Monthly Archives: November 2010

Last week I wrote about Prop 19 in California and the kooky provision that doesn’t allow employers to discriminate against pot users the same way they can discriminate against the users of other legal products:

If it doesn’t affect job performance, I believe it should be a non-issue. However, it not-infrequently is going to cause problems in the workplace the same way that alcohol consumption does. Adding a layer making it more difficult to fire people that smoke pot compared to people that don’t is highly concerning.

Mike Hunt noted in the comments:

Can we admit that the whole medical marijuana thing is a scam?

I never responded to that snippit, but my response was going to be “Maybe. But it’s not just a scam. It’s also a start.”

As if to bring these two thoughts together, I ran across this article about how the new medicinal marijuana law in Arizona puts employers in the same bind as employers in California would have been if the law had passed:

“If the positive drug test is of a person who’s a cardholder, the law has a presumption that the marijuana use was for medical purposes, not recreational,” Phoenix attorney David Selden.

That, Selden said, presents a new hurdle for a company that wants to fire a worker: proving impairment.

“One of the most common ways is through symptoms,” he said, “a delayed reaction, a lack of perception, loss of energy, bloodshot eyes, dilated pupils – those kinds of things that people remember from college,” Selden said.

“It’s turning employers into the equivalent of a field sobriety test,” he continued. “There is a not a scientific measurement of impairment the way there is for alcohol.”

This is where the fact that medicinal marijuana is a scam is problematic. If medicinal marijuana were regulated like other drugs with prescriptions and all those other buzzkills, I might actually agree with this provision. If someone has a condition for which they need the drug, perhaps they should not be discriminated against unless their job performance suffers. But… come on. It’s not being used that way. This is something that Arapaho learned very quickly after implementing their system. It’s a backdoor to legalization. And as such, I think that discrimination against card-holders (on the basis of a failed drug test) ought to be legal unless they’re willing to undergo the exact same procedures that other people do for other medications. Or at the very least have put together a proposal to make really look like it was for dying cancer patients.

Of course, for that to happen, you would probably have to get pharmaceutical companies involved rather than letting people grow it on their own. Which defeats the real purpose of it. And lets profits go to the “bad guys” who non-libertarian supporters of medmar hate. And is just generally a buzzkill. Of course, if it ever really becomes legal, the profits will start going to you know who. Which will be a buzzkill even before they start putting pictures of people dying on the boxes.

Category: Statehouse

Not sure if any of you have seen this, but for those who don’t want to view the video, what happened is that a quarterback pretended that the ball needed to be moved 5 yards downfield due to a penalty. While everyone was standing around, he made a break for it and scored the game-winning touchdown.

There was also a recent case when a Cal coach was suspended for having his players fake injury:

Because they run a tempo offense, this sort of thing happens to the Southern Tech Packers with regularity. Pack fans have taken some heat because we’ve come to start booing injured players from certain teams, which is a no-no. It doesn’t help that it often happens with one of Sotech’s rivals, the Piermont Riptide.

Some rivalries are made (due to proximity, usually) and some are born. Sotech and Piermont actually have next to nothing in common as universities (Piermont is a small, private school with a mildly religious background while Sotech is a large public school) who had a rivalry born with a long history of playing one another in games with a lot at stake. Also, Sotech used to be in the habit of running up the score on and on a couple of occasions posted victories with more than 90 points on the board, and Piermont has never forgotten (and they consider it further proof that we are a low-class school). Adding to all of this is an immense dislike by Packer fans of Piermont’s coach, Rod Gandi for reasons I won’t get into.

Anyhow, a couple of seasons ago Piermont inexplicably redesigned their uniforms for a game to emulate ours. Presumably to confuse our players. Typical Gandi, we thought. Then, as we were driving down the field to win the game, over and over again they kept getting “injured” and slowing us down as we were trying to catch their defense off-guard with high-tempo, no-huddle play. Same two players. After the game, Piermont fans were bragging about that it’s not against the rules or anything (actually, as the video demonstrates, it is) and we should just suck it up.

Flash forward to the next season and the our team and our fans are going ballistic every time a player gets hurt. The Piermont fans (on the message board) complained and again suggested that it just showed how low-class our fans were. Others even admitted that they had faked injuries before but that the benefit of the doubt should always go to the limping player. Our fans, obviously, disagreed.

The problem with trick plays like this, whether they are against the rules or not, are that they often lead to things like fans getting angry at injured players for the other team (for the record, one Piermont player we booed was out for the season). I don’t like injured players getting booed. And I want to give every seemingly-injured player the benefit of the doubt. But our coaches and players are left to appeal to the refs every time a player doesn’t get up right until the stretcher comes out and it becomes apparent that there might be a real injury here.

As cute as the high middle school play shown above is, it creates a similar problem. In the event that there is any sort of confusion, what should the defensive players do? If they’re wrong in one direction, it’s a touchdown. If they’re wrong in the other direction, it’s a 15-yard penalty (and possible ejection from the game). Ultimately, it’s not just a trick play, it’s a bad-faith play. A few of the articles talking about the play are saying that it’s a play you only get away with once. Maybe. And maybe some kid will get tackled because some defensive lineman thinks that play has started. In this case, the player walked past the defenders, but next time he may just start walking to the sideline with the ball. Maybe he will genuinely be confused. Maybe not. When there’s not a clear indication of what the defense is supposed to be doing, it’s a recipe for potential problems.

Which is a shame. Cause it really is kind of a cool play.

Category: Downtown, Theater

Apparently, tribes that run casinos are far more likely than tribes that don’t to embrace stereotypes. The question is whether they do this because they recognize that a number of the stereotypes are not meant all that negatively, or because they’re willing to endure being made light of when it is in their financial interest?

One of the big surprises when I first moved out west was how much the local tribe in Deseret embraced the stereotypes. I had been raised to believe that calling them Indians is wrong (which, technically, it is) and that the proper term is Native Americans (which is not wrong so much as inspecific). But the local reservation doesn’t say “Get your Native American Ornamentals here!” but rather “Indian Gear! Next Exit!” (often selling things that have no ties to the local tribes but are associated with tribes in general). After that, it became hard to ever use the “Native American” term. So I’ve transitioned to using “tribes” generically. I wish we could go back to the drawing board and use “Amerindians” as the CIA World Factbook and other sources do.

The question of embracing or resisting the stereotypes is one of those things that comes up when it comes to sports mascots. It’s difficult to understand why Redskins might be considered an offensive mascot. I am generally indifferent on the subject of tribal mascots, believing that appropriateness depends a great deal on context, but that one does make me squirm a little bit. On the other side of the equation is Braves, which seems pretty obviously meant to be complimentary. Everything else is somewhere in between.

The NCAA passed down a ruling several years back that forced many colleges to reconsider their mascots. The ruling essentially required any use of tribal mascots to be approved of by the applicable tribe. Some rather generic names, such as Indians, had no applicable tribe to appeal to and so Arkansas State and Louisiana-Monroe changed their mascot from the Indians to the Red Wolves and Warhawks. Had the Miami Redskins not already changed their name to the RedHawks, they likely would have had to change their name, too. William & Mary called themselves the Tribe and responded by removing the feather from their logo and becoming a generic tribe rather than an Indian Tribe.

Others, though, got away with it by securing the approval of their local tribe. At least that’s the official reason. The Utah Utes were cool despite a most heinously uncool name. The Illinois Illini had to get rid of the guy in the costume, but got to keep the name. The Florida State Seminoles were initially on the Bad List, but they got on the Good List by securing the approval of the local Seminole tribe. Other Seminole tribes objected.

In a similar situation, though still on the Bad List, is the North Dakota Fighting Sioux. They got the approval of one Sioux tribe, but not of others. Unlike Florida State, however, this was deemed insufficient. This ruling lead some to believe that the Big Boys were being allowed to get away with what the lesser schools were not. The NCAA can afford to irritate North Dakota, but not so much Florida State. Being a big school also would presumably make it easier to donate money to their sponsoring tribe to garner their goodwill. More on this in a minute.

North Dakota in particular has been hit hard because their boosters are vociferously opposed to changing the mascot and have threatened to withhold donations if they comply. They tried to gradually transition to the North Dakota Force, but then a minor league hockey team swooped in and took that name. UND was further hurt because their limbo prevented them from being invited into an athletic conference (The Summit League) with a number of nearby schools (North Dakota State, South Dakota State, and South Dakota). North Dakota also sports a first-class hockey team and they have to cover up their logos anytime they make the hockey playoffs. When the Board of Regents tried to change the name, they were sued (though they won in court). They’ve decided to change the name, but have not decided what to.

I have some rather mixed feelings about these rules. On the one hand, I do wish that the tribes would take it as the compliment it often is. The mascots are in the same warrior tradition as the Spartans and Trojans. Of course, you also have the Notre Dame Fighting Irish, though there is a decent argument to be made that a group using itself as a mascot is different than a group using some other group as a mascot. Ultimately, though as a WASP, it’s hard for me to tell other people how they should respond in circumstances like that. It’s always easy to tell the other guy when they should and should not be offended.

My main objection to the Indians name is that it is such a generic and boring name. The fact that there were two teams in the Sun Belt Conference (not to mention a professional Major League Baseball team) with that name is a testament to that (Utah State and New Mexico State should reconsider Aggies, too). On the other hand, the names that they chose are equally uninspiring. When an actual tribe’s name is being used, it actually makes a good deal of sense to have to obtain their approval in a backaround trademark sort of way. But that only really requires the approval of one tribe and therefore North Dakota should have gotten the same pass as Florida State. Requiring these universities to pay for the rights also does not seem unfair.

There’s also the question as to what right the NCAA should have to dictate these terms to begin with, but I think that they are within their rights there. North Dakota is always free to leave the NCAA for the NAIA. In fact, it’s the overall lack of leverage that forced them to accommodate Illinois and Florida State. The NCAA can afford to lose North Dakota, but not FSU. In some ways, the NCAA’s grasp on its member institutions is actually somewhat weak, which is why they cannot impose any sort of football playoff.

Category: Coffeehouse
The illustrated version!

Unfortunately, I have no post today. I had something I was going to post, but decided I wanted to mull it over a bit more before putting it up.

Category: Theater

The subject of cheating seems to be coming up here and there. A lot of it pertaining to this article, written by a professional ghostwriter for college papers. Further commentary by Otherwill and Rufus at The League.

Longtime readers of Hit Coffee may remember that once upon a time, I was a ghostwriter for my then-girlfriend Julianne at the college level. She and I took three classes together and she shrugged off all three. The end-result was that I would get upset calls at 2 in the morning from Julianne saying that she hadn’t started the paper due the next day, had no idea what to write, and little or no knowledge of the subject-matter because of all of the classes that she missed. So I would take care of it for her. I was happy to the first few times, though after enough reiterations of how these last-minute deadlines came at her suddenly without any warning (when she’d groused at me for reminding her of it as the date approaches) and her being caught flatfooted, it gets exasperating.

Anyhow, I’m sure that you’re shocked to hear this, but I can be a kind of wordy fellow and so when a paper was meant to be 3-5 pages long, I usually had to struggle to meet the five-page maximum. So there was usually an abundance of material for a half-hearted rewrite for Julie’s benefit. I would cut out several points, usually add a couple, or if it was a paper that we had flexibility on, topic-wise, pick up on something that got cut from my paper and run with it. The papers were junk. Typically mindless, unoriginal, and about as by-the-numbers as you could possibly imagine.

They also – every single one of them – got a higher grade than the papers that I turned in with my own name. And it was never that I was overtly docked for failing to stay on-point or for rambling on. Quite the opposite. I would get docked for failing to address a particular point. Her paper failed to address it, too, but it only seemed to matter on mine. I have a number of theories as to why hers graded better than mine, though none make a whole lot of sense. By the third class I though about simply reversing the names on the papers, but though a cheater I was I couldn’t bring myself to do it. I was proud of my A- papers and her A+ papers were, as far as I was concerned, parrot droppings. In two of the three classes I got a higher grade than her simply because I couldn’t take the test for her as well. In the third class I actually could help her with the tests, too, and she scored the highest grade in the class and got an email from the prof saying as much.

I’m sure if there are any Game-types that read this, they are thinking how pathetically beta my behavior is. Probably thinking that she lost all respect for me as I bent over backwards doing these things for her. The problem is that it couldn’t be further from the truth. She was actually very appreciative and did not lead her to dump by ass or cheat on me with an alpha. She did kind of take it for granted, and that caused some ill-will on my part, but she never took me for granted. After the third class together where she almost never showed up at all, I resolved that I wouldn’t take any more classes with her. It didn’t matter as our relationship collapsed at the end of that semester and she had flunked out of Southern Tech University anyway.

The second, and to me more interesting story, is this one from the University of Central Florida. Basically, some students got ahold of the test bank and the professor caught wind of it. There is a video of the lecture that the professor gave to his students, offering them an out:

“I don’t want to have to explain to your parents why you didn’t graduate, so I went to the Dean and I made a deal. The deal is you can either wait it out and hope that we don’t identify you, or you can identify yourself to your lab instructor and you can complete the rest of the course and the grade you get in the course is the grade you earned in the course.”

That’s a pretty generous deal. In fact, so generous that even if I didn’t cheat* I might fess up to having done so simply out of fear of their algorithms incorrectly identifying me as a cheater. I mean, the overall cost is lost face in the eyes of a professor and a four-hour ethics course. That punishment is guaranteed. But if the algorithms are wrong and you are incorrectly identified, the consequences are absolutely ruinous. It’s the same dynamic that leads people to confess to crimes they didn’t commit because they’re allowed to confess on a lesser charge. I mean, how much faith would you have in their algorithms? Probably a lot now, but back when I was in college? I’d probably grant at least a 5-10% chance of it being wrong. And I wouldn’t like those odds.

I wonder how many of the people that confessed were innocent but making that same calculation?

I never cheated on a college exam. I came close once, having printed out all my notes on a little piece of paper. But I couldn’t bring myself to do it. In addition to helping Julianne out with her college studies, I also helped out some kids in junior high and high school for various reasons (some I regret, others I don’t). I did get caught trying to copy someone’s paper during a Spanish exam. I needed glasses and did not yet have them. The teacher did not have to be particularly perceptive to catch me. My friend Clint, incidentally, was caught by the exact same teacher trying to change his grade in her gradebook. She threatened to get a handwriting expert and he broke.

Category: Ghostland, School


Only one end zone will be used for offense Saturday at Wrigley Field for the Illinois-Northwestern game because of safety concerns, the Big Ten announced Friday, and the Chicago Cubs said the decision caught them by surprise.

NCAA rules state the field dimensions must have adequate space surrounding the playing surface: “Limit lines shall be marked … 12 feet outside the sidelines and the end lines, except in stadiums where total field surface does not permit. In these stadiums, the limit lines shall not be less than 6 feet from the sidelines and end lines.”

Wrigley’s east end zone is a few feet away from the right-field wall, and although there is padding, there were concerns players could be injured there.

I had to read the article two or three times before I could actually believe that was reading. But it sounds to me like every time a team gets the ball they’re going to march to the corresponding yard line on the other side of the field. There have been a few instances in Delosa over the years where special accommodations had to be made or just weren’t made when some bleachers were declared unsafe or an endzone was discovered to be unsafe because of a misplaced cart. In one sense, the first incident was worse than this because people who had bought tickets suddenly no longer had tickets and at least everyone is going to get to see this game. And unlike the second case, nobody had their leg shattered. Even so… wow. What a disaster and an embarrassment for both the Chicago Cubs and the people that organized this.

On the other hand, it’s brilliant in its own way. I am going to surf all of the channels tomorrow and see if I can catch this game. Otherwise, I couldn’t be less interested in a game given my antipathy towards the Big Ten and that neither of these teams are real national contenders. So in that sense, I guess it works out. It does bring a lot of attention to a game that would otherwise be ignored.

Update: The game is on now. They definitely made the right decision. This was very poorly thought out. I am inclined to say that heads should roll over this, but the announcers are doing a pretty good job of talking it up so maybe I am overreacting. On the other hand, I was wrong about fans not getting stiffed on tickets. Some folks bought tickets at the endzone and will likely never see any scores there. And unlike the Delosa incident, they won’t get their money back. A story to tell their kids about, I suppose.

Category: Newsroom

Robin Hanson on Pink Politics:

Yes there’s the implicit sex angle in talking about breasts, but you could have a “have sex to get exercise” campaign, or make sexual innuendo about beds in a sleep campaign. And a campaign about testicular cancer wouldn’t be nearly as popular. So this isn’t mainly about sexual innuendo.

One obvious difference is that being anti-breast-cancer is framed as being pro-women. Thus one can insinuate that folks who resist social pressures to support the campaign are anti-women. Since folks fear seeming anti-women much more than seeming anti-health, a breast-cancer campaign can tap into far more social pressure than can an exercise or sleep campaign.

I remember when I was younger, a lot of women would say that Breast Cancer was being ignored because it (primarily) effects women. And that if it affected men, the government would automatically pay for everything involved in it and the only reason they don’t is cause the victims are women. This idea was first posited by a feminist sociology teacher in high school, which I think made me notice whenever I heard it later on. I was skeptical as I was of a lot of things the teacher said, but it was one of those frustrating things that couldn’t really be tested either way.

Then I found out about prostate cancer. Prostate cancer primarily affects men, kills men at a similar rate as breast cancer does women, and does not get remotely the same amount of attention as breast cancer does in the public eye. Oh, and does not involve the government paying for everything because it only affects men. As far as I know, both are treated pretty similarly by the insurance establishment. Maybe this wasn’t the case before “awareness campaigns”. I don’t know, but I would want to see proof of it considering prostate cancer doesn’t get a fraction of the attention.

Why not? I think it’s partially as Hanson says that women were able to make it a women’s issue in addition to being a health issue. I also think that it’s harder to mobilize men both as a collective and around health issues. On the former, we don’t have a history of mobilizing around specific issues because we’ve been the ones in positions of power and influence. On the latter, men are less inclined to believe that the government should pay for health care initiatives. And generally speaking, I think we’re more private about our health problems. I mean, given that prostate and breast cancer occur in equivalent numbers, you would think that I would know or know of men with prostate cancer in about equal numbers of women with breast cancer, but I don’t. I think that some of this is that men are less likely to communicate their malady so precisely. Some of it, though, is probably attributable to breast cancer having such a high profile. Finding out that people you know have a particular illness probably does increase the likelihood of it being something you will concern yourself about. So in that sense, maybe it is doing good? Maybe we do need a campaign for prostate cancer. Especially considering that men are less likely to take care of themselves in this regard.

Or maybe, as Hanson points out, a lot of the screening is unnecessary and it’s a good thing that prostate cancer doesn’t have the same profile and we would be better served if breast cancer didn’t, either. Maybe our resources are best devoted elsewhere. Of course, not all things are equally provocative and if people didn’t donate money to breast cancer research or awareness or whatever, they’d spend it on something stupid rather than on research and awareness of something that might do more good.

With regard to the peer pressure of pink ribbons, it reminds me a bit of the bumper stickers on cars and whatnot about supporting the troops. They have ribbons of their own. Back when our wars were more in our consciousness, there did seem to be a bit of sanctimony about it. Especially as those in favor of the war accused those against the war of not supporting the troops. Until the left responded with “Support The Troops – Bring Them Home”, the whole thing was a seemingly innocuous proxy for a larger public opinion battle over the righteousness of the wars themselves.

I’ve heard some people say the same general thing about the American flags*. Some Canadians I know consider it unseemly when they visit the States how we put our flag everywhere and have them in lawns and all that. I can’t say that it bothers me any. I don’t feel the need to say “I support my country” as I did to say “I support our troops!” back before support for the war soured. Arapaho probably has more flags flying than anywhere I’ve ever lived before. I suppose that could be considered patriotic peer pressure, but I consider it a positive sign of solidarity around our country as a whole.

I do wish breast cancer would go away. I do support our troops and hope they succeed even in wars I am not sure we should have entered. I have a gooey white-boy’s appreciation for my country. But I guess I am not hugely worried about people thinking that I am pro-cancer, anti-woman, anti-American, or anti-troops by virtue of the lack of a flag or ribbon on my lapel. One of the positive developments in my life is to be (increasingly, though quite imperfectly) able to take accusations hurled my way in stride when I know them to be false.

* – There was a recent to-do on this subject in California. My omission of that incident is not accidental. This portion was inspired by my trip to Canada many years back and various conversations with my (generally liberalish white) friends.

Category: Coffeehouse

ED Kain defends the notion that, if a municipality wants it, they should be allowed to have multiple trash collectors:

It may be a small issue – so long as your trash is collected, it doesn’t really matter that much who picks it up – but the Tea Partiers are right this time: having choice is a good thing, even for trash collection. If the government came in and said “You can only buy Dell computers from now on” people would be unhappy. We want to be able to choose what kind of computer we buy – and not just because maybe we prefer Apple, but because we know that competition keeps innovation up and prices down.

Now, in trash collection you probably won’t see too much innovation, but competition will keep prices down and quality of service high. If you don’t like the people picking up your trash, or the containers they provide, or the driver is rude, or whatever – you can switch.

I agree on all counts. I would imagine it’s the case as often as not that it makes more sense to have a single collector. But while monopolies can have their virtues for some things, they can also create drawbacks.

In addition to the scenarios that ED describes, I can also pretty easily imagine scenarios where you might simply want things done a different way than a monopolistic trash-collecting agency would prefer to do them. For instance, you may want a larger bin collected once every other week rather than a smaller one collected weekly. You may prefer an on-call collection if you only need trash picked up periodically.

Some of these options may be difficult to pull off with everybody making the profit they need, or it could lead to price escalation if the local monopoly is able to keep prices low because of the monopoly. These are issues for local areas to fight out amongst themselves. To be fair, this was a local issue decided locally. But it’s natural and not-crazy for the people to object to policies that they dislike. Calling it “socialism” extends the word beyond any useful meaning, but it’s not hard to be sympathetic to people that want things a certain way and the powers at be decide they should be another.

In Callie, where I live, I doubt it makes any sort of sense to have anything but the standard one-collector model. But when I was living in Soundview, a much more urban area, there may have been more room to maneuver. In Soundview, we had small bins collected weekly, which was kind of a pain in the rear because if you ever had anything of any size, you had to go to the dump. In Callie, we have large bins collected weekly and I find that I only put the trash out every other week or so… but the large bin means that if I have something large I can stick it out there, which is nice.

And a thing about trash collection is that, unlike fire service, there is room for experimentation without houses burning down and pets dying. If competition leads to higher prices, you can reverse yourself. If a monopoly become exceedingly indifferent to customer needs, you can privatize.

To me, this doesn’t really need to be an ideological issue at all. The notion that municipal trash collection equals socialism makes socialists out of a lot of us. Questioning the notion that municipal trash collection (either by city workers or a sole city contract) does not mean that you HATE GOVERNMENT. Different models work in different places. Of course, I am more than willing to condemn Obion County for their fire department arrangements that caused that house to burn down, but it’s because quite apparently the system they chose (a) wasn’t working and (b) lead to tragic events that were entirely foreseeable.

-{Note: Yeah, this post is kind of dated. It slipped through the cracks.}-

Category: Statehouse

Aside from the fact that Arapaho had no competitive races to name, part of me hoped that I was in California simply so I could vote for Proposition 19. The Pot-Prop. Different people have different views on decriminalization in general, and to each their own, but while I do not favor decriminalization of all drugs I do favor it for marijuana. Not out of any desire to smoke pot myself (I tried it; it wasn’t for me) nor any love of pot smokers. Mostly because in the cost-benefit analysis of the comparative virtues and vices of the increased pot usage that would come with legalization and its share of the War on Drugs, I come down on the side of decriminalization. For some it’s a matter of freedom, but not so much for me. I don’t favor the decriminalization of all other narcotics, though I can be convinced on a case-by-case basis using the same criteria for cocaine as for pot.

In addition to the War on Drugs angle, Sheila Tone made a good point about the repercussions the illegality has on reuniting families where one parent or the other breaks that particular law.

Unfortunately, the legalization movement is saddled with, among other things, The Barry Cooper Problem. It’s my view that the legalization movement needs to be spearheaded by reasonable and humble individuals who recognize that rightly or wrongly people have reservations about legalizing pot and it does no good to call them ugly names, insult them, or treat their concerns as utterly invalid. Instead we have Barry Cooper’s antics and apparently people who believe that it’s not just a question of whether pot should be legal or not but a question of respecting the decisions of those who choose to partake. For me, one of the stronger arguments in the pro-freedom side of most issues is “just because something is a bad idea doesn’t mean it should be illegal” and its cousin “just because something is legal does not mean you have to approve.” For a free society to work and to keep Big Brother out of it, I believe we have to condemn behavior we consider inappropriate. Otherwise, given the choice between something being illegal and something being condoned by society at large, a lot more people are going to choose “illegal.”

If Mickey Kaus is right, the people behind Proposition 19 forgot this or simply didn’t care:

The measure seems to have been hurt by a wacky, overreaching provision that would effectively have made stoners a protected class when it comes to hirings and firings. Even the Greenberg poll found a 50-44 majority think employers should be able to fire those who test positive on drug tests even if “they come to work sober and ready to work.” I voted against 19 because of this provision (and wouldn’t trust an initiative that was written by anyone who’d write that provision, even if it were excised). After all, once a new protected class has been created, is it ever un-created? Stoners would have special legal protections against firing, probably forever (with employers having to prove their pot use “actually impairs job performance”). I might have to become one myself

This is… highly problematic. Now, as it happens, I believe that hiring people you know smoke pot but that perform well regardless is good business practice. Those old school Hit Coffee readers will remember Falstaff, my former Mormon-dominated employer that sought to weed out all the weedheads even as we tried to explain that we could be weeding out some of our best performers. If it doesn’t affect job performance, I believe it should be a non-issue. However, it not-infrequently is going to cause problems in the workplace the same way that alcohol consumption does. Adding a layer making it more difficult to fire people that smoke pot compared to people that don’t is highly concerning.

This is a level of protection that cigarette smokers do not get. Nor, I should add, should they/we. I resented the former employer of mine that refused to hire smokers, but I believe that while their policy was unwise, intrusive, and indicative of an employer I did not want to work for… it was also, like a number of their other policies, within their purview*. The same goes for alcohol consumption, though no employer I am familiar with tests for that sort of thing. The only reason that up until recently it seemed bizarre to discriminate against smokers is that they were so large in number and it was such an accepted activity. Ultimately, we don’t want pot to become as socially accepted as cigarettes were. We don’t want cigarettes that accepted, either! Those things I say above about societal disapproval applies to my own vices as well. Easier to keep the cat in the bag, though, when it comes to things currently on the periphery of society the same way that we should wish smoking were.

That the pushers of Proposition 19 felt the need to put this in there shows a pretty significant disconnect with the rest of society. I see it on a number of blogs where “all reasonable people” agree that pot should be legal. The problem is that “all reasonable people” is a minority of the population. It does the movement no good to ignore that. And even among those “all reasonable people” a lot of people feel the same way I do about employment law. Some may hold their nose and vote for it anyway, but a lot won’t. And a lot of people who recognize on some vague level that the War on Drugs (as it pertains to marijuana) is not a fight worth fighting will use that as an excuse to vote against decriminalizing a behavior that they only marginally object to (or, in some cases, indulged in when they were younger).

The point of this exercise should not be to vindicate pot-smokers. Nor should it be, as Barry Cooper is inclined to do, to stick it to the buzzkills that want to stand between you and your weed. The point is to take this minimally-harmful substance and separate it from the substantially-harmful war against it. Because if you’re asking people to line up behind pot-smokers, you’re going to lose just as surely as smokers are losing one battle after another to stigmatize their/our habit.

* – And not just because of the “it saves them money on health insurance” rationale. Bregna, the former employer in question, didn’t care about that. The president of the company just didn’t like smokers. He wanted a certain kind of employee working for him and viewed the overlap of people that fit that profile and smoke were small. There are also issues of smokers having, in general, lower levels of productivity.

Category: Statehouse

An old acquaintance, Byron, sent me and nine other individuals a message on Facebook. Why me? I don’t know. Since friending one another this is the first real communication we’ve had. We were never really close. I mostly added him because he has an outstanding wit and I enjoyed reading his blog back when he had one. This tidbit will matter later: the guy owns a bar.

Anyway, the message was basically asking me to “like” some quiz or something. It was for a friend of his. Now, ordinarily, I approach this sort of thing like a chain letter and ignore it. Giving in to one request like this usually results in more requests in the future. But Byron simply isn’t the sort of guy to do this sort thing. So if he is doing it, this friend of his must be pretty important to him.

So I did it. In addition to requestion that I “like” this particular thing, he requested a message saying that I/we complied. Not wanting everyone else to be in on the message, I sent a separate one letting him know. Unfortunately, not everyone else took this extra step. So my inbox has been deluged with back-and-forth “Did it!”/”Stop by the bar sometime, next drink is on me!”/”Awesome! Do you know if Jack is gonna make it?”/”Jack is in the hospital.”/”No spit? What happened?!”

I don’t know Jack. This was one thread of which there were five in all and most of them spanned several catching-up messages. As near as I can tell, at least a couple of folks didn’t know that he got a divorce as they were asking after his ex-wife. He apparently chose mostly people like me that he hadn’t talked to in a while.

Every time I get a Facebook message I get a text message to my phone. So it’s really been quite annoying.

On the upshot, I may be able to parlay the message thread about Jack into a free beer of my own if I stop by Byron’s bar. I’m not sure if that’s worth the non-stop beep-beep-beep message notifications on my phone, though.

Category: Server Room