Archive for November, 2013

Being friends with a lot of politically conscious people means Columbus Day and Thanksgiving are both days where I am bombarded with reminders of the colonial traditions which gave birth to these holy days. If you didn’t know the word holiday comes from the old English word for a holy day; these two holidays also have a pronounced Christian lineage. While I have long know that Christopher Columbus was a Christian explorer who destroyed native civilizations, I wasn’t aware of Thanksgivings strong religious roots until this year. Honest Abe Lincoln started it all when he proclaimed that the last Thursday of November shall be, “a day of Thanksgiving and Praise to our beneficent Father who dwelleth in the Heavens.” But

Thanksgiving is a celebration of the victory of slave-trader smallpox over the indigenous people’s of America. The smallpox and slave traders preceded the Mayflower by nearly a century, wiping out up to 90% of native populations and leaving plenty of already-made cities with grain-houses full, and no signs of human life. Plymouth colony was founded in a native ghost town. The entire process, plague and all, was viewed as God’s will assisting the pilgrims.

You remember Squanto, the Indian who helped the pilgrims weather that first winter and thus gave birth to the entire Thanksgiving story? Yea, that was HIS village they were in. He had been abducted by slavers decades before, was taught English, shipbuilding, navigation, and all manner of things while crossing the Atlantic six times before returning home. Ponder this and wonder who it was more shocking for. Was it more startling for Squanto, coming home to his village from England, only to find more white people there and everyone he knows dead? Or was it more shocking to those largely uneducated white settlers who were used to natives as savages to meet one who was better educated than most of them and spoke fluent English?

Yep, that was Thanksgiving. We took this land from the indigenous Americans after the plague wiped them out, then locked them into square houses and took their power away (to paraphrase Black Elk, a famous Iroquis political-philosopher). We Americans are still taking the power away from indigenous Americans, with many growing up on reservations rife with alcoholism and poor nutrition. While the speed of genocide has slowed it still exists.

Now that you know the REAL story of the first Thanksgiving, and what the holy day is really celebrating (God, plague, and massacre), here is my Thanksgiving paradox. I’ve seen tons of my friends, often the same ones who mention the colonial roots of this holiday, arguing for a shopping boycott on Thanksgiving. The paradox is, how can you argue against the awful colonial history of the holiday and square that with your defense of it’s sacredness against the horrors of capitalism? So, how do you reconcile your dislike of capitalism’s encroachment on this holiday with this holiday’s barbaric roots?

I say the work around is morph the holiday into one of remembrance of those lost and a time to spend with those still alive; celebrate the children who are the future. My opposition to shopping and working on Thanksgiving is rooted in my desire to be with family and that others should spend the day with family. But we are a capitalist nation so if people want to work that is their call and who am I to stop them? I just won’t support the practice economically.

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You may have noticed me posting lots of photos. You probably don’t know that I went to the Academy of Art University in SF briefly for photography, or that graffiti has been my muse since before I could work a camera. Specifically, the graffiti along the Caltrain and BART tracks here in the Bay Area is what got me into photography. At this point I have about a decade of photos if you include my really old ones from my crappy film camera (not 35mm, a point and shoot).

I am working on a graffiti art book that is a history of Bay Area graffiti. This post includes some of the finished shots, not sure if and when I will get around to posting more. These photos were taken in 2008, I did not record the month but I would guess it was in the fall, by the overcast skies. These are my photos but the art is not mine, the art belongs to the countless graffiti artists of the world. I want this book to be a record of the amazing works they have constructed for our pleasure in the most uncanny and ephemeral of places. The beauty of graffiti art is its zen nature, it exists by creation and destruction. Without the constant painting over of old graffiti we would never get space for new works, thus it must be temporary, but that doesn’t make the loss of good work any more bearable. Someone, in this case me, should preserve the work before it is lost to the sands of time. That is why I am working on my book.

All praise to the artists.

The Maintenance Man

Narwahl

 

Fuego 64

 

Doorway

Don’t Wake Sleeping Dragons

Kulture Soldier

A Taste Of Oakland

Laundry Day Lifehacks

Posted: November 25, 2013 in DIY, Fashion
Tags: , ,

I was doing laundry on my day off and it reminded me of a couple nifty life hacks I came up with a few years back to save yourself tons of time on ironing clothes and stress on your back.

This is a really simple point but one overlooked by many people I see at the laundromat, have your clothes in something with wheels. I personally use my wheeled luggage that I take on airplanes, it’s conveniently the right size for a load of laundry and it prevents me from having to have a cart just for laundry. This bag is also water proof enough to protect my laundry from the rain.

The second lifehack is to bring a heavy-duty jacket coat hanger with you to hang up easily wrinkled clothes. Instead of stuffing dress shirts into a bag only to have to iron them when you get home just hang them up. It helps to hang up the smallest in size first and layer to the largest, you can fit about a dozen on one hanger before it becomes unwieldy.

CAM00033

As you have probably gathered I love riding bikes and I am all about cool bike technologies. You’ve already seen some photos of me with my Montague X50 but you may not have realized that it was actually a folding bike. Most people look at it and ask if it is an electric bike, to which I reply not yet. Even though it isn’t electric assisted my Montague is still pretty nifty. Having full-sized 26 inch wheels I can pull a consistent 20mph out of it on city streets sustained for over 5 miles. Also, since it is full-sized, it is much more stable for a taller rider like myself (I am told that smaller wheels make it harder to balance).

The best part about folding bikes for me in San Francisco is that the folding means I can bring it onto lightrail trains like the N Judah that normally do not allow bikes on-board. Many local transit agencies have rules like the SFMTA, but not all. The VTA down in Santa Clara is perhaps the least bike friendly transit agency I have had experience with. Though many drivers and ticket agents in SF are not used to seeing folding bikes on trains and I tend to get hassled on a weekly basis at least SFMTA has a standing policy protecting my right to bring my folding bike on trains.

While I love my Montague X50 and the Paratrooper that gave birth to it, they don’t fold up that small and they weigh a ton. In case you were wondering the Paratrooper got its name because it was designed to be dropped out of planes into remote locations with paratroopers. They are both rugged, tough build bikes that weigh as much as a Hummer, by bike standards. The X50 weighs in at a staggering 32lbs with the Paratrooper Pro being a “sleek” 27lbs. My bike with lights, a back rack, fenders, and other add-ons is probably closer to 40lbs.

If you want the power of a full sized bike but want something that folds smaller like a Brompton, check out the new FUBi Bike. The main draw of the FUBi is that it folds up small enough to fit into a tennis racket case, save for the wheels. Not even Bromptons fold up that small and they aren’t full sized bikes. The FUBi is in a class of its own, but does not look remotely as user friendly as either a Brompton or a Montague. I’m eagerly awaiting more polished designs based off this prototype.

In the stanza about Emma Goldman the word read is pronounced in the past tense (phonetically red), this is meant to be a play on words but I worry it may not read well.

Sup B (Anonymous)

Red and Black 

Red is the color of passion.

The kind of passion that spills onto the streets,

In a paroxysm of rage or a gush of blood,

The parting kiss of a billy club.

Black is no color, it is a shade.

We cloak ourselves in its cool shadows,

Covering swaddled black-blocked masses,

We stand united against the police state.

Read is what we have done to Emma Goldman,

To Marx, Kropotkin, and scores more.

Read is what they did not do to our letters and pamphlets,

Detached in towers of gilded ivory.

Black is what they will do to the images they dislike,

To the actions, thoughts and people too.

Black is what we cannot let happen to our memories,

They must be held for their crimes against life.

Red is the color of love.

The love for all beings united in struggle,

Even those not deserving of love.

We all suffer, we all face hardships.

Black is the refreshing shade of a desert oasis.

Sheltering all those who don its penumbral armor.

Even cops who dispense billy club kisses,

Stand strong in dark sunglasses, in funereal black.

Red and black are the color guard and shaded cloak of our people,

Find them wherever there is tyranny and rally to them.

Hey you! Yes you! Do you like mimes? What about singing steampunk mime robots? I sure do! As esoteric as that may sound there is a band for that, Steam Powered Giraffe. It may sound a little kitchy and weird but they are like nothing else you have heard.

They also have a new album coming out right before my birthday in a couple weeks, I can’t wait. I just need them to come up to the Bay Area on tour now.

See an updated version of this post on The Leaf Online,Cannabinoid Profile – CBG!

Cannabigerol
Formula: C21H32O2
Molecular Mass: 314.2246 g/mol
Decaboxylation Point: ????
Boiling Point:  ????
LD50 (Lethal Dose): 300mg/kg for mice (Compare to Nicotine: for mice – 3mg/kg for humans – 40–60 mg/kg)

Cannabigerol (CBG) is not considered psychoactive  and is known to block the psychoactive effects of THC.  It has been shown to stimulate the growth of new brain cells and bones. Neurogenic compounds are extremely rare which makes CBG a very worthwhile subject for more research. CBG also is antibacterial, anti-tumor, and aids with insomnia. It is effectively impossible to overdose on CBG; it usually exists only in trace amounts in a processed plant, this makes the already very high LD50 of 22.44g/kg even less. CBG is considered a ‘stem cell’ cannabinoid and can change into different cannabinoids, altering the overall effects of the plant. Some of these cannabinoids CBG morphs into are  THC ,CBD, and CBC which all share the same molecular formula but have a different structure.

Therapeutic Uses

Analgesic – Relieves pain.

Antibacterial – Slows bacterial growth.
Anti-Inflammatory – Reduces inflammation systemically.
Anti-Insomnia – Aids with sleep.
Anti-Proliferative – Inhibits cancer cell growth.
Bone Stimulant – Promotes bone growth.
Neurogenic – Helps stimulate the growth of new brain cells.

Currently Being Studied For

Glaucoma: A 2009 study found both CBG and THC to be very effective for relieving the intraocular pressure from glaucoma. This is an area that will undoubtedly be receiving more research in the years to come.

Inflammatory Bowel Disease: Much like CBD, CBG shows a lot of potential for controlling the inflammation that leads to IBD, and like CBD warrants further research.

Painkiller and Anti- Inflammatory: Recent research suggests that CBG has anti-inflammatory and analgesic properties and recommends further study.

5-HT1a Receptor Agonist/Antagonist?: CBG appears to do something at the 5-HT1a receptor that is not fully understood. It modulates how other cannabinoids affect us especially at this brain site, which is the hub of emotions and depression regulation in the brain. Depending on the study evidence suggests that CBG may help your depression and anxiety, or possibly block certain anti-depressant drugs. One study in rodents showed that if the right combination of CBG and CBD were present the CBG would block some of the anti-nausea effects of the CBD, but it could not quite identify why (other than it related to the 5HT1a receptor).

Dravet Syndrome/Seizures: Anecdotal evidence and some current studies suggest that CBG may be beneficial to patients with Dravet and other seizure conditions. A new tincture was just released at Harborside Health Center which is the first CBG-rich tincture on the market. This tincture, named Jayden’s Juice after Jayden David, the young boy with Dravet syndrome made famous by Weed Wars, is currently what Jayden is using to combat his seizures instead of a purely CBD rich tincture. A study from earlier this year also suggests that CBG may help with seizure management, but the mechanisms aren’t fully understood.

Halent 2011 - Cannabinoid and Terpenoid Chart

References:

  1. Steep Hill Lab, Cannabinoid and Terpenoid Reference Guide; http://steephilllab.com/resources/cannabinoid-and-terpenoid-reference-guide/
  2. Skunk Pharm Research, Cannabinoid and Terpene Info; http://skunkpharmresearch.com/cannabinoid-info/
  3. SC Labs, Meet the Cannabinoids; http://sclabs.com/learn/learn-cannabinoids.html

*Note: Decarboyxlation – A chemical reaction that removes a carboxyl group and releases  CO2, often triggered by heat.

You may have heard of for-proft prisons, also called private prisons, but have you heard about policing for profit? I remember a time when cops proudly branded the motto “protect and serve” on the sides of squad cars and police stations. I wonder when that was amended to be “to protect our profit margins by serving us your property?”

This is not a new problem, it goes back years with some local police pioneering the practice as early as 2006. Tenaha, Texas, was one of these pioneers and recently lost a major class action lawsuit to the countless victims of highway robbery by the police. State records show the use of asset forfeiture in Texas going back to 2001, with totals seized in the hundreds of millions of dollars. Federally, the Department of Justice claimed $1.8 billion in assets in their asset forfeiture fund. This fund has had time to build up, a good 24 years that we have records, and over that time the Feds seized over $12 billion in property, largely related  to the war on drugs. But it goes back even further than that, all the way to the founding of this country; the 4th and 5th Amendments were created to protect we citizens from abuses like these that were commonplace under the crown. Now we have come full circle and are left with robbers marauding our highways in the employ of “the crown” of the imperial presidency.

You may begin seeing a common thread developing here, black and Latino people are stopped by (almost exclusively) white cops, and forced to turn over all kinds of personal possessions not related to crimes, especially since they are innocent of crimes. Take this case out of Tenaha, the individuals stopped were not breaking any laws; contrary to popular belief it is legal to possess a pipe (for tobacco or as a gift, like in this case). When they get to the police station they see a pile of watches, jewelry, and other valuables; that sounds like a Robin Hood-esque pile of plunder but perversed and reversed stealing from the unfortunate to give to privileged white cops.

I normally don’t use Privilege Talk, as I feel its often counter-productive, but the ability to legally rob someone under threat of pain or imprisonment is certainly a privilege, and it was clearly abused. Is abused, this isn’t over because one class action lawsuit was won. There are local police and federal agents across the country still doing this. A major raid of more than a dozen state-legal dispensaries and two private residences just happened in Denver, Colorado. While on paper the federal and local agents involve claim it is a hunt for connections to Colombian drug cartels, it is also an informal reason to confiscate over $2 million in jewelry and money as well as another million in cannabis plants. As someone who works in the medical cannabis industry I want the bad players out of the game more than anyone. Unfortunately it does sound like there are people with cartel ties in Denver, but more unfortunately it sounds like Feds used this as a blank check to smash and grab all over the place.

This issue of civil asset forfeiture feeds into related issues of racial profiling and stop and frisk abuse, like this extreme case in Florida which is also resulting in a class action lawsuit against an abusive local police force. Yet again it is mainly white cops harassing and abusing non-white folks.

Read for yourself:

“Earl Sampson has been stopped and questioned by Miami Gardens police 258 times in four years. He’s been searched more than 100 times. And arrested and jailed 56 times. Despite his long rap sheet, Sampson, 28, has never been convicted of anything more serious than possession of marijuana. Miami Gardens police have arrested Sampson 62 times for one offense: trespassing. Almost every citation was issued at the same place: the 207 Quickstop, a convenience store on 207th Street in Miami Gardens. But Sampson isn’t loitering. He works as a clerk at the Quickstop.”

I’m not sure what about that one can consider police doing their job. It sounds like they have a vendetta against Mr. Sampson and the 207 Quikstop. It wasn’t just Earl though, police regularly harassed countless customers of the 207 Quikstop, often abusing “Terry” stops to do it. A Terry stop is a stop and frisk meant to search someone suspected of committing a crime for a weapon. New York City police are famous for abusing this to practice to make NY’s legally decriminalized cannabis still illegal as long as you are poor and not white. In fact, the situation in NYC is so dire the courts have stepped in to block the practice.

This is not why we have police, they were meant to protect and serve the public, not brutalize and rob them. This is why it warms my heart to see more discussions of community policing and see police forces actively implement community policing policies.

This is a new type of post I’m thinking about doing periodically. Like many non-profits I’m debating doing “Activism Alerts” to tell you folks about interesting or unique activism opportunities coming up in different areas. Not sure if I’ll continue it or not, but this one is too good to pass up.

I really love Restore the Fourth, though they are a new group they are very active fighting for our 4th amendment privacy rights. They are also very vocal about the need to roll back the NSA spying. Here in SF they are linked in with national heavy-hitters like the ACLU and EFF, as well as local groups like Occupy Oakland. I just began working with them a few weeks back online and have only made it out to one event so far, and I am very impressed with everything I have seen and heard.

The Restore the Fourth open strategy meeting this Saturday will be my second event and I imagine much more informative and influential going forward. As the blog title says it is from 4-6pm this Saturday the 23rd, and it will be held at Wichcraft (868 Mission St, SF). It should be a very worthwhile conversation for anyone who cares about their privacy rights, rights online, or really anyone who cares about still having rights at all (since the Federal government is working pretty hard to eliminate them).

As you may have noticed already with this blog I am strongly and decidedly against the War on Drugs. I’ve been a former chapter president of Students for Sensible Drug Policy, worked with the Drug Policy Alliance, Law Enforcement Against Prohibition, the Marijuana Policy Project, Americans for Safe Access and more. I was a regional director for the Proposition 19 campaign to legalize cannabis in California, which came 4% away from passing in 2010 and paved the way for 2012’s victories in Colorado and Washington. Before you begin thinking, “this guy is a drug legalizing radical,” recognize that I am not alone, I am part of the marijuana majority.

I feel that the war on drugs is one of the most important proxy battles we can fight for freedom. While there are numerous battlefields, I feel that the war on drugs, and the Prison Industrial Complex it feeds, is one of the most insidious evils perpetuated by my government, making it my battle to win. Though not my only battle.

Now, if there is only thing  I like about as much as I love cannabis it is tea. I have always loved it, green, white, black, oolong, sencha, rooibos, chai, loose leaf, bagged – tea is tea and it is a wonderful thing. I do not personally know Oshan Anand, though many of my friends do. I only found out about his amazing tea house and all the work he has done for Bay Area tea culture after he was sent to prison for intent to distribute MDMA and psychedelic mushrooms; both charges he plead not guilty to and is appealing. If you weren’t aware, court isn’t cheap and running a tea house is not normally how one gets rich. Oshan needs our help if he is going to get his appeal and get out before his 12.5 year  mandatory minimum sentence.

If you are like me and part of a growing majority of Americans who feels that the drug war is criminally wrong please take after my example and donate to Oshan’s defense. This young man is not a criminal, we don’t have prison’s to lock up non-violent teahouse owners; prison is for hardened criminals like murders and rapists. If you can’t donate, Oshan is able to take letters; please write Oshan and help return the sense of community to his life that has been stolen from him by the state.

While this post has focused solely on Oshan Anand, someone who to the naked eye is “a white guy,” the vast majority of those incarcerated for drug crimes are under 25, male, and black or latino. The arrest disparity is so bad it has been rightfully called The New Jim Crow and led to the creation of Orange is the New Black, who’s title is a subtle shout out to all the inmates in orange working as slave labor for Walmart.

As a last comment, while I referred to Oshan as a “white guy,” I loathe that term. I used it because he, like me, passes as white to the naked eye and thus will get pigeon-holed as ‘an awful white male oppressor’ by strangers who can’t be bothered to learn who he/I really are. That whole logic of, “you’re X/Y/Z you won’t understand” is a way to keep people down and divided, while ignoring a myriad of diversity. Diversity, like how Oshan and I are Buddhists; or how I am white and genderqueer. One can assume by Oshan Anand’s name there is something non-white there, like my own smattering of Cherokee. There is more to diversity than skin-color, but when you are talking about prison it is ignorant of the facts to ignore race.

Please, donate to Oshan’s defense, help him and every non-violent drug offender get their Constitutionally guaranteed freedom.