Truly Great Book about drugs

“Licit and Illicit Drugs”.  I it read while in college and when thinking back about the best books I’ve read, this is in the top 3.   It is an outstanding source for historical information about the development of our attitudes towards drugs, the role they play in our society, a straightforward, non-technical presentation of the psychological and biological actions of various drugs, and the effects of our current drug policies.  You will be stunned at the destructive role of our government and certain individuals have played on society through misinformation and just plain bad laws.

Sadly, it is out of print, but you can read it on-line at:

Good reading.

Naming public things

Why oh why do we continue to glorify politicians?  We elect them to do a job, they do the job, often poorly, then we name streets, bridges, airports, parks, schools, and buildings after them, and we give them awards.  This makes as much sense as glorifying street sweepers or doctors.  Even worse, because street sweepers and doctors tend to do useful work.  What kind of sick society do we live us that compels us to put politicians on pedestals?  The next time your local community wants to name something, attend the meeting and suggest we name it after Irena Sendler, or someone like her.

Corporations are ‘job creators’ only as a last resort

My subject line is a quote from Jerry Davis of the University of Michigan.  And from Michael Hiltzik in the LA Times:  “By the turn of the 21st century, a company’s overall market value was no longer tied to its payroll. In 1962, the largest corporation by market capitalization was AT&T, with 564,000 employees; in 2012, it was Apple, with 76,000 employees. Big employers are now typically retailers and food service firms, which employ armies of part-time and low-wage workers; the largest employer among big companies today is retailer Wal-Mart, with 2.2 million workers.  Shifting inputs from built-in-house to built-outside and then ordered just in time revolutionized manufacturing. The same trend is being followed with labor, rather than raw materials or parts. That’s Uberization — the company doesn’t even outsource labor, it just orders workers at the moment they’re needed.”

He goes on to say “Society as a whole may also have to recognize that the responsibility of social welfare, whether healthcare or retirement, will have to be borne more by government, a trend that started as long ago as 1935 with Social Security, continued with Medicare in 1965 and proceeded with the government subsidies provided to insurance purchasers by the Affordable Care Act. If corporate employers and their shareholders are intent on shedding their traditional roles as bulwarks of the working person and the family in order to keep more wealth for themselves, there really is no other way to make them pay.”

I think these guys have hit the nail on the head.  I was with NetApp a couple of years ago, a company with then, 13000 workers.  Almost half were contractors.  This is clearly a trend.  Work used to be defined as a career, then moved to a job when people came to see that company loyalty was no longer rewarded, and now, it’s becoming a task.  I’m not sure we can or should do anything to reverse this, but Mr. Hiltzik is correct, government will have to intercede on behalf of the worker/citizen.

This is huge.




Insider trading now legal!

It appears that insider trading is pretty much legal now.  Here are excerpts from the article in the New Yorker:

…  the court … held that it is not enough to prove that someone traded on a tip that she should have known constituted material nonpublic information; instead, prosecutors need to prove that she was affirmatively aware of the dodgy provenance of the tip. The court also held that prosecutors must demonstrate that the original tipper was somehow compensated for offering the tip.

So, if I pass along an insider tip to a friend, and he/she uses it to get rich, and doesn’t compensate me (wink wink), then it’s all legal.  I am stunned that this court ruling isn’t causing big waves.  I guess that we all KNOW that the little investor can’t compete with the insiders so we just accept it.

Countries that censor the internet

Emily Barone wrote in the Nov 23, 2015 issue of Time Magazine, an interesting story about the degree of internet censorship around the world.  I guess I had assumed that the idiots running China, Cuba, and most of the Middle East were actively depriving their citizens of decent access to the internet.  But censorship seems to be a lot more pervasive.  As soon as I can get access to the story online, I’ll link to it.  In the meantime, here’s a list of the countries which, according to Ms. Barone, do NOT censor the internet:

Argentina, Armenia, Australia, Canada, Estonia, Georgia, Germany, Hungary, Iceland, Italy, Japan, Philippines, South Africa and the U.S.

Geez, that leaves a LOT of guilty countries.  My biggest surprise was how bad Russia is.  For a country full of really smart people, you have to wonder why they put up with the buffoons running the place.  Makes me appreciate the U.S. even more.  Our buffoons aren’t that bad.

Khan Academy = learning

Khan Academy just added an Android app to go along with its existing iOS app. Download from Google Play and check it out.  This is the future of learning, where the emphasis is placed on learning and not what the “education establishment” considers “education”.  What I mean by that is that “professional educators” all too often are mostly concerned with two things.  First, they want to keep the “education club” exclusive, optimizing their wages and job security, but not student success.  Second, they emphasize testing as a way to rank students, not as a way to improve learning.  There are exceptions of course.  Khan Academy is one.  For more on this subject, get this book.