Dr. Oz Is Back In the News Again

It’s been years since I last wrote about the shenanigans of Dr. Mehmet Oz, America’s favourite celebrity marketer (and sometimes MD). Though I thought my comma-riddled rantings about Oz’s Quackery (and for that matter of The Doctors, his then prime-time television MD counterparts) from the mid-2010s would be the last time I would ever mention the man, it turns out that I was wrong.

Though my headline isn’t exactly accurate (Dr. Oz has been making news off and on all through the pandemic, and arguably since my last post mentioning his existence), Dr. Oz – America’s Favorite Celebrity Dr. And Tax Cheat isn’t technically true. Though there is certainly subjectivity to be found in analyzing the tax breaks made available to primarily land owners, such behaviour is hardly cheating in the legal sense. It’s no shell company-owned nest egg in a tax haven like the Bahamas or Canada.

This brings us to today’s article of interest. Resigned from his old cushy position of prime-time television marketer of all things faux-medicinal, Dr. Oz now has political ambitions. His campaign was based around his in-law’s property in Pennsylvania, of all places.

The article was written by Julia Conley and published by Common Dreams.

Fetterman Demands Dr. Oz Answer for $50,000 Tax Break Intended for Pa. Farmers

“Dr. Oz does not want to live in Pennsylvania, and he doesn’t want to pay taxes here; he just wants our Senate seat.”

Pennsylvania Lt. Gov. John Fetterman on Tuesday slammed his GOP opponent in the state’s U.S. Senate election, Mehmet Oz, for taking advantage of a tax break under a program originally intended to help struggling farmers, saying the tax relief underscores how the celebrity doctor seeks to benefit from Pennsylvania instead of serving the state.

Oz, who has been known for years as TV personality Dr. Oz, purchased a farmstead in Montgomery County late last year, weeks after he announced he was running for Senate. Oz has homes in Florida and New Jersey and has been staying at a Pennsylvania house owned by his in-laws since 2020, when Sen. Pat Toomey (R-Pa.) announced his plan to retire.

As the Philadelphia Inquirer reported Tuesday, the $3.1 million Montgomery County property is eligible for a tax relief and conservation program called Act 319, which gives landowners a more favorable tax assessment in return for protecting land from development.

Oz’s home, where he still doesn’t live, has been held back from development as a “forest reserve,” with Oz and his wife agreeing to preserve tree cover that exists on the property.

In exchange, the state has assessed the value of the property at less than $450,000, subjecting Oz to an annual tax bill of just $21,473 instead of $72,000.

While the tax break is meant to incentivize homeowners to refrain from developing forested land, according to the Inquirer, Oz agreed when he bought the home to “not construct any improvement of structures” on the property.

He applied for the Act 319 tax break months later.

“The intent here was to induce [Oz] to not develop the land,” tax attorney Richard Booker told the Inquirer. “But he’d already agreed to that.”

On Twitter, Fetterman posted an image of a check made out to “Farmer Oz.”

Oz’s use of Act 319 is completely legal—but with tax break affecting a local school district’s budget, Fetterman said the doctor’s actions demonstrate that “Dr. Oz does not want to live in Pennsylvania, and he doesn’t want to pay taxes here; he just wants our Senate seat.”

As far as republican cronyism goes, this is small potatoes. Compared to the past (and probably present!) financial shenanigans of the Trump organization, focusing on Oz’s $50,527 tax break seems petty, particularly with the environmental consideration considered.

But, as Fetterman remarks, it’s hardly about the ecological stewardship for Oz, is it?

Considering that he agreed not to develop the property, this amounts to a little more than a nice incentive for not selling his little forest retreat. Which had the added benefit of putting a senate seat within his reach when the time turned out to be right.

Taking a step to the side for a moment, we have all been in this Bizzaro world for so long now that the thought of Dr.Oz running for senate hardly elicits any response from most of us. Until the occasional moment when you have a brief realization and place yourself in the past, maybe 7 years ago.
Back in 2014, Dr. Oz had to sit in front of congress and admit that a lot of what he was selling on his primetime show amounted to little more than medicinal woo. Now, he’s running for a seat in the US Senate.
Even Donald Trump has never had to confess his sins in front of congress and the nation before his 2015 rise to infamy (though he did use his celebrity influence in 1991 to try and convince congress to enact more business-friendly tax reform). Trump claimed the taxation paradigm of the time to be very detrimental to the real estate market (and by extension, to his businesses).

What an era. I was 3 and completely politically unaware. And Donald Trump had not yet demonstrated the unbelievable ability (or I suppose, lack thereof) to go bankrupt whilst running a gambling empire.

Anyway, back to present-day hell.

Fetterman noted that according to the Inquirer, Oz has claimed that ongoing renovations have kept him from moving into the home he purchased—”on two recent afternoons, there were no cars in the driveway or signs of construction activity at the house.”

“Dr. Oz hasn’t even moved into his ‘home’ in Pennsylvania yet, but he’s already found time to claim a tax break on his new mansion in Pennsylvania—a tax break meant for struggling small-time farmers,” said Fetterman. “It also looks like Dr. Oz is no longer even pretending to be renovating and getting ready to move into this house where he supposedly plans to live.”

“Honestly, he’s just acknowledging what we all already know: that as soon as he loses, Dr. Oz is heading back to his mansion in New Jersey,” he added.

While I don’t feel a need to comment on this rather petty commentary (I’m not overly concerned with people owning vacation properties), such is how things are in politics.

It does bring to mind the interesting dynamic that can be brought about by wealthy investors buying property in distressed (primarily rural) locations. Some would consider the cash infusion a good thing due to the economic gains (though often exaggerated, they are usually not non-existent). However, the double-edged sword often shows up in the amount of power these land owners can have over local area town councils and other leadership. For example, if the town/county/parish/municipality decides that the free (or very lenient) taxation ride is over and it’s time for the wealthy land owners to pay up. Often the threat of abandoning the current locale in favour of a locale that is less hostile to business as usual is enough to stop such attempts at fairer governance.

Keep in mind that I am not saying that Dr. Oz is playing the part of a big-name box store digging its claws into a small-town economy. The home he owned may be for political gain, maybe just a vacation home, maybe both. It just brought the phenomenon to mind, so I decided to explore it.

In fact, to jump on the side of the devil’s advocate, John Fetterman may want to be careful what he wishes for. If Dr. Oz does indeed drop the property and high tail it back to the tri-state metroplex, there is no guarantee that the next owner will be as interested in not developing the land as they see fit.

Campaigning as “the pro-choice, pro-equality, pro-worker, pro-democracy candidate” for Senate, Fetterman has harshly criticized Oz for only recently moving into his in-laws’ home in Pennsylvania and for still owning a home in New Jersey.

He rebuked Oz last week for newly resurfaced comments in which the doctor said, “It’s very hard to discern significant differences in happiness in someone who’s making $50,000 and $50 million,” calling Oz “out of touch from reality.”

“Dr. Oz is a fraud who is just using the people of Pennsylvania, he does not care about us one bit,” said Fetterman on Tuesday.

While I am not going to touch on the last paragraph, the one beforehand is certainly correct. Having watched a few consecutive weeks of his show all the way back in 2009 showed me how far in orbit he was in comparison to the everyday Americans that he was supposed to be helping live a better life. My favourite from this era was an angry episode wherein he came out against a certain brand of mineral water that he seemed to claim had hidden caffeine content. Being unable to sleep for a couple nights, he was surprised to find that the mineral water he enjoyed had added caffeine. While we never learn what the brand is, I think I identified it at the time as Glaceau (being the only mineral water I knew of to be caffeinated at the time. I was, and still am, quite fond of it actually).

Interestingly enough, I recently found myself in a situation wherein I had purchased a product in which the caffeine content did in fact seem to be almost hidden from view. Available all over the US and Canada (and consumed by many popular YouTubers who are targeting the teenager and below youtube demographics), I introduce you to Bai. Though I have only ever come across 3 flavours here in Canada, many are clearly available stateside.

One day, after a long day of work (which preceded another early morning) I decided to try the blueberry-flavoured variant. Having walked past the bottles many times before in retailers (and having seen YouTubers purchasing them as healthy snacks) I figured I would one out. It was only after purchasing the bottle and cracking the lid wherein I spotted the little green band on the back of the bottle.

Interestingly enough, this label is even more ambiguous than the bottle I had at the time (I’m not sure if Health Canada has a different labelling requirement than the FDA, or if the one pictured is an older/newer version than the one I seen).

While it is true that caffeine is indeed listed as an ingredient, the issue I have is that one is not expecting it based on the front face of the bottle. Unlike the bright yellow appearance, Energy name and clearly listed caffeine content on the front of the Glaceau mineral water offering, one look at Bai leaves someone with the impression of an antioxidant drink, and little more.

While I ended up spotting the caffeine listing soon enough to avoid a terrible night of rest, I have to wonder how many people (teenagers?!) don’t. I am also unsure of what benefits (if any) come from the antioxidants. This isn’t exactly a bad thing, though I can’t help but think that these beverages would have been right at home on the Dr. Oz Show.
Then there is the caffeine. This aspect introduces a possible addiction vector by way of the fact that it’s hidden (or at very least, ambiguously labelled). You know what you are getting if you purchase any variety of energy drinks in a can, but not if you think you are buying juice.

With the Bai rant out of the way, back to America’s most decorated sellout . . .

The author of the article raises an interesting question with the mention of John Fetterman as the pro-choice, pro-equality, pro-worker, pro-democracy candidate. It makes me wonder what Dr. Oz’s stance on abortion is.

While seemingly on the right side of this, the bit about this being up to the American people and their elected representatives is certainly problematic. Something that the man knows, given past comments on the subject.

Either way, he’s wrong. It has been obvious for decades what can and WILL happen if the uneducated people are allowed to have a say in the abortion debate. And in this age of Republican extremism, there is no longer any room for feeble pro-life pandering.

You are either a crusader for equal access to healthcare and equality, or you are not. By that metric, Dr. Oz has lost the plot.

Do School Girl Uniforms Have A Place In Pornography Or Sex Shops?

Of all the topics that I didn’t think I would ever find myself commenting on, this certainly has to be near the top of that nonexistent list. Nonetheless, it is a question being asked by a small but brave group of feminists in a UK high school.

Today, we will be exploring an article detailing the reason why this group has taken this stance. Not just for the sake of commenting on their argument, but also for the sake of digging into the full picture of what is happening.

Let’s begin.

These British students are trying to ban school uniforms in sex shops, pornography

Group’s petition has obtained enough signatures to trigger a government response

It was Friday lunchtime at a high school in Sandbach, England, and the conversation among a group of students was bleak: teenage girls talking about their experiences of being sexually harassed on their way to school.

“I remember we were on a public bus. And the bus driver told us it was OK to take our tights off if we wanted to. He said he preferred it when we wore the old uniform at school and our skirts were shorter. I was 11,” said Alice, now a Grade 11 student.

“When I was walking home once in my school uniform, I had a man in his thirties get close to me and say that he was going to rape me as he walked past. It was just horrific,” said Hannah, also in Grade 11.

Hannah and Alice — whose names have been changed and ages left out at the request of their school — are part of the feminism group at Sandbach High School, located south of Manchester.

Petition has earned response from U.K. government

The group is petitioning the U.K. government to ban school uniforms from being sold in costume and sex shops and worn in pornography.

“When we were walking to and from school, on public transport, and we were in our school uniforms, we’d been catcalled, sexually harassed, honked at,” said Alice. “And we kind of wondered why, and why people feel so entitled to, like, sexually harass schoolchildren and make us feel so uncomfortable.”

That is an excellent question.

The answer is obvious. Society has had a patriarchial structure for as long as there has been a society. Combine this sense of power with a lack of empathy or morality, then you end up with a dangerous result. Creeps that feel emboldened by the fact that their behaviour will almost certainly go unnoticed.

And even if it is noticed, there is still the very real possibility of victim blaming. The whole “Well, maybe you shouldn’t have acted so ______” argument. Anything to shift focus from the ethical void that can often accompany a strong patriarchial stance.

However, I suspect that technology has a role to play in this situation as well.

Though social standing, temperament and other factors also undoubtedly play a role, its hard to look at this and not consider the fairly recent collective change that was the introduction of the internet to our fingertips. Or more importantly, the introduction of every single type of pornography that we could possibly ever desire into our daily lives.
No one talks about it in polite company. But as far as activities go, damn near everyone does it. We don’t like to talk about the porn we watch, but watch porn we most certainly do. Browsing the endless list of strangers doing whatever tickles our fancy.

Instead of humans, the actors become simply a means to an end. A viewpoint that it seems, can easily be transitioned to real-life situations.

No matter what the factors driving the behaviours, however, it remains inexcusable.

The group’s petition has now gained more than 13,400 signatures, meaning it has surpassed the requirement to receive a government response. But amid the chaos of Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s resignation and a total reshuffle of the Conservative Party, no response has come within the usual 14 days.

They have also written to members of Parliament, but so far have only received the public support of the school’s local councillor, James Barber.

The feminism group was set up by teacher Sarah Maile in 2012. Each year, Maile encourages her students to select a women’s rights issue to focus on, ranging from human trafficking to female genital mutilation. But this year the group’s focus is particularly close to home.

“I’ve experienced people coming over to me and asking me explicit questions about virginity, and when I’ve said, ‘No,’ they’ve called me a bitch,” said Emma, a Grade 9 student at Sandbach.

A 2018 online survey of by campaign group Plan International U.K. of more than 1,000 14- to 21-year-old girls and women suggested that more than one-third of girls have been sexually harassed in public while wearing school uniform.

The vast majority of schools in the United Kingdom require students to wear a uniform up to age 16.

As an older student, Hannah no longer wears a uniform and says she has seen a “decrease in harassment” since she started wearing her own clothes to school.

Hannah’s experience is echoed in research by Plan International U.K. that found “girls felt that being in school uniform made them a particular target.”

While men should certainly be leaving these kids the hell alone, such statistics make me question the purpose of the school uniform, to begin with. Are the benefits worth the obvious harm they are introducing to students on a daily basis?

While that question’s thought process can come a little too close to victim blaming for my liking, one should not that the same could be said for a ban on an esthetic (like the school girl uniform). Will a crime happening to a woman that chooses to wear such a uniform be taken just as seriously as a crime not involving such clothing?

Kate Stephenson, a researcher and author of A Cultural History of School Uniform, says uniforms have been around in Britain since the 16th century for reasons ranging from providing orphans with warm clothes to distinguishing status at public schools like Eton College.

Modern uniforms have been around since the 19th century and are intended to give students from different backgrounds a sense of equality.

“It’s about making sure everybody looks the same and sort of removing those items that indicate that some children have more money than others,” Stephenson said.

As was what I suspected. Conformity removes many avenues of bullying that many would otherwise face in school. And this certainly makes them easier to control.

Banning real uniforms is victim-blaming, students say

The campaigners from Sandbach High School say they have been repeatedly asked whether removing uniforms from schools altogether might improve the situation. The students say that line of thinking is victim-blaming.

“I think it’s really worth mentioning that we are children, and we’re telling you that we feel unsafe and we feel uncomfortable because we’re so actively sexualized through these uniforms,” said Alice.

Maile adds that the intent behind targeting sex shops is not to tell consenting adults what they can and cannot do in the bedroom, but to highlight the inappropriate way the costumes are marketed.

“It’s the very specific language that is applied to these costumes, ‘sexy schoolgirl lingerie’ — like, the very fact that that is the description of the product,” Maile said.

But Keith Miller, from London sex shop Love-Init, doesn’t believe that responsibility for the harassment lies with sex shops or their clientele.

“I think that comes down to an individual,” Miller said. “I don’t think stopping these being sold in shops is going to stop the comments. If somebody wants to talk to a school girl in that way, they’re gonna do it.”

By the looks of this, the ban proposed seems more aimed at the sexualizing elements in the marketing (ie “Sexy School Girl Uniform”) than with the article of clothing itself. I find that reasoning perfectly understandable.
Really, the fact that these uniforms exist, to begin with, is weirdly pedo. Almost openly, really.

On the other hand, however, there is the nostalgia angle. High school was the funniest part of many people’s lives. Thus, the popular culture surrounding nostalgia tends to become the preference of many within a given generation.
This faux uniform plays into this perfectly. After all, it is literally reminiscent of the teenage exploits (or the regretted lack thereof) of a great many.

Of course, weirdos cat-calling on trains or acting like pedophiles under the cover of public anonymity are obviously not in it for the nostalgia. They clearly feel powerful. The big problem is aI think they will remain a risk to women no matter how a female faux uniform is marketed. It’s a problem that I have no idea how to even begin tackling.

According to Stephenson, the culture of sexualizing school uniforms began with the St Trinian’s comic strips in the 1940s and ’50s. Cartoonist Ronald Searle drew the older students in a “raunchier school uniform,” she said, and those characters used their sexuality to their advantage.

“Looking back at it now, sort of 70 years later, we can see problems with it,” said Stephenson. “But at the time, it was rewriting femininity; it was producing new role models.”

Stephenson believes that nowadays, adults typically wear school uniforms as costumes as a way to relive an awkward phase in their life and replace bad memories with positive ones.

‘It absolutely is sexualizing adolescents’

Most adults view the sex-shop uniforms as totally different from the real ones worn by students, she said.

“I think, if you talk to most people, they would be horrified by the idea that it was sexualizing [the] actual school uniform,” said Stephenson. “The problem is that, particularly with things like pornography, it absolutely is sexualizing adolescents.”

This is very true. Some studios go out if their way to make perfectly legal adults look the part of a very illegal demographic, and face no issues in most jurisdictions using terms like teenager or barely legal. It makes me wonder if this is a better focus than what amounts to the pornographic offshoot of an astetic.

The students’ campaign comes amid numerous calls from advocacy groups to make street harassment a crime in the U.K.

One of these groups, Our Streets Now, was set up as a result of harassment experienced by one of its co-founders, Gemma Tutton. She was 14 when she and her sister Maya created the group; Gemma had been publicly sexually harassed since she was in primary school.

In March 2021, the grassroots campaign group joined Plan International U.K. to draft a model bill and encourage the government to criminalize public sexual harassment.

Now, this is certainly a good avenue to start with. It feels weird that the UK does not have such a statute already.

While British Home Secretary Priti Patel initially seemed on board with passing a new law in 2021, the government’s independent adviser on the issue, Nimco Ali, has since suggested her attempts to get the law passed had received “pushback” and hinted Johnson had not fully supported it.

The campaigners from Sandbach High School say even if the school uniform ban isn’t passed, they are pleased to have sparked a conversation about the sexualization of children.

“When we’re wearing [a uniform], we are just trying to access education — and that is our fundamental human right,” said Hannah. “So to be abused whilst doing that is horrific.”

Indeed.

As for my closing remarks, I think that pursuing the criminalization of harassment is the best option in this case. Though the marketing and existence of the sexy schoolgirl uniform seem weird, I see no need to shame a kink.
Now, having said that, should governments of the world be considering the ramifications of pornography studies being allowed to push taboos (particularly those involving children) often right to the very edge of what is moral?

Even that is a can of worms, considering that some find pornography itself immoral. Nonetheless, for the rest of us non-puritans, where should the line be?


Marijuana Prohibition Proponents Now Have A Super-Pac

Proponents of cannabis legalization in the US will now face a new obstacle to their end goal as a result of a new political action committee (or PAC) formed with the goal of undermining their progress.

While PACs have existed in the American political system for decades,  Super-PACs are a more recent phenomenon. Established after the 2010 Citizens United Supreme Court Decision, Super PACs allow individuals, labour unions, corporations and other politically motivated entities to donate limitless sums of cash to the entity for the purpose of forwarding the shared goal of the Super PAC and its funders. Note that Super PACs never donate directly to candidates, only engage in various political activities (such as, but not limited to, advertising) on behalf of the funders.

https://www.fec.gov/help-candidates-and-committees/filing-pac-reports/registering-super-pac/

Though I can think of many private and corporate entities that would benefit from the current status quo, one benefit of Super Pacs is that their donors are not hidden from view. So you will know if Big Alcohol or Big Pharma are chipping into this PACs coffers. However, the same can not be said for 501c entities.

Basically, Super PACs can accept any amount of cash from any entity, but all donors are transparent publicly. As for 501c’s, they can also accept an unlimited amount of cash from any entity, but they are not obligated to transparency in terms of their donors. They also can not exist primarily for the purpose of pursuing political interests. This is why I assume they are often paired with Super PACs (PACs do the political heavy lifting, 501Cs facilitate it by collecting the cash quietly).

But that is both off-topic and not even necessarily related. However, it’s a handy guidebook as to why many things are the way they are in the US political system. Ever wonder why seemingly every right-leaning no one in the American political sphere has a radio show or podcast?

Wonder no more.

Anyway, speaking of looking backwards, let’s get to the article ( written by Kyle Jaeger and published by Marijuana Moment). 

 

New Marijuana Prohibition Super PAC Targets Pro-Legalization GOP Congresswoman, Among Other Races

A top executive of the national prohibitionist group Smart Approaches To Marijuana (SAM) is launching a new political action committee (PAC), targeting pro-legalization candidates and supporting those who oppose the policy in key races. And one of the super PAC’s first targets is a freshman GOP congresswoman who is sponsoring her own bill to federally legalize and regulate cannabis.

Luke Niforatos, executive vice president of SAM and CEO of the newly established Protect Our Kids PAC, told Marijuana Moment that he decided to branch out to create the committee in order to “give more political power to families and children, who want elected representatives in office who will put their health and safety first over industries looking to profit from drug legalization.”

New Marijuana Prohibition Super PAC Targets Pro-Legalization GOP Congresswoman, Among Other Races


Of course, a Super PAC aimed at enabling underground drug dealers and suppliers by keeping their market share uncontested for even longer would be marketed with the message that is “Will someone PLEASE think of the children!”. The natural way to ensure that minors don’t get their hands on cannabis is OBVIOUSLY to ensure that the suppliers that don’t care about age keep on serving the market.

Because, duh.

Also, Smart Approaches to Marijuana reminds me of an organization I came across in the past. Headed by Kevin Sebat, the man on a crusade against cannabis legalization now despite seemingly overlooking the American opioid crisis when he was in an appointed white house position to make a difference to the situation. Could it be?

Leadership

The following individuals hold leadership positions with Smart Approaches to Marijuana:[16]

  • Kevin A. Sabet, President and CEO
  • Luke Niforatos, Chief of Staff and Senior Policy Advisor
  • Abu Edwards, Director of State Affairs
  • Dana Stevens, Director of Local Affairs
  • Garth Van Meter, “Vice President of Government Affairs
  • Brendan Fairfield, “Director of Business Development

https://ballotpedia.org/Smart_Approaches_to_Marijuana

 

I knew I recognized the distinctly familiar stench of this particular brand of stupid. And also from the same source, check out this unexpectedly relevant piece of information.

 

Smart Approaches to Marijuana (SAM) is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization describes its mission as “promot[ing] health-first, smart policies and attitudes that decrease marijuana use and its consequences.” The group opposes non-medical marijuana legalization efforts, including state-level ballot initiatives that would legalize, regulate, and tax marijuana at the state level.[1]


Remember what we learned about Super PACs VS 501c’s?  Looks like the SAM leadership was sick of the drawbacks of sick of drawbacks of the 501c(3) as well.

 

Rep. Nancy Mace (R-SC) is among the PAC’s first targets. It plans to put tens of thousands of dollars behind a campaign to specifically unseat the congresswoman, who made headlines after introducing a GOP-led bill to end cannabis prohibition late last year.

Asked why the PAC is starting by zeroing in on Mace, rather than other more longstanding pro-legalization lawmakers up for reelection, Niforatos said that the congresswoman “has become the face of marijuana legalization for the Republican party,” and accused her of being “a lackey for Altria Phillip Morris, the largest tobacco company in America which is bankrolling marijuana legalization.”

“Her constituents do not support commercializing marijuana, yet an inordinate amount of her time is spent stumping for the policy,” he claimed. “Legalization of marijuana has hurt kids, families, and caused large health harms in states that have passed such policies. It’s time to hold her accountable.”


The first question that occurs to me is where on earth is SAM (or rather, Protect Our Kids) getting tens of thousands of dollars in order to fling all of this mud at a congresswoman?

It’s possible that individual donors could be responsible. But I seriously question that given the public support for legal cannabis. However, this is just an assumption.

We can, however, look into the claim of this congresswoman being a quote lackey for Altria Philip Morris. Did she accept donations from the company?

According to the following link,  not that I can see. Though it’s possible that it was hidden through a 501c/Super PAC combination, I can’t see any cannabis-related donors.

https://www.opensecrets.org/races/contributors?cycle=2020&id=SC01&spec=N

Since this is the case, I think it’s time for Luke Niforatos of SAM to put up or shut up. Where is your evidence?

Evidence that SAM isn’t also bought off by corporate financiers would also be nice, but I won’t play that game. That would make me no better than SAM.

 

Mace countered the attack, telling Marijuana Moment that polling she has conducted of her constituents shows that “two out of every three Republican Primary voters in our district agree that states should have the right to decide their own cannabis laws, and that’s exactly what the States Reform Act (SRA) does.”

“It protects the rights of states to decide for themselves,” the congresswoman said. “It’s the basic premise of federalism, also a conservative principle.”


While I don’t think that cannabis law should be a states rights issue given all that is at stake (the livelihood and reputation of literally millions of people), that is not the topic at hand. The prohibitionists at SAM claim that her constituents are not interested, she counters with the reality of the situation. So the natural next step is . . . Super PAC funded political propaganda.

Social media ads attacking Mace over the cannabis issue are already rolling out. Like this one, leaning into concerns about marijuana products that some worry would appeal to children:

And this one playing into fears about increased traffic fatalities following legalization, even though data is mixed on the association.

Kevin Sabet is like Cole from The Sixth Sense. He sees dead people everywhere!

Well, except for all of these that overdosed on opioids on his watch as that crisis unfolded unabated throughout the 90s and into the 2000s. 

 

In February, Mace’s Republican primary challenger Katie Arrington criticized the incumbent’s focus on marijuana legalization in a campaign ad, saying, “Is Nancy Mace high?”

Separately, Mace and Rep. Barbara Lee (D-CA) filed a resolution this month imploring President Joe Biden to wield his influence to get the United Nations to end the international ban on marijuana by removing the plant from the list of controlled substances in a global drug treaty.

In any case, Mace won’t be the new PAC’s only target. With what Niforatos said is six-figures of funding that the committee will soon be reporting to the FEC, they will be tackling “6-12 races this cycle, focusing on House races as well as state-level races.”

 

Lovely. I can’t wait to see the other dog shit these assholes produce.

 

That includes launching ads in “some key races in the next few weeks” and supporting Colorado House candidate Yardira Caraveo’s primary race because she sponsored legislation to “overhaul” the state’s cannabis program last year. It will also back “one other Colorado Republican in a close race,” he said.

“The slate we are endorsing (which will grow) is comprised of two Democrats and two Republicans, and this bi-partisan nature will continue. We will support and attack the same numbers of both parties,” Niforatos said. “We believe good drug policy that protects families and kids is bipartisan, and it should stay that way.”


I can’t fault them for holding everyone accountable. After all, keeping street-level gangs and dealers in the business of furnishing teens and children with cannabis products is a bi-partisan issue.

 

Another candidate that the PAC will be backing is Washington State Rep. Lauren Davis (D), which might seem like an unusual pick for an anti-legalization committee since the lawmaker last year sponsored a bill to decriminalize low-level possession of all drugs.

Niforatos said that Davis is “a friend of ours, and she is a courageous lawmaker who has worked in the recovery field and has bravely taken on the marijuana industry in Washington State by advocating for sensible regulations such as potency caps.”


And here we go with the regulations from the no-nothings. To be frank, if you believe in potency caps in the area of cannabis and don’t see a need for other substances such as alcohol or caffeine (the caffeine content of energy drinks has only been rising in the past few years) to have similar conversations, then you are an idiot and are not worth listening too.

 

“She is also someone who recognizes drug addiction is something to be treated with the goal of recovery, not normalizing use or allowing commercialization of drugs,” he said, adding that he disputes the characterization of her legislation as “broad decriminalization” even though it seeks to remove criminal penalties for small possession all drugs, in addition to bolstering substance misuse treatment.

“That doesn’t mean we will agree on everything—we likely won’t ever agree on every single policy issue or nuance with any of our candidates we support,” he said. “But Rep. Davis is putting the health and safety of families first and these are values we feel are desperately needed for policymakers in America.”


Recovery.

There is another booming industry in this broken world that I have not even touched on in this article (but I did HERE). Then there are the problems with AA as the status quo recovery program (as infamously chronicled by James Frey in the 2000s). But not the focus of this piece.

 

Also on the PAC’s roster is a former federal prosecutor from the state of West Virginia who is currently running for state Senate. Mike Stuart has regularly expressed hostility to cannabis reform, including at summit events and a symposium on the issue that he organized in 2018 during his time as a U.S. attorney.

The committee will further be supporting Kentucky Rep. Kimberly Moser (R) in her reelection bid. The lawmaker opposed medical cannabis legalization efforts in her state, but she did sponsor cannabis research legislation that cleared the House this month.

Some might be left wondering: if the objective of the new PAC is to defeat pro-legalization candidates and support those who are against enacting such policy change, why not just continue to do that and raise funds for SAM, or its 501(c)(4) SAM Action? After all, the goals seem to closely align.

Niforatos said that “SAM has always been focused on educating the public, lawmakers, and not engaging in partisanship in any way. That mission has been successful and will continue.”

“But SAM is an educational 501(c)(3) nonprofit. It cannot support or oppose individual candidates,” he said.


Well, at least the organization is honest with its intentions. However stupid they may be.

 

Pressed on the fact that SAM Action could theoretically accomplish what the Protect Our Kids PAC is gearing up to do, Niforatos said that the group’s 501(c)(4) “is only used for lobbying and advocacy related activities.”

“We really want to stay away from electioneering and partisanship with SAM/SAM Action,” he said. “I wanted to start a super PAC of my own, separate from those organizations, that would allow me to do more electioneering work with the vision of protecting families and kids from drugs.”


I’m certainly curious where the funding for the Super PAC and the 501c(3) is going to come from at this point. Though I can’t know for sure, this sure looks to me like opening up for business.

 

As momentum grows for drug policy reform, this is the latest example of how PACs are continuing to come into the picture.

The former lobbyist for NORML launched his own Better Organizing to Win Legalization (BOWL) PAC last month, for example. And Rep. Jerrold Nadler (D-NY), the sponsor of a federal cannabis legalization bill up for a floor vote this week, sent out a joint email blast to supporters to raise funds last week.

Also last month, New York Assembly Majority Leader Crystal Peoples-Stokes (D) started an equity-focused political action committee that will place a strong focus on electing candidates that support marijuana reform.

 

While I understand the existence of PACs, I can’t help but wonder if the difference between a PAC and a Super PAC makes a difference here. While a PAC seems like it is limited in scope to members of its head organization, a Super PAC has no such limitations (being able to accept cash from anyone). Something to consider when paired with a 501c(3) which can be (and often, IS) blindly financed.

 

Music – Will Our Generation Look Back In Admiration? REVISITED

Today, we’re going back in time. Back to the year 2014. A time when this blog had existed barely a year, and when I was a different person than I am today. Though I didn’t realize it at the time, it was a period of transformation that would not be complete until many years afterward. If I’m honest, it’s a transformation period that is still in progress. I’ve come to realize that I’ll likely never find myself in a period of political or ideological stability. To put it another way, there is almost always something new to learn, and as such this transformation journey may well last until such a time as I take my last breath, or biology takes away my mental acuity.

Coming back to the current day (march 13, 2022), I just need to focus on something more lighthearted than all the various real-world vectors that are slowly eroding away at my sense of sanity.
The unprovoked Russian attack (attempted annexation?) of Ukraine. The win of CovidIOTS who mostly never gave pandemic restrictions a chance (thanks to economic principals taking priority over pandemic containment. Or to put it in layman’s terms, “YAY! No more masks!”). US oil producers (and 1 Canadian Premiere) using the Ukraine invasion to promote more soon to be written off fossil fuel infrastructure. Because any chance to reshuffle the deck chairs on the Titanic is a good opportunity, apparently. 

And overall, a global society that is just . . . very angry. Though primarily a very understandable reaction of the last 2 years that we all endured, the various agendas of the world’s shit disturbers have proven masterful at turning up the heat in these individuals without ever tipping their hand. I mean, is it really surprising that much of the Western world was focused on business owners blockading Ottawa and various Canadian and US ports of entry as Russia was slowly ramping up its presence on Ukraine’s doorstep?

Media manipulators don’t rely on the boob tube anymore, folks. They have switched tactics, and now social media is the new Wild West of psychological warfare.

Boomers taught my generation that you can’t believe everything you see on TV. If only they all hadn’t seemingly forgotten that valid rule of thumb upon signing up for Crackbook, Tweeter and BoobTube.

While I have always taken a fairly bleak (dare I say, red-pilled?)  stance towards the future of the species, even I have started finding it harder to cope with everything of late. Even without spending hours doom scrolling (I learned my lesson after Deepwater Horizon and Fukushima), it’s like the treadmill to hell has started to speed up since November 2016. And the slow creep of the cold-war era back into modern-day life since late February certainly isn’t helping things.
Even though my overarching concern is less nuclear and far more cyber, considering how little we all know about how far external national entities are embedded into the public and private infrastructure of the world. Particularly privately owned and ran infrastructure (we can only hope that the rest of the world learned from Colonial Pipeline).

Anyway, I promised light-hearted so lighthearted I shall deliver.

As I explained at the beginning of this post, 2014 was a time of transformation for me. Not only was I dealing with my perceived ex-communication from a community that I had felt at home in since late high school (mainstream Atheism), I was also unknowingly starting the slow process of regimentation of what media I like versus what is new and trendy. I didn’t know it yet, but I was slowly becoming Oscar Leroy shouting “Get the F off my lawn!”.
Since I am also a fan of metal (and was then an elitist. In a nutshell, Metal is the best and everything else is garbage), this also played into my sentiment.

Which was why it was interesting to come across an old post titled Music – Will Our Generation Look Back In Admiration? though a spam comment left on it. Seemed like an opportunity to see how much I have changed.

Thus, we will begin our journey into the depth of my mind as it existed 7 years ago.

 

It is the start of yet another new year. And as such, what was popular in 2013, is on its way out the door come 2014. Thank GOD for that.

I suppose that I may be getting to old to enjoy whats modern and hip (not to mention my love of all things heavy), but even so, this generations “fresh hits” leaves much to be desired. It is for that reason, that I go out of my way to avoid subjecting myself to the music, when at all possible.

 

 

Out of curiosity, let’s have a look at what was trendy back in 2013. Mostly to gauge if my contempt still holds after this length of time.

https://www.billboard.com/charts/year-end/2013/hot-100-songs/

I don’t remember (likely have not heard) pretty much everything from 5 down to 100. 4 was irritating then, and it’s certainly irritating now (when your trend hits the Dr. Oz Show and other daytime BoomerTube, you ain’t cool, yo!). I don’t mind #3, having had some time for it to grow on me. Number 2 is garbage in terms of both its lyrical content AND the fact that it was allegedly ripped off (the song’s only saving grace being Weird Al’s iteration of it).  And as if we didn’t already have enough proof about how thick Robin Thicke can be, he allegedly groped a model on the set of blurred lines, blaming the presence of alcohol on set for the action.

In glad that the first thing that comes to mind when I hear blurred lines is Word Crimes. Cause FUCK Robin Thicke.

As for #1, I have no reaction since I can’t ever recall hearing it.

Since my old post was celebrating the exit of 2013 and harkening the entrance of 2014, let’s also take a look at what was trendy in 2014. We will also of course see if my visceral reactions still stand.

https://www.billboard.com/charts/year-end/2014/hot-100-songs/

Though I don’t recognize many of the songs from 9 onward, there are more familiar ones (maybe 4 or 5) than in the 2013 top 100 list. The presence of Jason Derulo 3 times is amusing since people used to call me that at work. Though I am still unfamiliar with the man’s work (aside from hearing that the video to Trumpets is random as hell).

Number 8 isn’t bad (didn’t even mind it at the time. It was upbeat). I don’t remember 7, 6 or 5. As for 4, I am far more aware of the Weird Al iteration than of the original (that tends to be a throughline when it comes to me and modern music, no matter the year). 3 I don’t remember. 2 I heard for the first time not long ago (it’s not terrible, but it is slow. A hallmark of the mid-2010s era).

As for #1, I find the song irritating (it’s annoying, to begin with, let alone having heard it blasted pretty much everywhere). However, the Weird Al iteration is very much to my liking (particularly the single-shot music video that accompanies it).

Weird Al is a bit like ACDC. I don’t think he could ever put out an album that I don’t like.

 

I have not always had this kind of relationship with pop/other “hit” music. I remember when I was younger, one of my aunts commented on how I could look into being a DJ as a career, because I knew pretty much every song on the radio at the time. Though at the time, I was young and impressionable, and the radio was the only real source of music me and my family had.

Another source of music that I had though out my younger years, was my fathers extensive collection of 50s/60s/70s/80s hits. Stored on cassette tapes, records (yep, vinyls. 45s, LPs, you name it), 8 tracks and later CDs and MP3 players (when the Internet was introduced into the household), he had an endless supply of music that I thought to be mostly irritating.

 

My stance on oldies hasn’t really changed, though I wouldn’t go as far as calling most of my father’s music annoying at this point. Far too slow and vanilla come to mind, but not so much annoying.

Well, unless we’re talking about Air Supply or Frankie Vallie. If I never hear “I’m all out of love! I’m so lost without you!” again, it’s still too soon. And don’t even get me started on “SHERRY! SHERRY BABY!”. My ears are bleeding just from thinking about it.

The only exception to the Frankie Valli scorched earth policy is Oh, What A Night. Because I now associate the song more with unexpected baby news at John Watson’s wedding than excruciating vocal pain.

As for the rest of my narrative on music, though I did stop following the popular music scene, I suspect this to be a function of 2 things. First, the music and culture of one’s childhood or youth will almost always elicit a more positive response since that time of life is almost always more positive than what follows (the trap of nostalgia). At the same time as my taste for the new and trendy was gradually being erased by blind cultural cynicism (for lack of a better description), the overall popular music scene was also changing. Though I arguably stopped paying attention to music before the late 2000s was over, the 2010s brought with it a new trend of slowness. While there were exceptions to the rule (as there always are), the BPM of many of the releases started to slow WAY down.
Consider the difference between, say, Rihanna’s SOS or Nelly Furtado’s Promiscuous, and Katy Perry’s Dark Horse. While I am indeed looking at 3 raindrops out of an ocean, you can see the pattern.

Whilst I’m almost inclined to consider early to late 2000s pop music as my Herman’s Hermits and Lobo (my dad’s preferences), I can’t even call this correct. That designation would be better suited to groups like Metallica, Linkin Park, Rammstein, Nirvana and many more. Interestingly, the material that streaming services mostly automatically serve up since I’m such a creature of habit.

 

Of course, this was par for the course when one is young (very rarely it seems, do parents and children have the same tastes in music). And looking back, it had a lot to do with not wanting to be alike my elder. However, though I do enjoy a few of my fathers old favorites such as Bony M (their Christmas album has become a family staple of the season) and Lover Boy, most of the other stuff is not for me.

I am not sure that I would use the term “Garbage” to describe it, but its more just, not for me. The various artists may have been cutting edge and talented for their time, and they may stand as gems in the greater music scene, but its just not my cup of tea.

 

Can’t say that much has changed here. Well, aside from the fact that the tamer side of my music library (rock music that ranges from Loverboy to Twisted Sister, my original gateway to metal) doesn’t get nearly the airplay it used to as my music tastes slowly evolve towards more complex, faster material. I have nothing against groups like ACDC, Twisted Sister and the like. It’s just that I recently realized that I find this  (Panic Attack – Dream Theater) slow.

I have also started allowing my music taste to broaden not just further down the metal sub-genre scene, but also outside of it into territory that I never ever thought I would tread. I’m still very selective whilst outside of my comfort zone, but have started to discover (rediscover?) the pop scene, and even some hip hop. Even if it’s hard to know where the line ends between those 2 genres in some cases (for example, the Weeknd).
I even crossed the bridge into country territory at one point. Though not very far, admittedly (not much aside from some Dierks Bentley really appeals to me).

Each day brings with it a different music craving. Thanks to streaming media, this constant itch can almost always be easily scratched with the push of a button. Though not on Spotify anymore.

Because FUCK Joe Rogan.

Having heard this music at various times (and a great many times over lol) all through out growing up, it was a bit of a surprise when I started hearing the same songs on the radio.

First it was a trickle of remade songs, which eventually culminated into a torrent that left almost no “new” song that played, truly new. The popular artists of the day such as Britney Spears and No Doubt, all putting out redone material. But the worst part about it, was more often then not, the songs status as a remake was not mentioned (a few times it was noted by the DJ, but usually not).

One moment that sticks out for me, is when the song “SOS” by Rihanna came out. Though the lyrics were seemingly original, the music that it was sung against was borrowed. A factoid that I would have missed, had the station not played the original (or a remake of the original song) just before Rihanna’s version. Though I had long before lost respect for most new music and artists, this was certainly a new low.


Interestingly enough, I actually don’t mind that song at this point. The music may not be original, but at least it was catchy and upbeat. This, and judging by the fact that I never heard about any lawsuits from the previous artist, I’m thinking that she must have properly licenced the material she was borrowing (and presumably shared some of the royalties made off the song). Which is more than you can say for Robin Thicke and Pharrell Williams.

Truth be told, when it comes to bad artist renditions of previously released material, I have to showcase a man that I once respected to the point of being an idol. That man is Marylin Manson.

Before he was exposed as an allegedly wife-beating and berating asshole, his consistent rebelliousness in the face of the horrified and hypocritical hordes was very much relatable. Though I’ve never found a need to tear apart a bible for sport, his motives and George Carlin’s “It’s Bullshit, and it’s bad for ya!” moto really stuck with me. Despite this stance becoming much more stressful the less my income is tied to a business that I actually own and control.
Either way, a close friend of mine once expressed dismay at what Marilyn Manson did with his remake of Sweet Dreams. To use his own words, “That is all he did with it?!”.

At the time, my fancy for my idol flashed before my eyes, so I of course didn’t see what he was seeing. Indeed, much of Manson’s catalogue didn’t have the same awe factor as it did when I was a teenager )grabbing every Manson track I could find on Limewire). It’s not all The Fight Song, but it had sentimental value.

But, not so much anymore. Though the allegations are just that (allegations), I don’t find it a hard stretch to imagine that there is truth in them. In the same way that it’s easy to see how the blurred lines music video set would provide the perfect backdrop for a predator to strike (it’s literally in the lyrics!), I can also see how the caustic personality that is Marylin Manson may well be hellish if it is turned inward in the form of domestic violence.
Of course, we are dealing with allegations in both cases. Nonetheless, it’s not hard to read between the lines, however blurred. Particularly when witnesses (or more than 1 alleged victim) exist.

To move the dialogue away from artists of disappointment and contempt, not all artist renditions I have come across are bad. In fact, I can think of 3 goodies right off the top of my head.

The first (and my overall favourite) has to be Disturbed’s cover of Simon & Garfunkel’s The Sound of Silence. Unlike any other Disturbed song before it (aside from Darkness), I love how it starts low and slowly builds, David’s voice following the loud notes of the booming orchestra behind him. Until the pause, and the last booming outro of the orchestra.
An honourable mention goes to Nevermore’s interpretation of the song, a tune so different that I didn’t even know it was a cover. Having listened to the song many times before, I didn’t realize the connection until after hearing the Disturbed version.

The second is the Five Finger Death Punch cover of Kenny Wayne Shepherd’s Blue on Black. I can’t help but crank the volume when I hear this tune. Either version, really .

The 3ed is the most recent, Saint Asonia’s cover of The Weeknd’s Blinding Lights.  In all honesty, it’s a bit surprising that the original made this list since it irked me the first time I heard it. But much like the Billie Eilish song Bad Guy, the song ended up growing on me. And not just because it’s amusing to see people’s reaction to me saying Billy Eyelash or saying the Baaaad guy phrase in a sheep voice.
Though I certainly would have never expected to hear a rock version of Blinding Lights, Saint Asonia did a good job of it. And though YouTuber Jared Dines hasn’t done any pop goes metal videos for a long time, I’d personally love to see how he would interpret this song.

But in any case, after moving away from the hits of today, my first reaction was switching from the all hits radio station to the local rock station (my fathers choice, and as good an alternative as there was). There I gradually grew more fond of rock music in its many classic forms.
Then with the internet, came exposure to ever more heavier forms of metal, which is where I have stayed for the most part to this day.

I have always loved music, usually taking advantage of any opportunity that I had to listen. When I was younger, that meant that I had a radio going for whatever task I was in the process of completing (chores). And I have always listened to music in bed before going to sleep (when I was young on a clock radio/stereo, and now on an ipod/phone).


This has not changed. Though I now reserve podcasts for things like chores, music is still nice for random computing tasks (like writing posts like this) or going to sleep.

One thing that I can tell you, however, is that I now hate terrestrial radio stations. Well, maybe just the stations where I live. The Rock station I used to listen to was taken over by a national media company, and thus the name and format changed to be more generalized. But I don’t like it since the playlist seems just barely larger than that of the average retail store, and the branding is annoying. After every song, you hear some iteration of “Bob!” (or now, “Bounce!”). It’s the kind of Boomer pablum that I now only listen to if I have no choice in the matter.

That is the story of my evolution of music.

Each passing generation, has grown up with, and primarily stuck with the music that grow familiar to them in their younger years. The Sirius/XM satellite radio systems take advantage of this, by having channels 4-9 dedicated to the format of said decade of the 90’s (4=40s, 5 =50s etc). This seems to hold true, as far as the 80s, and maybe even the 90s (Sirius/XM has 90s 0n 9).


Imagine. Me acting like I am better than all of these people tuning into Sirius 50s on 5 or 90s on 9. I know I certainly didn’t when I had a Sirius radio. Octane/Ozzys Boneyard/Liquid Metal and Howard 100/101 were far more interesting.

But that was 2009. Truth be told, it’s honestly amazing that satellite radio is still a thing.

Most past generations look back at the music, and other cultural phenomenons of their time with pride, nostalgia. The music often went hand in hand in their daily lives back then, making revisiting it a nice trip down memory lane. And associating music with fond (or not so fond) memories will always happen, no matter what.

But, can we look back at the music (as well as other media) of the past decade or so (as well as today), with pride? If were still around in 20,30,40,50 years from now, will we still be listening to the long lost hits of the 2000’s?


Yes me, I’m sure that many of today’s youth will still occasionally listen to the music of today even in the future, possibly long after youthful freedom and bliss have left them behind. This is a point that is proven in the grocery stores of today, which love to loop a mixture of boomer and millennial favourites.

Hell, I proved it myself in this very post. Since this entry is technically me talking to myself, I wonder if this counts as a self-pawn. . .

 

I personally think that the answer will be no.

Well, you’re wrong bud.

Such is a good lesson for many people. Never try to assign rigid rules of categorization to the subjective. Most human-influenced culture (and even physiology) is very much ambiguous and hard to paint with a broad brush. Even though most humans seem to lack the mental acuity to experience the world from outside the safety of rigid interpretations.

My reason for this conclusion, is the nature of the music industry today. Like everything else, music has turned into a super formulated, bland, disposable, predictable mess. Instead of having a few gems of talent coming up in a sea of musicians, we now have a sea of mediocrity. An endless tide of catchy one hit wonders with VERY few (if any) gems coming out of the mix.

I also have noted the behaver of many modern music listeners. Many that grew up fans of such genres as pop, have moved on to others, such as country, rock or others. Others that listen to the music, seem to drift with the time, not having any affiliation with past works (even within the same genre).

 

While hindsight tells me that I could have likely written this in any decade and interpreted similar results in the popular culture of the time, one thing I never really saw coming was services like SoundCloud and Spotify. Though at the time I was talking of merely the corporate-driven uniformity of the pop scene, the scene is very different today in that anyone with a computer and increasingly affordable equipment can release their own material. Much of this is only as good as the creator (to put it in a nice way). Either way, I had NO idea how much mediocre material that democratizing the recording studio would bring into the marketplace.

On the other hand, though, you can get your voice out there. And with far less effort than anyone trying to start a musical career even 15 years ago.

As for the behaviour of modern music listeners part, I feel like I was taking from anecdotes in my own life. I saw a lot of people drift from pop music over to country from my teens onward. But this may not have been anything more than a local to the fairly local occurrence. Not to mention that not unlike other genres that have been typically floating around the realm of (and blurring the boundaries of) typical pop music, country music has been making a similar evolution throughout the 2010s. Though there have always been breakthroughs (like Picture or All Summer Long. Having heard the latter on 3 different stations running under 3 different formats (rock, country, pop) at one point, I fucking hate that song), many artists seem to be straddling the line between country and pop. I think one of the most interesting examples thus far for me has been Old Town Road, another song that has grown on me since I’ve been getting more exposure to the modern-day iteration of hip hop/rap.
To explain this difference, consider Stronger (Kanye) or Lose Yourself (Eminem) versus Money Longer (Lil Uzi Vert) or Gucci Gang (Lil Pump). Since I find it hard to keep a straight face whilst listening to the Lil Pump earworm (I would fail spectacularly if is I was high), consider Fair Trade (Drake ft. Travis Scott).
And speaking of unintentionally hilarious songs to listen to after some edibles, consider this unexpected gem (Im 2 Sexy – Drake ft. Future and Young Thug).

Now, where was I? Oh yeah . . . songs blurring the lines between pop music and other genres.

I feel like this inquiry raises a question that I have never considered before. That question being, what even is pop music? A style? A format? A vast category for anything and everything that is popular? All of the above?

I’m reminded of a documentary I watched some time ago called Classic Rock. Focusing on a term that I had never given a second thought to, I believe the goal of this documentary was trying to see if they could nail down a more or less standardized definition of what music or era Classic Rock entails. At its core, the term originated in radio as a station format surrounding rock music from around the 80s. Some also say from the mid-60s to the mid-90s.

Judging by both the documentary I watched and various YouTube compilations, no one has any idea where the line lies in terms of a standard definition. When the term was coined, I’m sure that it was focused on a given era of rock. But as time moves on indefinitely, the question seems to have been “Does the Classic Rock format grow to also include more modern works which also could be considered classics (ie the 90s)?”.

Some in the documentary argued “No way!”. The ACDC era belongs nowhere near Nirvana. Others make the argument that the term has to move ahead with time. Judging by the various Classic Rock compilations, I’d say that many people agree with the latter assessment. With most of them containing songs by Nirvana, some Metallica, and even the Bee Gees in one case (recall that they are Disco), I’d say that the widely accepted definition is very fluid. 

Or, people aren’t aware of the various categorization nuances of the music they love (for example, did you know that the popular Kiss tune I Was Made For Loving You is actually disco?).
It all goes to show how something as fluid as culture can be difficult to assign rigid categorical differences to, particularly when it comes to what lies at the fringes. To use the Kiss example, Detroit Rock City or Psycho Circus are fairly easy to categorize. I Was Made For Loving You on the other hand . . .not exactly. It checks the boxes of 2 categories, and as such, it sits in both nicely.

This brings me back to the question that I never did get around to answering. What exactly is pop music?

From Wikipedia:

Pop is a genre of popular music that originated in its modern form during the mid-1950s in the United States and the United Kingdom.[4] The terms popular music and pop music are often used interchangeably, although the former describes all music that is popular and includes many disparate styles. During the 1950s and 1960s, pop music encompassed rock and roll and the youth-oriented styles it influenced. Rock and pop music remained roughly synonymous until the late 1960s, after which pop became associated with music that was more commercial, ephemeral, and accessible.

Although much of the music that appears on record charts is seen as pop music, the genre is distinguished from chart music. Identifying factors usually include repeated choruses and hooks, short to medium-length songs written in a basic format (often the verse-chorus structure), and rhythms or tempos that can be easily danced to. Much pop music also borrows elements from other styles such as rock, urban, dance, Latin, and country.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pop_music

 

Though that definition nicely describes the situation as it stands today, further study of the wiki article details how the definition of the term Pop music is just as disagreed upon as Classic Rock is. And like Classic Rock, the definition seems to evolve with time, though this was to be a certainly given the roots of the term being much further back than those of Classic Rock.

Realistically, this all makes sense since people’s subjective interpretations of these terms and what encompasses them (which are shaped by traits like preference and bias) will almost always land on a different conclusion. And you can’t really go by the record label slash music industry standard since that formula is less based around categorization than it is around monetization. The more boxes you can check in terms of each category, the bigger potential audience you can push to. Something that is becoming increasingly important in the age of both streaming (reduced overall revenues) and democratized music production.

As such, I don’t think there will ever be a standardized definition for Classic Rock, Pop, or possibly any other music form. Humans are far too subjective to ever come to any sort of agreement on that sort of thing.

As for the ongoing inroads of country into the Pop realm (so much for the last statement?), that evolution will continue to be interesting. Not to mention that the genre itself will benefit from the new life brought into it by the new fan base, something that even the older more established artists will enjoy.
Despite my giving country music more of a chance than I once did, I am still put off by the overly formulaic nature of a huge chunk of it (old and new). In a nutshell, rich and wealthy Nashville mansion owners sing about the rough and tumble life of the average working man. Though rappers sporting Lambos and walking Tigers in their videos are over the top, talking the talk without walking the walk is just, well, bullshit.

The one exception of course being Arron Lewis’s Country Boy.  Imagine my surprise upon discovering his crossover into enemy territory!

And don’t even get me started on artists like Toby Keith and Allan Jackson cashing in on patriotism during rough times. Your fans will never call you out for such bullshit, but NOT COOL. Not at ALL Kosher.

In a sense, Toby Keith and Allan Jackson made the CNN faux pas long before CNN actually did.

And with that steaming hot potato of a sentence, we will move on.

 

Its not really surprising seeing this reaction. I make a habit of avoiding modern pop type music, because of its cookie cutter nature. Every year there is a new Jonas Brothers/One Direction/Bieber (he’s had an amazingly long longevity, for the times). And when it comes to the ladies, it seems that the formula is throwing any lyrics against a catchy beat, even if its just a single word .

This critique is interesting since one could level it against any music genre (including metal). Though there are artists in every genre that stand out against the rest of the financially driven majority, the existence of genres in general (along with many artists that fit into them neatly) nicely sabotages my own argument. I can’t accuse one group of people of being overly infatuated with an overly similar and inherently simplistic product when I am essentially the same person. Though my flavour of cookie may be far more complex than the vanilla that encompasses what sells, I still have a flavour.

Really, this discourse isn’t really even applicable to me anymore since my music taste has grown greatly compared to what it used to be. But I’m reminded of my former metal elitest self. The arrogant twat that looked down on everything that didn’t smash the windows when cranked to the max. 

This makes me think of another question. Is metal inherently better than other genres?

Back in 2013, the answer would have been simple (Yes!). If one’s subjective definition of better is complexity then metal would in fact be better than pretty much everything else that is available (possibly short of Classical. Again, depending on who you ask). Many traits of metal (eg. advanced riffs or growling vocal tones) take a lot of practice to master. The end result of such dedication is easy to hold as the standard if your comparison criteria involve only effort. Compared with a song containing an autotuned artist singing against a computerized melody, of course, one can find much of metal as superior. One can find much of anything superior to that.

But that is just personal subjectivity. In reality, complex or not, music is just music. It is highly doubtful that the trajectory of any music genera (however prolific) will dictate the trajectory of a society. Refect the status and overall trajectory, yes. But dictate? Unlikely. 

It is just a form of art, after all. An area of human development (knowledge?) that has always been more reflective than prescriptive, though much like other human developments (such as science and philosophy), art can also be used to malicious ends.

As for “it seems that the formula is throwing any lyrics against a catchy beat, even if its just a single word .” , my reference was to a popular tune which was trending sometimes in the late 2000s to early 2010s which basically consisted of the word Hello being repeated over a very upbeat and catchy melody.  Considering the slow nature of the era we would go into, the song is less irritating in hindsight, though I can’t for the life of me think (or find!) the artist responsible for it. Though Katty Perry comes to mind, I feel like i’m thinking of Firework. A song that is similarly upbeat, but not it (the voice is different). If you know what song I am talking about (or even have a guess), feel free to leave it in the comments and I’ll edit it into this entry.

Another thing I can tell you . . . though I hated the Hello song equally as much as Feist’s 1 2 3 4, not so much anymore. Feist is still high on the list, however, since I associate her with helping Apple to make millions of dollars. No, she didn’t help guide them into being an over-rated anti-right to repair monopoly (at least as far as the app store is concerned. And no, Google is no better), but she was responsible for generating a whole lot of the cash of which made it all possible.

While not exactly worthy of the Robin Thicke treatment (that is to say, cussing her out, not groping her tits), she does deserve at least a little sarcasm.

Thanks, Feist.

 

I can’t help but wonder about the message were sending future generations, or the world in general. I can’t help but think, there is something wrong with this picture. I can’t help but see a problem with a society that values an endless stream of mediocre garbage (with no real talents coming out). What does it say, when we value money more then quality?

 

Here again, I find myself using my subjective conclusions as a gauge for the state of the world in general. Viewing my cultural zeitgeist as if it is unique in the grand scheme of things, even though I’m sure we can find similar trash to treasure ratios no matter how far back (or for that matter, ahead) we were to look when it comes to any aspect of popular culture in any time period. 

I used to think the same of TV coming from the 2000s and the 2010s, but that is hardly true, is it?

This era gave us Breaking Bad, Sherlock, Luther, Mr. Robot and many MANY others that I am yet unaware of (let alone can recall). Though the next 2 have been largely forgotten to time at this point, Revenge and Desperate Housewives earned themselves a spot in my subjective list of preferences.

While the source of new content is rapidly changing from traditional cable to streaming, various streaming services will keep funding and releasing new and interesting content for as long as that medium is to last. Already we have shows like Black Mirror and Bojack Horseman. Whilst there will be a lot of stuff released through these mediums (as has always been the case), there will be many gems of which we have yet to discover and treasure. 

And with that, I conclude this revisit of one of my past works. Though I ended up going in many unexpected directions in this entry, it was an interesting journey.

“Marijuana Legalization Is Not Harmless” – Does Legalization Impact Opioid Mortality?

Today, we’re going to talk about the harms of cannabis. Again. 

Time to get on with it.



https://www.washingtonexaminer.com/opinion/editorials/marijuana-legalization-is-not-harmless

A new working paper from the National Bureau of Economic Research contains some inconvenient news for the rosy worldview of those who claim that marijuana is a completely harmless drug.

The paper reviews data on opioid and marijuana use and makes two key findings — first, that “medical marijuana, particularly when available through retail dispensaries, is associated with higher opioid mortality.” The second finding is that data “for recreational marijuana, while less reliable, also suggest that retail sales through dispensaries are associated with greater death rates relative to the counterfactual of no legal cannabis.”

The increase in opioid deaths associated with marijuana use is greater for men, nonwhites, and young people.

 

I’m curious about the source material (the study) since a link was not provided within this editorial. Let’s go hunting.

Our analyses show that RMLs increase adult marijuana use and reduce drug-related arrests over an average post-legalization window of three to four years. There is little evidence to suggest that RML-induced increases in marijuana consumption encourage the use of harder substances or violent criminal activity, and some evidence that RMLs may aid in reducing opioid-related mortality.

https://www.nber.org/papers/w29038

*Raises eyebrow*

It’s a bit hard to determine what paper the source article is referencing (here is the PDF of the full paper sourced above), but hardly a skim indicates a totally different set of results than those reported in the article. At least if this is the source, which it may not be. 

I also came across THIS paper, which also seems to indicate results contrary to the narrative that the examiner is aiming for. As goes for THIS one.

Altering my query a bit (and using scholar mode), I finally seem to be getting closer.

 

Recent studies have concluded that state laws legalizing medical marijuana can reduce deaths from opioid overdoses. Using data from the National Survey on Drug Use and Health, a survey uniquely suited to assessing drug misuse, we examine the relationship between recreational marijuana laws (RMLs) and the use of opioids. Standard difference-in-differences (DD) regression estimates indicate that RMLs do not affect the likelihood of misusing prescription pain relievers such as OxyContin, Percocet, and Vicodin. Although DD regression estimates provide evidence that state laws legalizing recreational marijuana can reduce the frequency of misusing prescription pain relievers, event-study estimates are noisy and suggest that any effect on the frequency of misuse is likely transitory.

https://www.nber.org/papers/w29087

This one?

 

For other public health outcomes such as mortality involving prescription opioids, the effect of legalizing medical marijuana has proven more difficult to gauge and, as a consequence, we are less comfortable drawing firm conclusions.

https://www.nber.org/papers/w28647

 

Nope. Next!

 

. . . in most cases, the inclusion of more comprehensive controls, longer analysis periods and more correctly defined dependent variables results in less favorable estimates, often including predicted increases in opioid deaths.

https://www.nber.org/papers/w29802

Bingo.

Though it might not be apparent, I committed some Washington Examiner-level journalistic manipulation in the last quote.

Well, it is pretty obvious. Nonetheless, here is what I (and they) failed to tell you. Keep in mind that the following is from the abstract (I have not even touched the actual PDF!):

 

Over the last two decades there has been considerable movement at the state-level to legalize marijuana, initially for medical purposes and more recently for recreational consumption. Despite prior research, it is unclear how, if at all, these policies are related to rates of opioid-involved overdose deaths, which have trended rapidly upwards over time and represent a major public health problem. We provide two types of new information on this question. First, we replicate and extend upon previous investigations and show that the empirical results of those studies are frequently fragile and that, in most cases, the inclusion of more comprehensive controls, longer analysis periods and more correctly defined dependent variables results in less favorable estimates, often including predicted increases in opioid deaths. Second, we present new estimates from generalized differences-in-differences and event study models that incorporate more recent data and improvements developed in our replication and extension of early research. These results indicate that legal medical marijuana, particularly when available through retail dispensaries, is associated with higher opioid mortality. The results for recreational marijuana, while less reliable, also suggest that retail sales through dispensaries are associated with greater death rates relative to the counterfactual of no legal cannabis.

 

My first thought upon reading that is “What does this even mean?!”.

For the Washington Examiner editorial team, it’s a handy reference that no one (aside from some Canadian running a blog no one reads) will realize is falsely cited. But for me, it strikes me as citing a question of correlation vs causation.

Since cannabis dispensaries and the majority of drug users are likely to be clumped in higher population areas (such as cities), could the correlation be related to nothing more than geographical dynamics?

This is highly doubtful. Let’s cite the paper itself to see if we can gain some insights.

https://www.nber.org/papers/w29802

From the paper:

More than 930,000 Americans died of drug overdoses from 1999-2020 (Hedegaard et
al. 2021). A large majority of these involved opioids, and both all drug mortality and deaths
implicating opioids accelerated markedly during the first year of the COVID-19 pandemic.


In response to these alarming trends, there have been multiple federal, state and local efforts
to reduce opioid deaths and related problems including: better tracking of prescribing
through drug monitoring programs; improved access to non-opioid pain care, naloxone, and
medications treating opioid use disorder; assistance to high-risk persons following release
from incarceration; physician and prescriber education programs; improved data
surveillance; Good Samaritan laws that reduce barriers to calling for help during opioid
emergencies; and multiple federal grant programs that provide states and local governments
with assistance in funding these and other endeavors (Purington 2019; Harris and
Mukkamala 2020; Katcher and Ruhm 2021).

I can already start to see an answer to my question in this paragraph. The pandemic drove everyone down to new levels of misery, which would account for drug-seeking behaviour in regards to all substances. While not mentioned, I wouldn’t be surprised to see that alcohol misuse also shot up.

It’s a coping mechanism, after all.

Nonetheless, I’m not going to put the answer I want to hear into the paper. After all, if I did that, I would be no better than the Washington Examiner editorial team.

At the same time, policies not directly related to opioid use or deaths may affect
these outcomes. An important potential example are state laws that legalize the
consumption and retail sale of medical or recreational marijuana. 1 Prior to 1999, the first
year analyzed below, three states (California, Oregon, and Washington) had legalized
medical marijuana, but none permitted retail sales through dispensaries. By the end of 2019,
the last year studied, 33 states had legalized medical cannabis, 29 with medical dispensaries
in place, 11 states permitted recreational marijuana, and eight of these states had operating
retail dispensaries.


A rapidly growing body of scholarship examines the relationship between marijuana
legalization and various aspects of public health. 

                                                                                             * * *

There has been more limited study of its effects on opioid-related outcomes such as prescribing behavior
(Bradford and Bradford 2016; Bradford et al. 2018; Wen and Hockenberry 2018; McMichael,
Van Horn, and Viscusi 2020) and admissions to substance abuse treatment programs,
emergency departments, or hospitals (Chu 2015; Powell, Pacula, and Jacobson 2018;
Conyers and Ayres 2020; Jayawardhana and Fernandez 2021).

Finally, researchers have examined how marijuana legalization is related to opioid
deaths. These studies, some of which are summarized in the next section, while not
voluminous, have been influential. Particularly prominent is Bachhuber et al.’s (2014)
conclusion that “medical cannabis laws are associated with significantly lower state-level
opioid overdose mortality rates” (p. 1668). This study has been widely cited (over 760
Google Scholar citations as of February 2022) and has played an important role in
arguments that led some states to approve medical marijuana as a treatment for opioid use
disorder (Shover et al. 2020).  However, as discussed below, these findings turn out not to
be robust to changes in the analysis period, with subsequent research yielding ambiguous
findings.

 

And there it is.

I didn’t answer the question that I was looking to answer earlier, but I found the purpose of the study. The goal of which seems less about questioning the harmlessness of cannabis legalization, and more about cautioning that more study is required in terms of utilizing medicinal cannabis therapy for the treatment of opioid use disorder. Or maybe, utilizing cannabis as a method of treating opioid misuse disorder?

I’m not a doctor, so take this for what you will.

Since we’re this deep in the paper, we may as well explore some of their findings in this area.

 

The current study provides more definitive information on the relationship between
marijuana legalization and opioid deaths. We first show that prior empirical results are frequently fragile and that, in most cases, the inclusion of more comprehensive controls,
longer analysis periods and more correctly defined treatment variables results in less
favorable estimates or deleterious predicted effects of legal cannabis. We then present new
estimates, from generalized differences-in-differences (DiD) and event study (ES) models,
that incorporate more recent data and the improvements developed in our replication and
extension of previous research.


These results indicate that legal medical marijuana, particularly when available
through retail dispensaries, is associated with higher opioid death rates. The estimates for
recreational marijuana while less reliable – probably because most such policies have been
only recently enacted and in a lower number of states than for medical marijuana – also
suggest that retail sales through dispensaries are associated with greater opioid mortality,
relative to the counterfactual of no legal cannabis.

There is also suggestive evidence of
heterogeneity across demographic groups, with stronger deleterious recreational marijuana
effects for males, nonwhites, and relatively young adults than for their counterparts. Retail
cannabis sales also likely increase deaths involving non-opioid drugs such as stimulants and
sedatives. Finally, we indicate that more favorable findings previously observed when
analyzing deaths from 1999-2010 may reflect idiosyncratic and unreliable findings when
considering short time periods rather than, as suggested by some researchers, changes over
time in the stringency of the regulatory approaches.

 

Given this observation, we now know for sure that this is the paper that the Examiner editorial team was referencing. And the observation makes me think of a whole new hypothesis/guess for the correlation. People that are inclined to utilize or necessitate the consumption of medicinal or recreational marijuana are also likely to be open to seeking other substances. Though no line is drawn to chronic pain, mental health or any other variable, these variables tend to be a common throughline to drug-seeking behaviour, no matter what the substance.

I recall the Washington Examiner article I opened with bringing up the cannabis as a gateway drug argument when considering all of this data. What they fail to note is that many people who got slash get addicted to opioids didn’t even start out as typical drug users. Some may not have even touched cannabis once in their lives (or if they did, not for a VERY long time).

Many people in the past decade or so suffered some sort of injury and were prescribed some form of an opioid to help with pain relief. Unknown to these patients (who put their trust in the doctors and pharmaceutical companies within the US medical system), profitability was often pushed at all costs when it came to selling opioid medications. While far from an exhaustive list, Insys Therapeutics and Perdue Pharma are 2 very egregious examples of this malpractice in action.

While not mentioned by the Washington Examiner article or in the paper they cited (at least not in the pages I referenced), all of this plays into the outcomes we are looking at.

Though simple minds like easy-to-digest conclusions, humans are very messy as far as all things medical, physical and mental are concerned. One could say that it is one of the biggest drawbacks of being human. We’re all complex, but our understandings are often extremely simplistic. Not a good recipe for a complex society that is evolving on a daily (if not hourly!) basis.

But THAT is a whole other topic.

Bachhuber et al. (2014), mentioned above, used public-use National Vital Statistics
System (NVSS) data from 1999-2010 to examine the relationship between medical marijuana
legalization (MML) and opioid deaths.  Their estimates suggest that MML reduced age-

adjusted opioid analgesic mortality by almost 25% and a broader measure of opioid deaths
by 23%, in models with state and year fixed effects, although with some attenuation when
state time trends were also controlled for. However, this result is sensitive to the analysis
period. Shover et al. (2019) replicated Bachhuber’s analysis and obtain a similar 21%
reduction over the 1999-2010 timespan, but they also demonstrate that the relationship
reverses when extending the investigation through 2017, with medical cannabis legalization
predicting a 23% increase in prescription opioid deaths over this longer period.

Powell, Pacula, and Jacobson’s (2018) innovation is to distinguish between the
legalization of medical marijuana and the availability of retail sales to qualified patients
through authorized medical marijuana dispensaries (MMD). Using non-public NVSS data,
they confirm Bachhuber’s (2014) negative relationship between legalization of medical
marijuana and opioid deaths from 1999-2010 but, consistent with Shover et al. (2019), show
that the effects weaken and become statistically insignificant when extending the period
through 2013. However, their key finding is that the availability of medical marijuana sales
through retail dispensaries is associated with a 28% reduction in deaths involving
prescription opioids or heroin, relative to states without legal cannabis.

 

The analysis of the data from 1999 thru 2010 and 2013 makes sense given that the opioid epidemic really started to take off in the early 2010s. As does the noted drop in opioid fatalities in localities with a dispensary since people with the option are more likely to try alternatives (such as CBD, or normal THC) in their pursuit of pain relief. Law-abiding people outside of areas with dispensaries are more likely to follow the law and thus take a prescription from their medical doctor. A prescription which is likely to involve an opioid medication.

Keep in mind that not all prescriptions for opioids are unnecessary and that not all doctors prescribing them are malicious. Just as the public was, many doctors were lied to in terms of the potential harms of the medications they were prescribing, often learning the hard way that their attempt to help patients only lead to their ultimate detriment. The opioid crisis has many victims, and the good ethical people of the medical establishment are one of them.

Using similar methods and data for 1999-2017, Chan, Burkhardt and Flyer (2020),
add controls for the legalization of recreational marijuana (RML), as well as corresponding
dispensaries (RMD). In their preferred specification, which limits analysis to 28 states, the
coefficient on recreational marijuana dispensaries is -0.23 and significant at the 10 percent
level, which they interpret to imply a 21% decrease in opioid death rates. 5 However, this
conclusion depends critically on the counterfactual comparison. Specifically, the
corresponding RML coefficient is 0.19, implying that while RMD reduces predicted opioid

mortality rates by 21% compared to an otherwise equivalent state that legalized recreational
marijuana but without retail sales, the decrease is just 4% relative to one not allowing any
type of recreational cannabis.
In recent work, Sabia et al. (2021) uses data from 2000-2019 to examine how the
legalization of recreational marijuana relates to a variety of outcomes, including mortality
rates. They provide suggestive evidence of beneficial effects, but the estimates attenuate
and frequently become statistically insignificant or detrimental with the inclusion of more
comprehensive controls or if recreational marijuana sales, rather than legalization, is used
as the treatment variable. They also do not control for the legalization of medical marijuana
in any of their models, so that the counterfactual combines states without legal marijuana
and those allowing medical cannabis.

https://www.nber.org/papers/w29802

 

I’m going to end my analysis of the paper here, finding little need to go further. Though I ended up going down many tangential rabbit holes, I feel like I’ve made it clear that the goal of the paper is very different from the goal of the Washington Examiners’ interpretation of it. It’s no wonder they didn’t link directly to the document.

Speaking of the OP article . . .

 

That may be somewhat disturbing, but the details appear even more devilish. The study importantly addresses earlier results, based on data from 1999 to 2010, that had seemed to suggest a more beneficial effect. It turns out, though, that the results abruptly changed. If you include data from 2010 to 2017, the period when medical and/or recreational marijuana legalization began in earnest in the states, the results swing from a 21% reduction in opioid deaths to a 23% increase.

The results are complex, but the study undercuts a key claim of marijuana legalization proponents who argue that marijuana is a harmless substance that causes a cheap, temporary high and nothing more.

Here, the relationship between cannabis and opioid deaths is interesting in that it reinforces a much-mocked description of marijuana as a “gateway drug.” Different drug habits might well be related in ways we do not yet understand.

 

1.) Notice that nothing is mentioned of the massive increase in opioid prescriptions in the 1999-2017 timeframe. One would seem that would be an important factor to consider.

Unless you don’t care about context.

2.) Only idiotic marijuana proponents claim it to merely be a harmless, cheap high. The associations between mental health complications and lung health are well known.

3.) As explored earlier, the gateway drug argument, in this case, is stupid. The opioid epidemic didn’t become the massive epidemic it is now just because of stoners moving up the pharmacological spectrum to better shit.

Again, context matters. Well, unless you are a right-wing rag with an agenda.

 

And of course, this is not the only pitfall associated with marijuana use that marijuana campaigners work hard to minimize. For example, habitual marijuana use as late as one’s mid-20s can cause permanent brain damage. That’s because it prevents proper development of the frontal cortex, which the American Psychological Association describes as one of the last regions of the brain to develop fully. This brain structure is “critical to planning, judgment, decision-making, and personality.”

 

For once, we have a link. And it seems to bare out what is being communicated.

Indeed, a number of studies have found evidence of brain changes in teens and young adults who smoke marijuana. In 2013, Rocío Martín-Santos, MD, PhD, at the University of Barcelona, and colleagues reviewed 43 studies of chronic cannabis use and the brain. They found consistent evidence of both structural brain abnormalities and altered neural activity in marijuana users. Only eight of those studies focused on adolescents, but the findings from those studies suggested that both structural and functional brain changes emerge soon after adolescents start using the drug. Those changes may still be evident after a month of abstaining from the drug, the researchers reported (PLOS ONE, 2013).

Some of those brain abnormalities have been linked to cognitive differences. Gruber found that regular, heavy marijuana users — those who reported smoking five of the last seven days, and more than 2,500 times in their lives — had damage to their brains’ white matter, which helps enable communication among neurons. Those white matter changes were correlated with higher impulsivity, she found, particularly in people who began smoking before age 16 (Psychopharmacology, 2013).

Much of Gruber’s work compares heavy, regular marijuana users who began before and after age 16. Her results suggest there’s greater risk in starting young. Compared with users who began after 16, early-onset smokers made twice as many mistakes on tests of executive function, which included planning, flexibility, abstract thinking and inhibition of inappropriate responses. As adults, those who started using before 16 reported smoking nearly 25 times per week, while those who started later smoked half as often, about 12 times per week. The early-onset smokers also reported smoking an average of nearly 15 grams each week, versus about 6 grams for their late-onset counterparts (Psychology of Addictive Behaviors, 2012).

Gruber’s participants had reported using marijuana at least five times in the past week. But other labs have found structural differences in the brains of less frequent users. Jodi Gilman, PhD, at Massachusetts General Hospital/Harvard Center for Addiction Medicine, and colleagues used MRI to look for brain changes in 18- to 25-year-olds who smoked marijuana at least once per week, but were not dependent on the drug.

Compared with nonusers, the smokers had changes in the shape, volume and gray matter density of two brain regions associated with addiction: the nucleus accumbens (which plays a role in motivation, pleasure and reward processing) and the amygdala (a region involved in memory, emotion and decision-making). Participants who smoked more often had more significant differences (Journal of Neuroscience, 2014).

https://www.apa.org/monitor/2015/11/marijuana-brain

 

However . . .

 

But the case against marijuana isn’t closed. Other studies have failed to turn up evidence that marijuana use results in brain abnormalities. In one recent example, Barbara Weiland, PhD, at the University of Colorado at Boulder, and colleagues attempted to replicate Gilman’s study in adolescents and adults who smoked marijuana daily. But Weiland’s team argued that previous studies, including Gilman’s, failed to adequately control for alcohol use by the participants. After carefully matching for alcohol intake in the control and experimental subjects, the researchers failed to find physical differences in the nucleus acumbens or the amygdala of daily marijuana smokers (Journal of Neuroscience, 2015).

On the other hand, says Lisdahl, Weiland’s subjects were primarily male — and some research suggests females might be more sensitive to marijuana’s effects during adolescence.

In other cases, too, the evidence against marijuana is frustratingly mixed. While some studies have found increased risk for mood disorders and psychotic symptoms among marijuana users, for instance, a new study by Jordan Bechtold, PhD, at the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center, and colleagues found that chronic use among teenage boys did not raise the risk of later depression, lung cancer, asthma or psychotic symptoms (Psychology of Addictive Behaviors, 2015).

 

Context. It matters. But on the bright side, the researchers are doing what they do best and attempting to close the information gap.

In hopes of painting a clearer picture of marijuana’s potential risks to youth, NIDA plans to launch the Adolescent Brain and Cognitive Development (ABCD) study later this year. The prospective longitudinal study will follow 10,000 individuals across the United States over a decade, starting when they’re 9 or 10. “The idea is to look at what these kids are like before they start using substances, and then follow over time what happens to their brains,” Weiss says.

 

With that out of the way, let’s see what else the Examiner editorial has for us to sus out.

 

This means that use among teenagers, which is a lot more common than people would like to admit, and even use among young adults has deleterious and permanent health effects.

 

The only people that don’t want to admit that teenagers use (or are prone to use, at very least) cannabis are those with their heads up their ass. I suspect that this group overlaps with the Washington Examiners’ audience base, but of course, this is just a hypothesis.

One legislative action that tends to decrease teen cannabis use, however, is legalization. Selling cannabis through age-restricted dispensaries.

Whoda thought. Forcing sales through underground sources that don’t require an ID for the purchase of cannabis results in many more teenagers accessing the drug.

 

This is something to remember when these campaigners come to your state and try to sell you on the idea of cannabis as something completely harmless. One need not exaggerate the dangers of marijuana to acknowledge that they at least exist.

 

And YET, here we are.

 

Children’s Photos And Social Media – Childhood Exploitation?

Today, we will be exploring an issue that I’ve had on the backburner for a number of years, but of which a fairly recent Pitchfork article (written by Jazz Monroe) and a court finding brought back to the forefront of my mind.

 

Naked Nirvana Baby’s Nevermind Pornography Lawsuit Dismissed

Spencer Elden had claimed that the cover constituted child sexual exploitation

 

As you can see, the January 13th deadline has long since passed. Though this article was published on January 4th (and came to my attention on January 5th), the past month has been a busy one, with me only coming back to this now (February 2ed). Nonetheless, the article presents us with a number of paths that we can pursue.

1.) Did Spencer Elden play along with the fame/infamy that came along with the photograph?

2.) Did Spencer file another appeal before the January 13th deadline?

To answer the first question, yes he did. Twice. For both the 15 and 25 year anniversaries of the release of Nirvana’s Nevermind.

 

Nirvana baby recreates iconic album cover 25 years later

The naked swimming baby from the cover of the groundbreaking Nirvana album “Nevermind” re-enacted the image for the record’s 25th anniversary — this time wearing clothes.

Spencer Elden, 25, wanted to go au naturel when he made a splash to honor the legendary grunge band, he told The Post.

“I said to the photographer, ‘Let’s do it naked.’ But he thought that would be weird, so I wore my swim shorts,” said Elden, an artist from LA.

 

     * * *

Elden did the same thing 10 years ago, in honor of the album’s 15th anniversary.

 

https://nypost.com/2016/09/23/nirvana-baby-recreates-iconic-album-cover-25-years-later/

 

The article also notes that his parents were paid $200 back in 1991 for allowing the photograph of their son to be taken. Boy, did they get screwed over. Though the article also notes that Spencer accepted $200 from a photographer to again recreate the iconic photograph back in 2016.

Dude . . .

As for whether or not Spencer followed through with the appeal, it appears that he did in fact refile the suit.

 

The man who appeared as a naked baby on Nirvana’s “Nevermind” album has filed a new lawsuit alleging the image is child porn — just weeks after a judge tossed his original case.

Spencer Elden, 30, filed the new complaint against Kurt Cobain’s estate and Nirvana’s surviving members in California federal court on Thursday.

The new lawsuit includes a declaration from the album’s graphic designer that Elden’s lawyers argue proves the band and record label, Geffen Records, deliberately sought to display baby Elden’s penis and exploit the image for commercial gain.

Elden claims in the lawsuit that he has suffered “lifelong damages” as a result of having his naked body plastered on the 1991 album cover.

https://nypost.com/2022/01/14/naked-nirvana-nevermind-baby-spencer-elden-refiles-dismissed-lawsuit/

 

Though this has yet to make its way through the court system, I have my doubts that he is going to get any further with his case. After all, there is evidence in the public record of him, in fact, embracing his unique (though arguably exploitative) history.

Do I doubt that the image has in fact closed some doors in terms of his pursuits?  No.

Do I think that the image has bolstered far more than hindered his future prospects? Yes.

Though this lawsuit comes across as a sign of him running into hard times recently, it’s hard to believe that the iconic photo has not helped him in his modelling career at least a little. I mean, even though it isn’t mentioned, the guy plays up his very similar looks to Kurt Cobain by keeping his hair long! One would think that someone who is traumatized by their association to such a phenomenon would do everything they can to distance themselves from it. As opposed to leaning into it.

I may be missing things in my critique. Maybe there is context to be found that isn’t at all obvious. But even though this does in fact seem like a fruitless lawsuit (meritless? THAT is definitely debatable outside of the legal framework), I see Spencer doing well for himself with or without embracing his Nevermind infamy.

While it looks like Spencer sealed his legal fate decades ago, this article does in fact raise a very interesting legal situation regarding the use of social media. At the same time, we will explore a very drastic difference between how past generations stored precious memories, and how modern generations do so.

Being 33, I am old enough to have parents that had albums full of childhood photos and VHS tapes filled with various childhood events. When I think of these forms of storage, they are about as secure as you can get in terms of privacy. Aside from the people tasked with developing the photos or transferring the video to VHS, the photos never left your possession.
The Robin Williams thriller One Hour Photo (2002) serves as a brilliant time capsule in terms of the unlikely circumstances in which your privacy may be breached when it comes to photo prints.  

We all know where things went from here. First the transition to digital cameras, and seemingly a year later, to phones. And along with the transition from digital to phones also came a transition of where much of this material was/is stored. From various media kept in and around the home, to public-facing social media platforms or private-oriented cloud servers elsewhere (potentially not even in the same country). Since the amount of available space for storing this personal content has increased to essentially infinity in many cases, the amount of material many of us are uploading has also hugely increased. Once reserved for special moments like holidays or birthday parties, these days any time is a good time to share a moment. Anytime, anywhere.

Being responsible for their children until the age of 18, many parents now document nearly every waking moment of their children’s existence and share it on various social media entities. Though some apps only make this material available for a short time, it may sit up on other platforms essentially forever. Due to legally binding TOS agreements that are agreed to upon parents signing up for various services, the child may well have lost control of their right to privacy before they even reach the age at which they can talk. Parents consent on their behalf to social media terms of service which claim ownership over any content they upload, and thus they are on the way to losing any autonomy over their photographic likeness before they are even out of diapers.

Though the same can now be said of a good number of my childhood photos (most have been scanned and now are posted online), the big difference was that I (for the most part) knew about this and had a choice in the matter. Of course, even this isn’t foolproof (I’m sure we all have a family member with a tendency of oversharing). But at least I am aware of it, and (at least for the most part) had the chance to put a stop to this public display of my likeness if I so choose. It’s a privilege that isn’t going to be available to an entire generation that has (or IS) growing up within this increasingly digitally saturated paradigm.

Though this would include the Zoomers of gen Z (a generation that has for the most part embraced this technology, it just being a part of their everyday life as they grew up), I’m talking of the Alphas at this point. Raised in the social media paradigm, given the current status quo, they will never have a choice of whether or not they want to opt-in or out. Because the choice has already been made for them, long before they ever were conscious that they even had a choice.

This brings me to a realization of ourselves. In a sense, none of us have the choice to opt-out at this point either.

Many people make hay of doing things like closing Facebook accounts and leaving other social media sites. While I don’t doubt that it looks like you are making a difference (be it in the context of yourself, or in the wider world), one has to question the effectiveness of such actions. Both because of how monopolized many aspects of online life have become (how many people in your circle use Facebook Messenger or Whatsapp?), and because you don’t need to have an account in many of these platforms for them to track your activities online.

While I am venturing into territory that is somewhat off-topic to where I began (online tracking VS choosing to control your identity and likeness online), they both intersect in the sense that we have very little control of our data once we choose (or have the choice made for us by proxy) to make it available for whatever reason. Consider some time in the future in which you may want to completely erase your online identity for any reason. You can delete photos and social media profiles, but you don’t have much control of what lives on in the back-end servers of these companies. After all, consumer data is the gold in this evolving realm in which we live.

Or to step outside of the social media framework, what about a company that you dealt with in passing? A company that you no longer deal with?

For example, a foreign airline that you gave your credit card, passport and other information for a trip that you are fairly certain to never make again. A hotel chain that you may or may not visit again. Even a phone company that you may have previously dealt with, or never dealt with but still shared personal information with (rejected due to inadequate credit?).

While many companies quietly hoard consumer data for undetermined amounts of time, I can easily provide examples of data breaches exposing such practices within the industries listed above.

Air India

https://www.forbes.com/sites/carlypage/2021/05/23/air-india-data-breach-hackers-access-personal-details-of-45-million-customers/?sh=3faf40db51a2

 

Sita (Singapure Airlines, Luftunsa, United and Others)

https://www.theguardian.com/world/2021/mar/05/airline-data-hack-hundreds-of-thousands-of-star-alliance-passengers-details-stolen

While it should be noted that the SITA breach didn’t seem to expose much outside of frequent flyer numbers, many of these breaches (including that of Air India) tend to contain much more information.

Starwood Hotels Group AKA Marriot Hotels

https://www.bbc.com/news/technology-54748843

 

T-Mobile

https://www.theverge.com/2021/12/28/22857619/t-mobile-cyberattack-data-breach-december-2021-cpni-sim-swap

 

While the presence of likeness photographs living for eternity on social media platforms (anyone still have an active myspace account that was long since forgotten about?) and zombie consumer data hoarded by various companies may seem like 2 different things, they are in fact connected in the lack of control we have in reining in either. As long as companies are not held to high standards in terms of both data retention policies and cyber security, WE are the ones that will continue to pay the price. Given that the datasets that companies will be collecting are only going to diversify in the coming years (biometric data?), this aught be an issue on everyone’s radar.

There is a reason why I would never send a sample of my DNA to a private company for ancestry testing (and I would hope no one close to me would, either). Aside from the results being questionable to begin with, what happens to the DNA information afterward?

At the moment, it’s a convenient repository for police agencies to utilize in investigations.  But what about in the future?

What will your DNA be worth?

 

 

“Marijuana Users Face Increased Risk Of Deadly Stroke” / “Potent “Skunk” Causes Schizophrenia” – Bringing Context To Mainstream Media Cannabis Reporting

Today, we are going to look at 2 articles that crossed my path recently on the subject of cannabis. One examines the results of a new cannabis study, the other YET AGAIN rehashes the same old prohibition talking points that brought us to where we are in the first place. But this one has a slightly different flavour since it is out of the UK.

We will start with the cannabis study, which has been widely reported using a similar baity headline to mine. The following was published on a platform called Medical Xpress and written by someone at the American Heart Association. 

 

https://medicalxpress.com/news/2022-01-marijuana-users-deadly-complication-rare.html

Marijuana users’ risk of deadly complication doubles after rare type of bleeding stroke

Among people with an aneurysmal subarachnoid hemorrhage (aSAH) stroke, a type of bleeding stroke, recent marijuana users were more than twice as likely to develop a dangerous complication that can result in death or greater disability, according to new research published today in Stroke, a peer-reviewed journal of the American Stroke Association, a division of the American Heart Association.

The study is the largest to examine the impact of THC or Tetrahydrocannabinol, the psychoactive component (change of a person’s mental state) of marijuana on complications after an aneurysmal subarachnoid hemorrhage (a rare but severe form of stroke).

In an aneurysmal subarachnoid hemorrhage, a weakened and bulging part of a blood vessel bursts on the surface of the brain (called a ruptured aneurysm), resulting in bleeding in the space between the brain and the tissue that covers it. This type of stroke can be devastating, resulting in neurological disability in about 66% of people and death (during the follow up period) in about 40%. The immediate treatment of an aneurysmal subarachnoid hemorrhage focuses on stopping and preventing further bleeding. However, despite treatment, in the 14 days following an aneurysmal subarachnoid hemorrhage, many patients may develop worsening symptoms (such as speech problems or difficulty moving). This is caused by blood from the initial stroke irritating blood vessels, causing them to constrict enough to cut off the blood supply to a portion of the brain (called a vasospasm), resulting in more brain damage. This complication, called delayed cerebral ischemia, is a leading cause of death and disability after an aSAH stroke.

“We’re all vulnerable to a bleeding stroke or a ruptured aneurysm, however, if you’re a routine marijuana user, you may be predisposed to a worse outcome from a stroke after the rupture of that aneurysm,” said Michael T. Lawton, M.D., senior author of the study and president and CEO of Barrow Neurological Institute in Phoenix, Arizona.

 

There is no doubt about it, that is a scary finding on its face. But many conclusions can be scary without proper context.

Researchers analyzed data on more than 1,000 patients who had been treated for aneurysmal subarachnoid hemorrhage at Barrow Neurological Institute between January 1, 2007 to July 31, 2019. All patients had been treated to stop the bleeding either via 1) open surgery to clip off the base of the aneurysm, or, 2) noninvasively, by threading a slim tube through a blood vessel to the base of the aneurysm and releasing coils that fold to fill in the space and provide a barrier to further bleeding.

Urine toxicology screening was performed on all patients admitted with ruptured aneurysms. The study compared the occurrence of delayed cerebral ischemia in 46 people (average age of 47 years; 41% female) who tested positive for THC (the component of cannabis, also known as marijuana, that induces a high) and 968 people (average age 56 years, 71% female) who tested negative for THC. A positive urine screen for THC reflects cannabis exposure within three days for a single use to within approximately 30 days for frequent heavy use.

The recent cannabis users did not have significantly larger aneurysms or worse stroke symptoms when admitted to the hospital, and they were not more likely to have high blood pressure or other cardiovascular risk factors than patients who screened negative for THC. However, recent cannabis users were significantly more likely to have also tested positive for other substances, including cocaine, methamphetamines and tobacco, compared to the patients who screened negative for THC.

Among all participants, 36% developed delayed cerebral ischemia; 50% were left with moderate to severe disability; and 13.5% died.

After adjusting for several patient characteristics as well as recent exposure to other illicit substances, patients who tested positive for THC at last follow up were found to be:

  • 2.7 times more likely to develop delayed cerebral ischemia;
  • 2.8 times more likely to have long-term moderate to severe physical disability; and
  • 2.2 times more likely to die.

 

And, there is our context. Along with the information that makes the headline of this article incredibly misleading. It would seem that this isn’t just a story about marijuana and THC, this is also a story about many illicit drugs. But I’m guessing that “Study Shows Risk Of Deadly Bleeding Stroke Complication Doubled In Illicit Drug Users” doesn’t have the same bite as using a term that is highly algorithmically favourable. As the new saying goes, if it clicks, it sticks.

 

“When people come in with ruptured aneurysms, and they have a history of cannabis use or are positive on a toxicology screen, it should raise a red flag to the treating team that they are at higher risk of vasospasm and ischemic complication,” Lawton said. “Of all the substances detected in the toxicology screen, only cannabis raised the risk of delayed cerebral ischemia. Cocaine and meth are hypertensive drugs, so they are likely related to the actual rupture but not expected to have an impact on vasospasm.”

The study does not specifically address how cannabis raises the risk of vasospasm and delayed cerebral ischemia. Lawton noted, “Cannabis may impair oxygen metabolization and energy production within cells. When stressed by a ruptured aneurysm, the cells are much more vulnerable to changes that affect the delivery of oxygen and the flow of blood to the brain.”

The study’s limitations include being conducted retrospectively at a single institution and not being a head-to-head analysis of people who use marijuana and those who don’t.

The researchers are currently conducting follow-up in the laboratory to better understand THC-related risks that may impact aneurysm formation and rupture. They also urge further research to study the impact of various doses of THC on stroke complications

 

Here, we finally learn the vector in which cannabis plays in this medical condition, at least allegedly. We also finally learn the limitations of the study, and the steps being taken in attempting to replicate the results in a scientific manner. Though I question how many people made it this far into the article before clicking off and potentially sharing it to everyone in their reach.

As is often the case, the author of the study urge caution when it comes to showcasing the results of their work. But care is futile in the face of creating attention-grabbing headlines.

“The current study is not at the level of science of a randomized controlled trial, but it is a rigorous statistical analysis involving more than 1,000 patients, so the results are important and add to what we already know about possible adverse effects of marijuana use,” said Robert L. Page II, Pharm.D., M.S.P.H., FAHA, chair of the writing group for the American Heart Association’s 2020 cannabis statement and professor in the department of clinical pharmacy and the department of physical medicine/rehabilitation at the University of Colorado Skaggs School of Pharmacy and Pharmaceutical Sciences in Aurora, Colorado.

 

In conclusion, as with many things, more research has to be conducted to properly confirm this finding. When that happens, hopefully, the media will be just as eager to report that result as they were to run with this headline.

I won’t hold my breath.

 

                                                                                                                                                                    * * *

Our next article is out of the UK, published by the Daily Mail and written by Laurence Dollimore. I don’t need to explain what we are getting into since the headline itself makes it perfectly clear.

In 2 words . . . oh boy.

 

https://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-10381531/Liberal-parents-let-kids-smoke-cannabis-warned-induce-schizophrenia-like-psychosis.html

Liberal parents who let their children smoke cannabis are warned that the drug is causing up to a THIRD of psychosis cases in London and strong ‘skunk’ can cause schizophrenia-like symptoms

  • Sir Robin Murray has sounded the alarm over the use of highly-potent ‘skunk’ 
  • Expert said drug is behind 30 per cent of his psychosis patients in south London
  • King’s College London professor runs clinic dedicated to psychosis caused by cannabis

Highly-potent cannabis is not being taken seriously enough by some liberal-minded parents, who would rather see their teens smoke pot than drink alcohol, a top psychologist has warned.

Sir Robin Murray, 77, a professor of Psychiatric Research at the Institute of Psychiatry (IoP), King’s College London, said around a third of the psychosis patents he sees at his practice in south London are caused by use of high-strength skunk.

The expert said the cases mostly involve young people, who often suffer from debilitating paranoia and hallucinations.

 

Gotta love a population that is seemingly fine with a publication publicly shaming parents for making a parenting choice. And of course, this is aimed specifically at liberal parents.
Makes me wonder what would happen if a psychologist similarly came out and publicly shamed conservative parents for indoctrinating religious dogmas into children before they are at an age to question things for themselves. If it got covered at all, something tells me that the tone would be VERY different than this.

Political biases aside, however, the medical issue is indeed important. Though the solution as proposed is really, REALLY stupid. But, more on that later.

 

It comes as London is set to relax drug laws by no longer prosecuting young people caught in possession of cannabis – offering them educational courses on the drug’s dangers instead.

But results from European neighbours offer an insight into the potential pitfalls of such a policy – with Portugal seeing a huge surge in cannabis-induced psychosis after it decriminalised the drug in 2001.

According to research in the International Journal of Methods in Psychiatric Research, the number of hospital admissions in the country with a primary diagnosis of psychotic disorders and schizophrenia stemming from cannabis use soared by nearly 30-fold, from 20 a year in 2010 to nearly 590 in 2015 – and almost 90 per cent of these patients were men, whose average age was 30.

 

It is in fact true that the number of cannabis-induced psychiatric conditions did in fact take an exponential uptick following decriminalization. That is certainly a statistic not to be taken lightly. However, Portugal is now not the only cannabis-neutral nation-state for which we can draw data. Canada has been legalized since 2018, which should make it another source of good data. 

This brings me to the very big difference between Canadian drug policy and Pourtagise drug policy. Legalization vs decriminalization.

In Canada, though the bureaucratic hoops that one has to jump through are rigid to the point of being ridiculous, the sale of regulated marijuana to 19-year-olds and older is completely legal. Since it is regulated, the THC and CBD content is closely monitored so the issue of newcomers using exclusively extremely potent drugs has become less of an issue. Childhood cannabis poisonings are indeed up from that they used to be, but frankly . . . obviously. There is far more cannabis (in particular, cannabis edibles) around then there has ever been previously. And not all parents or caregivers are going to know to keep their stash safe. Though that is indeed extremely irresponsible, how many people got into their parent’s liquor cabinets without them knowing?  

Though care is certainly urged in regards to pharmaceuticals and cannabis, alcohol deserves the same treatment (if this is the approach we are to take). If telling alhocol consumers to Drink Responsibly is considered a reasonable policy, why not consume cannabis responsibly?

This is all in contrast to decriminalization, which leaves the cultivation of cannabis in the hands of the same underground producers, but eliminates the legal risk to the actual drug users themselves. Or to put it another way, it leaves highly potent cannabis (the type that a market made up of primarily high tolerance regular users) as pretty much the only cannabis option available. Meaning that even novice users end up essentially jumping off the deep end without experience should they ever do what is human and get curious about this plant that everyone is talking about.
Also worth remembering is access to this cannabis is governed strictly by the moral compass of the dealer selling it. If they have no issue with selling to a minor, then scoring weed can be just as easy as buying a candy bar. While it is far from impossible for minors to access regulated substances like alcohol or tobacco, there are still more barriers to clear than just handing a criminal some cash and walking away with a stash.

Earlier, I had mentioned that Canada may be a good source when it comes to tracking cannabis-induced psychiatric episodes being we were the trailblazer when it came to opening up the industry on a federal level. Back in the days before legalization, I even recall an episode of marketplace exploring just this topic. Given that 3 years have passed, it feels like a good time to check and see if the fears were justified.

The following article (published on January 2ed, 2019) certainly is attempting to sound the alarm.

https://www.ctvnews.ca/canada/mental-health-expert-warns-of-significant-increase-in-cannabis-induced-psychosis-1.4233512

Right off the bat, there was a rise in cannabis-related behavioural and mental health-related hospitalizations between 2006 and 2015.

Highlights

  • Between 2006 and 2015, the rate of hospitalizations for cannabis-related mental or behavioural disorders in Canada rose from 2.11 to 5.18 per 100 000.

  • Males consistently accounted for over two-thirds of all hospitalizations for cannabis-related mental or behavioural disorders.

  • Young people aged 15 to 24 years represented the greatest proportion of hospitalizations (between 49% and 58%) of any age group.

  • Over the entire study period, psychotic disorder was the most common clinical condition among hospitalizations for cannabis-related mental or behavioural disorders, and accounted for 48.0% of cannabis-related hospitalizations in 2015.

  • Between 2006 and 2015, the rate of hospitalizations due to cannabis-related psychotic disorder tripled, from 0.80 to 2.49 per 100,000

https://www150.statcan.gc.ca/n1/pub/82-003-x/2021004/article/00001-eng.htm

 

These findings make perfect sense since this was the timeframe in which cannabis (more, cannabis legalization) was slowly entering the public psyche and changing long-held attitudes towards the drug. At the same time, the debut of shows like Weeds and Breaking Bad helped bring the often gritty underworld of drug prohibition into the forefront of popular culture. Moreso Breaking Bad of course (while I still enjoy Weeds, it was primarily a comedy at heart).

As for the data I seek, sources at the moment seem rather scarce. This isn’t really surprising since it has only been around 3 years (notice that the last dataset was taken from a period spanning a decade). Though I also can’t help but wonder if part of the reason I’ve not come across more hair on fire articles is the ready availability of less potent strains in the pot shops. Though all cannabis was largely the same to me when I was viewing it as an outsider, the differences became more apparent once I started actually participating in the legal market. In fact, some people I know have even commented that they avoid much of the legal market since it demonstrates the opposite problem that the illicit market does . . . it’s aimed primarily at the novice and lite recreational user. Most of the offerings are far too weak for their raised tolerance levels.

While a big part of this stems from the profit motive (appealing to new and lite recreational users), regulations also play a role in this. While I am not sure offhand what the limits are for flower, I know the THC maximum for edibles and drinkables is 10mg. A level that is perfectly fine to send someone like me on a journey (as I found out last year), but a level that may well not work for others. Though you can of course increase the dose by buying more (up to 30 grams per transaction), this can get costly VERY quickly.

While I was and still am of the opinion that the legal market will eventually drive out the illicit market (I’m sure hooch peddlers didn’t go away overnight after the lifting of prohibition), work still needs to be done to get the paranoid and uninformed regulators out of the way. Though I understand that the heavy-handed approach is owing to the lack of research available on cannabis (and people’s overall lack of knowledge of the substance), these roadblocks will continue to prop up the illicit market so long as they exist.

Considering that this is a hindrance that isn’t shared by other substances (such as alcohol or tobacco), what of it federal regulators?

 

Sir Robin suggested the high number of cases in his practice are now impacting the facility’s ability to care for patients.

He told the Times: ‘I think we’re now 100 per cent sure that cannabis is one of the causes of a schizophrenia-like psychosis.

‘If we could abolish the consumption of skunk we would have 30 per cent less patients [in south London] and we might make a better job of looking after the patients we have.’

 

We have tried that. According to your very own findings, it didn’t work. How many more patients do you have to get inundated with before this flaw in your logic becomes apparent?

You are not helping the cause by this way of thinking. YOU ARE MAKING IT WORSE!

 

Sir Robin works at the first NHS clinic in England to specifically treat cannabis smokers suffering from psychosis.

Running from Maudsley Hospital in Camberwell, south London, patients are typically seen for a minimum of 15 weeks, with treatment including one-on-one sessions with specialist therapists.

The aim of the clinic is to first help cannabis users wean themselves off the drug before helping them to manage without it – helped by weekly group therapy sessions with fellow patients and experts.

Sir Robin has praised the clinic, reporting it to be a success, even when services moved online due to the Covid pandemic.

It comes after he was part of the first team of researchers who proved a link between cannabis and mental illness among teenagers in the early 2000s – with many papers backing up his findings ever since.

Only two years ago, a study found that south London had the highest incidence of psychosis in Europe – and cannabis was said to be the largest contributing factor.

The investigation, overseen by Sir Robin and published in The Lancet Psychiatry, found that those who smoked high-potency skunk were five times more likely to develop psychosis than those who did not smoke it.

According to the findings, rates of psychosis in London could be slashed by 30 per cent if skunk was taken off the streets.

 

You can tell someone’s seriousness in tackling a given issue by the seriousness in the solutions they propose. If skunk were abolished from the streets, hurray . . . PROBLEM SOLVED!

Get serious. Clearly, that has not worked because THERE IS NO ABOLISHING SKUNK. It is already abolished. And yet the problem still persists. Hence, it’s time to go back to the drawing board and consider what has worked. Since the decriminalization model has problems (according to your own argument), how about the legalization model?

Though the dataset is indeed young for this model, it is still there.

While it has been noted that higher instances of cannabis use associated with legalization will likely result in more instances of cannabis-induced mental or behavioural disorders,  this isn’t as much of an “AAAAHHHHH!” observation as it is a “DUH!” observation.

The more people who get licences and own vehicles, the more instances of drunk driving and speeding there will be. The more people that purchase alcohol, the more instances of alcohol poisoning there will be. While I am not discounting the need for research to close the gaps in knowledge that persist in cannabis research, bad outcomes are still far from the norm when it comes to the average cannabis experience. Therefore if we are not prohibiting alcohol and vehicles based on the small but very visible percentage that catches the headlines, the same should apply for cannabis.

Particularly when it is entirely possible to adjust some of the variables that are totally uncontrollable in both illegal and decriminalized frameworks. For example, age restrictions of legalized cannabis will help to keep skunk out of the hands of most children and teens. And regulation of potency and (most importantly) education in terms of the effects of this potency will go a long way towards keeping the very powerful stuff out of the hands of those unprepared for it.

THERE is your solution. As opposed to more standing aside and pissing into the wind and wondering why our knickers keep getting wet.

 

Despite its potentially harmful effects, Sir Robin welcomed London’s plans to end prosecution of young people found in possession of cannabis.

The policy, set to be adopted by the Metropolitan Police, would see carriers of the drug offered educational courses on its dangers.

But Sir Robin wants more clarification over the scheme.

He said: ‘My questions will be: where will they get the counsellors who know anything about risks of cannabis?

‘What will happen if they don’t accept the counselling or go back to cannabis use? 

‘And will it be accompanied by any education regarding the risks of cannabis — this is by far the most important thing.’

He added: ‘Because Lewisham is one of the proposed boroughs [where the scheme could first be introduced] we will be able to track the effects on psychiatric problems secondary to cannabis use — addiction, suicide attempts and psychosis.

‘But we need also to track road traffic accidents, street violence and visits to A&E departments for cannabis problems.’

Sir Robin said policy changes in other countries provided potential warnings for Britain.

In the state of Colorado in the US, there are now cannabis products available which contain more than 70 per cent THC – or tetrahydrocannabinol – the compound which gives users a high.

For comparison, traditional weed from the 1960s contained around 3 per cent or less THC, while the average in Europe and North America today is 10 to 15 per cent, according to an article by Sir Robin in JAMA Psychiatry.

 

It is amazing how attached these boomers are to out-of-date and overly destructive ideas of the past that just don’t work. While the support of decriminalization is a step in the right direction, education of the dangers of cannabis IS NOT!
Assuming that the Canadian education system is not all that different from the British system, we were made well aware of the dangers of drugs all through the process. So much so that the reality of the situation (at least when it came to cannabis) ended up casting doubt on almost everything I learned through the years from the curriculum. A big danger when it comes to people moving on to far more risky drugs than cannabis.

While it is good to make young people aware of the risks posed by drugs (including cannabis), fear-mongering doesn’t work. Scaring young people is not a solution, it is an old tactic that has proven futile. If you truly want to tackle this problem, start supporting cannabis legalization schemes and get some of the market variables back under regulated control.

 

Meanwhile, a study in Denmark found that alongside a rise in THC potency, cannabis-associated schizophrenia has increased by up to 400 per cent over the past two decades, reported the Times.

Sir Robin’s study in 2019 warned that 94 per cent of all cannabis available on the streets of London was in the form of skunk. 

Researchers from King’s College London studied 2,100 people in 11 cities in Europe and South America in the biggest study of its kind.

They found that the link with psychotic disorders such as schizophrenia and paranoid delusion was strongest in London and Amsterdam – the two cities where high-potency cannabis is most commonly available.

Sir Robin said at the time: ‘If you are going to legalise, unless you want to pay for a lot more psychiatric beds and a lot more psychiatrists then you need to devise a system in a way that will not increase the consumption and will not increase the potency. Because that is what has happened in the US states where there has been legalisation for recreational use.

 

1.) Prohibition is the reason why all of these problems are happening. Since these boomer types insist on playing hands-off as to their part in all of this, let’s make it crystal clear.

2.) While I am unsure of whether or not Colorado had a spike in cannabis-related psychiatric episodes post-legalization (and certainly post super-strong edibles availability), there is no way to not have the amount of cannabis use not rise post-legalization. It’s an incredibly stupid requirement to begin with since the key to arresting the problem is education and potency controls. While it is true that I don’t believe that potency limits are helpful, education of consumers IS helpful.

 

‘The critical question is whether medicinal use remains medicinal. The problem in California and Canada was that medicinal use became a synonym for recreational use.

‘You could go on the internet and tell a doctor, “I have headaches, I have back pain, I feel better if I have cannabis”. The main reason they legalised it was to try to control the amount of so-called medicinal use there, hoping that there would be a decrease in the use.’  

The research, published in the Lancet Psychiatry journal, found that skunk – with a THC level of more than 10 per cent – increased the odds of psychosis 4.8-fold in a person who smoked every day compared with someone who never used the drug. 

Using it more than once a week was less dangerous, but still increased the risk 1.6-fold.

 

Actually, the real goal of the Canadian government’s cannabis legalization was limiting youth access and reducing criminal involvement in the trade, according to this article. A goal that makes perfect sense since eliminating fake medicinal use by way of legalization is just stupid. How is easing access to cannabis going to drive usage rates down?

That is just stupid. Coming from a so-called doctor . . . Jesus Christ, stick to psychiatry.

Though my bias and education in this area tends to make fossil attitudes on the subject like these quite caustic to my well-being, not all cannabis critiques are this devoid of critical thought. The following post covers an analysis that I rather liked in both its informativeness and its honesty. Fear was never used, only information.

 

“Can Marijuana Cause Psychosis?” – (Psychology Today)

The sooner everyone begins to approach cannabis legislation and research with more emphasis on honesty and reality, the sooner it will become less of a vector for creating unwitting casualties. Until then, the chaos left in its unregulated wake is just as much on the heads of the academic proponents of the status quo (such as Sir Robin Murray!) as it is on the growers and dealers themselves.

Consider yourselves warned and informed.

Gordon Ramsay – The Secret To Imense Riches?

Wait, what?

That was certainly my reaction upon coming across the link to this article somewhere (maybe Twitter).

One thing is for sure, there is definitely a lot going on here. No less than 5 trademarks and the alleged words of 1 internationally renowned celebrity. Let’s go further.

If you thought 2020 couldn’t get any more wild meet 96-year-old Beth Stanson, who in her advanced age has been somewhat of a homebody. In a time where we’re told to keep our distance from family and friends Beth spent many hours watching TV and surfing the web but her grand-children became curious about what she was up to all this time.

She revealed that over the past few months she had been secretly amassing an enormous wealth. So much so that all of her 16 grand-children would be able to quit their jobs so they could pursue their dreams.

The interesting thing is exactly how she was able to make so much money. Beth used a new automated bitcoin trading platform that she had seen on TV.

I admit that I stumbled into this out of pure curiosity, drawn to the link by a photo of Gordon Ramsay (as I’m sure is the case for many people). Though it held the feel of a local news story for the first paragraph, this quickly fell apart when I read “so much so that all of her 16 grand-children would be able to quit their jobs so they could pursue their dreams.

Which made me curious (as did all of the testimonials running down the right side of the page). Automated bitcoin trading platform? 

Also, what does Gordon Ramsay have to do with this?

 

Multi-Michelin star celebrity chef Gordon Ramsay just bought his ninth Ferrari using money he earned not from his hosting shows or restaurants – but from a new controversial investment he revealed on live television.

During our exclusive interview with the “Hells Kitchen” chef himself, Ramsay admitted he earned $13.5 million last year through a new controversial system he shared with Phillip and Holly on ITV’s This Morning.

Here’s what the superstar chef himself has to say about his secret money-making methods:

Listen, I’ve been wanting to do something different. Something special. You see, I’ve been blessed to live my dream life because I’ve had the privilege of owning my own restaurants and staring on reality TV shows.

Today, I want to give back and show everyone EXACTLY how I’ve made millions of dollars over the last few months outside of my regular businesses. It’s something I’ve been doing on the side, and something anyone in the UK can do, and it’s made enough for me to buy my ninth Ferrari.

My passion will always be cooking, but recently I’ve been learning about investing. I stumbled upon a new system called The News Spy that’s made me more money in the last 6 months than any of my other buinesses. And the best part is, this amazing opportunity just became available to regular folks in the UK so I have to share it with everyone.

I’ll explain what The News Spy is in just a bit. But first, to prove how amazing this system really is. Holly, I’m going to give you £195 to deposit and try it for yourself right now.”

Ramsay then wrote a check to Holly for £195 ($250 USD), which she deposited into the system to try for herself. Within minutes, Holly‘s jaw dropped open as she began making a real profit – on live television!

 

While I don’t know Ramsay personally, I’ve never seen him driving a Ferrari in any of his shows older to fairly recent shows. In most of his older shows (Boiling Point, Ramsay’s Kitchen Nightmares, Gordon Behind Bars) he drives an Audi sedan, and in the newer American shows, he’s usually in a GM SUV of some sort (almost always black). Though I seem to recall him pulling up to the Hell’s Kitchen studios in a Ferrari, that hardly seems his MO.

But that is just the conjecture of a Ramsay fanboy. What is more important is, did he actually say that? And if so, is there footage?

Speaking of footage, why not share THAT instead of just a screencap?

Before I go digging again, let’s see what else Gordon has to say.

Ramsay continued,

“Now I know what you’re thinking Phllip and Holly. You probably think this is a trick or it doesn’t make sense. You may have seen Bitcoin or Ethereum on the news, and maybe even invested into it yourself. Maybe you think it’s a scam because you don’t understand it or lost money.

Well, what I do to earn at least 6 figures every month is something completely different. I use this The News Spy to cash in on the Bitcoin boom with absolutely no investing or technology experience. And the best part is, anyone can do the same.

You just saw for yourself how fast this works”

Before Holly could even muttor a word, Ramsay continutes…

“Look guys, I love to cook and help up and coming chefs improve thier cooking. I don’t have time to sit in front of a computer and trade cryptocurrencies all day. That’s why I use The News Spy to do it for me automatically. It’s is backed by Bill Gates, Richard Branson and Mark Zuckerberg – some of the smartest tech minds on the planet.

See, most people think the Bitcoin boom is over. But in fact, it’s just getting started.”

 

If there is one thing I can say about that Ramsay live TV segment, it does not sound natural to him at all. Even his commercial selling for Rogers was more authentic than that!

I hate Rogers Communications with a passion, but this was the only place I could find the video, so Rogers tweet it is. No,
this is not an endorsement. FUCK ROGERS!! FUCK your monopolistic, parasitic, greedy shit show of a company. And to all the
current day Shaw customers out there . . . I pity you. I really do. You didn’t ask to be part of the Rogers march to becoming 
the Comcast of Canada!

Just in case it’s not clear by now that this isn’t an endorsement . . . FUCK ROGERS !!!!!!!

 

Either way, getting back to where we started, I seem to have found the video clip the article is referring to. At least it has a matching thumbnail to the one used in the article.

Though the video was 7 minutes long, not one mention of Bitcoin, finances, or anything related. Just a conversation about food, family, and other far more Ramsay-esk subject matter. Also, who on earth is Philip & Holly?

Also morning show hosts, according to Wikipedia and other sources. Like other such variety shows, the rooster of main hosts seems to alternate due to various factors. Either way, irrelevant, since the clip has nothing to do with shilling bitcoin or anything else aside from the benefits of healthy living.

I don’t know what Holly is looking at, but I’m almost certain that it isn’t the shocking returns on her investment of Gordon’s pocket change. I mean . . . really. I’ve tipped more percentage-wise to service workers than Gordon gave Holly to invest.

But again, that is irrelevant since its obvious that Gordon has nothing to do with this. With that in mind, let’s see where else this journey takes us.

The News Spy is backed by Bill Gates, Richard Branson and Mark Zuckerberg

“Now I’m not going to bullshit you or your viewers. Not every trade is a profitable one. See, theautomated software using advanced machine learning and data modeling to make trades. To be honest, I barely know what that means besides it works very well.

However, the system does mess up sometimes. Nothing is ever going to be right 100% of the time. Yet even with it’s mistakes, I’m still profitable about 80-89% of the time. That means for every 1 losing trade, there are about 9 winning ones.

It’s trading hundreds of times per hour, 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, so you can imagine how that much adds up. On an average day, I’ll make about $5,000 to $8,000 profit. Unbelievable right? What I do is take out about half for play money – travel, cars, toys. And then I reinvest the other half. That’s how I’m able to earn more and more money over time.

 

Now, as Gordon continues to explain the risks and benefits of whatever the fuck, 3 more names have been dropped, AND another trademark has made an appearance. But it does help make my job a little easier.

In short:

“Hey Google, does Elon Musk back The News Spy?”

. . .

“No”

https://blog.sircles.net/post/2021/07/13/elon-musk-news-spy-ads

 

To cut right to the chase of that link:

 

 
 
 
Good luck indeed.
 

But now you know. I may have click baited to get you here, but now you are just a little more aware than you were before. When it comes to the internet, you can never be too careful. There are many fingers that would LOVE access to your wallet.

Crypto or otherwise.

Richard Dawkins Opposes Trans Rights

For many readers of this piece, you are likely coming at this from one of 2 angles. Some may think “Wait, what?!”. And for the rest of us, it’s “Here we go again . . .”

In truth, I am less interested in critiquing Dawkins himself than I am in getting to the source material. The man has proven willing to align with the wrong side of history more than once, so to hell with him. Just the latest example of the spectacular fall of the once-revered 4 horsemen of reason.

There is nothing new to see here.

With that, we will move directly on to the declaration that the man signed, and wanted the rest of us to sign. With approaching 30,000 signatories from over 153 countries and over 400 organizations, the Declaration on Women’s Sex-Based Rights is the product of the Women’s Human Rights Campaign. The aim of the organization is summed up by the title of the declaration itself:

Women’s Human Rights Campaign (WHRC) is a group of volunteer women from across the globe dedicated to protecting women’s sex-based rights. Our volunteers include academics, writers, organizers, activists, and health practitioners, and aim to represent the total breadth of the human female experience.

Based in the UK, the organization appears to have a very meagre budget despite having members the world over (as can be seen by their financial statement, which can be found at the bottom of this page). Either way, having explored the background of the group, we will now get right into the declaration.

Declaration on Women’s Sex-based Rights

On the re-affirmation of women’s sex-based rights, including women’s rights to physical and reproductive integrity, and the elimination of all forms of discrimination against women and girls that result from the replacement of the category of sex with that of ‘gender identity’, and from ‘surrogate’ motherhood and related practices.

Before we even begin, I feel the need to address the difference between some terms (both included and not). The terms are sex, gender, gender identity and sexual orientation.

Sex applies to the physical differences which are visible or detectable. Gender covers the social constructs and implications coinciding with each sex. As for gender identity, that covers the individual lived experience (regardless of variables imposed by sex, gender, environment and others). Sexual orientation is more concerned with who you are attracted to.

There are also some useful terms that I have not included here:

https://www.hrc.org/resources/sexual-orientation-and-gender-identity-terminology-and-definitions

Some of these terms are uncontroversial, others . . . not so much. I felt the need to do this right off the bat to establish my stance going into this. To put it another way, I’m laying out my bias up front. Even if that bias happens to coincide with our lived reality.

A big issue that we run into right away is that people tend to be messy as far as fitting into rigid labels is concerned. And at the same time, many people find it difficult to comprehend others that live fluidly to rigid labels and expectations.
Some of this can be attributed to personal bias, but a bigger part of this comes from the social constructs of gender which are imposed by societies themselves.

1.) Using the term society tends to be far too broad a term in this context since what constitutes gender can fluctuate from one region to the next within a given macro society (such as a nation). One of the more obvious examples of this will be the differences between cities and rural areas. And even within the various boundaries of the city itself (such as the core areas VS suburbs, or even between various suburbs).

2.) I hesitate to use the term bigotry since ignorance does not always equate to bigotry. Anyone without the time to sit down and research many terms can get lost in the fog. However, refusal to even consider a contrary opinion to their predetermined bias is certainly a big red flag.

Most people are rightfully confused by this stuff. However, the difference between being ignorant and being bigoted lies in one’s ability to accept new information. With this in mind, we will once again proceed.

Introduction

This Declaration reaffirms the sex-based rights of women which are set out in the Convention on the Elimination of all Forms of Discrimination against Women adopted by the United Nations General Assembly on 18 December 1979 (CEDAW), further developed in the CEDAW Committee General Recommendations, and adopted, inter alia, in the United Nations Declaration on the Elimination of Violence against Women 1993 (UNDEVW).

Article 1 of the CEDAW defines discrimination against women to mean, “any distinction, exclusion or restriction made on the basis of sex which has the effect or purpose of impairing or nullifying the recognition, enjoyment or exercise by women, irrespective of their marital status, on a basis of equality of men and women, of human rights and fundamental freedoms in the political, economic, social, cultural, civil or any other field.’’

Sex is defined by the United Nations as “the physical and biological characteristics that distinguish males from females.’’ (Gender Equality Glossary, UN Women)

The CEDAW places obligations on States Parties to ‘‘take all appropriate measures, including legislation, to modify or abolish existing laws, regulations customs and practices which constitute discrimination against women.’’ (Article 2 (f)); and to take, in all fields, “appropriate measures, including legislation, to ensure the full development and advancement of women, for the purpose of guaranteeing them the exercise and enjoyment of human rights and fundamental freedoms on a basis of equality with men.’’ (Article 3).

It has long been understood in the area of human rights that the stereotyped sex roles of men and women are a fundamental aspect of women’s inequality and must be eliminated.

 

The thought occurs to me that a better wording choice would have been stereotyped gender roles of men and women. But I’ll overlook it, lest I run the risk of it coming across as mansplaining.

Article 5 of the CEDAW states,

“States Parties shall take all appropriate measures:

1.

To modify the social and cultural patterns of conduct of men and women, with a view to achieving the elimination of prejudices and customary and all other practices which are based on the idea of the inferiority or the superiority of either of the sexes or on stereotyped roles for men and women.’’​

2.

Gender refers to “the roles, behaviors, activities, and attributes that a given society at a given time considers appropriate for men and women… These attributes, opportunities and relationships are socially constructed and are learned through socialization processes.’’ (Gender Equality Glossary, UN Women).

Recent changes replacing references to the category of sex, which is biological, with the language of ’gender’, which refers to stereotyped sex roles, in United Nations documents, strategies, and actions, has led to confusion which ultimately risks undermining the protection of women’s human rights.

 

Though I am unsure of exactly what documents are being referenced here (likely many), I did find this:

Guidelines for gender-inclusive language in English

These Guidelines include a number of strategies to help United Nations staff use gender-inclusive language. They may be applied to any type of communication, whether it is oral or written, formal or informal, or addressed to an internal or external audience.

When deciding what strategies to use, United Nations staff should:

  • Take into account the type of text/oral communication, the context, the audience and the purpose of the communication;
  • Ensure that the text is readable and the text/oral communication clear, fluid and concise;
  • Seek to combine different strategies throughout the text/oral communication.

Gender in English

In English, there is a difference between “grammatical gender”, “gender as a social construct” (which refers to the roles, behaviours, activities and attributes that a given society at a certain time considers appropriate for men or women) and “sex” as a biological characteristic of living beings.

English has very few gender markers: the pronouns and possessives (he, she, her and his); and some nouns and forms of address. Most English nouns do not have grammatical gender forms (teacher, president), whereas a few nouns are specifically masculine or feminine (actor/actress, waiter/waitress). Some nouns that once ended in -man now have neutral equivalents that are used to include both genders (police officer for policeman/policewoman, spokesperson for spokesman, chair/chairperson for chairman).

A challenge for gender-inclusive communication in English is the use of the masculine form by default. For example, “Every Permanent Representative must submit his credentials to Protocol.”

https://www.un.org/en/gender-inclusive-language/guidelines.shtml

 

Not a big deal, i’de say. In fact, I even find myself occasionally using/typing or otherwise dealing with a term ending in man and degendering it since it only makes sense to be clear. I met many salesmen, but it doesn’t take balls to be a salesperson. To cite the observations of one of my favourite cyber security podcast hosts (Steve Gibson) on the topic of ageing technology creating growing vulnerabilities in worldwide cyberinfrastructure, the problem is inertia. No one perceives a problem, so no one feels any need to change.

Which is the problem in both cases. Perception is subjective, particularly from starting points of authority or privilege. People that have never had to deal with sexism or misandry won’t see the issue with gendered unnecessarily gendered language. 

Note: I know that Steve Gibson has run into criticism on at least one occasion when it comes to the issues that this article deals with. However, having heard him for the most part clarify the speech in the next episode, I give him the benefit of the doubt (ignorance vs bigotry).

As niche a reference as the man is, I felt the need to get ahead of this.

1.1 Forms of address

When referring to or addressing specific individuals, use forms of address and pronouns that are consistent with their gender identity.

For United Nations staff members, you may check the intranet or the organizational or staff directory. If the staff member appears as “Ms.”, that is the form of address that should be used for her, and female pronouns are appropriate. Alternatively, and if the situation permits, you may ask the persons you are addressing or writing about what pronoun and form of address should be used for them.

Note for United Nations staff members who draft texts to be translated: If you are the author of a text that is going to be translated, and your text is referring to a specific person, please let translators know what the gender of that person is so they can use appropriate language in their translations. This is crucial for languages such as Arabic, French, Russian and Spanish.

There should also be consistency in the way women and men are referred to: if one of them is addressed by their name, last name, courtesy title, or profession, the other one should be as well.

Less inclusive: More inclusive:
“Professor Smith (surname and title for a man) and Madeline (first name for a woman) will attend the luncheon.” “Professor Smith and Professor Jones will attend the luncheon (surname and title for both).”

Ms. or Mrs.?

Care should be taken to use the form of address preferred by each individual. However, when that preference is not known, precedence is given to Ms. over Mrs., as the former is more inclusive and can refer to any woman, regardless of marital status

Jordon Peterson would have a shitfit (making a ton of cash in the process. Let’s be honest here!) reading about this horror show. Using a proper pronoun?!

Blasphemy!

Not quite. I’m sure that most people won’t take issue with being misidentified once. Mistakes happen, particularly when meeting for the first time. However, most people can tell the difference between honest mistakes and malice. Again, people are messy so I don’t doubt that some will flip out even if it happens once. But I have yet to meet one of these people in my life. And I have met many different people.

And I am NOT always the most woke behaving person, contrary to what this post may entail. I’m not beyond showing my ass on occasion (in the metaphorical sense, of course).

Anyway, back to the declaration.

 

The confusion between sex and ‘gender’ has contributed to the increasing acceptability of the idea of innate ‘gender identities’, and has led to the promotion of a right to the protection of such ‘identities’, ultimately leading to the erosion of the gains made by women over decades. Women’s rights, which have been achieved on the basis of sex, are now being undermined by the incorporation into international documents of concepts such as ’gender identity’ and ‘Sexual Orientations and Gender Identities (SOGIES)’.

*raises eyebrow*

Race also played a big part in Women’s rights, at least in the first 2 waves. But again, I’ll read on for fear of being seen as mansplaining. 

 

Sexual orientation rights are necessary in eliminating discrimination against those who are sexually attracted to persons of the same sex. Rights relating to sexual orientation are compatible with women’s sex-based rights, and are necessary to enable lesbians, whose sexual orientation is towards other women, to fully exercise their sex-based rights.

However, the concept of ‘gender identity’ makes socially constructed stereotypes, which organize and maintain women’s inequality, into essential and innate conditions, thereby undermining women’s sex-based rights.

For example, the Yogyakarta Principles state that,

“Gender identity is understood to refer to each person’s deeply felt internal and individual experience of gender, which may or may not correspond with the sex assigned at birth, including the personal sense of the body (which may involve if freely chosen, modification of bodily appearance or function by medical, surgical or other means) and other expressions of gender, including dress, speech and mannerisms.’’ (Yogyakarta Principles: Principles on the application of internationals human rights law in relation to sexual orientation and gender identity, March 2007).

The right of individuals to dress and present themselves as they choose is compatible with women’s sex-based rights.

However, the concept of ‘gender identity’ has enabled men who claim a female ‘gender identity’ to assert, in law, policies, and practice, that they are members of the category of women, which is a category based upon sex.

And there it is ^^. Members of the category of women, which is a category based on sex.

No, it is not a category that is based on sex. It is a category that is defined by sex, both literally and otherwise.

I can’t help but think of this interview between Neil Degrasse Tyson and one of America’s snarkiest shitheads, Ben Shapiro. Though you can tell that Ben clearly had no intention of even considering the left position in terms of this subject (always chomping at the bit to inject some prefabricated talking point), Tyson was very careful in his responses. Despite being interviewed by someone who has become the master of employing the gish gallop technique, Tyson was never overwhelmed by it. Despite being more focused (in terms of his career) on astrophysics than on gender studies, it was easy to tell who was genuinely scientifically curious, and who had an agenda to push.

In truth, I normally can’t stand Neil Degrasse Tyson. I’ve never quite gotten over his offhanded dismissal of philosophy as a useless subject matter, despite this coming from a man that spends his career staring out of a telescope into space. Way to help feed the world, bud!

Of course, such is a below-the-belt hit from back when I was irritated at the perception of philosophy in the overall academic community. I’ve since largely relaxed my expectations on us mortal humans. We are all prone to bias. Whether that’s prizing the tool of scientism above all metrics seemingly irrationally, or stretching sex definitions far past what is printed in the dictionary.

Nonetheless, the very measured stance on transgenderism and the entire spectrum that makes up the sex, gender, gender identity, sexual orientation and all else related to this topic, was very reasonable. And he is correct that is VERY dangerous to be putting these decisions in the hands of politicians.

Remember that even Obama has quotes against marriage equality from as recently as 2 decades ago. This is a very different era, with a VERY different political climate. Short of packing the US Supreme court to bring some balance once more, there is no way that putting this in the hands of the politicians would turn out well.

It makes me wonder about organizations like the one promoting this declaration. Since the very much right-leaning paradigm we are in now is perfect timing for such a theme, would they be willing to overlook everything else out of pragmatism?

It is potentially an unfair question. But given the situation in which we live, I don’t believe it unreasonable.

Back to the declaration.

 

The CEDAW General Recommendation No. 35 notes that, “General recommendation No. 28 on the core obligations of States parties under article 2 of the Convention as well as general recommendation No. 33 on women’s access to justice confirms that discrimination against women is inextricably linked to other factors that affect their lives. The Committee’s jurisprudence highlights that these may include…being lesbian.” (II, 12).

The concept of ‘gender identity’ is used to challenge individuals’ rights to define their sexual orientation on the basis of sex rather than ‘gender identity’, enabling men who claim a female ‘gender identity’ to seek to be included in the category of lesbian, which is a category based upon sex. This undermines the sex-based rights of lesbians, and is a form of discrimination against women.

Some men who claim a female ‘gender identity’ seek to be included in the legal category of mother. The CEDAW emphasises maternal rights and the “social significance of maternity’’. Maternal rights and services are based on women’s unique capacity to gestate and give birth to children. The inclusion of men who claim a female ‘gender identity’ within the legal category of mother erodes the social significance of maternity, and undermines the maternal rights for which the CEDAW provides.

 

A lot of this seems to be based on rigid definitions of words, particularly those associated with sex. Aside from “imagine that!”:

1.) When the term man is used above, I question if the context is someone who is unmistakably cyst gender (like myself), or if is all-encompassing to the point of deadnaming trans women.

Since even the most committed shitheads don’t go as far as coming out as lesbian, I am forced to assume that man in this context entails anyone born with a penis. The first question that comes to mind is “How does this discriminate against lesbians?”.

The second is, how would you know?

Let’s play a game called spot the pecker. Of the 3 images below, who has/had a pecker?

   

Fine . . . it’s hard to do this when using the rich and famous as a guideline. Nonetheless, I have my doubts that most people unfamiliar with these celebrities would realize that only one of them is a biological female. This brings me back to asking . . . discrimination against lesbians, how?!

 

2.)

Some men who claim a female ‘gender identity’ seek to be included in the legal category of mother. The CEDAW emphasises maternal rights and the “social significance of maternity’’. Maternal rights and services are based on women’s unique capacity to gestate and give birth to children. The inclusion of men who claim a female ‘gender identity’ within the legal category of mother erodes the social significance of maternity, and undermines the maternal rights for which the CEDAW provides.

The first thing I am curious about is what is entailed by the legal category of mother. A lot, as it turns out. And all depending where you live.

In the Netherlands:

A child’s legal mother is:

  • the woman who gave birth to the child. This also applies if the child was conceived using a donor egg;
  • the woman who adopted the child;
  • the duomoeder (female partner of the birth mother)  who has automatically become the child’s parent, or has acknowledged the child, or has been declared the child’s parent by a court.

https://www.government.nl/topics/family-law/question-and-answer/difference-biological-legal-parenthood

 

In the UK:

being a child’s “mother” or “father” is not necessarily gender specific and that a person’s gender can be different to their status as a parent.

Being a mother, he ruled, is the status given to the person who undergoes the physical and biological process of being pregnant, carrying and giving birth to a child. This has historically, of course, been associated with being female. The judge decided that the definition should remain the same, despite it being medically and legally possible for someone recognised as being male to become pregnant and give birth. On this basis, Mr McConnell should be registered as his son’s mother.

* * *

The judge did however recognise that the ‘social and psychological reality’ of the father’s relationship with his child did not work alongside the law as it stands in this country. He noted the ‘pressing need for Government and Parliament to address square-on the question of the status of a trans-male who has become pregnant and given birth to a child’.

https://www.familylaw.co.uk/news_and_comment/does-the-legal-definition-of-a-%27mother%27-suit-modern-society

 

In Canada:

The birth mother is the person who goes through the pregnancy and gives birth to the child. The law says she’s the child’s legal mother at birth.

Even if she used someone else’s egg to get pregnant, the woman who gave birth to the child is the birth mother.

But the birth mother stops being the legal mother if:

  • the birth mother was a surrogate and all the legal rules about surrogacy are followed (see Surrogacy, below, for more about this), or
  • the child’s adopted after birth.

https://family.legalaid.bc.ca/children/parenting-guardianship/who-parent

 

In the US, it’s complicated. Ye ole history entangled with the changes and adjustments of modernity makes for a complex tapestry of legal outcomes that only a paralegal or a lawyer would be able to sort out.

https://www.americanbar.org/groups/family_law/publications/family-advocate/2021/spring/who-a-parent/

Despite all the international ambiguity in this area, one thing is clear . . . legal motherhood is just as strong as it ever was. Not that this surprises me. The laws in most democratic countries are fluid, and generally able to be updated for changing times. Normal biological mothers are not losing status (or whatever is the claim here). What is changing is how many people the legal definitions encompass by way of addendums.

As for how all of this undermines the social significance of motherhood, I am hard-pressed to come up with an answer. Well, aside from it being a symptom of a cohort paranoid about losing control over a cultural staple that they view as being theirs and theirs alone.

Where have I heard this narrative before?

Back to the declaration.

 

The Beijing Declaration and Platform for Action (1995) states that,

“The explicit recognition and reaffirmation of the right of all women to control all aspects of their health, in particular their own fertility, is basic to their empowerment’’. (Annex 1, 17)

This right is undermined by the use of ‘surrogate’ motherhood, which exploits and commodifies women’s reproductive capacity. The exploitation and commodification of women’s reproductive capacity also underpins medical research which is aimed at enabling men to gestate and give birth to children. The inclusion of men who claim a female ‘gender identity’ within the legal categories of woman, of lesbian, and of mother threatens to remove all meaning from these categories, as it constitutes a denial of the biological realities on which the status of being a woman, being a lesbian, and being a mother are based.

 

I’m hearing echoes of the traditional marriage proponents that I crossed occasionally in my online adventures of youth. I’m also hearing echoes of the anti-interracial marriage crowd. If these changes are allowed to occur, the meaning (or sanctity) for all is bound to be lost.

And yet, nothing is being lost. Certainly not the meaning (legal or otherwise) of all of the words above. What WILL be lost, however, is the uninclusive wall in which their current definitions cast up in front of modern, perfectly legal familial circumstances.

As for this mention of biological realities . . . I will again refer you to the 4 images above. Which 3 have a/had a pecker? If I show them all to someone that is unfamiliar and they guess incorrectly on all counts, what then for this biological reality? If a biological man can have a conversation with you and you don’t realize it, does this really matter?

 

Organizations that promote the concept of ‘gender identity’ challenge the right of women and girls to define themselves on the basis of sex, and to assemble and organize on the basis of their common interests as a sex. This includes challenging the rights of lesbians to define their sexual orientation on the basis of sex rather than ‘gender identity’, and to assemble and organize on the basis of their common sexual orientation.

Uh . . . wat?!

Remember that gender identity is the lived experience. The concept of gender identity does not challenge any of the rights of women and girls, it expands them. It expands them by making people more comfortable in accepting the fluid and messy nature of human sexuality. Unless the challenge is coming from the flood of new entrants to the GLBTQ+ community that wouldn’t have otherwise felt comfortable with . . . being more comfortable with themselves.

 

In many countries state agencies, public bodies and private organizations are attempting to compel persons to identify and refer to individuals on the basis of ‘gender identity’ rather than sex. These developments constitute forms of discrimination against women, and undermine women’s rights to freedom of expression, freedom of belief, and freedom of assembly.

Men who claim a female ’gender identity’ are being enabled to access opportunities and protections set aside for women. This constitutes a form of discrimination against women, and endangers women’s fundamental rights to safety, dignity and equality.

Article 7 of the CEDAW affirms the importance of measures to eliminate discrimination against women in political and public life, and Article 4 affirms the importance of temporary special measures to accelerate de facto equality between men and women. When men claiming female ‘gender identities’ are admitted to women’s participation quotas and other special measures designed to increase women’s participation in political and public life, the purpose of such special measures in achieving equality for women is undermined.

 

I agree. Trans women are women. It’s time to recognize them for the real women that they so clearly are.

I’m confused . . . is this an organization concerned with the human rights of women, or a front for academic TERF’s to use for virtue signalling?

 

Article 10 (g) of the CEDAW calls on States Parties to ensure that women have the same opportunities as men to participate actively in sports and physical education. Due to the physiological differences between women and men, the exercise of this right by women requires that certain sporting activities are single-sex. When men claiming female ‘gender identities’ are enabled to participate in women’s single-sex sporting activities, women are placed at an unfair competitive disadvantage, and may be placed at increased risk of physical injury. This undermines women’s and girls’ ability to have the same opportunities as men to participate in sports, and therefore constitutes a form of discrimination against women and girls, which should be eliminated.

It has long been understood in the area of human rights that violence against women and girls is universally endemic, and is one of the crucial social mechanism by which women are forced into a subordinate position compared with men.

The United Nations Declaration on the Elimination of Violence Against Women recognizes that,

“Violence against women is a manifestation of historically unequal power relations between men and women, which have led to domination over and discrimination against women by men and to the prevention of the full advancement of women, and that violence against women is one of the crucial social mechanisms by which women are forced into a subordinate position compared with men.’’

This domination and discrimination is based on sex and not on ‘gender identity’.

 

Trans women in sports spell defeat for the other women, you say. Okay. Let’s find some examples. 

Wait . . .

Like so many other trans women in women’s sports, Seplavy has been frustrated by the growing chorus of detractors who claim her very presence in women’s sports puts the future existence of women’s sports at risk. While some trans women are finding competitive success in sports, she knows she will never be the dominant trans female athlete held up by a few loud voices as the harbinger of doom for women’s sports.

Part of Seplavy’s frustration is the first-hand knowledge she has of the rapid decline in performance trans women experience as they transition. She can quantify to some extent the change in her personal performance since transitioning. While competing against men years before her transition, she raced a local course in 2 hours, 20 minutes. Post-transition the same course took her 2:29, over a 6% drop.

Yet the gap would be greater if she were able to compare apples to apples. Racing in her pre-transition 20s and 30, Seplavy gave little care for her body, weighing around 40 pounds more then than she does now. She was, of course, also a decade-plus younger. If she had trained as hard then as she does now, that 2:20 would have been considerably lower, she asserts.

In addition, Seplavy said post-transition training is that much more difficult.

“A lot of people don’t realize how hard it is to athletically train when you’re on hormones,” she said. “As my coach said, I’m anti-doping. I’m putting chemicals in my body that actually detract from athletic performance.”

With all that, of the 100 or so women’s bike races she’s entered in the last three years, she “can’t even remember the last time I legitimately won a bike race.” She said depending on who shows up for a race she may land on a podium (top-three) in an age category.

“I went from being a mediocre dude on a bike to being a mediocre woman on a bike. It’s not like I just changed my gender and my times stayed the same. I have to work that much harder for marginal gain.”

https://www.outsports.com/2019/12/3/20990763/trans-women-athlete-sports-winning-losing-transgender

 

Indeed, she said it herself. She wasen’t the greatest even as a male. But what about an Olympian?

New Zealand weightlifter Laurel Hubbard, one of the first transgender athletes to compete in the Olympics, failed to win a medal Monday in the women’s over-87-kilogram division weightlifting event. It was her first and only event at the Tokyo Games. 

The inclusion of Hubbard, 43, who transitioned in her mid-30s and has competed at the women’s international level since 2017, was divisive, with her supporters welcoming her participation while critics questioned the fairness of transgender athletes competing against cisgender women.

https://www.nbcnews.com/nbc-out/out-news/transgender-olympian-laurel-hubbard-fails-win-medal-olympic-debut-rcna1568

So, what have we learned?

1.) The process of transition actually tends to hinder athletic performance instead of helping it. At least, short of extremely hard work to get back to where you used to be.

Burton’s experience is typical of male-to-female (MTF) transitions, says Robert S. Beil, M.D., of Montefiore Medical Group. “Losing testosterone means losing strength and having less athletic agility,” he explains. “We don’t know if testosterone has a direct effect on muscle strength, but without the testosterone, they are maintained at a lower pace.” This means that women typically need to work harder for longer to maintain muscle mass, whereas men see results more quickly.

Beil adds that men have a higher average blood count rate, and transitioning can “cause the red blood cell counts to go down, because the amount of red blood cells and red blood cell production is influenced by testosterone.” Your red blood cells are integral in carrying oxygen from the lungs to your tissues; people who get blood transfusions often feel a surge of strength and vitality, whereas people with anemia feel weak. This could explain why Burton also reported a decrease in stamina and endurance, particularly when going for a morning run.

https://www.shape.com/lifestyle/mind-and-body/how-does-transitioning-affect-transgender-athletes-sports-performance

2.) Trans women don’t dominate in their chosen athletic endeavours as a given, and if they do, they obviously put in the work to get to where they are. This is certainly the case for athletes reaching Olympic-level skills (or otherwise the top tier of their sport of choice).

Trans women do not constitute discrimination when they play on the same teams as other biological women.

Enough of this garbage.

 

The conflation of the category of sex with the category of ‘gender identity’ hinders the protection of women and girls from violence perpetrated against them by men and boys. It increasingly enables men who consider that they have a female ‘gender identity’ to claim access to female single sex victim support services and spaces, as both service users and as service providers. This includes specialist single-sex provisions for women and girls who have been subject to violence, such as shelters and health care facilities. It also includes other services in which single-sex provision is crucial to the promotion of the physical safety, health, privacy, and dignity of women and girls. The presence of men in female single-sex spaces and services undermines the role of these services in protecting women and girls, and could make women and girls vulnerable to violent men who may claim a female ‘gender identity’.

The CEDAW Committee in its General Recommendation 35 underlines the importance of collecting data and compiling statistics relating to the prevalence of different forms of violence against women in relation to developing effective measures to prevent and redress such violence.

 

Okay. Examples of trans men causing violent situations? 

I couldn’t find any. What I did find, however, was plenty of documentation about how hard it can be for transgender individuals to get help in domestic violence situations due to their unique needs.

And also this:

 

Statistics documenting transgender people’s experience of sexual violence indicate shockingly high levels of sexual abuse and assault. One in two transgender individuals are sexually abused or assaulted at some point in their lives.1 Some reports estimate that transgender survivors may experience rates of sexual assault up to 66 percent, often coupled with physical assaults or abuse.2 This indicates that the majority of transgender individuals are living with the aftermath of trauma and the fear of possible repeat victimization.

                                                                        * * *

Victims

Sexual violence has been found to be even higher in some subpopulations within the transgender community, including transgender youth, transgender people of color, individuals living with disabilities, homeless individuals, and those who are involved in the sex trade. For example, the 2011 Injustice at Every Turn: A Report of the National Transgender Discrimination Survey found that 12 percent of transgender youth report being sexually assaulted in K–12 settings by peers or educational staff; 13 percent of African-American transgender people surveyed were sexually assaulted in the workplace; and 22 percent of homeless transgender individuals were assaulted while staying in shelters.3

Perpetrators

Sexual assaults can be perpetrated by any individual; however, it is particularly startling when professionals who are in “helping” roles abuse their power and sexually assault individuals they are supposed to be serving. Fifteen percent of transgender individuals report being sexually assaulted while in police custody or jail, which more than doubles (32 percent) for African-American transgender people. Five to nine percent of transgender survivors were sexually assaulted by police officers.4 Another 10 percent were assaulted by health care professionals.5

Hate crimes

Sexual assault perpetrated against transgender individuals may be a component of an anti-transgender hate crime or may be linked to other demographic variables such as race. According to the National Coalition of Anti-Violence Programs (NCAVP):

Acts of hate violence, such as harassment, stalking, vandalism, and physical and sexual assault, are often supported by more socially sanctioned expressions of transphobia, biphobia, and homophobia and are intended to send a message to LGBTQ communities. . . . Many LGBTQ people also face substantial bias because they belong to other traditionally marginalized groups along other axes of identity such as race, class, incarceration history, immigration status, or ability. . . . membership in more than one traditionally marginalized community can increase targeting for severe violence.6

In the NCAVP 2009 report on hate violence, 50 percent of people who died in violent hate crimes against lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and queer (LGBTQ) people were transgender women; the other half were male, many of whom were gender non-conforming.7 Sexual assault and/or genital mutilation before or after their murders was a frequent occurrence.

In 2009, 17 percent of all reported violent hate crimes against LGBTQ people were directed against those who identified themselves as transgender, with most (11 percent of all hate crimes) identifying as transgender women.8 The remainder identified as transgender men, genderqueer, gender questioning, or intersex.

https://ovc.ojp.gov/sites/g/files/xyckuh226/files/pubs/forge/sexual_numbers.html

 

That. is. Horrifying.

Acts of hate violence, such as harassment, stalking, vandalism, and physical and sexual assault, are often supported by more socially sanctioned expressions of transphobia, biphobia, and homophobia and are intended to send a message to LGBTQ communities. . . .

It’s almost as if . . . declarations promoting the sanctity of biological women are incredibly stupid and irresponsible.

 

Though I had initially intended to evaluate the entirety of this declaration of women’s rights, I’ve decided to stop here because the reality of the document is obvious. That the stated goal is equality for all women is a crock of shit.

I certainly hope that all the signatories know what they are getting into.

Maxime Bernier’s Defamation Lawsuit Dismissed

This is a quick follow-up to a post I wrote in May about the lawsuit. Without going into much detail into that one, I found the whole affair to be quite amusing (failed candidate Maxine tarnishing the PC brand on his rapid descent back into obscurity). The affair also served as a vehicle for exploring the issue that is people’s previously publicly shared bad takes coming back to haunt them long after.

In terms of the lawsuit, I had this to say:

In closing, I’d be surprised if this goes anywhere.


As it turns out, I was right (you didn’t need to be a lawyer to figure that out). One can’t help wondering why Bernier’s legal team wouldn’t have advised him of this and saved the court costs. Unless the goal was less about a legal victory than it was tarnishing the Progressive Conservative brand (with the help of the national media) with a giant brown stain.

If that was the case, mission accomplished.

Either way, we will now read from the CBC News coverage of this affair.

 

A defamation lawsuit launched by People’s Party of Canada Leader Maxime Bernier against an outspoken political commentator and strategist has been dismissed by an Ontario court.

Bernier had been attempting to sue Warren Kinsella over comments that painted the PPC leader as a racist, misogynist and antisemitic prior to the 2019 federal election.

Bernier says those descriptions damaged his reputation and subjected him to public scandal and embarrassment.

In a ruling published on Wednesday, Ontario Superior Court Justice Calum MacLeod dismissed the lawsuit because he said Kinsella would likely have been able to mount a valid defence for his criticisms.

The judge also said any harm caused to Bernier did not outweigh the importance of freedom of expression when discussing politicians and political parties in the public sphere.

https://www.cbc.ca/news/politics/bernier-kinsella-lawsuit-dismissed-1.6245137?ref=mobilerss&cmp=newsletter_CBC%20News%20Top%20Headlines%20%20%E2%80%93%20Morning_1613_330745

 

That is an interesting ruling. It sounds like the fact that this was a political race was the factor that tipped the scale (in my opinion, rightly). It raises the question of what may happen in such a scenario outside the realm of politics. For example, if a person’s controversial views (or something else that is damaging to their reputation) are openly publicized without their knowledge, can the ramifications of that constitute harm?

While I am aware of the notion that most people’s censorship problems are less about censorship than they are the consequences of one’s speech, this judgement strikes me as potentially muddying the waters legally.

But I’m not a lawyer. Feel free to share your view in the comments if you wish.

 

Kinsella celebrated the lawsuit’s dismissal on Twitter.

In an interview with CBC News in October, Bernier expressed confidence that his case would succeed.

“Kinsella said that I said that I was a racist and a Nazi and I’m suing him for discrimination. And I will have that decision and I can tell you that it will be positive in our favour,” he said on Oct. 6.

Kinsella’s consulting firm Daisy Group was hired to “seek and destroy” the PPC in the run-up to the 2019 federal election, according to documents seen by CBC News.

A source with knowledge about the project said Kinsella was hired by the Conservative Party of Canada, which wanted to discredit the PPC before its first election as a registered party. Kinsella has not confirmed any direct involvement with the Conservatives and says instead that he was hired by CPC sympathizers.

The PPC failed to win a seat in the 2019 election, capturing 1.6 per cent of the national vote. The party also did not win a seat in the 2021 election, though its share of the popular vote grew to 4.9 per cent.

 

That the share of the PPC popular vote is slowly growing isn’t great (following a pattern of fascist tendencies worldwide). But it’s hard to not consider the party as being a joke. Frankly, a cheap clone of the brand sold by Donald down south.

This is obviously no joke to the Progressive Conservative party, however. After all, it won’t be the left-wing vote that the party will be potentially splitting. Otherwise known as, this isn’t going to be as easy as absorbing the Canadian Alliance Party back in the day. 

 

MacLeod also noted that Bernier and the PPC were being widely criticized within Canadian political discourse during the 2019 election.

“Widespread characterization of Mr. Bernier and the PPC as racist and xenophobic or at least as pandering to those elements of the political spectrum was rife in the media. Comparisons with Donald Trump, [pro-Brexit politician] Nigel Farage or [far-right French politician] Marine LePen were widespread,” MacLeod wrote.

“Mr. Kinsella may have approached his task with particular caustic enthusiasm, but, at worst, Mr. Kinsella’s postings can be seen as a drop of vitriol in a sea of criticism.”


He’s certainly not wrong (I just did it). Not without precedent, however. After all, if the whole thing couldn’t have been backed up, Benier would have lost the suit!

Either way, as a leftist, this can only be a good thing. If the Progressive Conservatives keep being dragged into the PPC dumpster fire, running against them from the left will be a breeze.