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Should legalizing weed be young people’s top priority?

One thing that’s bugging me about Vice‘s interview with Obama is that how dismissive the president is is about the importance of marijuana legalization.

“I understand this is important to you, but you should be thinking about climate change, the economy, jobs, war and peace,” he said. “Maybe way at the bottom you should be thinking about marijuana.”

He goes on to give an answer that’s surprisingly supportive of the idea of decriminalizing pot, and that’s been grabbing headlines all day. But is it fair to say that marijuana should be at the bottom of people’s list of political priorities?

Well, first of all, I don’t think it actually is young people’s top priority, it was just the question that got asked the most online in advance of the interview. People are interested to hear what the president has to say on the matter because he talks about it a lot less than he talks about the economy and ISIS. But even if it were their top priority, would they be wrong?

Drug policy touches almost every major issue of our time, from social justice to education to, most obviously, the economy. The benefits of legalization have been discussed to death, but we’re starting to see evidence of the effectiveness in Colorado, where tax revenues are strong and unemployment is low. I wasn’t able to easily find comparable information for Washington, but if you’re interested in creating jobs and improving tax revenues, you could sure do a lot worse than legalizing weed. Then there are the social justice benefits. As the president said in the interview, drug policies disproportionately affect people of color. Legalization could improve educational opportunities, since students who with marijuana convictions can lose their financial aid. The list goes on and on.

But most importantly, it’s a concrete and achievable policy idea. It’s low hanging fruit. If I had to pick one thing to make the world a more prosperous and just place, marijuana legalization would definitely be near the top of my list of ideas, not the bottom.

Shocked, But Not Surprised

That’s how I felt when I read about the the Chicago PD’s “black sites” last week. In fact, that seems to my perpetual state these days. From drone strikes and assassinations to the Snowden documents to the Zimmerman acquittal to the ongoing, relentless of women in the public sphere.

The shocks just keep mounting. A man sentenced to life in prison for delivering $20 worth of weed. Seven police officers and prosecutors lie and say a man assaulted a prosecutor. Junk science sends man to prison for life.

The truly disturbing thing about all of these things, I think, is that the perpetrators fully expected to get away with the things they did. I mean, the NSA has had whistle blower problems for 30 years. The Chicago PD knew the people they detained in their black sites wouldn’t stay there forever. Those police and prosecutors had to have known it was possible that the incident they lied about could have been filmed. But they all did — do — these things anyway. Because they know that they won’t face any serious repercussions for it. That’s the shock that just keeps reverberating.

Data-driven Introspection and Surveillance Culture with Eleanor Saitta

Latest Mindful Cyborgs:

Eleanor Saitta works professionally as a computer security expert, but more generally she “looks at how systems break” – computer, social, infrastructural, legal, and more. She comes on the show today to share a unique perspective on surveillance / security culture that we have found ourselves enmeshed in. Don’t miss this one (or part 2!).

Download and Show Notes: Mindful Cyborgs: Data-driven Introspection and Surveillance Culture with Eleanor Saitta

Meet the tweet-deleters: people who are making their Twitter histories self-destruct

Kevin Roose reports:

Lazin-Ryder is one of a number of Twitter users who are using homegrown methods to make their tweets self-destruct. He says that having his tweets disappear automatically makes Twitter feel more conversational and casual, and less like a professional pressure-cooker.

“Tweets are passing things,” he said. “I don’t laminate and frame my note-pad doodles, why would I preserve my tweets for all time?”

Full Story: Fusion: Meet the tweet-deleters: people who are making their Twitter histories self-destruct

I’ve been thinking about doing this, but I also really like using Timehop to explore old tweets. Split between Ephemera and atemporality.

(via Ellis)

See also:

Risk Reduction Strategies on Facebook

Pics and It Didn’t Happen

Technology Isn’t Magic—It’s Haunted

Vice interviews Tobias Revell and Natalie Kane about the forthcoming Haunted Machines conference, and the problem with “magical” metaphors in technology, especially when it comes to the Internet of Things:

“The intention of that, whether explicit or not, is to obscure the technical and often financial and legal reality of the system by covering it up with those terms,” said Revell. In a world of things “just working,” the curators want to remind people that magic doesn’t actually exist; it’s a sleight of hand, a deception.

Full Story: Vice: Technology Isn’t Magic—It’s Haunted

(via Jay)

Mindful Cyborgs: Part Two of our Conversation with Zeynep Tufekci About Algorithms

This time around I also talk a bit about the 15th anniversary of Technoccult and my struggle to find relevancy in blogging in the 2015.

Download and Notes: Mindful Cyborgs: Algorithmic Reverberations on the Feed PART 2

Major Water Shortage in São Paulo, Brazil

The New York Times reports:

As southeast Brazil grapples with its worst drought in nearly a century, a problem worsened by polluted rivers, deforestation and population growth, the largest reservoir system serving São Paulo is near depletion. Many residents are already enduring sporadic water cutoffs, some going days without it. Officials say that drastic rationing may be needed, with water service provided only two days a week.

Full Story: The New York Times: Taps Start to Run Dry in Brazil’s Largest City

(via Abe)

Alejandro Jodorowsky Kickstarting New Film

DINERO POÉTICO

Alejandro Jodorowsky, who successfully crowdfunded his last film The Dance of Reality is turning to Kickstarter to fund his next film:

After a 23 yearlong absence, the director of cult classics El Topo (1969) and Holy Mountain (1973) made his comeback in film direction in 2013 with The Dance of Reality. The film was based on the first part of Alejandro Jodorowsky’s homonymous autobiographical book, depicting his childhood years in Tocopilla, Chile. His new film ENDLESS POETRY (Poesía Sin Fin) will be based on the latter half of the same book, depicting the author’s youth in lively Santiago de Chile.

Full Story: Kickstarter: Jodorowsky’s new film ENDLESS POETRY(Poesía Sin Fin)

Backers, besides getting to help get the movie made, will be compensated with Jodo’s own currency DINERO POÉTICO.

(via Threadbare)

Writing Batteries

I’ve long hoped that writing worked like a muscle, and that by writing long and hard enough, I could develop that muscle. That much like a runner can run both faster and longer after training, I would be able to sit at the computer and pound out intelligible prose faster and for longer stretches of time.

I don’t think that’s the case, though. I now think writing is more like a battery than a muscle. You can draw on the writing battery, but eventually it runs out and needs to be recharged. If you don’t use it enough it will become corroded and stop working.

But the thing about batteries is that they don’t hold more of a charge the more times you run them down. Nor do they acquire a higher voltage the more you use them. If anything, they become weaker and shorter lived over time. And that’s fine, I suppose, so long as you get good use out of the battery while it lasts.

Mindful Cyborgs: Zeynep Tufekci on the Consequence of Algorithms

This week Zeynep Tufekci, an assistant professor in the Department of Sociology at University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill*, talks with us about the implications of algorithmically filtering social media feeds.

Download and Show Notes: Mindful Cyborgs: Algorithmic Reverberations on the Feed

For more on the topic, check out Zeynep’s article on Facebook’s algorithms and Ferguson.

*This was recorded a few weeks ago, well before the recent tragedy in Chapel Hill, so we didn’t discuss that.

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