I suppose it was only a matter of time, and quite honestly I am surprised it has taken this long, but science has finally done it. Yep, a group of scientists in Israel have managed to finally cultivate a marijuana plant that won’t get you highâ€¦ Once the stoners catch wind of this I can imagine that we will hear a collective, “that’s a bummer dude,” uttered from their mouths and while few have ever heard a stoner raise their voice outside of Phish, or Wide Spread Panic, or Grateful Dead concerts, this just might be one time where it could happen.
I imagine that there are some people who are not stoners who are asking, “What the hell is the point of pot that doesn’t get you high?” Admittedly it does sound a lot like nonalcoholic beer, doesn’t it? And, according to these same scientists, this non-high inducing pot has the same taste and smell when smoked as the kind that will get you stoned. Ironically one of the selling points for nonalcoholic beer is that it has the taste of regular beer. Yeah, and people are lining up around the block to buy a twelve pack of nonalcoholic beer, or “near beer” as some do call it, because they love the taste of beer so much, but not the alcohol that’s in it.
Rest assured people, there is a method to the madness of these scientists (HA!, mad scientists), they believe that by removing the effects of THC (the chemical that gets you high) then this new breed of pot can better serve those who smoke marijuana for medical purposes. I always thought that it was the THC that was the stuff that gave marijuana its medical benefits; but obviously I am no scientist. It appears that there is another chemical that is present that gives marijuana its medicinal properties, which is cannabidiol, or CBD; and the scientists have left that chemical intact. So now those who like, need, or request medical marijuana can get it and still be able to function without a bag of Doritos, and the nearest pizza delivery place on speed dial. All joking aside, the creation of this plant could further legitimize marijuana for its medicinal uses, because let’s be honest the cynic in many of us has always thought that medical marijuana was simply a loophole for people to get stoned.
Child rearing, ask any parent out there and you will probably get as many ways to do this properly as the number of parents that you ask. While many will say that your child does not come with a handbook, or instructions upon their birth as to how to properly raise your little bundle(s) of joy, there are countless books that you can buy on the subject of parenting. I am sure that each of them have their merits, but at the same time I have to kind of wonder how ANY book can possibly be considered the be all and end all as to what is the “proper” way to bring up your children.
There has been a prevailing and almost an institutionalized belief over the last 30 or so years that the best way to bring up children is to essentially heap mountains of praise upon them. This has created an environment where parents have basically sheltered (for lack of a better word) their children from damn near anything that might even come close to causing irreparable harm to their children’s psyche. Scores are no longer kept in some youth athletics, and everyone gets a trophy, or ribbon, but at the same time no one gets a bigger trophy or a blue ribbon. Essentially everyone is a winner. There are other instances where a child who displays superior talent at a position is asked to stop playing that position because it isn’t fair to the other kids who aren’t as good as him/her. The problem with fostering an environment where no one loses is that it also fosters the environment where no one wins too. Along those lines a psychology professor in Australia, Helen McGrath, has recently released a study in which the environment of overpraising our children has actually turned many children brought up is this type of environment have essentially created a generation of narcissistic bullies who believe that they can do no wrong.
So it appears that the tide may be turning a bit away from the outright spoilage of our children, I don’t think that we are going to find a return to the days of “spare the rod, spoil the child.” However I think some sort of return to a sane approach where failures are not avoided, prevented and/or blocked from our children’s life experience, but are instead used to create learning experiences and foster a desire to overcome said setbacks (watch this video on Michael Jordan’s failures) and to become a more humble and well-rounded individual. There is one thing that I can almost guarantee, and that is in another 30 years or so there will be another theory as to how is the best way to bring up our children.
If you are a movie fan, particularly the so called “B” movies, then you are no doubt familiar with and more than likely a fan of the Japanese “Godzilla” monster movies. I remember watching them as a kid and thinking that they were pretty damn cool, even though I could tell that the giant lizard and his foes were obviously dudes dressed in rubber suits. Combine the decidedly less than “Star Wars” special effects with the poorly dubbed dialogue, and less than stellar acting, these movies never were, and never will be considered “Oscar worthy” creations, but despite all of these faults they were and are still a lot of campy fun.
For those of you not familiar with these movies, the gist is this. Godzilla was the result of a mutation caused by nuclear radiation, which caused this lizard to grow to its gargantuan size and enabled it with the ability to shoot a concentrated radioactive beam from his mouth; and due to these mutations he wreaks havoc upon Tokyo leaving a swath of destruction before eventually being repelled back into the sea from where he came. The movie is supposed to be a parable showing the dangers of nuclear technology, though that message tends to get lost in the mentioned crappy dubbed dialogue, bad scripts, and equally bad acting.
Now, what if I were to tell you that radioactive creatures have been pulled from the sea recently as a result of the Fukushima nuclear reactor leak caused by the massive earthquake off the coast of Japan last year? Fishermen off the coast of California have caught Bluefin tuna that have measurable levels of cesium-134 and cesium-137 in their flesh, leading one scientist to say that, “We are frankly kind of startled,” by this discovery. However we are told that the levels of radiation in these fish are in small enough amounts to where they can still be cooked and eatenâ€¦ Um, I think I will pass on that, because I don’t want some angry mutant lizard seeking revenge for his fallen mutant fish friends to come ashore and destroy a city.
Most of us have heard the old saying, “crime doesn’t pay;” and yet people still commit crimes. So, what gives with that? I would like to sound all saintly here, and say that I have never done anything wrong and then condemn anyone who has, but alas I am no saint. Yep, I have unfortunately done things that I am not particularly proud of and paid the consequences for those transgressions. I am willing to bet that the vast majority of us have done things that are at least on the fringes of legality, and whether you got caught or not I would hope that your conscious gave you a bit of a nudge, acknowledging that what you were doing was wrong. If it didn’t then perhaps you might be pathological, and that is a whole other issue.
Now, to be clear, my transgressions were not capital crimes, I am not a convict, nor am I a fugitive, but I will say that I have learned my lesson, and leave it at that. What is puzzling though is when someone who seemingly is living a good, solid, and productive life gets caught doing something not so good, solid, or productive. Take for example Thomas Langenbach, a 47 year Vice President of the California division of the German software giant SAP. Mr. Langenbach could be said to be living the American dream, he had a good job, which presumably paid him handsomely, but he was arrested for running an elaborate scheme involving the theft of Legos.
Apparently using his tech savvy skills Mr. Langenbach created fraudulent bar codes that he would then apply to boxes of Legos at his local Target. These barcodes, when scanned, would then ring up these Legos at steep discounts. How steep? How about a $279 Millennium Falcon “sold” to him for $49, um yeah, that is quite the discount. Well, Target was on to him and called the Police, who then arrested him. Am I the only one who is struggling with why a corporate exec would want to carry on such a criminal enterprise?
What is art? Art is defined thusly: the quality, production, expression, or realm, according to aesthetic principles, of what is beautiful, appealing, or of more than ordinary significance. Using that definition then most people would agree that the Mona Lisa, Monet’s Water Lilies, and Michelangelo’s David most certainly is and should be considered as art. Art isn’t solely reserved to for paintings and sculptures; music is considered to be an art, as is dance, and theater. As the definition says art can be anything that has aesthetics and beauty, but those are certainly subjective words. As the saying goes, beauty is in the eye of the beholder, and aesthetics most certainly lies in the eyes of each individual as well.
Take for example the paintings of Pablo Picasso, he is credited with launching the cubist movement, and while I would certainly consider his works to be art, some people might not think that these paintings are so artsy. The same holds true with music, dance and theater, so I guess we could say that art is in the eye of the beholder. There are some people out there who call themselves artists and seem to think that art should convey a message, or get a point across; and to do so requires some sort of shock value.
One of these “artists” is Mao Sugiyama who lives in Japan and identifies himself as “asexual.” Asexual means lacking sex or functioning sexual organs. Mr. Sugiyama felt the need to bring awareness to what he refers to as the sexual minorities of Japan, and these minorities include asexual people. To do this he decided to have his penis and testicles surgically removed and then prepared by a chef and served to five people who paid $250 each for this entrÃ©e. Now, I ask again, what is art; and does this constitute being it?
Many of us can probably identify with some sort of environmental cause or another. Now this doesn’t mean that makes any of us “tree huggers” but it does mean that we recognize that the human race does have an impact on the environment. As such we probably recognize that things like littering and excess waste can and does pose a negative impact on the world we all live in. However, how many of us quasi-environmentalist think about the impact of things that are seemingly innocuous might have on the world we live in?
What things you might ask? Well how about the streetlights that keep our parking lots and neighborhood streets lit at night? It appears that not only does light pollution, as it is called, not only hampers our view of the stars at night, but it is also having a negative effect on the ecology too. Right now many of you are probably thinking that this must have something to do with the emissions from power plants generated by having to keep all of those street lights burning all night long. Well, I am sure there are issues with that as well, but according to Tom Davies there are other ecological issues that keeping these lights burning all night are causing.
According to Mr. Davies, an ecologist at the University of Exeter in the U.K., street lights and the light that they emit are showing to have an impact on the invertebrate populations that live near these lights. By invertebrates he means bugs, and he says that theses lights are essentially affecting the circadian rhythms of our multi-legged friends. His study has also shown that plant life around streetlights is also affected by their evening glow; disrupting when they flower, and seed. While he stops short of advocating the switching off of all streetlights, he does say that new approaches should be examined as to minimize the effects of the light pollution emitted by these modern conveniences.
Is it me or does it seem that we humans can’t seem to do anything right without endangering some part of the world or another? I’m not advocating getting rid of us, but geez what are we supposed to do if everything we do negatively affects some part of the environment?
Social media is an interesting thing. As you can see by my comment that is neither meant to be an endorsement, nor a rebuke of this modern phenomenon; I myself have an account with one of these social media outlets, and it is a love/hate relationship I have with my account. On the one hand social media has done wonders in succeeding with its stated goal for bringing people together. However on the other hand it has also failed in this endeavor, because according to some studies social media has actually made many people far more isolated; despite them having 500 “friends” online.
Love it or loathe it, or maybe a little of both, I believe that social media is here to stay, because it can and does succeed in being able to transmit information rapidly to many groups and individuals. Whether that information is worthwhile or not is completely up to the recipient. Take for example this recent instance where a model used her Twitter account to announce how she bribed a South African Police officer to get out of a receiving a speeding ticket. She later re-tweeted that she was only joking about the bribe to get attention from her followers. Um, can you say that is one insecure, and assuredly attractive, woman? Some might say she is a media whore.
Then there is the Buffalo Bills wide receiver who felt the need to tweet his HIV test results, they were negative if you are curious; which I am sure is a relief to him, and anyone who has had relations with him recently.
Yeah, those are narcissistic examples to be sure, however it should be noted that social media is largely credited with the “Arab Spring” uprisings that successfully toppled both the Libyan and Egyptian despotic regimes, which I doubt anyone other than those despots would argue were not worthwhile uses of social media. I guess if everything is honky dory then all social media is good for is vanity and shallowness, with maybe the occasional worthwhile status update. However, if the stuff is about to hit the fan then social media can be used as a means to rally those with like interests.
What were you doing when you were in high school? If you were what many would call a “typical” teenager, then you probably were doing “typical” teenage stuff. While I will refrain from speculating on whatever “typical” teenage stuff was for you, I will say some of the stuff I was doing when I was in high school. I was, cutting classes, going to parties, and sleeping — a lot back then. While I was no angel, I wasn’t a complete dirt bag loser either. I was just a pimply faced, gangly, hormone ravaged, teenage dude; trying to figure out who the hell I thought I was. So, yeah, I guess I was a fairly “typical” teenager.
Well, we all know that not everyone is typical; there are some that are extraordinary, and some who are decidedly not so extraordinary. The valedictorian and salutatorian from my high school class both were (and I am sure they still are) simply brilliant individuals, but compared to these high school students below I think even their brilliance might pale in comparison.
Every year Intel holds the Intel International Science and Engineering Fair, which is the world’s largest pre-college science and engineering competition. I think we all can recognize that “pre-college” means teenagers are the ones entering this competition; and being the world’s largest such competition I can assure you that the science projects being submitted are NOT those of your “typical” science fair or your “typical” teenagers. Take for example this year’s winner of the competition, Jack Andraka; he is a fifteen year old from Maryland and he invented a new method to test for pancreatic cancer that is 90% accurate, 28 times cheaper, and 1000 times more sensitive than the current testing methods for this disease. The second place finishers’ projects were equally extraordinary, with one researching ways to improve search engine efficiencies, and the other studying quantum teleportation. Yeah, that kind of makes whatever you were doing in high school seem more than a little trite; I know it certainly does mine.
What is your idea of a leader? That is obviously an open ended and very subjective question, and as with any open ended and subjective question there is no “right” answer. Your ideal image of a leader is pretty much guaranteed not to be the same as mine; but I am willing to bet that there are some traits that are almost certainly to overlap. Traits like integrity, honesty, and I am sure many of us would include intelligence in the list of our necessary criteria. I doubt any of us would want a morally bankrupt, pathologically dishonest, idiot to be in a position of leadership. Unfortunately to many of our way past jaded views we probably see most of our elected officials come up lacking in the integrity, and honesty departments, but we might begrudgingly give many of them the benefit of the doubt when it comes to their intelligence.
Well, believe it or not there is a group called the Sunlight Foundation who conducts a study that measures the approximate grade level education of members of Congress based upon how they speak; and the current trend is decidedly down. The current estimated grade level of Congress is at the 10th grade level, again based on the words they actually speak. This is down from 2005 when the collected Congressional spoken word clocked in at the 11th grade level. For a historical basis the documents from our countries founding fathers, the Constitution and the Declaration of Independence are measured to be at the 17th and 15th grade level respectively. While we all know that high school only goes up to grade 12, grade levels 17 and 15 are decidedly at the graduate school level, if grade levels were to be measured in a numeric fashion beyond high school. So, we are being governed by a bunch of people who collectively are at a 10th grade level of intelligence, but we shouldn’t be too worried; because according to a separate study the average American measures at around the 8th and 9th grade levels. Based upon these metrics then our elected leaders are still smarter than us, so they still can be called intelligent on a relative basis; now if they could only improve their integrities and honesty.
According to economics, in a free market, capitalist society, competition is said to help drive prices down as well as spur innovation. It is supposed to be a dog eat dog world, where the consumers are free to choose the brands they like the best and shun the brands they like the least; it is nothing short of survival of the fittest, or corporate Darwinism if you will. Now I am not here to tell you that this is the best arrangement in the world, that is obviously up to you and your personal beliefs, but I will say the free market system has, in part, led to the spectacular success and choices that we in the Western world have enjoyed for the better part of over 100 years; to be fair though it has also led to some failures too.
One of the keys to being successful in such a system, besides having a product that people want, is advertising. A good advertising campaign works. There are numerous examples of how a catchy ad leads to increased sales; one of the more current successes is that of Dos Equis Beer’s “Most Interesting Man in the World” commercials. Shortly after those ads started running Dos Equis sales increased 21.5%, and I dare say that any company, not just a beer company, would love to have a 21% increase in sales of their product(s). However, there are some other clever, and perhaps strange, lengths companies will go in the name of advertising their brand, like growing fruit.
A Brazilian advertising agency has developed a way where companies can literally grow fruit with their logo embossed on it. The process is not unlike how Japanese farmers created square watermelons. However unlike the watermelons, which were grown square to preserve precious space, the Brazilian fruit uses the same technique of encasing the growing fruit in a mold that has corporate logos in them. Time will tell if this form of advertising will increase sales, but it is rather clever, and kind of surprising it took anyone this long to think of this.