April 25, 2006

The sun shines and people forget


paul klee, cold city, 1921

* Alan Wolfe, writes about a possible Bush legacy in The Chronicle of Higher Education. The piece concludes:

"It is beyond my powers to know whether America's next president will be a Republican or a Democrat. But I do know that some future president will be faced with undoing the damage of a man sufficiently lacking in intellectual curiosity to question the bad ideas upon which he built his administration. Academics and intellectuals with an independent cast of mind — whether liberal or conservative — have played little role in the Bush administration, given, as it is, to reiterating talking points and insisting on absolute loyalty to the man in charge. But that is all the more reason why academics and intellectuals will find themselves in great demand when the leaders of this country eventually decide that their foreign and domestic policies will have to confront the real world around them, not the imaginary one bequeathed to them by their ideology. When that happens, future historians will look back on the Bush years as paving the way for a golden age of intellectual inquiry."

* The New York Times on the politics of pot. in full:

"The Bush administration's habit of politicizing its scientific agencies was on display again this week when the Food and Drug Administration, for no compelling reason, unexpectedly issued a brief, poorly documented statement disputing the therapeutic value of marijuana. The statement was described as a response to numerous inquiries from Capitol Hill, but its likely intent was to buttress a crackdown on people who smoke marijuana for medical purposes and to counteract state efforts to legalize the practice.

"Ordinarily, when the F.D.A. addresses a thorny issue, it convenes a panel of experts who wade through the latest evidence and then render an opinion as to whether a substance is safe and effective to use. This time the agency simply issued a skimpy one-page statement asserting that 'no sound scientific studies' supported the medical use of marijuana.

"That assertion is based on an evaluation by federal agencies in 2001 that justified the government's decision to tightly regulate marijuana under the Controlled Substances Act. But it appears to flout the spirit of a 1999 report from the Institute of Medicine, a unit of the National Academy of Sciences.

"The institute was appropriately cautious in its endorsement of marijuana. It said the active ingredients of marijuana appeared useful for treating pain, nausea and the severe weight loss associated with AIDS. It warned that these potential benefits were undermined by inhaling smoke that is more toxic than tobacco smoke. So marijuana smoking should be limited, it said, to those who are terminally ill or don't respond to other therapies.

"Yet the F.D.A. statement, which was drafted with the help of other federal agencies that focus on drug abuse, does not allow even that much leeway. It argues that state laws permitting the smoking of marijuana with a doctor's recommendation are inconsistent with ensuring that all medications undergo rigorous scrutiny in the drug approval process.

"That seems disingenuous. The government is actively discouraging relevant research, according to scientists quoted by Gardiner Harris in yesterday's Times. It's obviously easier and safer to issue a brief, dismissive statement than to back research that might undermine the administration's inflexible opposition to the medical use of marijuana."

* Video for Serge Gainsborg's Hotel Parculiar. Watch it.

* "What I am going to write is the last of what I have to say. I will say that literature is the only consciousness we possess and that its role as consciousness must inform us of our ability to comprehend the hideous danger of nuclear power." --John Cheever

* Larry Bird's wine: surprisingly good for a white.

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