May 26, 2015

"The Square Root of Three" by David Feinberg

I’m sure that I will always be,
A lonely number like root three

The three is all that’s good and right,
Why must my three keep out of sight

Beneath the vicious square root sign,
I wish instead I were a nine
For nine could thwart this evil trick,
with just some quick arithmetic

I know I’ll never see the sun, as 1.7321
Such is my reality, a sad irrationality

Hark! What is this I see,
Another square root of three
Has quietly come waltzing by,
Together now we multiply
To form a number we prefer,
Rejoicing as an integer

We break free from our mortal bonds,
With the wave of magic wands
Our square root signs become unglued,
Your love for me has been renewed

May 1, 2015

On Cannabis (From a College Discussion)

[The following is a reply I made to another student's post, which focused little on the article's content but heavily on conveying opinions of a negative, and uninformed nature.]

I truly, honestly respect your opinions and point-of-view. This post is merely to point out a couple logical fallacies you use in your statement (not intentionally I'm sure), and to introduce some additional information to our discussion derived from the scientific method, not myths perpetuated over the last several decades since the racially motivated "reefer madness" campaign intended to alarm "whites" to further discriminate against African-Americans (just like what was done in the past with criminalizing opium because of the Asian labor-force in the SW that used it frequently to offset the effects of being worked half-to-death, and with cocaine to sour majority {"white"} opinion about the latino population).

I agree that money-making is the main motivator involved in the business "model" described in the article. However, your explicit and implicit correlations between the harmful effects of alcohol and tobacco smoking, with the effects of cannabis use are a Fallacy by False Analogy. I recommend anyone identify and review this particular fallacy, and try to pick out the others inherent in your post for themself (I learned them all in my "Critical Thinking" philosophy course, but if you need a quick rundown on logical fallacies I suggest what I believe to be the most comprehensive and concisely defined list available at What decades of scientific study has revealed (that you'll only hear coming from those who do not have a motive to hide or downplay the following facts) is that:
  • Alcohol is, by definition, a "poison" to homo sapiens, because our biology neither involves internally creating alcohol molecules, nor needing to get it from an external source (through consumption), to fulfill a legitimate biological function/process; the human body is not biologically designed to make any biologically-productive use of this chemical, and, more to the point, the human body is not adapted to quickly and efficiently neutralize this particular chemical to keep it from causing physical damage to certain types of cells--especially neurons and the various types of liver cells there are--before it can be filtered out and expelled.
  • The human body has, by design, what is called by biologists, an "endocannabinoid system," which is directly involved in biochemical processes of inter-system communication between the central and peripheral nervous systems with other musculoskeletal systems and especially the immune system. Not only is the endocannabinoid system a critical component of the molecular messaging systems of the body that we inherently have by genetic design, our own bodies (and the bodies of certain other animal species) actually constantly create their own endocannabinoid molecules for use with the endocannabinoid receptor system.
  • Cannabis sativa and cannabis indica species are around today, and so effective at creating large quantities of phytocannabinoid molecules because humans carefully bred and cultivated cannabis for several thousand years to enhance the plant's hardiness against disease and pests, and to increase its cannabinoid output (in the U.S. up until the late 1930's with the marijuana/hemp tax stamp act, which was a ploy by government officials with corrupt personal socioeconomic motivations, under the public guise of just being a new tax, to actually ban it outright because not one, single stamp was ever issued by the government).
  • The use of the word "marijuana," instead of using its scientifically-catalogued genus name, "cannabis," was popularized back then to serve a derogatory purpose, clearly because of the racial stigma the non-English word invoked towards another targeted minority (latinos), in concert with the "reefer madness" campaign against African-Americans, to affect a public backlash based on irrational fear towards the plant because it threatened the financial interests of powerful whites invested in the pharmaceutical, timber (because hemp, cannabis' "cousin," is the strongest naturally occurring fiber on Earth*), and other industries threatened by this natural plant they couldn't control the market for and make money off of (certainly nowhere near the amount of money they stood to lose with a plant that was greatly superior to products offered by the aforementioned industries and could be cheaply grown by anybody, anywhere). *(Besides hemp making vastly superior rope and other textiles, the first two copies of the Declaration of Independence were written on hemp paper, which is why after nearly 240 years they are in such excellent condition; if it had been written on wood pulp-based paper, it would have disintegrated long ago.)
  • Decades of scientific studies, mostly done in Israel and European countries because of cannabis' designation under the U.S. Controlled Substances Act as "Schedule I"--despite cannabis not meeting the law's own legal criteria for that category, the fact lawmakers claimed the scheduling decision for cannabis was supposed to be temporary (to allow time for additional research to assist placement in the proper Schedule, such as III or IV), and Nixon rejecting the findings of his own appointed commission (the "Schafer Commission") appointed to conduct a rational review of cannabis that found cannabis to be relatively harmless and that it should not be criminalized--conveniently prohibits possession by any person or institution even for the sole, legitimate purposes of medical and scientific study), have consistently proven that:
  1. it is literally, physically impossible to overdose on cannabinoids because they only interact with the endocannabinoid system which has a finite number of receptor/binding sites; every death ever recorded in which a person had consumed cannabis involved consumption of an additional substance you can OD on, like alcohol, heroin, cocaine, and, yes, even caffeine (caffeine ODs have made news lately because it is now being sold in a pure, powder form). Every scientific study done on animals to test cannabis' capacity to kill, has never succeeded in killing even one of its test subjects (except in the intentionally "fixed" study done in which the monkeys were asphyxiated because the researchers did not provide any oxygen into the masks attached to the subjects' faces).
  2. the only scientifically documented bodily harm associated with cannabis involves smoking it (which, like cigarette smoking, involves literally burning the plant-matter at very high temperatures, creating aerosolized tar and thousands of byproduct chemicals, many of which are carcinogens); all scientific studies done on inhaling cannabinoids through the use of a vaporizer (in which "hot" air at much lower temperatures pass through the plant-matter, aerosolizing the cannabinoid molecules without inducing any combustion) have consistently shown no presence of tar or carcinogenic compounds in the vapor inhaled. There is also no biological damage caused by consuming cannabinoids orally in any of the many edible formulations there are.
  3. the only negative psycho-neurological impact that has been scientifically documented on cannabis, is with extensive, prolonged use in a child, whose brain is still developing new neural networks. The myth that the "stoner effect" on intelligence lingers for years or forever, even after cessation of use, has been disproven time and time again.
  4. you can not become "addicted" to cannabis, as that word is defined in professional literature, for two reasons: a) cannabis does not interact with the dopamine system in the brain (commonly referred to as the "reward system," although it serves various other purposes as well), as drugs like meth, heroin, cocaine, alcohol, caffeine, opiates, barbiturates, and half a dozen or more byproduct chemicals of tobacco combustion do; b) your body creates endocannabinoid molecules all the time anyway--its a "natural substance" always present in your body--thus, you cannot develop what is technically referred to as "physiological dependence." Can it become habit-forming because you like the euphoria, immense pain-relief, enhanced creative/open-ended cognition and sensory sensitivity, and other effects it has on you? Yes. Does your body develop a physiological need to continue consuming cannabinoids, like alcoholics, heroin addicts, caffeine junkies, or tobacco smokers develop, in which cessation actually causes a severe biochemical deficit? No. No one who only consumes a significant amount of cannabis, and nothing else, ever experiences a "hangover" or withdrawal effect, for the reasons heretofore stated.
  • Do people do stupid and potentially dangerous things when "high?" Yes, as is true of most drug users, the mentally ill, and many perfectly sane, sober folks who just make bad decisions to try and satisfy a psychological motivation. Are cannabis users statistically as likely to do something stupid as, say, a drinker of alcohol? No, not even close--I welcome you looking up the stats yourselves. Do cannabis users get angry, aggressive, hostile, and have complete impairment of instinctual judgement like so many people do when they get drunk? No. They may just get temporarily lazy, hungry, lost in deep thought, and become "too" passive.
  • Has legalization statistically increased minors' access to cannabis? No. Why? Because the vast majority of minors still choose to get their cannabis through the black market, because it is cheaper (because of being of generally lower quality and not being taxed), and the quantitative total demand minors have had for cannabis was already being fully met by the black market prior to legalization.
  • The idea that cannabis is a "gateway drug" has been firmly discounted by recent studies. It is genetic predisposition and negative environmental influences that drive a person's desire to use "harder" drugs.
  • The government has a real, bona-fide patent, Patent 6630507, entitled “Cannabinoids as antioxidants and neuroprotectants.” Not only does cannabis provide these benefits, which has major implications for improving general health and slowing the progression of Multiple Sclerosis and other neurological diseases, it has a very pronounced anti-inflammatory effect, both generally and on overactive immune systems that are responsible for such diseases as lupus, rheumatoid arthritis, crohn's disease, fibromyalgia, and countless others caused by a dysfunctional or hyperactive immune system.
  • The National Cancer Institute, a sub-department of the federal U.S. National Institutes of Health — before it was promptly gagged two days later — reported on their website a research finding that, “the health care provider may recommend medicinal Cannabis not only for symptom management but also for its possible direct antitumor effect.” As an official agency they are cautious in how they word things, by habit, but an official government agency that specializes in cancer research would never even mention such a 'possibility' if there wasn't significant evidence already documented of this likely being the case.
  • There are many other diseases for which concrete evidence is surfacing supporting the idea that (because the endocannabinoid system plays such a vital role in inter-system communication and in interacting with the immune system) cannabis use directly slows the progression or even reverses the progression of certain diseases, not that cannabis only can alleviate many of the symptoms of those diseases.

DISCLAIMER: I do not use cannabis at all (nor alcohol), and have not used it once in three years. Why did I previously use cannabis and do such thorough research on it (which required extra effort to find unbiased sources)? Because after my 16-month army combat deployment was over, I came home with a Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI) and PTSD, which developed into also having Major Depressive Disorder, Generalized Anxiety Disorder, and Social Anxiety Disorder, but I eventually ran into an article talking about how a research institution was trying to get government permission to conduct a study to see what benefit cannabis may have for veterans suffering from PTSD. That peaked my curiosity, and only after deep, extensive research did I decide to take advantage of WA and OR states' "medical marijuana" programs (which was before recreational legalization took place). I can't put into words how important it was to my recovery from the mental torment I had been living with every minute of every day. The editor of a widely-circulating NW publication did a cover story on my very real, life-saving experience with medicinal cannabis use.

Do I think cannabis should be legal for recreational use even though I personally choose not to use it now? Yes. Why? Because ultimately you can't stop people from doing what they want to do; all you can do is force it underground (black markets, "behind closed doors") by making it illegal, thus making it impossible to regulate and allowing all the money to flow into the hands of organized crime syndicates and violent cartels, instead of keeping the money in the legitimate economy and adding to government coffers to pay for social programs that can help the mentally ill and those suffering from real addictions, among other societal responsibilities we collectively have to each other.

If you want proof that the unwinnable "drug war" is not helping but only deepening social strife and societal dysfunction, look no further than our prison-industrial complex which makes some very wealthy (the U.S. houses 25% of all inmates incarcerated in the entire world), and the failed State of Mexico, whose collapse is almost entirely funded by black market drug money flowing in from the U.S. If you want proof that decriminalizing ALL drugs and taking all of the billions spent on a war on our own people and locking up countless millions in glorified dog-kennels that perpetuate dehumanization and "hardening" of criminals, but instead redirecting all of that money and effort into social programs that support rehabilitation, economic opportunity/independence, and a dramatic decline in drug abuse, look no further than Portugal and other European countries that have followed their lead.