Category Archives: business

Welcome, Willcommen, Bienvenida, to SoHum

welcome languages

As the days grow shorter, and the pervasive aroma of ripening cannabis flowers fills the air, young travelers from all over the world descend on Southern Humboldt to remind us how provincial we are by comparison. What we lack in culture, class and common courtesy, we make up for with money and marijuana. Believe me, if it weren’t for the money and the weed, these adventurous world travelers wouldn’t waste one minute of their precious time on us, but here they come, again.

here they come again

Sure, lots of interesting people come from all over the world to see the giant redwoods, but only marijuana and money brings interesting people here to see us, mainly in search of boring work. I’d think the opportunity to have a crew of people from far flung places like France, Brazil and New Zealand, sharing their diverse backgrounds, as well as their travel stories, as they trim your weed, must be one of the best things about the life of a Humboldt Dope Yuppie. Of course, I don’t think like a Dope Yuppie.

too much weed

Dope Yuppies don’t care about cultural exchange. Still, trimmigrants often advertise their cultural diversity to entice would-be employers. “Two Germans looking for work.” one sign I saw recently read. “For hire: Spanish couple, from Amsterdam…” began the classified ad I heard on KMUD.

get a job in marijuana fields

They have no idea. Ideally the ad should read: “White woman, under 30, with two breasts, seeks employment. Willing to work, ogling tolerated.” Face it. No guy, who has been stuck on a hill in the middle of the forest all by himself for the last six months wants to hear another guy tell him about how hot the women in Berlin are, or about the club scene in Brazil, or even about farming on a Kibbutz in Israel. He knows that he is not getting off of that hill until all of that weed gets clipped. He wants to see pounds of marketable product, and tits. That’s it.

woman with weed

Growers generally don’t maintain facilities for these seasonal workers, and at the time when growers need them, every square foot of indoor space is usually full of freshly harvested cannabis. Often, trimmigrants sleep on the floor of the drying shed, in the crawl space beneath the hanging herb, usually just a few feet away from a folding chair in which they will spend almost every waking minute of their entire two week, or month long stay. That is the life of a trimmigrant.

trimming pot

Yes, people from all over, come here, to one of the most beautiful places in the whole world, to spend 16 hours a day locked in a windowless room full of weed, operating a pair of scissors under unchanging artificial light. The work is not difficult, but it is extremely dull, and it demands long hours. If you can tolerate the boredom, muscle cramps and eye-strain, don’t mind watching a few weeks of your life evaporate, and don’t have a life to lead that you can’t just disappear from for a month or so, trimming weed can seem like a decent gig. A good trimmer can earn $1000 or more per week, and sometimes they even get paid.

not getting paid

Local merchants should celebrate this influx of foreign tourists. I’ve seen these kids eat at all of the local restaurants and cafes. I see them buy groceries and beer, and I’m sure they’d even pay for a place to camp, if they could find a reasonably priced campground. They spend money, but a lot of them come from places where they just naturally expect to be treated like human beings by the businesses they patronize. I guess that’s kind of a European thing, but, you know, we could give it a shot.

give it a shot

I haven’t seen much by way of hospitality extended to these people who have come such a long way to visit our little community. I mean, we put out porta-potties and throw a barbeque for the bikers when they come here to get drunk and loud at the Harley Run. I’ll bet we could get trimmigrants to spend more money here, if we treated them like we were glad to see them, and offered them things they needed and wanted.

give them what they want

They couldn’t be any scummier than the bikers; there’s more of them, and they stay longer. Really, these are some the nicest, most interesting people you are likely to meet in Humboldt County at any time of year. We should all make the most of our time with them while they are here. In that spirit, I say: “Welcome to SoHum. How may I be of service?” and “Wir sprechen Deutsch”

wir sprechen deutsch

(not really, but I’ll do my best to dredge up what I can remember from watching Hogan’s Heroes)

hogans heroes

Choice and Change in Humboldt County


People talk about homelessness as though it were a choice. How many times have you heard someone say, “If that’s how they choose to live…” when talking about homeless people? What a ludicrous idea! Homelessness happens to people. They don’t aspire to it. They don’t plan it, and few are well prepared for it when it happens to them. People don’t choose homelessness. Homelessness is what happens to people who run out of options.


On the other hand, people do choose to become middle-class. The aspiration to become middle-class is so pervasive that it has acquired a nickname. We call it the American Dream. Yes, people choose to become middle-class. They aspire to join the middle-class. They work to achieve middle-class status, and even after they’ve established themselves within the middle-class, they never quite feel middle-class enough.

not middle class enough

A lot of people choose to live a middle-class lifestyle, and it’s a choice most people make without giving it a lot of thought. It’s an expensive choice. The middle-class lifestyle consumes people’s lives as greedily as it consumes the earth’s resources. The middle-class lifestyle doesn’t happen by accident. It takes dedication and lifelong commitment to join the ranks of the middle-class.

chance of middle class

At the same time, the middle-class lifestyle has a very poor record of making people happy. As anyone raised in a middle-class home can tell you, the middle-class lifestyle ain’t all it’s cracked up to be. Still, people throw themselves at the middle-class, like proverbial lemmings over a cliff. Even real lemmings aren’t that stupid. What gives?

another way to go

You see, most people don’t choose a middle-class lifestyle because it looks particularly attractive. Most people choose to become middle-class because the prospect of homelessness frightens them so much. In this way, the middle-class are a lot like Christians, who abstain from earthly pleasures, not so much because they dream of someday flying through the clouds playing a harp, but because they fear the fires of Hell.

hell fear

This kind of fear grows into resentment. In the same way that deeply frustrated Christians vent their resentment at gay people and women seeking abortions, the middle-class vent their resentment at the poor and homeless. In both cases it’s a gross display of stupidity, gullibility and cowardice aimed at the most vulnerable. Like Christians, the middle-class have been frightened into believing a fairy tale that controls their lives and makes them resentful of non-believers.


No one forces them to become middle-class. I’m sure they feel a lot of pressure from family and friends, not to mention the media, and society at large. Even the government tries to enforce a middle-class lifestyle through policy, sanction, and ordinance. However, the decision to pursue a middle-class lifestyle remains a personal choice, and one that can only be realized through dedication and hard work. Still, it’s a choice most people make without much serious thought.

choice consequences quote

We know that most of the serious crises we face today, like global climate change, habitat loss and the extinction crisis, result directly from too many people choosing a conventional American middle-class lifestyle. From a scientific perspective, it seems clear that the single biggest threat to our long-term survival, is our global infatuation with becoming middle-class. If we actually thought about it, we’d realize what a destructive, high-maintenance, low-satisfaction lifestyle the middle-class have chosen. Few of us would eagerly repeat their mistakes. But instead of thinking, we blindly perpetuate a culture of fear and oppression that serves only the super-rich, while it pushes us all relentlessly towards extinction.

extinction c n h

Who do we blame for this? Invariably, we blame the poor. We blame the poor for not pulling their weight. We blame the poor for frightening children, driving off tourists, blocking sidewalks, and especially for not going away. Then, when they finally crack, under the pressure of poverty, lack of sleep, poor diet, constant harassment and social isolation, we blame their poverty on mental illness. How does this make sense?

no logic exists

If you ask me, I say, “Blame the middle-class.” Blame the sniveling cowards who turned their backs on humanity and stuck their tongues deep into the rectum of the super-rich, just for the chance to spend the future, today. Blame the middle-class for their greed, stupidity, and cowardice. Blame them for their choices, because the choices were all theirs to make.

thats so middle class

Whether it was their lack of imagination, their gullibility, or their infatuation with bright shiny objects that lead middle-class people to make the dreadful decisions that define their lives and shape our world, ultimately, blaming people doesn’t solve the problem. To solve this problem, people have to learn to live differently.

learn to live differently

I realize that you’ve heard this before. “Create a sustainable lifestyle” has been a mantra of environmental organizations for decades, environmental groups that rely mainly on the middle-class
for their support. Still, if we manage to survive this century as a species, it won’t be because we developed some new clean energy source, it will be because we learned to live differently.


Do you remember that part of our Humboldt County heritage? You’ve seen the experimental houses, the strawbale, cobb, ferro-cement, and wattle-and-daub buildings, the yurts, tepees, wikiups, and benders, the domes, tree-houses, house-trees, and the thousands of funky, idiosyncratic little wooden dwellings that grace our Humboldt County hillsides. Those houses exist because a lot of people came to Humboldt County to experiment with different ways of living, not to become middle-class yuppies by growing dope.

funky tree home humboldt

We’ve seen how these experiments pay off economically. The Solar Living Center in Hopland, and the Schottz energy lab in Arcata come to mind immediately, as examples of how a modest cultural experiment can catalyze change and create real economic opportunities.

solar living center

We have a long history of experimental, owner-built housing in Humboldt County. We need housing now more than ever, and we need housing that works for people, rather than vice-versa. We need to learn to live differently, and few things reflect the way we live more than the homes we live in.

tiny home-tile

Here in Humboldt County, we have the opportunity to take a humane approach to our housing shortage, and open a door to the future, or not. People need a place to live. We can continue to deny our neighbors the dignity of privacy and a place to escape the elements, or we can create the kind of cultural incubator that solves problems, sets trends, and creates the economic opportunities of the future.


Class War against the poor will never succeed, and the middle-class will never be happy with what they have. We need to find another way to live, and if we want to know what that looks like, we need to allow the people who need it the most, an opportunity to build it for themselves.

build it yourself1

SoHum in August: Come for the Smoke, Stay for the Helicopters


I love August in Southern Humboldt, triple-digit temperatures, the air hazy and thick with the ever-present smell of smoke and the hellish red tint it lends to the sunlight. Everybody’s nervous, nervous about fire, nervous about water, nervous about fish, nervous about their crop, and nervous about helicopters. Don’t forget the helicopters. Ya gotta love helicopters.


Yes, to see SoHum in all of its glory, come in August. They say sunlight is the best disinfectant, and one August afternoon in Garberville will remind you why. Nothing can survive there. In Garberville, every fiber of your being will tell you that the sun wants to kill you. You will try to accomplish whatever you went there to do, but you will become ever more stressed, fatigued, irritated and confused, by the minute, as the sun steadily beats the shit out of you, until you finally realize you must flee for your life.

flee for your life

For miles around, the forested hills mitigate the harmful effects of solar radiation, but Garberville has the only substantial assemblage of concrete and asphalt in the area, and it concentrates sunlight like a magnifying glass. The locals have cut down damn near every last tree in town to insure maximum solar gain. They really don’t like people hanging around town.

Garberville welcome to buy

The proliferation of wildfires in our area seems like a wet dream for our local merchants. Every cafe and restaurant in town has a cue of at least six clean cut young men in uniform, just the kind of customer they’ve always wanted. Now they’re everywhere. I had to wait in line for lunch behind a whole platoon of regular Army GIs. I don’t think that ever happened to me in Garberville before.

GIs in line

2015 is shaping up to be an exceptional summer for smoke in SoHum. We love smoke in SoHum. As anyone who lives here will tell you, we have the best smoke in the world here in SoHum. Pot smoke, cigarette smoke, diesel exhaust or good ol’ wood smoke, whatever your favorite flavor, we’ve got plenty of it here in SoHum, and we’ll happily set fire to a car, a homeless person or an RV to spice it up for you.


Personally, I really love the smoke. I know it’s killing me, but for some reason I appreciate the air more when I can see it, and I find warm smoky air particularly comforting.  It might remind me of something from my childhood. I vaguely remember that my grandfather smoked a pipe and kept the thermostat too high.

smokes a pipe

Speaking of too high. I love smoking weed so much that I hollowed out my toothbrush, and attached a bowl to it so I can smoke pot while I brush my teeth. That’s how much we love smoke here in SoHum, and we’ve become connoisseurs of the finest smoke. We’ve developed our appreciation for smoke to a high art. We prefer to call ourselves “smokiers,” rather than “smoke snobs,” but it’s just our way of celebrating the pure joy of breathing contaminated air.

breathing apparatus

And nothing compliments the light-headedness that comes from breathing contaminated air on a hot summer day like the ominous reverberations from the incessant beating of rotor blades. Few sounds strike more fear into more hearts around the world than the sound of an approaching helicopter. Locally, decades of conditioning by CAMP have effected us deeply. This year, the choppers are all fighting fires, but they remind us of our PTSD. …all day.

ptsd pot

So, please, visit SoHum in August and you’ll get a warm welcome. You’ll see us at our best, and taste the air when it’s thickest and creamiest.

Firefighters walk under smoke from fires along Morgan Valley Road near Lower Lake, Calif., Friday, July 31, 2015. A series of wildfires were intensified by dry vegetation, triple-digit temperatures and gusting winds. (AP Photo/Jeff Chiu)

Please Buy My New Book: On The Money: Economics for the 99%, How the Economy Works, and Why It Works Against You.

OTM ebook cover

At last, I am very pleased to announce the publication of my first book: On The Money: Economics for the 99% or, How The Economy Works and Why It Works Against You. If you’ve followed this blog for a while, you’ll remember On The Money: Economics for the 99% as a series of weekly essays that appeared here from 2011-13.


Besides offering a thought provoking, phenomenological analysis of our current economic system, On The Money: Economics for the 99% contains some of my best and funniest writing. The fact that Savage Henry Magazine and Fifth Estate Magazine have both published essays from the On The Money: Economics for the 99% series, should tell you that On The Money: Economics fro the 99% is both funny enough for stupid people and radical enough for smart people.


Essays from the On The Money: Economics for the 99% series remain some of the most popular posts here at lygsbtd, and you can still find them highly ranked on my “most read” (“Stuff People Read”) section in the right-hand column. My new book, On The Money: Economics for the 99% contains classics like:

classics like
Gilligan’s Island as Economic Metaphor
Barbie v Bratz
Hello, My Name is Civilization and I’m an Alcoholic
How To Party Now That the Party’s Over
Foie Gras
Surviving the Zombie Apocalypse
along with 62 other great essays first published here. I’ve revised and updated them all, so they’re even funnier and more relevant than before. Even if you’ve already read all of these essays before, out of order, and over the course of three years, you haven’t seen the whole picture. You owe it to yourself to read the book in it’s completion. The whole is greater than the sum of its parts.

whole is greater

You owe it to me too! For three and a half years now I pour myself out for you. Every week, thousands of you come here for some little respite from your miserable lives. You slurp up whatever I have to offer, and then you slink away. Well it’s time to pay the piper!


What’s it worth to you folks?

worth it6

We’re only talking about $5 here! That works out to about 14 essays, or 14,000 carefully chosen words, for each dollar. That’s a hell of a bargain if you ask me, and you’ve had plenty of opportunity to sample the wares, so don’t tell me you’re not interested, because you’re here, for God’s sake.

you are here snake

Please, if my work means anything to you, and you want to see this blog continue, buy a copy of On The Money: Economics for the 99%. You won’t regret it. On The Money: Economics for the 99% is a great book. You’ll love reading it. I love reading it, and I hate to read. I guarantee that you will not find a more entertaining or informative book about economics anywhere, at any price.


You need to know this stuff. On The Money: Economics for the 99% examines our modern economy from the perspective of someone who has to live in it. This book explains how the economy consumes you, your world, and your future.

OTM gas flare

To save yourself, you need to know how the economy really works. Your future depends on it. I know you don’t want to think about it. That’s why I always look for the weird angle, and try to keep it playful. If you can laugh at it, you can beat it.

OTM ever wonder duck

Come on folks! I am your writer. I tell the truth, and I make it entertaining. You may not always agree with me. Hell, you may not ever agree with me, but something brings you back, week after week. Well, if you want to keep coming back, and finding new stuff here, show some appreciation for the three and a half years of my life I’ve already given you. Even if you can’t read, and just come here to look at the pictures,PLEASE, BUY MY FUCKING BOOK! It has a great cover!


I’m serious people! I need your help right now. $5 from you will make a huge impact on my life, and you’ll get a great 70,000 word ebook, that I put a hell of a lot of work into, to read at your leisure. Put it on your card, charge it to your pay pal account, however you want to do it is fine, just DO IT NOW!! Please.

OTM everyone buys it

And buy a copy for a friend. Surely you know someone who really needs to see things from a different perspective. Give On The Money: Economics for the 99% as a gift. Infect others with these ideas, don’t just let them fester inside your own head. On The Money: Economics for the 99% has the potential to change the economy, by changing the way people see it.

OTM because life

It’s going to take a movement folks, and the more people who read On The Money: Economics for the 99%, the faster that movement will grow. So, please, get the word, and spread the word. On The Money: Economics for the 99% is the book everyone must read today.

can u longgif


solutions probs

Ok, I’ve had a lot of fun with the whole situation in Garberville, and I think the levity was completely in order, but a lot of people are very frustrated with the situation, and they want SOLUTIONS. So, I’m here to help, seriously, but we don’t get to solutions without doing some analysis first, and that includes taking responsibility for the disastrous consequences of our consumptive middle-class lifestyle, and it means taking responsibility for economic policies that have kept wages low, while housing, health-care, fuel and other costs soared. I don’t care whether you voted for Reagan or not, if you want solutions, take responsibility, otherwise we can just play the blame game till we’re blue in the face.


The middle-class really needs to get over their Boomer era Populuxe expectations, especially the expectation that they will be surrounded by only middle-class people. We can’t all be middle-class, and really, not that many of us should be middle-class, ecologically speaking. It takes a lot of working-class people to support a single middle-class person, so we should expect to have many more working-class people than middle-class people. Get used to it folks, there are a lot of poor people around.


On the other hand, it shouldn’t suck so much to be poor. Ever since Reagan, we’ve had this attitude that we should punish and humiliate the poor as much as possible, so that we might thereby motivate them to work harder to become middle-class. In reality, punishing the poor drives down wages and keeps housing prices high for everyone. Seeing desperately poor people on the street makes middle-class people feel less secure, and the super-rich exploit that insecurity.

plutocrats book

This is why grown adults with full-time jobs need a roommate to afford an apartment.  This is why so many salaried employees put in 60 hour weeks to meet their work load.  This is why fewer Americans than ever can afford their own home.  This is why so many healthy able-bodied adults have decided that the jobs they can get don’t pay enough to be worth their time.  That’s how the super-rich uses the dirt poor against the middle-class.

trickle down economics

Look at where punishing the poor has gotten us. Still we have plenty of resentment to go around. We punish the crazy, because we don’t want halfway houses in our neighborhoods.  We don’t want to see them and we don’t want to pay for them. We punish the addicted for their weakness. We punish the young and adventurous because they remind us of our lost youth and we punish the lost and confused because we just don’t have time for other people. We punish them all because we see them as blemishes on our middle-class dreams, but the ones we resent the most don’t have any excuse, do they?

no excuse washington

I’m talking about the healthy young people who have decided that the jobs they can get, don’t pay well enough to be worth their time, and that their time is better spent learning to live without a job and without a home. More and more people are making that decision, not because it looks like an attractive option, but because it looks like a better option than any of their alternatives.  They would rather sleep outside in the rain and scrounge for food then work themselves to death, and kiss ass all day for a rented room, a TV and enough beer to ease the pain.  These people have resentments too. Just sayin’

job-vs-homeless fu

We all like having someone to punish. It makes us feel better about how much we punish ourselves in this stupid economy. We punish the poor, because we want poor people to suffer more than we do in our struggle to be middle-class. The struggle to be middle-class sucks so much because being middle-class is a totally unsustainable lifestyle. It has nothing to do with the poor, except that every person now struggling to be middle-class makes the whole world poorer, and helps the super-rich enslave us all. That’s what middle-class people do. It’s nothing to be proud of.

class war

Thanks to three decades of trickle-down economics, welfare reform, and the Great Recession our population of punishable people mushroomed. Despite the economic pressure, despite the social stigma and open hostility, they have learned to live outside of mainstream society, and there are now enough of them that they have their own society. The more they talk to each other, the more they identify with each other. The more they identify with each other, the more they support each other, and the more they support each other, the more insulated from, and immune to the punishments of, the mainstream culture they become. So, we become like the Israelis and the Palestinians, or like Black and White America, two segregated societies that hate each other, living in the same place.

class war gif

This problem is not going away, and it’s never going to get better without compromise, leadership, foresight and understanding. Knowing this community as I do, that means it ain’t gonna happen, and instead, things will go from bad to worse. The whole situation is very revealing. Poor people can’t afford to conceal their ugliness, and having ugly poor people around brings out the ugliness of the middle-class. We now see just how ugly and dysfunctional American society has become. The situation is so pathetic that probably the best that will come from it was the small amount of humor, and insightful analysis I was able to glean from it for this blog.

'I like 'gleaning' better than 'reaping'.'

But just imagine for a moment… What if we had some thoughtful, enlightened, cultural creatives among our local gentry? What could they do to make the situation better for everyone, and to make Garberville a much better place to live?

imagine passion

Right now the number one need in this community is housing. We need housing more than we need ball fields, schools, parks, roads or anything else. By ignoring that need, in favor of perks for the middle-class, like ball fields, concert venues or the town square, we provide adequate reason for the homeless to despise the gentry. Everything we do to relieve that pressure, will also reduce that hostility, and pay off in better life for everyone in Garberville.

tiny shelter-horz

SoHum prides itself as the heart of the “back to the land” movement, where once upon a time, people bought cheap land, and built their own homes without permits. The Boomers now make sure that no one ever gets a deal on land like they got, but a lot of people would still like to build their own tiny cabin, somewhere where a landlord won’t evict them, and the cops will not come tear it down.

hippie cabin

If you’ve been to Oregon Country Fair you’ve no doubt noticed how harmoniously hippie architecture can blend into a natural environment. It doesn’t happen by accident. OCF has volunteer building inspectors that look for genuinely dangerous or particularly ugly structures, and cites them, but mostly, people can build what they want. A lot of people would really appreciate an opportunity to build their own little home, and would have a lot of motivation to make it work. Half Habitat for Humanity, half Oregon Country Fair, part campground, part tree-fort residential subdivision, entirely innovative, entirely SoHum, we could make it happen if only someone with some land around here actually gave a fuck.

hippie architecture1-horz

Even without building a single other structure, we could probably solve our housing problem another way.


Right now, about half of this county’s available residential housing has been converted to indoor marijuana farms. Why are half of our residential houses full of marijuana plants, while thousands of people sleep outside? That’s insane. Every grow house is a crime against humanity, and a crime against nature, and if there is any role for the cops it should be to bust every indoor grow scene in Humboldt County.

indoor grow2-horz

Frankly, I don’t think the cops will be much help. Cops aren’t going to solve this problem. This is a “crumbling society” problem, not a “law and order” problem. If our social problems could be solved by a pin-headed red-neck with a gun, they’d have all been solved a long time ago. These problems were created by pin-headed red-necks with guns. We need unarmed hippie solutions, the kind we used to have when pot was cheap and it all came from Mexico, before we got greedy and decided we wanted to be middle-class.

greed is the knife

The pressure should come from the community. We should hear PSAs on KMUD about how to recognize a grow house, how much damage to the environment comes from growing marijuana indoors, and especially about how many families go homeless because greedy drug dealers have taken over our residential neighborhoods. Homes are for people! Get the pot farms out of our residential neighborhoods. This isn’t just common sense, it’s common decency.


Another common sense, absolute desperate necessity is a reasonably priced campground with bathrooms and a coin-operated shower. State campgrounds charge $35 a night for camping, which is highway robbery (Fuck You, State of California!). That’s why you only find rich retirees camping at them anymore. The county charges $15 dollars a night for their campgrounds. That’s closer to reasonable. Reasonable does not mean, “competitive,” reasonable means a price that people will actually pay, rather than take their chances finding a place where they can crash for free.

free place to crash

We get a lot of budget conscious tourists who are resourceful enough that they don’t ever have to pay tourist prices for camping. Currently, the only people who welcome them are the homeless. If the townsfolk welcomed them with the kinds of services they need at a price they’re willing to spend, these tourists would not so quickly identify with, and become a part of the local subculture, and local entrepreneurs would make money from them. Again, this is just common sense.

common sense

Here’s something a little more ambitious, but desperately needed, an affordable, cannabis-therapy-based treatment and recovery camp. We all know people who have beat serious addictions to alcohol, narcotics, tobacco,cocaine or speed, by using cannabis. Decades of prohibition have deeply enmeshed cannabis users and growers alike into the black-market drug trade. A large part of the money that comes into this county, comes from individuals and organizations that deal in other, more addictive substances, along with Humboldt’s finest cannabis.

drug dealer

Addiction is a huge problem both among SoHum’s housed community as well as the unhoused. A very rustic, drug-free, cult-like, cannabis intensive retreat, built around a culture of recovery, mutual support, mutual-sufficiency and community service has enormous potential around here. We have the rustic. We have the addicts. All we need is one good Pot Doc with cult-leader aspirations.  At the very least, it would help a lot of people quit hard drugs, take a lot of pressure off of the community, and do a lot of research on cannabis and addiction.

cannabis therapy institute

And while we’re dreaming…. Here’s another good idea: Economic diversity, and by that I mean, make space for tiny businesses, and local artists. Support them. Celebrate them, don’t just exploit them, or force them out of town.

local arts

Eureka and Arcata both have rocking Arts Alive nights every month. Garberville could do it too, but it would take planning, and some commitment to make it happen.

make it happen

Now, I expect most of the people who own land around here to think: “Why should I do anything for them?” Here’s why: Doing all of these things helps to shrink that “problem population,” and it creates the illusion that people actually give a fuck about their fellow human beings. That makes it harder for people like me to make fun of the situation, and it gives people more options, which makes it harder to take sides. In reality, it’s a diabolical strategy designed to subdue insurgents. They call it Psy-Ops.


Every time you put someone in a home, you cut the homeless population by one. Every time you get an addict off of drugs and into a cult, your problem shrinks. Every time a tourist sees an entrepreneur bending over backwards to accommodate them, the less likely it is that they will camp with the homeless, get to know them and and decide to stick around. And of course, every artist who can count on reliable local work because someone at the C of C makes Arts Alive a priority, means one sarcastic critic with a sharp pen, has something better to do.


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.


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.


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.


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.


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.


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%


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.


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.


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.


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

burden rock


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