June 9, 2005

pray that what you lack does not distract


Mechanical Model of Cannibalistic Imperative, by Shlyapnikov

* James Muhm writes a letter to his friend who supports the drug war. read the whole thing. excerpt:

"First of all we must ask, has the war on drugs reduced the amount of drugs available in our country? The answer, emphatically, is no. More illegal drugs are now available on the street, in higher grade and at a cheaper price, than at any time since drugs were first banned in 1914. There is no sign that drug use among the population is lessening. Instead, it seems that anyone who wants to use illegal drugs will get them, whether other illegal acts must be used to get the money to pay for them or not.
...
"Other costs to society imposed by the war on drugs are seen in the way in which we now accept reduced limits on our freedoms. Consider forfeiture laws, those laws enacted to punish users and dealers by allowing law-enforcement agencies to seize assets to further fight the war on drugs. Using these laws, police agencies and prosecutors can claim cash, houses, automobiles, and other assets that are in any way used in violation of drug laws, even if that property was used without the knowledge or consent of the owner.

"Such power sometimes leads law enforcement to a great temptation to skirt the technicalities of the law in order to seize assets, not to be used as evidence in a court trial, but simply to make use of them. The agencies can do this because they have only to 'believe the assets were used in a drug transaction.' No criminal charges need ever be filed against the person whose property was seized, and the burden of proof then is on the owner of the seized property to have it returned. In the process, law-enforcement and judicial resources are diverted away from truly serious and threatening crimes, so they can be used to interfere with those who are determined to abuse, not others, but only themselves.
...
"And, finally, we should consider whether it is ethical or right for some citizens, e.g., those of us opposed to the use of recreational drugs, to use the force of government to impose our ideas of proper deportment on others. Society rebels at the idea of using force, Taliban-style, to enforce 'approved' lifestyles on others in most circumstances; why not when a person chooses to get high on drugs? Granted, legalizing drugs would not solve all of the problems associated with drug abuse, but it would solve the problems arising from the illegality of drugs. The tremendous costs to society in trying to prohibit drug use are counterproductive. The misguided war on drugs criminalizes personal behavior that does not threaten others, creates an incentive for truly criminal acts by drug users desperate for a fix, wastes public treasure, and, most obviously, is not achieving its desired ends.

"Let’s stop this futile and eternal war on drugs and let the government get back to its true function – protecting us from those who would do us harm."

* In his excellent write up of the history surrounding and recording of James Brown's Live at the Apollo (which was recorded October 24, 1962), Douglas Wolk writes:

"There's a bootleg audience recording of James Brown playing at the University of Virginia fieldhouse in Charlottesville on March 12, 1965. It's muffled and spotty; the horn section is barely audible; the microphone is distorting. But you can hear JB loud and clear....[in the second song] something comes over him, and he starts screaming so hard that the microphone is quaking under his voice.
...
Listening to [the UVA show] you realize: when he recorded Live at the Apollo, he knew he was being recorded, and he held back, so he wouldn't overload the microphone and get distortion all over the recording, because then Syd Nathan would never let him put it out. Live at the Apollo, my friend -- Live at the Apollo is the sound of James Brown holding back."

* 70 percent of the world's sex toys are made in China. excerpt:

"In the factory hall, the air is thick with the smell of silicone and baking rubber. For all that, they are going at it hammer and tongs, baking vibrators like they were breakfast muffins.

"There are no dust masks or respirators to be seen on any of the staff.

"The cooled dildo sheaths are hung up on lines from special clothes pegs, and 30-year-old Fang Hongkun pours silicone inside the shells. She leaves around one-third of the shell empty for the insertion of an electric motor.

"On another floor of the plant, the tables and workbenches are awash with pale green and pink bionic penises into which young women are installing AC or battery-powered motors. Gu Zhiying, 24, tests that each completed toy operates the way it is supposed to.

"'I haven't actually told my parents precisely what it is I do for a living here,' she says, with a rotating, vibrating rubber member clutched in her hand."

"The manufacturers' appetite for the branch is whetted by the large margins that can be made on these products and by the relative reluctance of customers to come forward to complain about poor quality.

"The most promising prospects are in items for women, because in this male-oriented society the women do not find it easy to get satisfaction", says Fang.
...
"According to a 2004 study quoted in the People's Daily, just 21% of Chinese men had any idea where the clitoris might be located.

"For now, however, only around a tenth of Shaki's production goes into the domestic market. A third goes to the United States, a veritable promised land for sex-toys. Australia and Japan are also important export markets.

"Some of the most innovative ideas emanate from the United States. It is to that market that they export such items as blow-up sheep and pigs, for instance.

"'The sort of quite small inflatable animals with a hole at the rear end,' is the modest description offered by Fang Hong."

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