Saturday, December 13, 2008
i had a party on Dec. 12th to raise money for the People's Harm Reduction Alliance. being on the board, i'm required to help raise money every year. because i have some friends in bands, i decided to enlist their help to throw a benefit. it was SO MUCH fun! everyone had a ridiculously good time, and we ultimately raised $1000!
here's the information sent out about the party:
Phamily Holiday Party & Benefit!
Great music! $1 Raffle! Late-night!
Benefiting the People's Harm Reduction Alliance
$10-20 sliding scale requested donation
Open staffed bar (byo to contribute)
Secluded hot tub - bring your towel!
Acorn Project - http://www. myspace. com/acornprojectmusic
The Special Purpose
http://www. myspace. com/thespecialpurposefunk
Ari Zucker + Friends- http://www. myspace. com/arijoshua
Evelyn Bosker - http://www. myspace. com/evelynbosker
Please forward! No RSVP needed!
Raffle items include:
-1 piece of custom furniture (Up to $500)
- 1 8 GB iPod Touch
- $50 gift card @ UW book store
- 2 subscriptions to Real Change
- 2 sets of PHRA t-shirts
- $50 gift card @ Silver Platters
- $15 gift card to Cafe Allegro
- 1 etched & fused dichroic glass pendant valued at $40.
(If you only want raffle tickets, or just to donate to the cause, please contact Rachel.
Please save the date for a special holiday party benefiting the People's Harm Reduction Alliance, an important organization that runs Seattle's only private needle exchange in the U-District. Harm Reduction is a philosophy of public health aimed at meeting people where they're at to reduce the potential dangers from risky behaviors. Among other things, PHRA aims to reduce the spread of blood-borne illnesses, such as HIV and Hep-C, and overdoses, while at the same time offering information on ways to seek assistance with food, housing and treatment. For more information, visit http://www. peoplesharmreductionalliance. org/.
Open bar: this is a very limited open bar staffed with bartenders. Please bring your own favorite beverage for yourself or to share with others. All liquor brought must be served by the bartenders so no one gets too intoxicated (for the Tiger Lounge's protection).
The bartenders will mix up all your favorites, so tip them well!
Thursday, November 20, 2008
- Lao Tzu, The Hua Hu Ching
Friday, October 24, 2008
by Eric E. Sterling
A month ago, who would have thought that the Bush Administration would order the partial nationalization of the nation's banks to fix credit markets and support the economy? Maybe other innovative, even "radical," ideas are in order. Unless we come up with new ideas to sell cars and durable goods to fire up the economy, collapsing domestic auto sales threaten tens of thousands of jobs.
In addition, the recession will cause shrinking government revenue at every level. Even last spring 18 states were predicting reduced budgets in FY 2009. Unless new revenues are found, we will soon see the furloughs and wholesale firing of teachers, nurses, and emergency first responders; closed schools, libraries and hospitals; crumbling roads unfixed; and broken bridges closed to traffic.
Cliches about the auto industry's problems blame workers' and retirees' health care costs and management for making the wrong kinds of cars. But to sell cars we need to abandon cliches, old myths, and the blame game.
Consider these facts. Last year we had 2.3 million Americans in prison and jail. How many American cars did these men and women buy last year? That's right, none. That 2.3 million is about ten times greater than the 250,000 prisoners in America during the auto industry's glory days of the 1960s and 1970s. There are another 8 million Americans who got a felony conviction for possessing or selling drugs in the last twenty years. With their convictions, these people rarely have jobs. They don't have a legal income and they don't have credit.
The economic effect of more than ten million American adults who can't buy cars, houses, furniture, appliances, or other durable goods is like 9-11, Katrina, and every other hurricane combined. Even with a job, many are without a credit card and are shut out of the marketplace. From Ticketmaster to Amazon.com to the local shore store, American businesses are losing sales. Economically, our criminal justice policies are cutting our throat.
Aside from the economic cost, is imprisonment of all of these 2.3 million Americans good anti-crime policy? Not according to the research. Effective crime fighting uses smart police strategies, adequate mental health care, good schools, recreation for youth, jobs and focused rehabilitation. The criminological consensus is that imprisonment has been responsible for about one-quarter of the crime decline in the past 15 years. Most of those in prison are there for non-violent offenses like drugs or theft, or because they violated probation by committing a "technical" violation like drinking or using drugs. Most of those in prison are there much longer than they need to deter crime, to justly punish them, or to protect society from future crime.
We certainly need to imprison dangerous offenders - to protect us and to punish them. But we need to get a lot smarter about why we imprison and who we imprison. Remarkably, in the last thirty years, the largest increase in imprisonment has been due to prohibition drug policy.
Even though drug enforcement leaders have warned for more than twenty years that "we can't arrest our way out of the drug problem," every year we arrest more people for drug offenses than the year before. Last year we arrested over 1.8 million Americans, more than three times the number arrested for all violent crimes combined. Now about one-quarter of those in prison are serving drug sentences. As the centerpiece of our anti-drug strategy, arrests and imprisonment have failed: high school seniors report that drugs are easier for them to get now than in the 1970s and 1980s.
Scientists and drug treatment specialists - even police chiefs, judges and prosecutors - agree that drug addiction is a disease. But in almost every city it is hard for people to get good treatment for their addictions. Waiting lists - often very long ones - to enter programs are the rule. According to the White House, about 20 million Americans need substance abuse treatment but don't get it. Why put drug addicts in prison for using drugs when what they need, and deserve, is good drug treatment? Why do we tolerate the police arresting drug addicts for using drugs? Isn't the definition of the disease of addiction that you can't stop using drugs? When you think about it, isn't it wrong to prosecute a person because of their disease?
But in fact, most drug users are not addicts, they are adult marijuana smokers. Why do we arrest them? To tell them that marijuana is harmful? To "send a message" to children that they should not use drugs or that drugs are dangerous? Isn't that the job of parents, schools, and public health authorities?
Drowning is the second-leading cause of unintentional injury-related death for children ages 1 to 14 years. The rate of drowning has declined, but we not because we jail swimmers, or swimming pool contractors and operators, to warn children about the hazards of swimming. Of course, in most parts of the country the government hires life guards at beaches and pools to save swimmers in the face of the ever-present danger.
In fact, we don't arrest anyone to warn about most dangerous behaviors. To teach the safer use of dangerous behaviors involving firearms, alcohol, tobacco, automobiles, motor cycles, private airplanes, or ski resorts, we use education, insurance, regulation and taxation to reduce injuries and save lives. With most activities, we recognize that doing dangerous things is not "wrongful" and does not deserve punishment. Why is arresting people a good way to send a message about health and public safety when it comes to drug use?
Almost everyone agrees that our "convict-the-users" anti-drug strategy is a costly failure. According to the government's studies of drug use attitudes and trends, millions of criminal convictions have had little to do with the decline in drug use.
Naturally, a compassionate society has "to do something" about drug abuse, but a century ago we got misled that drug abuse is a crime problem. As we have seen repeatedly in our history, by adopting the prohibition approach we have made it more of a crime problem. Sadly, the idea that the danger in drug use is "bad" and "wrongful," and is therefore fundamentally different from the sometimes lethal dangers of skiing, sky diving, auto racing, hunting or many other activities remains a deeply embedded and very expensive myth. Can we justify why we punish drug users on any terms other than it is against the law? This law is unjustifiable and only survives on the myth that drug use is "bad" as opposed to risky.
It is now time to think about the opportunity cost of this myth. Even in the smallest town or county, drug arrests generate thousands of dollars in police overtime pay. In a big jurisdiction, it costs taxpayers hundreds of thousands or millions of dollars to arrest drug users. About one-third of the time of prosecutors, judges and court personnel is spent handling drug cases. Housing, guarding and feeding 500,000 drug prisoners pays prison employees and contractors. These folks benefit, but for the rest of us, these millions of drug cases mean unemployed workers and lost customers that bleeds our jobs out of the economy.
Police need to focus on violent offenders, child molesters, DUI cases, and the white collar frauds who steal millions. Prison needs to be reserved for the dangerous.
Non-violent drug offenders need to be let out of prison. Those who are addicted need treatment, which is much less expensive than prison. Their drug-related criminal records need to be sealed so they can get jobs. Thieves and burglars who are drug addicts need abstinence-based supervision to prevent re-offending.
Seventy-five years ago, on Dec. 5, 1933, in the depths of the Great Depression, we amended the Constitution to abandon alcohol prohibition to generate jobs and to tax alcohol to fund the government. It's time to end the marijuana prohibition. Non-commercial, home growing of marijuana should be regulated like hunting. Hunters are killed accidentally every year, including minors, but licences are easily obtained, not terribly expensive, and largely self-enforcing. Non-commercial marijuana growing license ought to be sold at garden centers, with prohibitions on commercial sale and distribution to minors. Commercial marijuana growing and selling should be licensed and taxed like alcohol, with its panoply of local regulatory varieties, and evolving cultural controls.
In 2005, federal, state and local taxes collected on tobacco and alcohol totaled $35.1 billion. America's 20 million marijuana smokers paid no taxes on their marijuana. Depending on rates, $5 to $15 billion could be raised from marijuana taxes. America's illegal marijuana sellers are the beneficiaries of both a government subsidy (no taxes) and a government price support mechanism. That's absurd! We need to tax the underground marijuana commerce. As we study state and local budgets that will fire teachers, police and firefighters, reduce care to the ill, the blind, and the handicapped, and shutter hospitals, recreation centers and schools, we can ask if we want to keep throwing away the potential marijuana taxes.
One way we could sell a million American cars is to get drug users out of prison, freed of their crippling criminal records, and back into the economy.
How hard are these choices: Lay off school teachers or stop subsidizing the illegal marijuana business with a billions of dollars in tax breaks? Lay off workers and close factories or let non-violent offenders out of prison and provide treatment to drug addicts?
Eric E. Sterling, president of the non-profit Criminal Justice Policy Foundation in Silver Spring, MD, was counsel to the U.S. House Judiciary Committee, principally responsible for anti-drug legislation, from 1979 to 1989.
Wednesday, August 27, 2008
- Harpers Magazine, July 2008, Findings pg. 96.
(also see my blog post from dec. 11, 2007, and all the comments for more on our shift toward nanotechnology, the merging of technology and humanity, and evolutionary extinction.)
Monday, August 25, 2008
Thursday, July 17, 2008
the brilliant dominic holden wrote another excellent article for the stranger today about the u-district needle exchange run by the people's harm reduction alliance, of which i'm a board member. (still looking for raffle donations!)
July 16, 2008 News
Funding Cuts Threaten Growing Needle-Exchange Program
by Dominic Holden
On a recent evening in a University District alley, two men in sunglasses sat behind a card table loaded with red bins of alcohol swabs, hypodermic syringes, and other supplies for shooting up drugs. Every few minutes, someone would wander up the alley to turn in used needles, take a few items from the bins, and move on.
The table is King County's last privately operated needle-exchange site. But its clientele is growing faster than at any other site in the county.
The syringe exchange in the alley used to be operated five days a week by another group, Street Outreach Services (SOS), until SOS lost county funding last year for failing to submit an audit on time. After SOS went away, the People's Harm Reduction Alliance (PHRA) took over the exchange and expanded it to seven days a week. "We felt [drug users] needed more access in the north end," PHRA director Shilo Murphy says. The group now operates the table 365 days a year with the help of about 25 volunteers. By the end of the year, PHRA predicts it will have increased syringe exchanges by one-third to one million syringes—a 10 percent increase overall from last year for the entire county.
"My hope is that when drug users make the choice to be sober, that they can do it without having HIV or hepatitis C, which would affect them for the rest their of lives," Murphy says.
Spurred by the AIDS epidemic, the national movement for syringe exchanges started in Tacoma in 1988. The next year, the model was emulated by activists in Seattle, who operated an exchange from a table in front of Tower Records on University Way.
According to King County, where 2.1 million syringes were exchanged in 2007, the cities that implemented needle exchanges early in the HIV boom lowered infection rates among intravenous drug users. For example, in cities such as New York and Miami, which were late to adopt the once-controversial practice, the HIV rate among injection drug users hovers between 40 and 60 percent. In Seattle, it's 2 to 4 percent.
Nevertheless, only a fraction of the injection drug users here use clean needles consistently. Michael Hanrahan, who runs the county's needle-exchange program, says 20 million syringes would have to be exchanged annually to ensure a clean needle for every injection. "If our objective is to facilitate a clean, single use of equipment, the market penetration is about 10 percent of what the need likely is," he says.
The community-based University District group seems more nimble at reaching the target population than the five county-managed exchange sites, which operate under more restrictive rules. For instance, the county requires users to trade one dirty needle for each clean one—rules Hanrahan says are designed as an incentive to get old, dirty syringes out of circulation. The independent needle exchange, in contrast, allows users to bank and trade syringes, enabling more users to take as many syringes as they need.
However, the group struggles to stay afloat. It depends on donations from users who come to the table, and its supplies are provided by the county, which is facing a $68 million deficit. Countywide, syringe-exchange programs cost King County just under $1 million a year. In October, County Executive Ron Sims will send a funding proposal to the council that will reduce public-health appropriations by 33 percent a year for three years—eventually cutting the county's contribution to public health to zero [In the Hall, Erica C. Barnett, June 11]. King County Council Member Larry Phillips, who chairs the council's budget committee, says it's too soon to guess whether the needle-exchange program will be impacted, but he hopes to maintain it. "It has proven to be a tremendous public-health aid in King County," Phillips says.
As the syringe-exchange services strive to stay afloat, SOS has morphed into a new organization, Harm Reduction Advocates, which is building support to fund needle exchanges and allow anti-overdose programs. Executive director Tara Moss says the group was "getting to the point, with restricted funds, [that] it makes sense to advocate for the programs rather than provide services."
Tuesday, July 15, 2008
The [Nanotechnology] committee expects to include ethics topics on its nanotech agenda, says Hsieh, who notes that some scientists believe nano-scale biology has the potential to significantly enhance the performance, durability and health of the human body.
"So there is the question: Is it ethical to do so?" says Hsieh, a member of the advisory board of the Nanoethics Group, an independent research organization based at California Polytechnic State University in San Luis Obispo. "And who would benefit—just the rich people who can afford it? It would be like cosmetic surgery, only more so."
WHAT WILL PEOPLE THINK?
Experts say Congress ultimately will have to play a greater role in ensuring that concerns about nanotechnology issues are addressed sufficiently. Otherwise, they say, public doubts about the field will grow.
Bergeson expects Congress, sometime soon, to review whether the Toxic Substances Control Act in its current form is adequate to deal with nano-scale materials.
In April, public interest groups and the chemical industry wound up on the same side in support of a 10 percent set-aside to fund environmental, health and safety research as part of a roughly $1.5 billion reauthorization of the National Nanotechnology Initiative.
"Public trust is the dark horse in nanotechnology's future," said David Rejeski, director of the Project on Emerging Technologies, in testimony before the Senate Subcommittee on Science, Technology and Innovation. "If government and industry do not work to build public confidence in nanotechnology, consumers may reach for the 'No nano' label in the future, and investors will put their money elsewhere. Public perceptions about risks—real and perceived—can have large economic impacts."
Referring to the kinds of coalitions that are developing on the issue, Bergeson says, "Nanotechnology forges alliances where you might not expect them."
That's just one of the surprises in a field that promises many more to come.
Tuesday, June 17, 2008
- his holiness the dalai lama
Sunday, June 08, 2008
Friday, May 23, 2008
(an excerpt from the beginning...)
OUR PHONY ECONOMY
By Jonathan Rowe, from testimony delivered March 12 before the Senate Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation, Subcommittee on Interstate Commerce. Rowe is codirector of West Marin Commons, a community-organizing group in California.
Suppose that the head of a federal agency came before this committee and reported with pride that agency employees had burned 10 percent more calories at work last year than they did the year before. Not only that-they had spent 10 percent more money too. I have a feeling you would want to know more. What were these employees doing when they burned those calories? What did they spend that money on? Most important, what were the results? Expenditure is a means, not an end, and to assess the health of an agency, or system, you need to know what it has accomplished, not just how much motion it has generated and money it has spent. The point seems obvious, yet Congress ignores it every day when it talks about "the economy." The administration and the media do it, too. Every time you say that "the economy" is up, or that you want to "stimulate" it, you are urging more expenditure and motion without regard to what that expenditure is and what it might accomplish, and without regard to what it might crowd out or displace in the process.
That term "the economy": what it means, in practice, is the Gross Domestic Product-a big statistical pot that includes all the money spent in a given period of time. If the pot is bigger than it was the previous quarter, or year, then you cheer. If it isn't bigger, or bigger enough, then you call Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke up here and ask him to do some explaining. The what of the economy makes no difference in these councils. It never seems to come up. The money in the big pot could be going to cancer treatments or casinos, violent video games or usurious credit-card rates. It could go toward the $9 billion or so that Americans spend on gas they burn while they sit in traffic, or the billion plus that goes to such drugs as Ritalin and Prozac that schools are stuffing into kids to keep them quiet in class. The money could be the $20 billion or so that Americans spend on divorce lawyers each year, or the $41 billion on pets, or the $5 billion on identity theft, or the billions more spent to repair property damage caused by environmental pollution. The money in the pot could betoken social and environmental breakdown-misery and distress of all kinds. It makes no difference. You don't ask. All you want to know is the total amount, which is the GDP. So long as it is growing then everything is fine.
Monday, May 12, 2008
Thursday, May 01, 2008
american scientists artificially reproduced the dna of a venereal-disease bacterium and expected to use the technique to create artificial life within ten years.
Friday, April 25, 2008
let go into the clear light, trust it, merge with it. it is your own true nature, it is home.
- tibetan book of the dead
Sunday, April 06, 2008
Tuesday, March 25, 2008
but when we just observe life for what it is, then it’s all right: the delights, the beauty, the pleasures are just that.
-ajahn sumedho, "seeing the way"
Tuesday, March 18, 2008
love never keeps a man from pursuing his destiny.
true love is love that allows you to reach your personal legend!
-paul coelho, "the alchemist"
Wednesday, March 12, 2008
Friday, February 29, 2008
by Lisa Zyga
Jim Mielke's wireless blood-fueled display is a true merging of technology and body art. At the recent Greener Gadgets Design Competition, the engineer demonstrated a subcutaneously implanted touch-screen that operates as a cell phone display, with the potential for 3G video calls that are visible just underneath the skin.
The basis of the 2x4-inch "Digital Tattoo Interface" is a Bluetooth device made of thin, flexible silicon and silicone. It´s inserted through a small incision as a tightly rolled tube, and then it unfurls beneath the skin to align between skin and muscle. Through the same incision, two small tubes on the device are attached to an artery and a vein to allow the blood to flow to a coin-sized blood fuel cell that converts glucose and oxygen to electricity. After blood flows in from the artery to the fuel cell, it flows out again through the vein.
On both the top and bottom surfaces of the display is a matching matrix of field-producing pixels. The top surface also enables touch-screen control through the skin. Instead of ink, the display uses tiny microscopic spheres, somewhat similar to tattoo ink. A field-sensitive material in the spheres changes their color from clear to black, aligned with the matrix fields.
The tattoo display communicates wirelessly to other Bluetooth devices - both in the outside world and within the same body. Although the device is always on (as long as your blood´s flowing), the display can be turned off and on by pushing a small dot on the skin. When the phone rings, for example, an individual turns the display on, and "the tattoo comes to life as a digital video of the caller," Mielke explains. When the call ends, the tattoo disappears.
Could such an invasive device have harmful biological effects? Actually, the device could offer health benefits. That´s because it also continually monitors for many blood disorders, alerting the person of a health problem.
The tattoo display is still just a concept, with no word on plans for commercialization.
japanese scientists unvelied a robot that plays the violin, a robot that solves rubik's cubes, a robot that recognizes itself in a mirror, a robot snoplow that eats snow and excretes ice bricks, a robot exoskeleton that can be worn be elderly farmers, and a robot that walks at the command of a monkey on a treadmill in north carolina.
a california scientist used skin cells to create embryonic clones of himself.
Thursday, February 21, 2008
Monday, February 18, 2008
- his holiness the dalai lama
Wednesday, February 13, 2008
- a.a. milne, "the house at pooh corner"
tao does not do, but nothing is not done.
- tao te ching
scientists in nevada created a sheep-human hybrid that is about 15 percent human; other researchers successfully grew sperm from human bone marrow, which could theoretically lead to a future in which pairs of lesbian mothers can produce their own daughters without the intervention of a male.
roboticists were working hard to create robots that will interact "rhythmically" with humans.
from harper's, april 2007, pg. 108, "findings":
a woman with a bionic arm can now sense her missing fingers in her chest.
Friday, February 01, 2008
1. Do not be idolatrous about or bound to any doctrine, theory, or ideology. All systems of thought are guiding means; they are not absolute truth.
2. Do not think that the knowledge you presently possess is changeless, absolute truth. Avoid being narrow-minded, and bound to present views. Learn and practice non-attachment from views in order to receive others' viewpoints. Truth is found in life and not merely in conceptual knowledge. Be ready to learn throughout your entire life and to observe reality in yourself and in the world at all times.
3. Do not force others, including children, by any means whatsoever, to adopt your views, whether by authority, threat, money , propaganda, or even education. However, through compassionate dialogue, help others renounce fanaticism and narrowness.
4. Do not avoid contact with suffering or close your eyes before suffering. Do not lose awareness of the existence of suffering in the life of the world. Find ways to be with those who are suffering, by all means, including personal contact and visits, images, and sound. By such means, awaken yourself and others to the reality of suffering in the world.
5. Do not accumulate wealth while millions are hungry. Do not take as the aim of your life fame, profit, wealth, or sensual pleasure. Live simply and share time, energy, and material resources with those who are in need.
6. Do not maintain anger or hatred. Learn to penetrate and transform them while they are still seeds in your consciousness. As soon as anger or hatred arises, turn your attention to your breathing in order to see and understand the nature of your anger or hatred and the nature of the persons who have caused your anger or hatred.
7. Do not lose yourself in dispersion and in your surroundings. Practice mindful breathing in order to come back to what is happening in the present moment. Be in touch with what is wondrous, refreshing, and healing, both inside and around yourself. Plant the seeds of joy, peace, and understanding in yourself in order to facilitate the work of transformation in the depth of your consciousness.
8. Do not utter words that can create discord and cause the community to break. Make every effort to reconcile and resolve all conflicts, however small.
9. Do not say untruthful things for the sake of personal interest or to impress people. Do not utter words that cause division or hatred. Do not spread news that you do not know to be certain. Do not criticize or condemn things that you are not sure of. Always speak truthfully and constructively. Have the courage to speak out about situations of injustice, even when doing so may threaten your own safety.
10. Do not use the religious community for personal gain or profit, or transform your community into a political party. A religious community should, however, take a clear stand against oppression and injustice, and should strive to change the situation without engaging in partisan conflicts.
11. Do not live with a vocation that is harmful to humans and nature. Do not invest in companies that deprive others of their chance to live. Select a vocation that helps realize your ideal of compassion.
12. Do not kill. Do not let others kill. Find whatever means possible to protect life and prevent war.
13. Possess nothing that should belong to others. Respect the property of others but prevent others from enriching themselves from human suffering or the suffering of other beings.
14. Do not mistreat your body. Learn to handle it with respect. Do not look on your body as only an instrument. Preserve vital energies for the realization of the Way. Sexual expression should not happen without love and commitment. In sexual relationships, be aware of future suffering that may be caused. To preserve the happiness of others, respect the rights and commitments of others. Be fully aware of the responsibility of bringing new lives into the world. Meditate on the world into which you are bringing new beings.
Friday, January 25, 2008
Monday, January 07, 2008
- ayya khema, "being nobody, going nowhere"
Tuesday, January 01, 2008
- his holiness the dalai lama