Home

The Reefer I’m Not Mad At

Leave a comment

Department Of This Is Not Reefer Madness…

But obfuscation is always maddening. I refer to those organizations and individuals who seem determined to obscure or conceal…well, moiself can’t put it better than NY Times reporter Alex Berenson, in this excerpt from his recent op/ed piece (my emphases):

Those groups (marijuana legalization advocates and for-profit cannabis companies) have shrewdly recast marijuana as a medicine rather than an intoxicant. Some have even claimed that marijuana can help slow the opioid epidemic, though studies show that people who use cannabis are more likely to start using opioids later….

legalization advocates have squelched discussion of the serious mental health risks of marijuana and THC…. With large studies in peer-reviewed journals showing that marijuana increases the risk of psychosis and schizophrenia, the scientific literature around the drug is far more negative than it was 20 years ago. …The  National Academy of Medicine report released in 2017 concluded that : “Cannabis use is likely to increase the risk of schizophrenia and other psychoses; the higher the use, the greater the risk.”

(excerpts from “What Advocates of Legalizing Pot Don’t Want You to Know – the wave toward legalization ignores the serious health risks of marijuana,” NY Times, 1-4-19)

 

 

 

 

It seems that anyone who points this out (the health risks of marijuana) runs the risk of being labeled as a Reefer Madness hysteric.  [1]     If you’re one those kneejerk labelers, stop reading this blog right now and get yourself one toke over the line, or whatever floats your boat (just don’t toke and boat at the same time, okay?).

While I have long favored the legalization/decriminalization of marijuana, that doesn’t mean I think recreational use of hallucinogens is a good thing.  [2]   Related, salient point: today’s weed is not your grandmama’s maryjane.  Like any human-cultivated “crop,” marijuana has been bred over the years to enhance certain qualities; thus, the THC level of recreational marijuana a user may purchase at a legal dispensary (or from a dealer, legal or otherwise) is as much as five times higher than that of the cannabis produced in the late 1970’s, when I was in college – which was also when I came to the opinion…how can I put this delicately?   [3]

When I observed the effects of weed useage – whether by people I liked and respected, or people I disliked and/or just basically ignored, or those folks in between – it seemed to me that smoking/ingesting weed made otherwise disparate people have one significant thing in common:

it made them stupid.

It was the dumbing down of humor that bothered me the most.   [4]  People who were otherwise quick and clever, articulate, intelligent, motivated and capable of flinging topical  [5]  witticisms at lightning speed turned into boring slackers while high, capable of producing only in-jokes with fellow stoners, with whom they would self-segregate off in a corner and giggle about the graphics on the cover of a matchbox or whatever.

 

*   *   *

Department Of I Am So Not Making This Up…

Oh, but I wish that I had.

In case you’re too young to remember (or don’t listen to Oldies stations), the song moiself previously referred to, One Toke Over the Line, was folk rock duo Brewer & Shipleys’ greatest hit. The 1971 song was banned by more than one radio station due to its obvious drug references – references which apparently weren’t so obvious to the producers of The Lawrence Welk Show.  The show’s so-wholesome-you-could-puke-pure-sugar-after-merely-looking-at-them singing duo, Gail and Dale, performed it straight (so to speak).  The song was described, sans any indication of irony by the eponymous host himself, Lawrence Welk, as a “modern spiritual.”

 

 

 

 

 

Songwriter/performer Michael Brewer’s comment re the incident:

The Vice President of the United States, Spiro Agnew, named us personally as a subversive to American youth, but at exactly the same time Lawrence Welk performed the crazy thing and introduced it as a gospel song. That shows how absurd it really is. Of course, we got more publicity than we could have paid for.

My parents were diehard Lawrence Welk fans and never missed a show, which means their children were exposed to it as well. I would sometimes sit with them and watch it, which made Mamma and Papa Parnell feel those Family Moment Warm Fuzzies ®…until they realized that I was “enjoying” it on an entirely different level than they were (read: a teenager’s barely disguised mockery).

I don’t remember the particular LW episode featuring Gail and Dale’s dubious rendition of the ode to doobies, but I would *not* have forgotten witnessing such a spectacle, trust moiself. Still, I get a kick surpassing any chemically-induced high just thinking of my parents, in all of their enthusiastic cluelessness, watching that performance.

 

 

 

 

*   *   *

Department Of Calling Anonymous

Whatever happened to that hactivist group, Anonymous? Perhaps it’s just moiself not Keeping Up With Things ®, but it seems like we haven’t heard from them recently.

Depending on your POV, Anonymous is composed of “freedom fighters” and “digital Robin Hoods,” or they are “a cyber lynch-mob.”  This could be yet another case of Perhaps it’s just moiself not Keeping Up With Things ®, but it seems to me that the power Anonymous wielded was used – I’m sorry, but I have to say it – for good rather than evil. That is, their pranks and hacks targeted notorious bad actors such as Scientology, ISIS, child porn sites, and hate groups like the Westboro Baptist Church.

 

 

 

 

So I’m wondering, where is Anonymous when it comes to saving western civilization (hell, the effin’ world, at this point) from ourselves? In other words –  HINT HINT HINT, ANONYMOUS –   why aren’t they doing something to…uh…”neutralize” The Current Occupant   [6]  of the White House?   [7]  He was threatened by the group via tweets on his inauguration day, but since then…?

 

 

 

*   *   *

Department Of Don’t Quote “That Part”
Unless You Also Quote “Those Other Parts”

Happy New Year, and….

 

 

 

A Well-Meaning Person ® posted the following on her Facebook page, obviously meant as a dig to #45 and his Christian conservative followers, re building his “wall.”

 

 

 

The thing is, a Well-Meaning Person ®  who would appeal to scriptures of Iron Age mythologies to address 21st century issues needs to take the lot.  Note, in the picture of the passage posted from Leviticus Chapter 19, verse 37:  “Keep all my decrees and all my laws and follow them. I am the Lord.”

So, you WMPs want us to pay attention to one particular scripture passage (“that part,” about treating foreigners well), but despite the decree from your deity to keep all of its decrees, moiself never sees you posting/hears you quoting those other of your god’s decrees and laws from the very same book in your very same scriptures, including:

* Men must not have sexual relations with other men (Leviticus 18:22)

* Anyone who says “God dammit!” or the like shall be put to death by the entire town. (Leviticus 24: 15-16)

* You mustn’t eat shellfish (Leviticus 11:10)

* You may possess slaves from neighboring nations, including those trying to immigrate (so much for *that part* about treating foreigners well).  (Leviticus 25: 44-45)

* Do not eat – or even touch the carcass of – an animal which walks on all fours and has paws (aka I Leviticus 11: 27)

* Don’t Wear Clothes Made of a Linen and Wool Blend (Leviticus 19:19)

* Don’t sit where a menstruating woman has sat, or even touch her, because you will be “unclean,” as she is (Leviticus 15:19-21)

* Don’t eat owls (or swans or pelicans) (Leviticus 11:13-19)

 

 

Praaaaaise de Lawd for this wise proscription!

 

 

*   *   *

Department Of The Partridge [8]  Of The Week

As per an earlier warning post, we will be hosting a different Partridge, every week, in our front yard’s festively lit pear tree. Can you guess this week’s guest Partridge?

Excuse moiself; make that,

Department Of Elvis Has Left The Building

Which means that, at our building house, the Partridges have left our pear tree.

 

 

The kids and I will be back next holiday season!

 

 

*   *   *

May you apply 21st century solutions to 21st century problems;
May you use your powers for good;
May you find the fortitude to watch Lawrence Welk reruns while sober;
…and may the hijinks ensue.

 

 

Thanks for stopping by.  Au Vendredi!

 

*   *   *

[1] BTW, I have seen the movie, have you? It’s an unintentionally funny 1930s propaganda/morality tale film, wherein drug dealers lure innocent teenagers into using marijuana, which leads to the teens into madness and instant addiction, manslaughter and (attempted) sexual assault and suicide…. 

[2] Unless of course we’re talking about using it in survival situations, such as being forced to listen to Grateful Dead records and/or Republican State of the Union speeches.

[3] Or why should I even try?

[4] Yes, this from someone who has (almost) never heard a fart joke she didn’t like.

[5] Or tropical humor – nothing like a good Hawaiian pun.

[6] Aka The Cheetos Hitler, Mandarin Mussolini, #45…he who is not deserving of proper name status in this or any other civilized forum.

[7] Perhaps they are working on it, and if that is the case I thank them, but hope they do something soon….

[8] In our pear tree.

The Question I’m Not Posing

3 Comments

 

Department of Just Sayin’

Last week NPR’s Science Friday program contained a segment with a provocative premise. The segment featured an interview with “game researcher” Katherine Isbister, who makes the case in her book How Games Move Us that “…games can push us into new emotional territory.” According to Isbister, new video game designers are now crafting games that can make players more empathetic, by, e.g., putting players in the shoes of food cart vendors, immigrants seeking asylum, caretakers for someone with a terminal disease….

Isbister talked about how the designers of these “feel-good” video games write scenarios that encourage players to work together to solve problems, and how the designers also “harness character design, game mechanics, and movement to craft rich emotional experiences for players.”

Okay; sure, they do that. As do the designers of other scenarios that might be termed “feel-bad” games.

Don’t get me wrong – I’m all for a video game that might encourage greater empathy in its players. But, listening to the interview, I sensed an elephant in the room that didn’t get its turn to trumpet. The host [1]  blew it by not asking a question/raising an issue that seemed obvious, IMHO.

The question/issue is in the That train runs both ways category.

 

But not like this.

But not like this.

 

Back when the industry was in its infancy, players and proponents of video games reacted with a combination of dismissive scornfulness and furious defensiveness when anyone – from psychologists to Concerned Average Citizens ® – dared to pose the question of whether playing a violent video game [2] might foster aggressive behavior, or at least dull players to the consequences of real life, anti-social behavior.

I remember well the indignant self-righteousness of video game-playing friends, colleagues and family members who were asked to even consider the possibility that violent games might induce violent thoughts:

Games don’t change how you feel. Thousands of kids play shooter video games – I play shooter video games – and we don’t go out and snipe students at the school playground. [3]

True, such a simplistic correlation (violent game = violent acting out) was likely an exaggeration. But now, smiley happy game = smiley happy people? Y’all can’t have it both ways.

If you are now saying video games can promote empathy and craft other “emotional experiences,” you are acknowledging that games can influence a person’s emotions, from which thoughts and actions spring.

 

Just watch me help that cancer victim get her chemotherapy right now, or I'll show her the meaning of a terminal diagnosis!

Just watch me help that cancer victim get her chemotherapy right now, or I’ll show her the meaning of a terminal diagnosis!

 

 

Violent video games alone likely didn’t cause (name redacted) to go on his rampage. But these games aren’t harmless, either….
My colleagues and I found that typical college students who played violent video games for 20 minutes at a time for three consecutive days showed increasingly higher levels of aggressive behavior each day they played….studies show that violent video games increase aggressive thoughts, angry feelings, physiological arousal (e.g., heart rate, blood pressure), and aggressive behavior. Violent games also decrease helping behavior and feelings of empathy for others. The effects occurred for males and females of all ages, regardless of what country they lived in.
“Do Violent Video Games Play a Role in Shootings?”
Brad Bushman, Ph.D., psychology professor specializing in “the causes, consequences, and solutions to the problem of human aggression and violence,” and author of “Why do people deny violent media effects?”

 

Both “good” and “bad” video games use similar techniques for attracting and holding the interest of their players. There is no magic formula for emotional manipulation, which would allow feel-good video games to stimulate positive emotions while preventing feel-bad games from stimulating negative emotions. That’s not how our limbic system works.

 

*   *   *

Department Of Parent Fail

Has there ever been a task, performance, assignment, an approaching life event, at which you anticipated you’d be superb – or at least competent – and then when it came time to get down to it, you massively sucked?

Last week I wrote about an April Fools’ Day joke I considered playing on a student driver… which got me to remembering that which I am about to confess: I was a lousy “teacher” for my own two student drivers.

Yes, I was an Awful Parent Driving Instructor. It was a role I had actually (as in, positively) anticipated. I thought I would be calm and positive mentor; I thought I would be the one to Set. A. Good. Example. ©

Instead, I was one of the worst things a driving teacher can be – nervous – which totally took me by surprise. My nervousness was evident, [4] and did not promote confidence in my student drivers. But my apprehension was not without cause. In my defense, as I was later to tell both son K and daughter Belle,

I take it personally when my own offspring are trying to kill me.

Who knew giving my mother an anxiety attack could be so much fun?!

Who knew giving my mother an anxiety attack could be so much fun?!

 

 

Fortunately for my children, MH was a (comparatively) calm and patient instructor.

MH and I also thought it worthwhile for our student drivers to have other professional/adult instruction, and forked out for lessons for each of them with a local driving academy…an act ($$$) which made me appreciate growing up in California when I did, when mandatory driver’s education was part of the public high school curriculum.

The driver’s Ed class was included in a class called State Requirements, which most students took during their sophomore year. With its massive/ pervasive car culture, California thought it in the best interests of the state to have students enter the driving world with a modicum of driving experience and education.  Apparently, many other states’ public education systems used to have such a requirement, but some states have dropped or drastically cut back on offering driver’s ed (and some states have none at all), due in large part to the perpetual bugaboo known as Budget Cuts.

A moment of silence please, while We Oldsters recall the days of (what we thought were) adequate school funding. [5]

 

silence

 

 

Thanks to the State Requirements and Driver’s Ed classes, not only did I and my high school peers have a common reference frame of how to drive, we also shared a legendary cultural touchstone: having to sit through don’t-reason-with-’em-just-scare-the-shit-out-of-’em documentaries like Red Asphalt.

Red Asphalt was astutely described by the Los Angeles Times‘ reporter Martin J. Smith as “The Reefer Madness of driving.” I think of it and others like it as a car accident snuff films –  ” horror shows of vehicular ultraviolence,” Smith wrote, “intended to scare the bejabbers out of fresh-faced and obliviously immortal teen drivers.”

“Red Asphalt” — the title says it all — is the flip side of California’s carefree car culture. ‘What you’re about to see is not going to entertain you,’ warns the host…. ‘There are scenes of human suffering and death in stark reality..’
Thus welcomed, you’re off on a joyless ride of grim highway fatality statistics, hectoring commentary about driving safely and bona fide hurl-your-cookies gore….you’re likely to come away with three unforgettable impressions:

* Driving at more than 10 mph is a seriously bad idea.
* Anyone who ever lobbied against seat belts and air bags as standard equipment should be arrested, tried and executed, ideally all in the same day.
* Not even George Romero has come close to replicating the sight and sound of human viscera being hand-scooped off damp pavement and into a plastic bag.

(“Thrills! Nausea! Bad Acting” by Martin J. Smith,  Los Angeles Times, June 21, 2006)

 

hellshighway

 

 

Red Asphalt, and another documentary called Signal 30 , used a combination of real footage taken by firefighters and other first responders and horrendously acted re-creations to depict the deadly consequences of speeding, negligent driving and/or failure to wear your seat belt – AND LEMME TELLYA, THOSE IDIOT DRIVERS ALL DESERVED TO DIE. [6]

The movies’ graphic images included ghastly scenes of mortally wounded and dismembered bodies, the screams of gravely injured and dying drivers and their passengers trapped in multiple vehicle pileups, and – my favorite, from Signal 30 – the footage of the charred remains of a driver who’d tried to race a train to railroad crossing.

I recall that only one student had to make a hasty vomit retreat during my Driver’s Ed class showing of the latter film. [7]

 

*   *   *

 

Department Of Trying To Find A Segue From Bloody Bodies to Blue Berries

Aka, The Frozen Blueberries I’m Not Buying

Oh wait – but I am.

I hate it when I lie to y’all.

Last week, for the first time in three years, I bought frozen blueberries from the grocery store. Three to four times a week I have blueberries and raspberries with breakfast, and for the past three years by the end of summer our garage freezer is full to bursting with bags of our homegrown blueberries and raspberries.

However, last season’s hotter-earlier weather [8] was one of several factors which led to our blueberry bushes being a bit skimpy on production. The raspberries were smaller than usual and not as prodigious, but I still have enough in the freezer to last until this summer’s crop is ripe for the picking.

 

berries

*   *   *

May you recall with fondness (or at least tolerance, if not abject pity)
those who taught you to drive;
May the games you play foster the mental equanimity you seek;
May your berries be bountiful…
and may the hijinks ensue.

Thanks for stopping by.  Au Vendredi!

 

*   *   *

[1] I’m talking to YOU, Ira Flatow.

[2] that is, a game where the objectives include murder/rape/robbery, ala Death Race, Mortal Kombat, Grand Theft Auto, etc.

[3] Ah, but at least one person did. I remember reading of about the many disturbing hobbies of Brenda Spencer, the infamous “I don’t like Mondays”‘ elementary school shooter (who also carries the dubious distinction of being one of the few such female shooters), which included, according to interviews with friends and neighbors, being obsessed with playing violent/shooter-type video games.

[4] “That’s a person in the crosswalk – DON’T RUN THEM OVER.”

[5] No footnote here; we’re still doing the moment of silence thing, okay?

[6] Good thing we didn’t have to rely on violent video games back then to provoke such feelings.

[7] Apparently, as per one driver’s ed teacher I spoke with, at least two scared straight barfers was the norm per screening of that film.

[8] Which we didn’t anticipate and forgot to account for when scheduling starting up our automated yard watering system.