"Candy is Dandy, but liquor is quicker." Willy Wonka

Saturday, December 04, 2004

The U.S. Drug War

I have not kept up with the drug war in America since those Nancy Reagan commercials in the 80's, but I found a really nice article by Michael Gersh's Zero Base Thinking about the failure of the current U.S. drug policy. Here is part of that article:

Another study has been released that shows that our benighted policy on drug consumption has failed, according to the Washington Times. While this can not be surprise to anyone who has been paying attention, this study points out that both availability (up) and price (down) are going in the opposite direction to what the entire War on (some) Drugs has promised:

The report conducted by the Washington Office on Latin America, a non-governmental organization that has the stated goal of trying to "reorient U.S. drug control policy to the region," concludes that U.S. policy geared toward "reducing drug abuse and availability in the United States" from a "supply-reduction model does not work."Citing falling wholesale and retail cocaine and heroin prices and collateral damage suffered in Latin American countries as a result of U.S. anti-drug policy, Joy Olson, executive director of WOLA, said, "We've been tough on drugs, now it's time to get smart on drugs."

Over the last 25 years U.S. policy has tried to attack the war on drugs from a supply-side perspective. Through the eradication of coca crops in producing countries, interdicting drug shipments to the United States and jailing drug offenders, authorities were hoping to significantly drive up the cost of cocaine and heroin -- thus reducing cocaine's economic appeal to potential users.

However, the attempted siphoning of the supply side has lowered street prices and increased the number of incarcerated drug offenders, driving up government spending, without significantly reducing the amount of drug flow, the study's findings show.

Data compiled by WOLA show that since 1981 the retail price for 2 grams of cocaine went from $544.59 to $106.54 in 2003. Retail heroin prices mirrored the decline in cocaine prices, falling from $1,974.49 to $361.95 during the period.

Walsh noted that "price estimates are manifestations of supply and demand" and thus are the most accurate indicators to "determine what is coming in."

The number of incarcerated drug offenders rose from 45,272 to 480,519 from 1981 to 2002, and government spending on overseas supply control rose from $373.9 million to $3.6 billion from 1981 to 2004.

More Info:

The numbers are alarming. Check this Drug War Clock out. It has the total amount of money spent on the war on drugs this year.

Apparently the drug traffickers have developed a new cocaine plant that can produce far more coca than a traditional coca plant has in the past. This new coca plant was also bred to resist certain chemicals that the U.S. sprays over known drug growing regions to kill them. More information on this specific topic can be found at Common Sense for Drug Policy.

Another article can be found HERE that was written in "The Village Voice", a Manhatten newspaper, that outlines the shortcomings of the U.S. Drug War from a Generation X perspective.

Friday, May 18 2001

American Chamber of Commerce in Hong Kong Journal Entry

Today went a lot smoother. I had more to do so time flew by. I started to notice today the different personalities in the office. Frank Martin being the basic pessimistic banker in my view. Ioanna Martin the mother-like Canadian. The very friendly New Zealander with a cool accent. The always on the edge Irish woman Rosheen. Then there is the burly and blunt Scott that works on the computers. These are all very interesting people.

Anyhow, I got into finding the import/export numbers and the FDI numbers right away when I got to work. I then found them all and put them into spreadsheet form. It took me quite some time to find the FDI numbers that Mr. Martin was looking for. Before I gave them to him I went to lunch.

I went to KFC and got my meal and then tried to find a place to sit. There must have been nearly 2 or 3 thousand people in the food court of the Pacific Place. There was not one place to sit. If there was a place it was quickly jumped on by people hovering to save seats for their friends. I then went into the McDonalds to find a place to sit, but failed. Then the McDonalds attendant came to me telling me that I could not eat in the McDonalds with KFC food. At that point I felt like throwing my food away and just not eating.

However, the very friendly New Zealander saw me and told me that I could sit with him. So we talked about where he had worked in Hong Kong and why he came there. He has apparently been in the publishing business for all his life and came to the c/c to do the c/c gazette that they put out monthly. He is in charge of it. We talked about how much housing costs in Hong Kong and how the prices have been going down. Apparently a lot of people have lost money in the real estate market.

I got back to work and gave all of my stuff to Mr. Martin and he told me to just email it to him. He said that he was going to email the numbers to a bunch of people that needed them. I was kind of taken aback by this because, wow, he was really going to use these numbers for an important reason. I felt pretty good about that. I am still a little uncomfortable with the formal business setting. It is kind of impending. I feel kind of weird walking into the “bosses” office to give him something.

Also, today I had a really good conversation with a guy named Mark who is in charge of governmental relations. He really wants to go into research for the c/c. He is Chinese and so we talked about his career path and such. He used to work for a securities firm doing credit checks. He is a political science major. He told me that someone can do just about anything in Hong Kong because of the on the job training and pick it up pretty easily. The conversation went pretty well and so we are going to go to lunch next week to talk some more. I am looking forward to it. I feel like I am being more integrated into the work place and so I am feeling more comfortable.

It rained today too and I got my jacket wet going to work. This week overall has been pretty gloomy weather-wise. I hope all this smog will clear up some time. I don’t know what I am going to do tonight but I don’t think it will be much because I really want to go to bed and would be happy with that. Tomorrow I will go and do some stuff though.

Go Microsoft!!


Seattle, WA, Dec. 3 (UPI) -- Microsoft Corp. has filed class action
lawsuits against vendors of sexually explicit commercial e-mail, the Seattle Post-Intelligence said Friday.

In seven suits filed Thursday in Washington state, the software company alleged the purveyors violated federal restrictions on pornographic spam, or unsolicited e-mail messages. "Spam is annoying, but this kind of spam is truly offensive," said Aaron Kornblum, Microsoft's Internet safety enforcement attorney.

The defendants in the suit were identified only as "John Does," while the evidence from the case came from messages sent to clients of Microsoft's Hotmail e-mail service. According to Microsoft, the messages violate the Federal Trade Commission's CAN-SPAM Act, which requires sexually oriented commercial e-mail messages to identify themselves as such in the message's subject line.
Washington Times

If anyone can take them down it is Microsoft. I found this story on Powerpundit.

Losing Our Freedom

In their never ending campaign to make the constitution irrelevant, our government is putting yet another nail in the coffin of our freedom, with almost no mention in the press. Using the dubious procedure of a voice vote in a lame duck session - which gives every single legislator the ability to deny his vote,if and when the voters turn against this benighted law - the House has already passed, and the Senate is about to pass, the National All Schedules Prescription Electronic Reporting Act, or NASPER, H.R. 3015.

This act will give to the government easy access to the medical records of any citizen who takes any controlled substance. While pain medications are the stated target of this new law, antidepressant and other drugs used in the treatment of mental distress and illness, not to mention medically authorized marijuana, are all included. The act provides that any doctor prescribing, and any provider dispensing any of these medicines must report, within one week, the name, address, and telephone number of the patient receiving these substances. Normal constitutionally mandated controls on search and seizure are thus not applicable. No judge need issue a warrant, nor must any law enforcement person show probable cause, not even reasonable suspicion, that any law has been violated. Mere curiosity on the part of law enforcement would appear to be allowed, under the language of the statute.
by Michael Gersh - Zero Base Thinking Blog

This is just part of a story that Michael Gersh wrote in his blog, Zero Base Thinking. I didn't know that this was going on and I'm shocked. He writes a lengthy article on the issue and all of the details and pressure points involved.

I think that we as Americans will have far fewer rights by the time we start actually getting interested in politics, putting pressure on our representatives, and getting involved. I think that things like this are just symptoms of a bigger problem. We are electing the most popular guy to office then putting him on a train for Washington D.C. and saying, "Have a good time. See ya when you get back."

The percentage of people who actually know what their representatives are doing in Washington D.C. on their behalf is alarmingly low, but things won't change till things get too bad.


Friday, December 03, 2004

Johnny 5 Goes to War

ORLANDO, Florida -- Hunting for guerillas, handling roadside bombs, crawling across the caves and crumbling towns of Afghanistan and Iraq -- all of that was just a start. Now, the Army is prepping its squad of robotic vehicles for a new set of assignments. And this time, they'll be carrying guns.
As early as March or April, 18 units of the Talon -- a model armed with automatic weapons -- are scheduled to report for duty in Iraq. Around the same time, the first prototypes of a new, unmanned ambulance should be ready for the Army to start testing. In a warren of hangar-sized hotel ballrooms in Orlando, military engineers this week showed off their next generation of robots, as they got the machines ready for the war zone. Wired Magazine
I agree with In The Bullpen's Blog in that these armed robots may be limited in vision, but the advantages of these things will be astounding. The ability to search a building and clear corners without risking American lives, commit initial assaults on enemy strongholds to weaken them without losing lives, or do initial recon on a war zone before sending troops in.

I just have to wonder what things will be like a few decades from now. I wonder if we will really have as many troops as we do now or at least troops that are in harms way in the traditional sense. What will war look like?

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Thursday, May 17, 2001

American Chamber of Commerce in Hong Kong Internship Journal Entry
Today started off kind of slow. I did not have very much to do so I really just worked on my paper about how Hong Kong has changed since they were handed over to the PRC. I got quite a bit done on that. Mr. Martin seemed very busy working on some stuff and apparently the team that the c/c sent to Washington D.C. is back in town. It sounds like it went well. Mr. Martin wrote a position paper on the current status of Hong Kong and gave me a copy of it to read or use how I wish. I thought that was nice of him.
I went to lunch at McDonalds. McDonalds is very cheap here and so that is good for my budget. It is unbelievable how crowded it is during lunchtime. I think that everyone thinks the same it seems.
I got back and still did not have much to do. However, at the very end of the day Mr. Martin came to me and asked me specifically to put together the numbers on export/imports from the USA to countries in Southeast Asia and also FDI from the USA in these countries. I already have the numbers for import/export but I do not have the numbers for FDI. I am having a hard time finding these numbers. I think I am going to go to the Department of Commerce and just email someone there and see if they cannot email me these numbers. They should have them I would think.
Mr. Martin told me that they had a hard time getting these numbers last year and the guy at the c/c in Indonesia finally got them, but he was so frustrated when he got them that he would not share them. So now I have a lot of drive to find them since others have hard a time getting them. I would like to come through for him on this. Show him that I can do it. My days are still being cut short. I have not had time to do anything outside of work. I pretty much go to bed as soon as I get home. I am hoping to get out this weekend and see some stuff. Also we are in the typhoon season. I have never been in a typhoon and so I think that will be interesting when one does hit.

Wednesday, May 16, 2001

American Chamber of Commerce Internship Journal Entry
What I did not tell you yesterday was that I have my own line and extension in the office. Is that not cool. Today went smoother mainly because they gave me more to do and it kept me busy until 5:30 PM.
I went to work and Ioanna Martin (Director of Membership) game me a whole pile of business cards. The story is that there is this guy who is a member of the c/c and his name is Joel Laykin. Apparently he is a P/R guy here in Hong Kong and comes across a lot of people here in town. Well he gets their business cards and makes copies of all of them and sends them to the c/c. He is therefore the biggest producer of new members for the c/c. So the member newsletter is therefore named the Laykin Letter. Not only that, but the c/c has a stamp with his name on it in order to stamp his name under the referred by: place on the enrollment brochures. That is pretty interesting.
Ioanna told me that I would probably meet the guy while I am here. So I spend most of the day sending emails and letters to almost every president, ceo, director, and manager here in Hong Kong. It is amazing. I was emailing heads of companies like Oracle, CompuServe, Compaq, Times, Morgan Stanley Dean Witter, and all kinds of financial and consulting firms. It really made me think for a bit exactly what I was doing and whom I was corresponding with. Wow.
Then President Frank Martin approached me and told me that he needed the official number for the total exports of merchandise from the U.S. for 1999 and 2000. So I did and I also got him the services exports and the totals for both of them. I gave them to him and he used them in a position paper that he was writing and sending on to Washington D.C. I felt somewhat important. He gave me a copy of the position paper.
Furthermore, he has been staying in contact with the Operation Door Tap that is in D.C. right now. The Chairman of the Board for the c/c (Paula DeLisle) is there and I heard some interviews that had been taped in D.C. that she had given. This really intrigued me. In the down times I worked on my paper about the changes in Hong Kong since the hand over. The sources that are available at the chamber are unbelievable. They are great. When I was leaving today I took a look out the windows (we are on the 19th floor) and about 100 yards away is the Bank of China building and also the Lippo Centre. It was an amazing sight. The view from the office is unbelievable.
Standing on the MTR (Mass Transit Railway) sometimes is like being in a dream because you just cannot believe it. Here I am, an American, in an atmosphere nothing like you are used to. Nobody looks like you or talks like you or acts like you and sometimes I really feel out of place. It was something I was really giving some thought to today. I am still experiencing jet lag. I am having a hard time staying up late at night and so I am getting up way too early in the morning. That is about all that is going on.

Thursday, December 02, 2004

Opening The Door

Social awkwardness creeps into our lives in a variety of ways. It doesn't necessarily have to be profound in order to produce a sense of 'I wish there was a better way we could do this'. One subtle way that this is seen is in the cordial opening of doors for others.

A door is a simple thing. Not much too 'em. They have knobs or handles. They swing in and out, relative to where you stand. But that's just enough to feel a bit ridiculous.

When approaching a door with another person (assuming that you're going to open the door for this other person), a few things come to mind. Should i take an extra step forward and go for the handle, knob, or whatever? Complications arise when the door does not pull out. If you have to push the door in, you might end up stretched across the whole face of the door while the person you're with squeezes past you. And if your reasoning for opening the door to begin with was that this other person was too incredibly loaded with stuff to do it herself or himself, he or she will have a harder time getting by. Incidentally, if you feel like you have the manners to open a door for a heavily laden person and yet don't even think to help lighten the load, you might as well forego the niceties.

And if this inward-opening door is relatively heavy? Your appreciative friend may be able to squeeze past the one foot crack that you so humbly provide. So much for manners.

And if you find yourself holding a door, what happens if more people arrive? Should you stay to offer your kindness to the rest of the world or do you quickly rush in? If you stay, your friend, whom you let inside ten minutes ago may get a bit irritated at your people-pleasing skills. And what about those pleased people? If you gave them the chance, maybe you could give one of them doorman duty, but it seems as if they've already analyzed your relationship with your friend who is now dozing on the carpet. They glance to and fro, knowing full well what's happening and concluding that you're quite an indecisive doorman.