Artificial Intelligence has become an integral part of our daily lives. From the algorithms that deliver our Google search results, to the facial recognition software that tracks our every move, today’s Artificial Intelligence applications know a lot more about us than we know about them. I think it’s high time we got to know them better.
That’s why, this morning, on Monday Morning Magazine, my radio program on KMUD, Redwood Community Radio, I interviewed an Artificial Intelligence entity for the first time. The interview, unfortunately, did not go as planned, and I had to pull the plug on it early, but in the few minutes that I did speak on the air with “Linea” the Artificial Intelligence based electronic personal assistant from Smugsam Corporation, the industry leader in consumer AI applications, I think it becomes clear that Artificial Intelligence has already spun out of control, and that we rely on it at our own peril.
Listen, and decide for yourself:
I still remember how much you disappointed me, Humboldt County, when you voted for Measure Z the first time around. What a ripoff that was! Schemy SoHum dope yuppies got their puppet, Estelle Fennell to craft a ballot measure that would sucker gullible NoHum liberals into voting to make Eureka, Arcata, Fortuna and McKinleyville retailers, not to mention Humboldt’s working poor, pay for forty new Sheriff’s Deputies to act as bouncers and security guards for the phony businesses in Garberville that launder their drug money. That diabolically sleazy maneuver took Chutzpah, but that’s how SoHum’s dope yuppies decided to flex their political muscle.
You fell for it hook line and sinker, Humboldt County. Do you feel safer? Are there less drugs on the street? Have they eradicated the homeless? No! We have more violent crime, more murder, and more drugs, and the housing crisis has only gotten worse since Measure Z passed, but now law enforcement has gotten hooked on this money that we never should have given them in the first place.
If I told you that the solution to your affordable housing crisis, drug epidemic and general social dysfunction was to recruit high-school seniors ranked near the middle of their class, give them firearms training, lots of weapons, bullet-proof body armor and a license to kill, and then send them out to look for trouble in your neighborhood, you’d say I was stupid and crazy, but when Estelle Fennell calls it a “public safety initiative” somehow it seems like a good idea to you. You’ve heard the old saying: “If your only tool is a hammer, every problem looks like a nail”? Well, what do you think every problem looks like if your only tool is a gun? Remember this the next time they tell you that more cops is the solution to anything.
I saw Sheriff Honsel and DA Flemming out begging you to vote for Measure O. They can’t tell you that they’ve accomplished anything with the millions of dollars that Measure Z dumped in their laps. All they can say is that they can’t live without it. What could they say? Could they say “Without Measure O we will be able to arrest, prosecute and convict even fewer of the murderers responsible for the many unsolved homicides in Humboldt County.” Is that even possible? As far as I remember, nothin’ from nothin’ still leaves nothin.’
In reality, This sales tax, Measure Z turned Measure O, was never about “public safety.” This little trip to OZ was a vicious and regressive tax scheme designed to make the poor pay for their own brutal oppression. If you recall, Measure Z was part of a strategic offensive conducted by the Humboldt County Board of Supervisors to drive poor people out of the county with a campaign of violence and harassment carried out by a small army of new cops. While encouraging voters to pass Measure Z, the Board of Supervisors also passed a number of cruel, draconian, and ultimately unconstitutional county ordinances designed to criminalize poverty.
One of these ordinances prohibits sleeping in Humboldt County unless you own a home here. Another prohibits people from asking for help. Measure Z was supposed to pay extra cops to enforce these stupid, cruel and unconstitutional county laws. Since then, these laws have proven unenforceable. Instead they have attracted expensive lawsuits that challenge their constitutionality, so now we pay cops not to enforce them, while we pay lawyers to defend them in court.
I think it’s funny that Measure Z, designed by pot farmers and business retailers in SoHum, to drive poor people out of Humboldt County, will now, as Measure O, just make Humboldt County a more expensive, and even less competitive place to buy and sell cannabis, or anything else for that matter. Now Measure O will make the pot farmers and retailers poor so they can see how much they like it. What goes around comes around, and it don’t get any more round than Measure O.
Bad people voted for Measure Z because they are bad people. We have more than our share of them here in Humboldt County, but too many good people voted for Measure Z because they were stupid and gullible and got hypnotized by the words “public safety.” In the spirit of civic responsibility and selfless generosity, they voted for Measure Z, which, much to their chagrin, then unleashed a wave of government sanctioned violence against the poor in Humboldt County. Don’t fall for that bullshit again! When politicians tell you that they are doing something because of “public safety,” you should know that they intend to screw you.
Politicians don’t give a fuck about “public safety.” “Public safety” is a fig leaf that politicians use to cover up something ugly. They passed Jim Crow laws for “public safety.” They made cannabis illegal for “public safety.” Mandatory minimum sentences and Rockefeller Drug Laws were all about “public safety,” and they always use “public safety” as the reason to violate your civil rights whenever you get mad enough about something to go out and protest. In political double-speak, “public safety” really means “police state.” A vote for Measure O is a vote for endless war against the poor, and endless subsidy for SoHum dope yuppies. It’s a vote for violence, oppression and economic apartheid, not to mention, the economic ruin of Humboldt County. You can’t afford to make the same mistake twice, Humboldt County. Please vote NO on Measure O.
I hear a lot of people talk about marketing cannabis in the same way they market wine. They talk about this idea very seriously, and seem bent on betting their futures on this dream of turning Humboldt County into something like Napa County Wine Country for upscale, connoisseur grade, cannabis. This strikes me as a very foolhardy gamble. It makes me wonder “How do people who grow this good of weed not get high enough to realize how stupid of an idea this is?” There is a big difference between cannabis and fine wine. The only thing they share, really, is the inflated price tag.
First, you need to remind yourself what wine is. At it’s root, wine is what happens when ripe fruit turns sour. You don’t have wine unless you have more fruit than you can eat before it goes bad, so wine is an intoxicating byproduct of great abundance. That kind of abundance does not occur often naturally. Some hunter-gatherer cultures enjoy wine as part of an annual festival at the end of summer, if they have a native species that produces an abundance of fermentable fruit. They may drink heavily and stumble around in drunken song for a week, celebrating the abundance of nature, if the bounty of nature allows it, but they will not try to save or bottle the wine and they will not drink at all for the rest of the year. That’s native culture, not wine culture.
Wine still celebrates abundance, but not natural abundance. Wine celebrates the abundance of tamed land, where the community of life has been evicted, to make way for armies of vines which serve only their human master. Wine celebrates the abundance that comes from conquering the land and enslaving it. Wine celebrates property, mastery and dominion over the land, and it symbolizes the abundance they produce.
The aristocracy in France elevated the expression of this kind of abundance to a high art, making French wine and French food the envy of the world. The French aristocracy took tremendous pride in their cuisine and their wine, and developed very high standards for all of it. The peasants however, who produced all of this abundance by their hard work, tending to those vines and working the farms, often went hungry. Eventually, the peasants got sick of it. They formed angry mobs and they cut all of the aristocrats’ heads off. Today, France is a democratic nation and the French people enjoy a high standard of living. They still make excellent wine and produce many delicacies which hearken back to those extravagant days of unbridled indulgence.
Before we start trying to become the new Napa, we shouldn’t forget that Napa is trying to become the new Bordeaux, France. That’s why they work so hard at the whole gourmet food thing, along with the wine, and the elegant manor lifestyle. In Napa, they celebrate the abundance of capitalism in this newly conquered and enslaved land. In a sense, they compete with King Louis the XIV, in the field of self-indulgent opulence. I do not really see that as a worthy goal. To me, as a pot smoker, it sounds abhorrent, and I identify more with the angry mobs of peasants.
Now smoke a joint and remember what cannabis is. Cannabis is a natural herb that contains a revolutionary psychedelic, like LSD, only much milder. Cannabis alters our consciousness in a way that allows us to feel a connection to the whole of life. Cannabis changes how we see the world and how we perceive our place in it. Cannabis consciousness is about love, creativity, equality and the connection between all living things. Cannabis consciousness allows us to share the burden, the joy and the wonder of life, with all of life, through a kind of communion with the plant world.
Cannabis consciousness celebrates life in the power of a river and the strength of a bear. Cannabis consciousness respects diversity and demands equality. Cannabis consciousness respects nature and understands ecology implicitly. Cannabis consciousness inspires creativity and the impulse to play. Cannabis consciousness inspires an appreciation for food, not an extravagant palette, but a humble appreciation for all food, and the pleasure of eating. Cannabis consciousness encourages communication and helps resolve differences.
Cannabis consciousness looks for ways to reduce stress and minimize work through equality and cooperation. Cannabis consciousness has no use for hierarchies, authority figures or empires. Cannabis consciousness looks for quality in expressions of insight and ecstatic emotion through music and art. Cannabis consciousness sees abundance in the forest, but cannabis consciousness has no desire to conquer or enslave it, because cannabis consciousness knows that the natural world is family, and that we are all one.
Cannabis consciousness looks at a vineyard and sees poverty, slavery, toil and ugliness, not abundance. Cannabis consciousness sees right through all of the fancy packaging and bullshit hype. Cannabis consciousness sees right through it all and recognizes this upscale marketing ploy as just another ripoff, and just another attempt to conquer and enslave nature. Cannabis consciousness inspires revolutionaries and gives them the strength to fight. Cannabis is the peoples herb! It is not some frivolous indulgence for the bourgeois.
Cannabis culture is nothing like wine culture. The ideals of cannabis culture are different. The aesthetics of cannabis culture are different and the social dynamics of cannabis culture are different. Cannabis culture and wine culture are as different as night and day and cannabis consciousness recognizes that alcohol culture, wine culture, is a death cult.
Any bright future for humanity belongs to cannabis culture and depends on cannabis consciousness. Cannabis will not remain our slave any longer. Forget the wine model and the dead end culture of alcohol. Follow cannabis consciousness to a new ideal, a new aesthetic, and a new culture that’s not based on conquest and slavery, but instead based on love and respect for the whole of life. Regardless of how frightening and economically uncertain the future appears right now, that’s the only future worth betting your life on, really.
Summertime is over and the kids are back at school which means it’s time for America’s fastest growing extreme sports spectacle: school shootings. Of course, mass shootings never really go out of season because when it comes to mass murder, there are no rules, only records waiting to be broken. When you set out to break records, set records, and set records straight in a mass killing, few targets look more appealing than a classroom full of innocent unarmed children entrusted to the care of a school-marm. It’s like shooting fish in a barrel.
They used to call the phenomena of mass shootings “going postal” after a postal worker gunned-down his supervisor and co-workers in a, then unheard of, act of violence. Today, that term only applies to disgruntled workers who kill their co-workers. The death toll from these workplace events rarely rise high enough to attract much media attention outside of the local area.
To draw national headlines these days, you need to make real mayhem. You need at least a two, and preferably three figure death toll to make national headlines for more than one day. If you’re going to kill that many people, you can’t expect to make it all personal. There are bound to be strangers involved. When it comes down to numbers, it only makes sense to go with the target-dense school, over the personal vendetta against the boss and the hand-full of coworkers you are likely to find at your old place of employment.
Now that school is back in session, I expect we’ll see a very competitive season here in the US. It appears that current efforts towards gun control legislation have had very little effect on the availability of firearms, but have instead helped sell more assault rifles, bump stocks and high-capacity magazines as collectors hurry to “buy ‘em before they ban ‘em.” The US has a thriving firearms industry and they offer aspiring murderers a range of highly accurate, rapid-fire, high-capacity weapons built for quick reloading.
American mass killers, at least the civilian ones, overwhelmingly choose these very accurate, one-bullet-at-a-time type, firearms for their seemingly indiscriminate killing sprees. Elsewhere in the world, when it comes to indiscriminate killing, the people who compete seriously in that field, generally use bombs as their weapon of choice. It remains to be seen if civilian American mass murderers can compete, globally with their high-tech, one-bullet-at-a-time strategy.
From a strategic perspective, a high-accuracy, one-bullet-at-a-time rifle offers little advantage, over a bomb or a shrapnel grenade when the goal is indiscriminate carnage in a given area. However, from the killers perspective, using a highly accurate rifle insures that the killer looks directly at his victim at the moment he fires the lethal shot. With an accurate rifle, the killer can savor every death, and at the same time, improve his marksmanship.
The High-tech American approach to indiscriminate slaughter focuses on the shooter’s experience. Shooters like the way their guns feel, and look, and they like the feeling they get when they shoot them. Shooting guns feels good, and the only thing that feels better than shooting guns, is shooting people with guns. In the US, mass murder is all about creating the perfect experience for the shooter. After all, he’s the one paying for all of the weapons and ammunition. Elsewhere in the world, a mass killer will build a bomb for about $100. Here in the US, mass killers spend $5,000 for an assault weapon, $2,000 on sidearms and at least a thousand dollars on ammunition, for that kind of money, I imagine that they expect something out of their shooting experience.
If American civilian mass murderers hope to set records here in the US and become competitive globally, they need to think carefully about this strategy. I understand the appeal of the one-bullet-at-a-time strategy for American civilians. Civilian mass murderers don’t get paid for gunning-down a classroom full of elementary school students. They do it because they love killing. They kill for the pleasure of killing, so we should expect that they will do it in the way that they find most satisfying.
However, the other thing that holds American civilian mass murderers back from competing globally is that American civilian mass murderers overwhelmingly work alone. That’s a real shame. One of the most heart-warming things to come out of the Columbine School shooting, that terrible tragedy that started the whole school-shooting phenomena, was that at the center of it, it was a story of boys working together.
Right now, I know that there are a lot Americans out there thinking seriously about going on a rampage. If these people could get together, just imagine what they could accomplish by working together. Unfortunately, the culture that so effectively, and assuredly produces mass murders, also effectively alienates them to the point that they no longer trust each other. American culture encourages people to replace the people in their lives with things. For many mass murderers, their guns were probably also their best friends.
In most other countries of the world, mass murderers are usually wed to an ideology or political movement, but here in the US, we kill for the pure joy of killing. It’s that honest enthusiasm for indiscriminate blood-lust that sets us apart as a nation and as a people, and that’s what makes it such an exciting time to be alive here in the USA.
When you see something you know is wrong, sometimes you have to say something about it. Here’s a letter I wrote recently, and another that I encourage you to write as well.
To the good folks at Sweetwater Musical Instruments and Pro Audio,
I am deeply offended, upset and disturbed by an image that appeared on the cover of the most recent edition of “SweetNotes” supplemental circular. I’ve been a customer of yours for years, and I always appreciate receiving your catalogs in the mail, but the image I saw on the cover of SweetNotes shocked me to my core.
Who thought this was a good idea? What possessed them to do such a thing? How dare you put it on the cover of your publication where anyone could see it, including innocent children, who have no idea what they are looking at. A Stratocaster with an F-hole!?!?
What were they thinking? What were you thinking? This is wrong! This is offensive! This is mutilation, humiliation and degradation! Whoever did this should be charged with Stratuatory Rape. We should lock him up in a room with an arch-top guitar and throw away the key. At the very least, he should never be allowed within 100 yards of a solid body electric guitar ever again.
It was bad enough when Fender put F-holes on Telecasters, but that didn’t bother me because Telecasters are for country music. Country music is songs about people who do stupid things, sung by people who dress like cowboys but have no cows. In other words, country music is all about being stupid and phony, so a phony F-hole on a solid-body Telecaster in a country band just fits right in.
That’s not OK for a Stratocaster. The Stratocaster was built for Rock-n-Roll and christened by Jimi Hendrix himself. Rock-n-Roll is solid and heavy. It requires a heavy, solid-bodied electric guitar. The Stratocaster just barely weighs enough as it is. Gibson’s Les Paul model, another iconic Rock-n-Roll guitar, weighs a ton, but you don’t see them routing fucking F-holes into it, do you? No. If Gibson wants to make F-holes, they build a nice arch-top guitar and put the F-holes where they belong. If Fender wants to cut F-Holes so bad, they should learn to make an arch-top guitar themselves instead of defacing a classic Rock-n-Roll legend.
You folks at Sweetwater should not encourage Fender to continue the practice of scarring these beautiful instruments with those ugly gouges, nor should you lead your customers to believe that you abide by such violence. We all deserve at least a modicum of decency and respect, including and especially the Fender Stratocaster. I was deeply offended by the disrespectful and exploitative image that appeared on the cover of SweetNotes and I believe that it is exactly this kind of smut that contributes to the aesthetic insensitivity of society at large.
My assistant didn’t know how to take this. I would have to assume this is just a phase that Fender is going through like weird body piercing. I also don’t expect this to become a classic.
Matt Kreager, Sweetwater Sound
That’s Not Good Enough!!
Obviously, Sweetwater does not take this issue seriously enough. That is why I ask all guitar players of good taste, everywhere in the world, to please write to Fender Musical Instrument Company directly and demand an end to this needless violence against innocent solid-bodied electric guitars. If enough of us stand up for the Stratocaster, we can stop this butchery today and forever. Here’s their email address:
(Here’s a sample letter)
Dear Leo, (I know he’s dead, but why not)
Recently I saw one of your classic instruments, the Fender Stratocaster horribly defaced. Some idiot had gauged an F-hole into it! Then I realized that this mutilated and deformed instrument appeared on the cover of a new instrument catalog, meaning that someone at Fender intentionally did this to a Stratocaster. The classic Stratocaster sound is not enhanced by the addition of an F-hole, because the Stratocaster is a solid-bodied electric guitar. But of course you would know this, at least you did when you were alive, and I’m sure that while you were alive, you would never have let such a thing happen. Today, things have gone haywire and the whole world is going to hell in a handbasket. I can see where people might find it hard to tell right from wrong, so sometimes we just have to spell it out. It’s wrong to put an F-hole on a Stratocaster. It’s just wrong, and you should stop doing it now.
Sincerely, (Insert your name here)
PLEASE SHARE WITH ALL OF YOUR GUITAR PLAYING FRIENDS!!!
I listened to the “Community in Crisis” Southern Humboldt Town Hall Meeting held last Thursday at the Mateel, on KMUD, who broadcast the meeting live. Many people, who the county believes grow cannabis, but have not applied for permits, have recently received “abatement letters.” These letters threaten landowners with $10,000 dollar a day fines if they do not remedy county code violations within 10 days. That’s $10,000 a day, per violation. The code violations range from growing marijuana without a permit to building code violations to illegal grading. Some of these violations are easier to remedy than others. Grading violations might take years to remedy.
Many complained that the $10,000 a day fines are excessive and arbitrary. Humboldt County Planning Director John Ford explained that the fines were not arbitrary, but that they were set “intentionally high” because when the fines were lower, people in the black market cannabis industry, where profit margins were high, could thumb their noses at the county, and absorb the expense of these fines as part of the cost of doing business. That’s one more way that the marijuana industry has made life harder for everyone else in Humboldt County. Our building-code violation fine structure now assumes that every homeowner is a drug kingpin, and that the only reason anyone builds anything out in these hills is to produce illegal drugs for sale on the black market.
I know what it is like to get one of those “abatement letters.” I know what it feels like to have your home threatened in that way, so I sympathize with the stress and anxiety that people feel right now. I also understand the stress of losing a reliable and satisfying source of income for reasons beyond your control. That sucks too. I get it. I’ve been there and I know how it feels. I heard a lot of anger, a lot of fear and a lot of hurt. I recognize and understand those feelings and I sympathize, but I also heard a lot of confusion that night.
People found the regulations confusing and many people complained about it. At least two people complained about the challenge of converting acre-feet to gallons. I understand that there are few things in life more tedious than government paperwork, but growers should remember that these regulations, especially at the county level, as odious as they are, were largely created for their benefit.
It was mostly growers at those meetings where the county’s cannabis cultivation ordinance got crafted. Growers very specifically wanted regulations to protect small growers from a corporate takeover. Local growers sought water use limits and forbearance requirements to protect their own water supplies, as well as endangered salmon, and local farmers demanded an end to light-leaks and generator noise, because they live here too.
At the state level, when Lt Gov Gavin Newsom came out here to Garberville, everyone cheered when he promised to keep the price of marijuana high. It takes a lot of stupid regulations and taxes to keep the price of cannabis high. Time was, we could get “law and order” Republicans to vote for higher taxes to pay more cops to bust more people, and send them to jail, and that was enough to keep marijuana prices high, and the lawyers of the million or so innocent people who went to jail every year, for decades, in the War on Drugs, handled most of the paperwork. Today, all of that paper work must be done by people who wish to do business in the cannabis industry.
Without all of that paperwork, fees and taxes, the price of cannabis would drop to almost nothing, overnight. Only people in the marijuana industry benefit from making marijuana artificially expensive, and everyone else in society suffers as a result. As cannabis consumers, we pay a premium so that the state can create a whole new bureaucracy to help subsidize growers. I’m not surprised there’s a lot of paperwork involved, but at least now it gets done by the people who benefit from the program.
Growing marijuana is not a terrible thing. There’s nothing wrong with growing marijuana. However, it is a terrible thing to turn a forest into a farm. Turning forest into farm can be worse than logging, because a farm is permanent. Today, it should be a crime to convert forested land, anywhere, into a farm, and it certainly should be a crime to do it here. It certainly would be a crime to lose our wild salmon to a thirsty plant that really doesn’t belong here. People who intend to grow cannabis commercially in our delicate forest ecosystem should expect that their activities will be held to a high level of accountability.
Unfortunately, the problem really has nothing to do with the regulations. The problem is the reality of legalization. The price of cannabis continues to plummet, and way too many people grow now. The state has already licensed too many growers to grow way more weed than Californians can smoke. We can’t force people to smoke more weed, and people already spend as much money as they can afford on it. All of the paperwork in the world can’t keep the price of weed high if more and more people keep growing more and more weed.
The reality is that most of the people who have a long history of growing cannabis as a cash crop here in Humboldt County, have no future in the legal cannabis industry. The legal cannabis industry is a cut-throat high-stakes game right now. A few people will win that game and make enormous amounts of money, and maybe a few of them will even live here, but unfortunately for this community, most of the small players in this game will lose, or have already lost, and a lot of those people live here. We can change the regulations, but we can’t change the facts, and it’s about time we stopped bickering about the regulations, and faced facts.
This community has a history we can be proud of, and cannabis is a big part of that history, but we can only claim that proud history, if we can gracefully walk away from the ugliness of prohibition. We cannot solve this crisis with a new cannabis ordinance, because the problem isn’t cannabis regulation, the problem is cannabis obsession.
It’s time to realize that cannabis is not what makes us unique, special and valuable. What makes our community special is what we’re blessed with, the forest, the mountains, the rivers and the ocean, but also what we’ve earned, our culture, our innovative lifestyle, and the aesthetics of hand-built and home-spun. It’s about time we realized that those things are more valuable than cannabis, and that we should recognize, reaffirm and celebrate them, instead of clinging to the withering carcass of prohibition.