Friday, June 01, 2007

No more spam war?

News from the front of the War On Spam:
Arrest Of Massive Spammer Hasn't Slowed Spam

AP Internet Writer

NEW YORK (AP) -- Junk e-mail continued to land in mailboxes around the world Thursday, despite the arrest a day earlier of a man described as one of the world's most prolific spammers.

Even if Robert Alan Soloway is ultimately convicted and his operations shuttered, spam experts say dozens are in line to fill the void.

"In the short term, the effect it's going to have is more symbolic more than anything else," said John Levine, co-author of "Fighting Spam for Dummies." "Soloway is a large spammer, but hardly the only large spammer."
Full article
I have a few questions:

1. Where's the headline that reads "Arrest of Massive Drug Dealer Hasn't Slowed Flow of Illicit Drugs"?

2. Is there a book entitled Fighting the War on Drugs for Dummies? How about The Complete Idiot's Guide to Wasting Billions of Tax Dollars Annually to Crowd Prisons with Oridinary Citizens and Addicts while Perpetuating Myths and Stereotypes and Invasions of Privacy to Deter Kids from Using Drugs and then just Punishing the Ones Who Do... Well, I don't want to use run-on sentences in two entries in a row, but by now you get the idea.

3. When are we going to stop approaching student drug use with policies that are more symbolic than anything else? Symbolically keeping kids off drugs and keeping drugs out of the community, thus symbolically creating safer and more productive communities at large hasn't been working.

4. Could I have egg, bacon, spam and sausage without the spam?

5. Come on. How did you not see that Monty Python reference coming? My work is done here.

Wednesday, May 30, 2007

onBeing Norml

Micah just forwarded this great video on the Washington Post's onBeing site of Chris Mulligan from NORML explaining why marijuana law reform is so important. Check it out and maybe add some comments.

If you didn't get the email, your not on the talk list. Sign up!

Woohoo drug tests for everybody!

St. Viator high school in Chicago is going all out. Every one of their students is to be drug tested upon returning to school in the fall, and throughout the year, 20 random students will be tested weekly. I think I should cry, but I'm more inclined to laugh. Here's why:
  • They have over 1000 students. Each drug test costs $45. The school has set aside $65000-75000 to fund the program for one year. If they don't have any textbooks, don't ask why. Also, rest in peace, chess club; you were fun while you lasted.
  • According to school officials: There is no drug problem at St. Viator high school. They are not trying to police students. Oceania has always been at war with Eurasia, and two plus two equals five.
  • "A student who refuses to be tested will be kicked out, Egan said."
  • "The faculty and staff will not be tested."
  • ... 'Nuff said.
  • One parent is pleased with the program because "it gives kids a better excuse than 'My mom will kill me.'" Ah yes! Because we are all at the mercy of vile, pressuring peers, and all we need to prevent drug use is a better arsenal of comebacks! Something to replace the formerly prevalent "Dude, I would, but my mom is a scary lady." "Your mom is 4'11". She bakes us cookies every time we come over." "... Damn, you're right. Oh well. Pass it to me, I guess."
Look, Reverend. Even just saying NO beats just saying I can't because I'm at the mercy of tyrannical authority figures at home and school who don't trust me to make choices on my own and don't afford me any privacy because they think I need protection from my friends/myself and suffer great costs to make themselves think they hold absolute power over my life long after I've become conscious of my independent will and the fact that their dictatorship stems from insecurities and fears that I think are pitiful and/or bullshit that I shouldn't be responsible for especially when I have insecurity and questions of my own but they force me to comply with their worldview which just makes me angry whether I want to do drugs or not and it also hurts a little that there's no adult in my life that I can truly be open with and plus the whole thing seems hypocritical and like a violation of civil liberties and in conclusion I'd rather they work with me than work above me but I don't have much say in the matter so NO I WON'T DO DRUGS.

For one thing, I don't think any of us could say all that in one breath. This is fine, because we shouldn't have to say these things at all. (It's fun to try, though! In fact, if you can say that sentence in one breath, I would like to see it on youtube. Just don't go suffocating or anything.) The program will probably fall through, and when it does I say good riddance.

As always, SSDP has great resources on students' rights and privacy.

Tuesday, May 29, 2007

Cocktails 4 Jesus

First, some medical marijuana news: Connecticut residents, please help bring medical marijuana to your state today! That was a long link, which I'm hoping will increase the likelihood of you taking urgent action. Also, rest in peace, Dr. Tod H. Mikuriya.

Now onto Cocktails 4 Jesus. Morse v. Frederick, the Bong Hits 4 Jesus case that will determine whether or not students have a right to speak freely about illicit drugs in school, was argued in March at the Supreme Court. You'll recall SSDP's continuing involvement in the case. As students, we all have a personal stake in this issue. Although I now enjoy the freedom of college, where I can get an article about marijuana policy published in the school newspaper, things were not always so peachy keen. The following is my personal testimony regarding limits on freedom of speech in my own high school.

Our high school newspaper was in its infancy when I enrolled in journalism class my senior year. Hurricane Katrina had just struck New Orleans the previous month, so we decided to release a special edition to raise funds for charity. The majority of articles fell within the hurricane/gulf coast theme. At the time I had not yet travelled to the part of the country affected by the hurricane, but my dad had worked in New Orleans, and once when I was 10 he brought home some fine recipes from the French Quarter. I remembered the excitement of watching him make bananas foster and the mouthwatering taste of the non-alcoholic hurricanes he fixed for us kids. So, I wrote an article that reported on the state of the restaurants he'd visited, provided recipes, and suggested holding a fundraiser/awareness-raising event.

Well, funny thing about bananas foster: it contains alcohol. However, the alcohol goes up in incredibly amusing flames during the dessert's execution, thus rendering the banana liquor and the dark rum called for in the recipe child-safe. I thought it would be enough to recommend parental supervision and explain that parents would have to provide ingredients, but administrators distrusted a recipe containing alcohol in the hands of high schoolers. That sh*t is bananas.

As for the hurricane, I provided a non-alcoholic recipe. One teacher, to whom I was asked to apologize due to the mortal offensiveness of my article, pointed out that students could figure out for themselves how to make my non-alcoholic drink alcoholic. Of course, they can do the same with a can of soda, so her point was lost on me. Nonetheless we were ordered to stop selling the papers (instead of simply issuing an apology and corrections).

I will be the first to admit it was a poorly written and badly edited article, not quite in the realm of stupidity as a "Bong Hits 4 Jesus" banner, but pretty close. That's not the point. The point is, I got in trouble, the paper lost credibility, our best writers lost motivation, and the fundraiser stopped, all because administrators and our on-site policeman felt that the article condoned underage drinking. The paper thereafter endured heavy censorship and required approval from a bureaucratic review board before publication. Fellow students were both angry and amused, and we retaliated by publishing an underground parody paper, which only lasted one issue because we were afraid of it getting into the wrong hands.

Alas, if only I'd known about SSDP! As we the college students reunite with our high school friends this summer, let us spread the word and perhaps plant the seed of a new high school chapter. It takes courage and resolve to tackle drug policy issues under a strict high school regime, and for this reason I propose a toast of any legal beverage you deem to be pleasant in honor of our high school chapter leaders and members.