. Slavery, genocide and complete environmental plunder became the calling cards of Western Civilization, as colonial military invaders sought to exterminate thousands of indigenous cultures, replacing them with this new concept of private property.

 

genocide

 

Since then, conquerors have felt free to trade lands, resources, people, livestock etc, through legally binding contracts, enforced with military might. From this proud history, we inherited our modern concept of private property. From the Mayflower Charter to the mortgage on your home, the concept of private property arises from, belongs to and exemplifies the violence, oppression and environmental plunder which defines Western Civilization, but it does not reflect economic reality.

 

indian-land-for-sale

 

This flawed concept of private property underpins all modern economic analysis, but it clearly misses the forest for the lumber, so to speak. Of course the world has value in its natural integrity. Of course the indigenous people that inhabited those conquered lands valued their homeland, and their lives. Of course an ocean teeming with fish, whales and other marine mammals is worth more than one depleted of fish, but full of toxic pollution and plastic debris.

 

floating plastic garbage

 

Destroying natural habitat, certainly does not increase its value. The destruction only diminishes the value of the natural environment, and whatever price the resources extracted from it bring on an open market, pales against the loss. Western Civilization has not created wealth. Western Civilization has butchered the natural wealth of the planet, and pillaged the Earth for its own aggrandizement.

 

pile of buffalo skulls

 

As we watch the biodiversity of the Earth diminish before our eyes, and the global environment becomes increasingly desertified and polluted, we cannot fathom the lost wealth of the planet. The losses are incalculable. Modern economics has ignored these losses and hidden them from view. Instead it celebrates the petty fortunes of the privateers who have plundered the Earth.

 

christopher columbus

 

We feel the loss though, and the pain of it tortures our soul. Billions of creatures have perished of it, with billions more to follow, and billions of humans can be counted among them. Why people, who claim to detest slavery, genocide and violence, also respect private property, I cannot fathom. I call it hypocrisy. Personally, I have nothing but contempt for the concept of private property, and the titles held by so called “land owners” backed by the ferocious violence of the state. There’s no saving private property. For the planet to live, private property must die.

the world is yours

 


Take Your Kids to the Beach

Take Your Kids to the Beach

kids to beach

In recent weeks, beach-goers from Santa Barbara to San Diego have discovered over 1,000 dead and dying sea lion pups on the beach. Apparently undernourished from birth, these pups did not put on enough blubber from mother’s milk, and once weaned, failed to find enough to eat on their own.

California sea lion

Without an adequate layer of blubber, sea lions cannot maintain the body temperature that a warm blooded mammal needs to survive in the cold water, so they come up on the beach to sun themselves, and warm up. Unfortunately they don’t find anything to eat on the beach either, and eventually they expire from starvation.

sea lion strandings-2817.jpg.0x545_q100_crop-scale

Wildlife rescuers in Southern CA have been overwhelmed with calls about these poor pups, but there’s little they can do. No one has the facilities to care for hundreds of starving sea lion pups. Everyone equipped to handle sea lions, has their hands full right now. Sometimes they relocate the pups to more secluded beaches, in hopes that they will find more food. Sometimes they euthanize the animals.

sea lion pups

Last year, persistent readers will recall, I wrote about starving pelicans here on the Northern CA coast. Pelicans and sea lions both eat fish, or at least they would, if they could find them. These deaths are not the result of some exotic new disease spreading through the ecosystem. These deaths indicate a precipitous drop in the ocean’s fecundity. It’s a very bad sign. I don’t want to call it a “wake-up call”, because so many so called “wake-up calls” have gone unheeded, so I’ll simply call it another ghastly, heartbreaking consequence of deliberate human indifference to the natural world.

stranding rate

At least people see them. People should have to see this kind of thing. Take your kids to the beach. Show them a dying sea lion pup, starving to death on the sand. Explain to them that because we’ve replaced most of the phytoplankton in the ocean with pulverized plastic from soda bottles, shrink wrap, plastic bags, toys, medical equipment, electronic gadgets, car parts etc etc, the ocean can’t provide enough oxygen or food to support as much life as it did fifty years ago, or even ten years ago.

Rescued Sea Lion Pups At Sea World San Diego

Remember that famous scene in The Graduate, where the older businessman whispers to Dustin Hoffman one word of advice for his future? “Plastics”, he says. Around the same time Andy Warhol predicted “The Exploding Plastic Inevitable”. With the ubiquity of plastic today, it’s hard to remember a time when soda came in returnable, not recyclable, glass bottles, when they made car bumpers out of chrome plated steel instead of easily shattered plastic, and when electronic devices had metal or wood cabinets, and lasted for decades.

the-graduate----plastics

Fifty years later, an island the size of Texas, newly recognized by the United Nations as “Garbage Island”, composed almost entirely of plastic, has formed in the Pacific Ocean. Today, plastic has its own homeland, and it grows every day. Every day, tons of plastic debris finds its way into the Pacific Ocean to make the pilgrimage to Garbage Island. Over the course of decades, endless churning, salt water and sunlight slowly pulverize it into microscopic bits.

garbagepile

These microscopic bits of inorganic, non-biodegradable plastic absorb sunlight, preventing it from penetrating the ocean’s depths and choke off phytoplankton, the foundation of the ocean food chain, and the source of most of the world’s atmospheric oxygen. In less than half a century, about half of all the phytoplankton in the Pacific Ocean has been replaced by these microscopic bits of plastic.

floating plastic garbage

Oddly, considering how long plastic lasts, plastic has become the foundation of our disposable economy. Almost nothing lasts longer than plastic, and almost nothing can digest it. Yet, we produce billions of one-time-use products from it, every year. When burned, plastic produces deadly bio-accumulative carcinogenic poison, in landfills it lasts almost forever, and in the ocean, it gets ground into fine floating particles that choke out life.

algalita

No, it’s not a wake-up call. It’s too late for that. Go to the beach. Look those pups in the eye as they die of starvation, and explain to your children what has happened in your lifetime. Tell your kids that fifty years ago, they would have seen thousands of healthy sea lions, as well as seals and otters, and that there was plenty of fish for all of them to eat. Tell them that for every bird they see, there were once twenty or forty, but that they all died so that you could live a high-consumption, middle-class fantasy, and now, even that fantasy is dying.

gut_plastic_ocean_girl_project_hawaii


An Open Letter to Humboldt County 2nd District Supervisor, Estelle Fennel

I sent the following letter to my County Supervisor Estelle Fennel after hearing her make some disparaging remarks about some of her constituents.  I also submitted it to both of our local newspapers.  The Independent ran the letter, while The Redwood Times refused to print it on the grounds that they don’t print third party letters.

third party letters

The real issue is that the business owners downtown, especially the real estate agents, don’t want their customers to see poor people hanging around town.  Of course, they don’t want to admit that the real problem is declining wages and rising housing prices.  Instead, they want to blame the victims, and use taxpayer resources to drive poor people out of town, even though they constantly complain about paying too much in taxes.

pays lowest taxes

Dear Supervisor Fennel,

estelle-f quote zombie poster

As the county considers what to do with the area formerly known as “The Jim Demulling Memorial Grove”, I urge you to consider a few facts about Southern Humboldt that you seem to have forgotten:

forgotten foot

  1. Everyone in Southern Humboldt, without exception, urinates and defecates. Many, if not most of them, do it in a fashion that does not comply with county codes. As the former executive director of Hum-CPR, you actively lobbied to protect the rights of land-owners who choose to use non-standard and unapproved sanitation.outhouse-

  2. Most of Southern Humboldt’s adult population consumes alcohol on a regular, if not daily basis, and at least half-a-dozen business establishments sell alcoholic beverages in Garberville alone, to accommodate Southern Humboldt’s alcohol consumers.women-drinking

  3. Illegal drug use is not only tolerated in Southern Humboldt, it is celebrated as a proud and cherished tradition, and it has become the main driver of our local economy.humboldt weed

  4. Willits Towing and Recovery recently removed hundreds of thousands of pounds of of junk cars and other scrap metal from rural parcels in Southern Humboldt, cheerfully, and at no cost to rural land-owners, a quantity that dwarfs the amount of garbage begrudgingly, and disparagingly removed by Eel River Cleanup. As I recall, you yourself took advantage of a subsidized program to eliminate unsightly and hazardous waste from our rural environment, by bringing in over 100 discarded tires. Clearly this community tolerates people who do not take responsibility for their garbage.junk car

Were Federal, State and County laws strictly enforced, especially on the rural properties in Southern Humboldt, law enforcement would find flagrant violations of the law on nearly every parcel. While most of Southern Humboldt is poorly suited to agriculture, it is remarkably well suited to concealing ugly and illegal activity, a fact that has contributed greatly to its economic vitality.

unpermitted grow

As a public servant who represents a lot of ethically-challenged, full-time criminals, talk of “intolerable behavior” rings especially hollow. We tolerate a lot of ugly behavior here in Southern Humboldt, and a lot of people around here have grown obscenely rich as a result of it. That’s what makes this community special. I don’t think it fair to condemn the same behavior, only for those who endure poverty and have no place to go.

miss manners

If you have managed to find a way to speak respectfully with and about the rest of your constituents, you should be able to speak respectfully about the members of this community who lack the resources to secure for themselves, the privacy of a home in which to engage in the same kinds of activities as the rest of your constituents.

homeless-

If you want the poor and the young to have any respect for county government, you must first demonstrate that the county has respect for them, and their needs. As their representative, I urge you to refrain from using terms like “vagrants” to describe any of your constituents in the future. Instead, I hope you will work for a compassionate solution to the problem of greedy people, who lack compassion, intent on pressing their economic advantage against the poor and the young.

economicAdvantage_2

Sincerely, John Hardin

P.O. Box 2301, Redway, CA 95560


On the Money; Foie Gras

 

On The Money;

Economics For the 99%

Foie Gras

640px-Cutting_foie_gras-2Edit

 

Despite their fat books, and complex economic models, economists fail to comprehend the nature of economic activity. They don’t realize that the economy is an organic part of a greater organism known as society, and an even greater organism known as the environment. In other words, the economy is not a thing in itself. Instead, it is a part of our lives, and our lives are part of life on Earth. Ideally, the economy should be a much smaller part of our lives, and much less of a burden to life on Earth.

 

economists do lunch

 

To illustrate this relationship, you could think of the economy as the liver of a goose. The liver of a healthy goose is about the size of a human thumb, and at that size it serves the goose very well. In a healthy goose, this small organ helps the goose digest and process all of the seeds, plant material, bugs and small fish that a healthy goose eats, and turns that food into strong goose muscles, shiny warm goose feathers, healthy goose eggs, and gives the goose all of the energy that it needs to fly thousands of miles each year as part of its annual migration. That’s what a goose’s liver is supposed to do.

 

healthy geese

 

However, some people who raise captive geese, don’t care about the health of their geese. They don’t want their geese to fly, or lay eggs, and they don’t care if the goose is strong or if it has shiny warm feathers. Instead, they want their geese to grow the biggest liver possible, in order that they might dine upon a French delicacy known as Foie Gras.

 

goose liver

 

They’ve learned that if they nail the goose’s feet to the floor, so that it can’t get any exercise, and they put a tube down the goose’s throat, so that they can force feed it huge quantities of leftover pasta, bacon grease, and lots of other fatty, high carbohydrate food, they can make the goose’s liver grow until it is larger than a human fist. So, this is what they do to their geese.

 

foie gras(2)

 

As you can imagine, this doesn’t make the goose very happy at all. The goose shows many signs of distress, but the people who raise geese this way, simply ignore those signs. The goose then becomes very ill, but the people who raise geese this way ignore that too. Instead of the liver serving the needs of a healthy goose, the people who raise geese for foie gras, sacrifice the goose in order to produce the largest liver possible.

 

NEWBIZ_342x232_QFV

 

Before long, the goose is near death, and the goose’s liver, by this time about eight times as large as a healthy liver, has become so distended and diseased that it barely functions at all. At this point, the people who raise geese for foie gras, kill the goose, and remove the huge diseased organ, for which they have sacrificed what was once a beautiful, healthy bird. This is the ugly truth behind that popular French delicacy.

 

Foie-gras-for-sale-

 

Unfortunately, this is also the ugly truth behind economics. For far too long, a small number of people who enjoy “the finer things in life”, have eagerly sacrificed the health of society and the environment in order to force economic expansion. For them, the quality of our lives, our health, our strength, and our culture only exist to deliver to them, the largest possible economy, so that they might enjoy the largest quantity of the richest possible delicacy.

 

force feeding

 

Do not be fooled by fat books, sharp suits or white lab coats. Economists, businessmen and scientists generally do not have your best interest at heart. Instead, they seek to preserve, and improve their positions of authority and privilege, while they serve the interests of the 1%. Unless we overthrow the tyranny of objective science, escape the clutches of the 1%, and remember how to live our own lives, despite our fallibility, our goose is cooked. There’s an economic analogy that’s On The Money.

 

how much cruelty

 


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