Category Archives: health care

On the road


 

Kickstarter update on the road away from prohibition.

This is an account of a one-day side-trip on the road in pursuit of the “Tales of Mary Jane”. Every day of that year-ending five-weeks was as interesting and satisfactory as (I hope you will agree) this one.

The first four chapters of the book have been distributed to the backers, and I’m polishing chapter 5 for posting soon.

Here’s to 2015 being better for you, and more productive for me.

Sincere best wishes,
Jack Large

PS to backers of either or both of my Kickstarter projects: Forgive the appearance of multiple identical updates, if you will. It takes a lot less time to apologize in advance than it does to forestall it when your tech skills are as sketchy as mine.

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Prohibition of Marijuana


The Korea Times “report” that triggered this letter is poorly written and a waste of your time. but you can track it down if you want to see why I felt I had to respond.

Tales of Mary Jane: The Children of Prohibition


A year ago, I took my first step into the world of crowd funding. A success, the backing I received enabled me to present a collection of photographs I took while living in Seattle’s Pike Place Market, as a gift to the Seattle Public Library. In return for their help, I promised backers a “reward” in the form of a book with information about the images in the collection, including a narrative about the period (1966-’68), places, people and cultural context portrayed.

Today, minutes ago, I launched a second appeal titled, “Tales of Mary Jane: The Children of Prohibition”. The campaign will run for 14 days. The money goal is modest, far less than will be required to produce the best quality outcome. I may be over-optimistic in thinking the project will capture the interest of anyone who marvels, as I still do from afar, that states of Washington and Colorado (two of my favorites), have legalized recreational use of marijuana since I launched the first campaign.

This is significant because it shapes my perspective on the first Kickstarter effort (“KS1”). Some, a few dozen, of the images in the slide collection show people engaged in various activities associated with casual or habitual use of marijuana. Because this was a criminal activity then (and in most places still is today) the photographs, like the drugs, might have been considered contraband, or at the very least, evidence to support prosecution and, upon conviction, incarceration if we had been so careless as to be caught, as many have been, and are still.

In writing the story of the slide show while poring over the pages of slides in the collection for the purpose of tagging and logging them before sending them on to Seattle, a small but prominent group of images expanded in my mind. They are shots of the small children whose parents were the adults shown smoking pot. The adults were a light-hearted group then and now, and the photos suggest nothing sinister or fear inducing, contrary to the expectations of what at the time was called “straight society”, before the more explicitly sexual connotation attached to the phrase.

As I wrote, my thoughts turned more and more to those children. I wondered, what became of them? A few of them, I know today. For the most part, they grew strong, intelligent, worldly, capable, even accomplished citizens. To all appearances, they were wholly unimpaired by the conditions of their childhood. I can’t say, nor do I have any basis to speculate, what has been the fate of the others. The questions that have grown in my consciousness while writint of them are intensified by not knowing.

Is it possible to predict the mindset of one who grows up gradually more aware that those closest are, crudely put, habitual criminals? How does such knowledge shape one’s interaction with the contrastive world beyond the front door of the family home? Does it influence their choice of friends? Does it make them more or less likely to indulge in a subculture of marijuana use or other proscribed behavior themselves? Are they more sophisticated about the whole range of substances and their abuse? Do they form coteries of peer support outside the traditional systems in their communities.

I intend to gather and tell these “Tales of Mary Jane”. I will find these possessors of unique insight, elicit their stories, and share the stories with a world several generations behind them in its awareness of what, although illegal, has been pervasive. All those having deep familiarity with marijuana and its use, and effects on users are in a position to help inform those who lack it.

A majority of US citizens now agree that the criminalization of marijuana has been a mistake. I will present the evidence I find for and against that conclusion, through the personal narratives and detailed accomplishments of those who understand the much-maligned herb better than can any other, in their way: the children of prohibition. I will need all the help I can get, to do it justice, and justice is really what it’s all about.

Cannabis is coming; can Korea catch the wave?


Korean national policy regarding the legal status of marijuana as, alternately, an intoxicant and a medication, and their future role in Korean agricultural economy, must undergo change in the near future. Legal recreational use of marijuana in the US states of Washington and Colorado is a done deal, and although attempts to roll it back continue, they appear less likely to succeed with each scintillating report of growing profits and tax yields from sales.
Simply put, the combination of growing interest in utilitarian products made of hemp fiber, and the combination of recreational and medical consumption of an ever-widening range of cannabinol (get you high drug) and cannabidiol (relieves your ailment with no high) drug products has become so robust that when the movement is fully developed, it will transform every society that embraces it.
What is Korea to do, then? The nation bought into the false picture painted by US demonizers of the plant, and lodged marijuana with those natural and pharmaceutical drug substances like opium and amphetamine and their derivatives. Once so grouped, strong legal penalties for use, and the promulgation of cultural taboos such as attach to any forbidden item, were made strong, sweeping and draconian.
Why all this fuss over a plant that over decades of prohibition, despite collecting millions of enthusiastic users, has yet to be blamed directly for the death of a single person? Compare this to the same statistic for alcohol or tobacco and any reasonable person should get a glimpse of marijuana’s future (and explanation of its past) now the facts about it become more widely known.
It’s understandable that, where so much official and press puffery and bombast have been launched against marijuana since its criminalization was urged upon other nations by the US, no Korean policymaker is likely to be the first to come forward and say, “Look, we need to talk about this.” One’s political game is motivated by the urgency of getting reelected. Giving one’s opponents ammunition, in the form of support for changes in Korean anti-drug laws, even if convinced of the wisdom of it, might still cost one the office.
Unless a public movement builds in support of public discussion about the legal status of a common plant that should never have been banned in the first place, Korea stands to miss a golden opportunity to expand its agricultural and medical sectors, and to gain a step on the inevitable global economic movement that will result from the decriminalization of cannabis. It’s economic potential is a big part of what lies at the heart of opposition to it from alcoholic beverage and pharmaceuticals industries. There is no question that legal weed will shrink their bottom lines, and that will be a good thing.
The point of origin for pressure on the Korean political community to do this is the agricultural sector. Even if marijuana continues to be banned for use by Koreans, farmers should be permitted and encouraged to start the process of creating a grow-for-export sector, with strong support for research and development. If we work openly to ensure that Korea becomes one of the earliest advanced producers of top-quality cannabis products, especially medical cannabidiol, and a robust medical research program to go with it, Koreans will benefit economically. There’s no reason for Korea to be left behind. All it will take is the political courage to kick it off.

RIP Whitney Houston


I was already thinking about the death of this tragic young woman  when a Facebook friend posted  the ABC News report of it to me. It had come up on Talking Points Memo when I had launched it minutes earlier. I responded (to the friend) with a complaint against ABC News, that had included in the first line of their report that Houston’s was a career ravaged by drugs. My vehemence rather startled my friend, and I felt a need to clarify to her, and now to the reader, that my discomfort with the whole topic had nothing to do with her, or the appearance of the report on my “Wall”.

What I meant to say was that Whitney Houston’s career, and her talent, were brilliant with or without the drugs.  I understand drugs and drug use about as well as a person can and still be alive. I can think of only three purposes that justify the use of drugs: fun, medicine and self-knowledge. Too much use, regardless of which rationale is operating, produces negative (undesirable) effects that range from defeating the purpose of use, to user fatality. Millions have died as a result of our societies’ sending us, from the time we are old enough to pay attention, a barrage of mixed, hence unreliable, messages about substances available for us to ingest, licit or illicit.

We’re told these substances will make us well, sick, tired, energetic, happy, sad, hungry, appetite-less, ad nauseam. They will make our lives better, or at least endurable. We’ve all been living down this rabbit hole to which “authority” has relocated us for so long that we don’t know up from down any more, when it comes to substances we are offered for consumption. We know marketing well enough to wisely ignore most of the claims it trumpets, if we have more than half-a-wit.

So we trust those closest to us. “This drug hasn’t killed me. I feel great. Have some. Here’s a beer to wash it down” Once it has become a way of life, it’s very hard to change it, because to do so, we would have to push away  the enablers in our life if we if we are to succeed at change. Few of us are ready to let our people go, even if it means saving our lives.

ABC News and the rest piss me off because, top to bottom, they lack either the will or the intellect or the fortitude, or any combination thereof,  to dig deeply enough into our behavior, what’s behind it and what it does to us, to produce the kind of evidence that would empower people to demand change, and see it through to a day when real change has healed our ailing civic bodies.

Every one of these stupid, unnecessary deaths of young people, be they as dull as most, or as brilliant as Whitney Houston, might have been helped,  if what was killing them hadn’t been criminalized, putting it beyond the perimeter of intelligent, sympathetic scrutiny by ABC News and their ilk. Now, like carrion-eaters,  they return to feast on Whitney Houston’s sad remains and to capitalize on her tragedy by “reporting” it in a moralistic tone.

The Best of the Billionaires


Since I put the idea out there for them to embrace with the alacrity and verve we find so appealing in them, America’s billionaires have been slow to recognize the real opportunity my plan represents. This is hard to explain. After all, who’s better known for seizing an opportunity to become even more financially rotund than the commercial behemoths produced by the US system of trickle down, Hoover up freemarket capitalism.

The plan in a nutshell, you may remember, is a unique combination of reality TV and game show, with an American Idol twist. It starts with a move every billionaire can get behind, and divides up the planet between a number of the most competitive billionaires (weaklings under $2bn net worth need not apply.) Each billionaire is allowed to compete with up to one billion of his or her own money, and whatever profits are gained from their enterprise in the competition are theirs to keep, after all expenses have been settled.

Every day brings new ideas and insights to the scheme, and today’s come from the sale of the Shine Group, owned by Rupert Murdoch’s daughter, to the mogul himself, price tag: $672 million. The old fellow wants the company, we are told, because of all the great things it’s goint to add to the content-creation arm of his behemoth media empire. He may envision improvements to his FOX Broadcasting unit, where the need for help with quality content is sorely needed, if we can’t believe what we’re hearing and seeing there, and it seems we can’t. Good luck with that.

So here it is, Ms Murdoch, here is the gem that will help ensure that the new Shine on the Murdoch fortunes is real, and not just a reflection of the stage lights on Dad’s ego. Pick up the option on this program and produce an instant hit. I say start with the 50 states and give one each to a billionaire with no current financial holdings in that state. Charge them with building a team of idea people, researchers, managers and engineers, and public relations and marketing people who are presently unemployed in that state. Start by landing one or more of the many unemployed human resources professionals wandering around looking dazed and confused and go from there.

All they have to do to get started is to verify that they have placed $US one billion in escrow for the project, and the game is on. Round up the local media teams to keep an eye (and a camera) on their their every move, as they begin to shape a new industry for the state, or to improve its existing resources to a level of fiscal productiveness. Make sure they all get exactly the same breaks, in terms of obeying the local laws. Air weekly or even daily reports on the action, answering questions on the minds of local viewers: Who’re the players? What’s the action?; How much is being spent, and on what?

Empanel a group of experts to evaluate the moguls’ projects in terms of whose ideas are generating the most good for the most citizens of each’s respective state. Finally, set up a method, a la American Idol, where the citizens can make their own opinions count, in terms of how they are receiving that which is being put in place for them. Use an algorithm combining the findings of the panel with the votes of the public to allot a number of points per week to each player. The billionaire with the most points for the week is the “Best Billionaire”.

I’m looking your way, Ms Murdoch, for the same reason I first offered the idea to Donald Trump. I figured he’d jump at the chance to do it, and earned a well-deserved Nobel, thus putting him a giant step closer to the US Presidency that he feels so uniquely qualified for. He’s ignoring me, possibly because it’s easier to just keep building projects that shave money off those of his own class. Who can say?

I reckon that, if you know anything at all, Ms Murdoch, you must know media. I think you will see the merits in this plan, if your imagination is as good as we imagine. This project has the potential to produce more media revenue in the first year alone, than Diddums is forking over for your Shine Group. Here’s your chance to build another one, even bigger and better, and in less time, without even breaking a sweat. Call it Spit Shine. Call it whatever you want, once it’s yours. Call me.

Jack Large

Seoul

Cleveland SWAT Berzerkistan Blues


Cleveland poet and Facebook friend John Burroughs has just posted a link to his wall of a horrendous killing in a Cleveland parking lot, where someone shot a parking lot attendant to death over a space. As if this wasn’t bad enough, along comes a commenter,  Liz Dean Miller, with an account of another, personal, experience just as harrowing as the park-and-shoot narrative, but with a scary twist. I have reproduced it here, verbatim

this is just the beginning….we are going to Cleveland to see Frankie Vali and the 4 Seasons at CPH…I am not looking forward to parking…But we were also sitting in our home, in our safe space, when we were terrorized, by Lorain County Swat, Cleveland Police, and Detectives….thanks to an ex-wifes Uncle who was very careless in reporting that my friend was a “armed robber” he saw on T.V. I am still terrified, I still have nightmares, i can look down on my chest and still see the infra-red lights, I can still feel the cold on my face and body, being forced down on my front porch wearing nothing but a flannel night gown, having my wrists handcuffed so tight I cried, this was on a dark cold night in December, and looking at my friend lying next to be in the same predicament, hearing the SWAT team running through the house, making sure the house was CLEAR..I can still hear those words……CLEAR…CLEAR….and then hearing HOUSE SECURED….it was secure….but not now…no-one is safe anymore…..no one….sitting helplessly on the couch handcuffed behind your back and having Cleveland Cops demean you and your best friend, terrorize the dogs, and sitting and watching and hearing your whole house being turned upside down, hearing dishes break and mattresses flipped off the beds, and these men laughing..and watching your best friend being taken away ………now try sleeping…jumping at every sound…and when you do fall asleep, the dreams are of an everyday occurance turning into your boss, best friend, neighbor being dressed in BLACK gear, pointing a gun at you, this is fear that is allowed in a free country….and let’s not talk about the expense…..of this mistaken identity…over $30,000.00…and this doesn’t include the medical expenses for wrist surgery, therapy, physical and mental….and does it make it better to talk about it….I don;t know..It is hard to hold it in side…the heaviness on the chest, and then it is hard to talk about it because the heart starts fluttering, the breathing becomes harder, the pain in the chest tightens….the fingers tingle….and tell me how I am supposed to survive???????????????????
A few more comments follow, including the information in answer to my question: “Was your friend sought by the police because he was guilty of the crime charged to him?”. The answer, “the armed robber is still at large….”. Energized, I hope, by the outpouring of sympathy, interest  and consternation, Ms. Miller continues:
I forgot to mention when they came to the house….I thought at first they were here to protect us that maybe there was danger in the neighborhood….little did I know we were the DANGEROUS ones….they didn’t even have the picture of the robber, they had my friend’s Driver’s license picture…of course it was him….and then they threatened to arrest me if they found a gun in our house….which we don’t have….I heard them laughing in the kitchen…I think we found it…It was my Christmas cookie super shooter cookie maker….we kept asking them what was wrong, and why were they here???The one cop said…Your friend robbed a bank,a submarine, and a brinks truck….and then he called us low lifes and that he wasn’t used to dealing with scum like us, that he was a vice cop and deals with prostitutes and drug dealers, not low lifes and how we lived in such a shit hole…I kept telling them they were making a mistake, that my friend goes no where without me.  He suffers from major depression, is in treatment for it and also is agoraphobic…well they said we need to arrest you then also.  they had all of our windows open, for the neighbors to see everything and also had all the lights on, the house surrounded by police…and the two of us sitting helplessly on the couch humiliated…I begged them to treat us with respect…and our City police officer who was a witness for them even said, can you release her, her brother is a policeman and he said..CALL HIM…for over 2 hours we still didn’t know why they were in our house…they found a hat on the table that came in the mail that day and they said we found the hat…oh yeah and the receipt for it that was on the table disappeared….also a brown leather jacket of Marks.they also took all the gloves we owned and sunglasses 2 pair were from the 3D movie…also they threw the no=knock search warrent at me after they took Mark into custody.  I was still handcuffed and couldnt read it.  I begged the detective to please take the cuffs off that I had no feeling in my hands….they finally let me stand up and they took them off and saw how purple they were and told me to shake them, shake them hard, after the color started coming back they told me to sit down and put my hands in fornt of me and they rehandcuffed me…I told them again you made a mistake…and the Cop said..well then get yourself a fancy expensive lawyer and sue us if we are wrong…WELL GUESS WHAT..we can’t sue the police, or the judge that gave the no=knock search warrent because they all have IMMUNITY….they were doing their job..They got the information from someone watching t.v. and thought it was his nieces ex=husband he hadn’t seen in 15 years..so the detectives took the surveillence video to Marks work place where he hadn’t worked in 5 years, and asked different people if they knew him and watch this video and tell us if it is him….the robber had his coat pulled up to his chin a big pair of sunglasses on and a black stocking cap pulled down over his eyebrows…he also was identified as 6 feet…Mark is 6 foot 4….the getaway car was a small dark foreign car…our car is a RED CONVERSION dodge ram van with KIDROCK license plates…which by the way they apprehended it and kept it for over a month….the back filled with Christmas presents…they were looking for bullet holes since someone from the store shot at the robber,,,and hit the car….,well I know I am rambling…but then when they took Mark to jail, he asked if he could please change his clothes since he had his pajamas on and they made him strip in the living room in front of the opened windows and in front of all the cops and me…they finally uncuffed me after they took him out the door…I pleaded that they let him have his medication….they wouldn’t….after he left I fell to the floor curled up in fetal postion and cried and rocked back and forth….my brother the cop called me and said LIZ THEY HAVe proof THEY HAVE VIDEOS OF YOUR VAN LEAVING THE SCENE AND PICTURES OF MARK AND YOU JUST DON’T KNOW what people are really like…here he knew about it because he had a courtesy call from a swat team member..I cried and said..It is not Mark, It is not Mark I KNOW…then my dad called and wanted to come over and stay with me, but he was sick from his CHEMO and I told him I would be ok..i wasn’t and I am not….Mark spent 5 days in Jail. I had to post a 50,000 dollar bond….5,000 NON REFUNDABLE…THEY (sic)
Backtracking to fill in what she felt were blanks in the narrative, she adds:
there was a knock at our door late one evening and I saw bright lights on the porch and it was channel 19 news….i GUESS they expected me to not open the door and let them in,,,Mark was lying down on the couch and the reporter walked in and he even realized Mark was not the robber…still at that time we did not know what or where the robbery was, the reporter told us it was at a WEST SIDE BEVERAGE STORE in Cleveland….and it happened on Dec. 1st….around 5;30…WELL on that day we were with our mechanic picking up our car he was fixing..We had phone records and computer records as our ALIBI…but no one asked us where we were the night of the robbery…they went on heresay…..
And:
PLEASE pray for us…we are really messed up from this…we are still being shunned by people that don;t know the truth there never was a retraction in the paper….The victims were face to face with Mark in the court room and when they were asked if the robber was in the room they [both said NO…. [PAUSE]  I wonder how many innocent people have been wronged?? And does anyone care how this messed us up???? Mentally, and financially….and what a set back MArk had ….with his disability….he had been going to therapy for over 5 years for his depression and he regressed.I am being treated for PTSD …and do the Cleveland Police or the Grand Jury or the Prosecutors or the Judge that signed the Search Warrent , or the accusers care?????????????????????? [pause]  Oh and one more thing….if the cops would have done their homework, they would have known about the alibi, also that Mark had applied for Social Security Disability and that morning of the robbery…His back Social Security of 13,000 dollars was deposited….So he is going to go 40 miles to Cleveland and rob a mom and pop beverage store for $80 that evening of December 1st…..
There is not a lot more to say, so I’ll wrap it up with my comment from the Facebook thread, after the second block quote above:
It’s okay, Honey, you ramble on. If this isn’t fiction, it’s horrendous and should be aired as widely as a social network is capable of accomplishing. If it is fiction, it’s damn good fiction. It’s a cliche, I know, but it would be a challenge to make this up (easy enough to imagine, though, I guess). I’ll call everyone’s attention to it, and we’ll let the fiction editors and personal injury lawyers sort out the pieces.