U.S. Customs and Border Protection officials have seized a batch of hemp seeds heading from Italy to Kentucky’s Agriculture Department. As of earlier this year, cultivating hemp—a type of cannabis plant related to marijuana in form but not function—is no longer illegal in the United States, ending a hysterical, decades-long ban on growing this totally non-psychoactive plant. But apparently no one bothered to tell customs?
Of course nobody bothered to tell Customs – or perhaps Customs knew and just didn’t care.
What the hell was the problem with hemp, anyway? Marijuana at least is an intoxicant – although it’s unclear, at least to yr. obdt., why alcohol is legal and marijuana isn’t. But let’s set that aside for now, and focus on hemp.
My grandfather grew hemp during the First and Second World Wars, and somehow nobody was driven into a cannabis-fueled frenzy. Hemp has a wide variety of industrial uses, from rope to cloth to paper to biofuels. But because of it’s relation to marijuana – or more accurately marijuana being a type of hemp – the Imperial Federal government has decided to disallow it’s growth in the U.S.?
Someone explain why that makes any sense.
The second tidbit from Reason is more lighthearted: Are Video Games Art? Being a casual gamer myself, and having played games like Skyrim and it’s MMO successor The Elder Scrolls Online, I’d say yes, sure – there is an enormous amount of graphic and literary creativity that goes into these works. It’s one bright spot in American productivity right now – video games are making their creators a lot of money, and they’ve earned all of it.
One of the common criticisms of capitalism is that it allegedly increases income inequality. There is a growing body of literature at the country level that shows otherwise. There has been some state-level work as well. Ashby and Sobel (2008) examined income inequality. They found that both the level and growth of income in the lowest income quintile was positively associated with the growth in economic freedom. They found similar results for the middle quintile and the highest income quintile, but in the latter group only income growth (not income level) was statistically significant. They also found that the growth of economic freedom was negatively associated with the ratio of the highest income quintile’s income share to the lowest income quintile’s income share, meaning that increased freedom was associated with less income inequality.
Read the whole thing – it’s rather disturbing in that the United States is now well behind Canada in term of economic freedom. (At least one prescient author/philosopher saw this coming many years ago.)
The report speaks to several fallacies of income inequality, while yr. obdt. denies that income inequality is anything but a problem, but is rather an inevitable fact of human existence; what matters is overall standard of living, which is still very high in the U.S. – although it’s slipping.
How have we come to this pass? Why is this happening? What has happened to our country? Who is John Galt?
Another long day of travel yesterday, with a late night and an early morning today. There are occasions in this line of work when I have reason to doubt my own sanity.
Here’s an interesting tidbit from Mark Steyn, wherein he advocates a new “hashtag” (I had to look that up) #bringbackourballs. Excerpt:
It is hard not to have total contempt for a political culture that thinks the picture at right (Michelle Obama holding up a sign stating “#Bring Back Our Girls”) is a useful contribution to rescuing 276 schoolgirls kidnapped by jihadist savages in Nigeria. Yet some pajama boy at the White House evidently felt getting the First Lady to pose with this week’s Hashtag of Western Impotence would reflect well upon the Administration. The horrible thing is they may be right: Michelle showed she cared – on social media! – and that’s all that matters, isn’t it?
Just as the last floppo hashtag, #WeStandWithUkraine, didn’t actually involve standing with Ukraine, so #BringBackOurGirls doesn’t require bringing back our girls. There are only a half-dozen special forces around the planet capable of doing that without getting most or all of the hostages killed: the British, the French, the Americans, Israelis, Germans, Aussies, maybe a couple of others. So, unless something of that nature is being lined up, those schoolgirls are headed into slavery, and the wretched pleading passivity of Mrs Obama’s hashtag is just a form of moral preening.
The problem isn’t moral preening, although this administration has done plenty of that. The problem is America’s seeming impotence in the face of vicious, aggressive Islamic savagery. Boko Haram took these girls, who are almost certainly irretrievably lost into slavery or worse, because they knew neither America nor any other developed Western nation would do anything about it.
The proper response by the Western world would be to hunt these savages down like animals and kill them, but that won’t happen.
Chris Sevier, a man from Florida, believes he should be allowed to wed his Macbook.
Mr Sevier argues that if gays should be allowed to marry, then so should other sexual minorities.
Mr Sevier states he has fallen in love with a pornography laden computer.
“Over time, I began preferring sex with my computer over sex with real women,” he told a court in Florida.
This appears to be not a passing holiday romance, but a lifelong commitment.
If gays have the right to “marry their object of sexual desire, even if they lack corresponding sexual parts, then I should have the right to marry my preferred sexual object”, he said.
I’ve made my stance on social issues (including marriage) very plain in the past, and will do so again here: I don’t give a damn what people do, as long as they leave me alone. With that said, I am of the considered opinion – considered again after reading about the nutbar Chris Sevier – that marriage, to avoid becoming a complete farce, should be limited to consenting human adults.
No matter how societal attitudes towards marriage have changed, it is still universally seen as a statement of deep commitment, entered into freely and willingly (at least in Western countries) by consenting, competent adults. It’s not, as Mr. Sevier so fatuously complains, just an attachment “to their object of sexual desire.”
So is it “intolerant” to think that it’s appropriate to keep it within the species?
Actually, I suspect Mr. Sevier is attempting some sort of a stunt. What point he is trying to make escapes us for the moment, but this doesn’t appear to be a serious person with a serious issue.
His website included articles that were critical of senior religious figures such as Saudi Arabia’s Grand Mufti, according to Human Rights Watch.
Mind you this is country that does not permit women to vote, drive, or leave their homes without a male relative as an escort. Raif Badawi, the webmaster in question, originally also faced charges of apostasy – a crime that carries the death penalty in the Kingdom.
Civilized people do not conduct the business of state in this manner; but then, civilization has always been in short supply in this part of the world, at least for the last thousand years or so.
Putin Backs Off. He’s up to something. This guy was a KGB Colonel and would love nothing more than to see the glory days of the Soviet Union come back, and everything he does is calculated to the inch. He’s figured out some way to get what he wants.
Check Your Usage of “Check Your Privilege.” Seriously, what is this privilege I keep hearing about? What did being white get me? My Old Man was a farmer, later a middle-management type for John Deere – far from a rich guy. I went to college on the G.I. Bill. I started several businesses that failed and had a piece of one that sold before I hit on the one I still run today, a one-man consulting operation. I’m not in the 1% but I sure as hell am in the 10%, and nobody gave me shit – I worked for every last damn dime of it, and wouldn’t be here if it weren’t for taking some serious risks along the way. So where did the big advantage of my Scots/Irish/English/German ancestry come in?
Why the hell do people insist on defining folks in groups? Everyone is an individual, unique in and of themselves, with a host of unique traits and attributes, skills, talents and abilities. “Race,” to a biologist, is an utterly meaningless construct. And yet people are goddamn obsessed with it.
KCAL9’s Bobby Kaple reports that Sen. Mark DeSaulnier, D-Concord, introduced a bill to test out the vehicle miles traveled (VMT) tax because the state’s gas tax was no longer bringing in the revenue it used to due to people driving more fuel efficient vehicles.
The program is modeled after ones in Oregon and Washington.
“We want to do as Washington and Oregon have done in a much bigger state with much longer commutes…to make sure that we find out whether it would work, whether the public would like it or not,” DeSaulnier said.
It’s unknown how much the tax would be, but Oregon currently charges its volunteers 1.5 cents per mile.
See also PJMedia scribe Bryan Preston’s piece on the topic here.
Stupid Point #1: Voluntary? Who the hell will sign up for this? 1/10th of 1% of the population? Do they actually expect to see any real revenue from this, or is it (more likely) a cheap piece of political theater?
Stupid Point #2: Who the hell will support this idea, knowing (as any thinking person should) that when the increasingly nutty California legislature sees zero revenue, or as close to zero as makes no difference, will make it mandatory?
After all, it’s only your money when the government is through taking what it wants, right?
Stupid Point #3: Why the hell does anyone with any sense, any ambition, or any inclinations towards productivity stay in California any more?
It seems the first Earthly colonists to Mars may be bacteria. Only a few years ago everyone assumed that harsh conditions in space would kill any Earthly hitchhikers, but that’s no longer a safe assumption; discover and study of extremophiles has shown that some bugs can live damn near anywhere.
Lawrence Livermore has discovered element 117. The new element has not been named; given the predilection for naming these super-heavy elements after Roman dieties, I would suggest the name Penianium after a minor Roman god of poverty. Why? Because it’s funny, in a mildly juvenile way. Sound it out. Right?