Saturday, December 25, 2010

clean up the homeless

This morning's LA Times article about a community run laundromat and shower in skid row is a good reminder of very simple steps that can be taken to improve the homeless situation for the public at large and homeless alike.  One of the more common complaints you hear about the homeless is that they are smelly and dirty - and limited interactions on public transit, park benches, and on the streets exacerbate relations and provide the cover for more authoritative solutions like forceful removal of the homeless by the police.  Obviously, if you do not have a home, it is hard to have good hygiene and clean clothes.  These public services could go a long way to providing the sanitary care the homeless need.  This service is humane and the right thing to do.  Further, the homeless aren't going anywhere - public services that benefit the public at large are a no-brainer.  I'd add to the list: public restrooms.  LA Downtown News has an interesting article from 2006 about the installation of APT - Automatic Public Toilets - in sections of the city.  It appears that the APT in skid row is a resounding success and is not prone to the abuse that formerly placed port-a-potties had experienced.

Friday, December 10, 2010

Bernie Sander's brave stand

Bernie Sanders (I-VT) has filibustered the looming tax cut for the rich for over 6 hours, with no sign of letting up.  The fillibuster is grueling affair that hasn't been utilized in its traditional sense (actually taking over the debate floor) since 1992.  The LA Times expounds on the details of his labor:

Under Rule XIX of the Senate, senators who have been recognized to speak may do so for as long as they wish, and cannot be forced to cede the floor or even interrupted without their consent, according to the Congressional Research Service.

Sanders has twice deferred to his colleagues — for 45 minutes to Sherrod Brown (D- Ohio), and to Mary Landrieu (D-La.) for over a half hour.

"I don't know how I'm going to vote, but I'm not voting quietly," Landrieu said.

Even when he defers to a colleague, Sanders must remain standing on the floor. He also cannot eat — he hasn't since arriving at the Capitol at 9 a.m. — but is permitted to take sips of water.

In my view, the tax compromise needs to pass to alleviate immediate suffering from the recession.  By dropping unemployment by 1 - 2 % points, millions of Americans will be prevented from descending into poverty, losing their homes, and creating a downward spiral for others on the brink.  The tax break for the rich is unnecessary, fiscally irresponsible, and useless at stimulating the economy.

But this courageous filibuster is helpful to start the discussion that must be had in 2012 - it will be a repeat of the current debate, but Sander's filibuster has taken on a viral quality, much like Ron Paul's anti-war speeches in 2008.  So carry on, good Senator.  Thanks for fighting the good fight, and congratulations on being a star attraction of the Senate floor!  Perhaps some more of this public drama from the good guys will help break through the bias and talking points espoused by the plutocracy.

Monday, October 4, 2010

clarity on the tight rope

There have been countless articles trying to describe what the Tea Party is, who is a part of it, and what it represents.  And yet, the best analysis so far comes from the guy in the cross hairs, Pres. Obama: 

In the interview, Obama also said he thinks the Tea Party movement, which has received ample coverage on Fox, is a "mixed bag" that is still "defining itself."

It includes, he said, libertarians opposed to government involvement in markets or social issues, along with social conservatives and others troubled by "what they saw as a series of instances in which middle-class and working-class people have been abused or hurt by special interests, but their anger is misdirected.

"And then there are probably some aspects of the Tea Party that are a little darker, that have to do with anti-immigrant sentiment or are troubled by what I represent as the president. So I think it's hard to characterize the Tea Party as a whole," he said. 
That is a very nice crystallization of 3 distinct strands of the Tea Party movement, and described in such an analytical style that he doesn't even villify the subgroups, even the last one (the "darker" sentiment).

I'm most impressed that he has retained lucidity even though he is at the center of the storm. Really impressive.

Sunday, September 26, 2010

the rise of X

At the Ratatat show at Club Nokia this week, I was surprised to see a youthful turnout of mainstream college kids who recreationally used MDMA.  These kids didn't have the wings, candy bracelets, and other visual identifiers of MDMA users. Some of them were decidedly mainstream kids.  I'm used to seeing MDMA users at electronic-music parties, like Electric Daisy Carnival and the like, but I was surprised to see them out on a Tuesday night for a rocking (and yes, electronic, but hardly rave music) performance by Ratatat.

According to the LA Times, rap/hip hop/top 40 music has embraced X in their lyrics, and in their euro- sound.  Interesting, Eminem is credited elevating X in hip hop: 
Time was when the drug of choice for rappers was either weed or booze (or, in certain cases down South, sippin’ on "sizzurp"). And the notion of ingesting a powerful love drug -– one known to overwhelm a person’s inhibitions, eliciting bro hugs and feelings of cosmic interconnectivity that are distinctly at odds with rap’s dog-eat-dog mentality -- would have been as improbable as an MC wearing tight jeans.
But things began to change when Eminem burst on the scene.
In a 1999 Rolling Stone interview, the hard-rhyming pill-popper consumed no fewer than three Ecstasy tablets in the presence of an interviewer and then bragged, “I wrote two songs for my next album on Ecstasy.”
Certainly Eminem is one of the more introspective rappers on the scene - does his X usage explain this?

Via Mindhacks, this development dovetails with the first peer reviewed clinical trial published about the use of MDMA on Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder patients.  The Phase II pilot trial found that MDMA was very effective in reducing the Clinically Administered PTSD Scale score for the patients in the MDMA arm of the trial.  While there is skepticism by some about MDMA in a therapeutic setting, it obviously makes sense to contain the scope and size of these blinded trials.  Some have even argued that MDMA is safer than tobacco and alcohol use.

Saturday, September 18, 2010

new blog ya'll

I decided to develop an anonymous blog to 1) engage the world, 2) improve my writing skills, and 3) learn something.  Cheers.