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Monthly Archives: March 2011

via Good.is

It’s been two weeks since UCLA political science student Alexandra Wallace’s now infamous video rant against her Asian peers went viral. Although Wallace has left the school, her diatribe has sparked plenty of dialogue about the role of diversity policies on campus and the state of multicultural education, as well as a slew of video responses. One of our faves comes from 24-year-old Los Angeles performer Jimmy Wong, who sings

It’s alright Alexandra, I know you know nothing about tsunamis, I just wanted to make sure you know it’s not a type of sushi. But I came here to say I’m actually Chinese, and that’s a whole ‘nother country, and it’s bigger… yeah… way bigger. But when it comes to love Alex, there are no boundaries.

Wong then cleverly riffs on Wallace’s racist stereotyping of Asian speech—in the original video, she says “Ohhh! Ching chong ling long ting tong? Ohhh!”—by crooning

“ching chong (it means I love you)
ling long (I really want you)
ting tong (i don’t actually know what that means)
ching chong (it’s never ending)
ling long (my head is spinning)
ting tong (still don’t know what that means)”

The parody has over 2.6 million views—Wong actually has a really great voice—and is downloadable on iTunes. Best of all, he’s donating the proceeds to charity.

via Time.com

By Jason Motlagh

On the second floor of the downtown campus, a motley group of students listens to a lecture titled “Palliative and Curative Relief Through a Safe and Effective Herbal Medicine.” Not the sexiest of topics on the face of it, but there’s a catch: this is Oaksterdam University, and the medicine being discussed is marijuana. At “America’s first cannabis college,” in Oakland, Calif., the sallow-faced hippy-skater types that one expects to find sit beside middle-aged professionals in business attire, united in their zeal for the pungent green leaf. No one dares speak out of turn, until instructor Paul Armentano, a marijuana-policy expert, cites a news report that U.S. antidrug authorities plan to legalize pot’s active ingredient exclusively for drug companies’ use. “More stinking profits for Big Business,” mumbles a young man wearing a baseball cap. His classmates groan in agreement.

More than 17,000 students have enrolled since Oaksterdam opened in late 2007. The original student body numbered fewer than two dozen people. Most are from the U.S., but others have arrived from as far as Iran and Colombia to get training for the lucrative medical-marijuana industry. The concept itself originated in Amsterdam, where school founder Richard Lee visited a community-focused cannabis college and figured he could do the same in the Bay Area. A professional and transparent approach, he reasoned, could help erode the drug’s stigmas and eventually move the state closer to full legalization. Some alums have taken up his activist mantle, campaigning aggressively last year in favor of a statewide proposition to legalize and tax recreational cannabis. (It failed by an 8-point margin.) (See pictures of the marijuana-growing industry.)

Still, faculty members concede the vast majority of new students are aspiring entrepreneurs with money on their mind. Oakland has some of the country’s laxest drug laws, making it ground zero for the medical-marijuana boom. Small pot clubs abound. In 2009, four legal commercial-scale dispensaries approved by the city council sold some $28 million worth of the drug. The question most frequently asked of instructors? “How much will this plant yield,” says “Big” Mike Parker, a technician in the horticulture lab with a long white beard and fading skull tattoos on his wrists. “This is hard work — you see me sweating,” he adds, tending to his plants under the bluish glow of a metal-halide light. “And if you think you’re gonna get rich, you’re here for the wrong reason.”

True to one of its sundry nicknames, cannabis is a weed that grows like one in the right climate. But given the gray area that now exists between state law — which allows regulated production for medical purposes — and federal laws that still prohibit the drug, discretion dictates that plants must be grown indoors. That’s no easy task. During a recent class, instructor Chris McCatheran broke down the risks of overfertilization, offering tips on what combination of nutrients is best and how to maintain the right parts-per-million ratio. Growing cannabis plants indoors is clearly a delicate affair, even if the feds don’t storm in and shut you down. (See TIME’s cover story on the proliferation of medical marijuana.)

Illegal pot farming has run rampant across Oakland. And although busts are still pretty rare, advocates fear that could change if public health and safety concerns mount as cultivation-related crime continues to rise. According to the Oakland police, in 2008 and 2009 there were eight reported robberies, seven burglaries and two homicides connected to the business. (Last year’s statistics are likely to be worse but are not yet available.) Meanwhile, the amount of fires doubled in 2010, largely the result of shoddy electrical wiring in illicit grow houses. On March 2, a warehouse believed to contain between 300 and 500 pot plants — many times the legal limit, if it had a permit — went ablaze in the western part of the city. It required 18 firefighters to put it out.

This is just the kind of Wild West behavior that Oaksterdam faculty and students insist they are trying to eliminate. “There’s still a chance that the police might kick down your door, but you’re taught to be responsible here and you get the best instruction,” says Lisa, 40, a food caterer by day who grows for a cooperative on the side. She drove three and a half hours from Lake Tahoe on a Saturday morning to attend an advanced class and says she can make up to $3,000 extra a month from her plants, a substantial sum but hardly windfall profits.

Sam Gearing, 20, crossed the country with the notion of “part-time work for full-time pay” in mind. He started smoking marijuana as a teenager to cope with severe anxiety that later relegated him to academic probation at his college in Virginia, where he felt stifled by restrictions. After coming across an ad for Oaksterdam online, Sam dropped out of school and bought a one-way train ticket out West. He’s not looking back. “I could have spent four years in school, graduated with a ton of debt and maybe gotten a job,” he explains. “Or I come here, pay $650 a semester and get work. That’s a no-brainer.” (Comment on this story.)

His long-term goal is to start his own small farm and join a dispensary co-op, with his father providing the start-up capital. For the time being, however, the former D student has raised the bar: he’s determined to be class valedictorian. “I don’t usually go all out [in school], but I can do this stuff … there’s a special motivation,” he says with a chuckle. “I mean, c’mon, man: it’s weed.”

Watch a video on why Amsterdam may ban pot for tourists.

See a brief history of medical marijuana.
Read more: http://www.time.com/time/nation/article/0,8599,2061398,00.html#ixzz1HumpJeCw

via Good.is

One of the most used arguments against universal healthcare programs is that “the doctors hate them.” Despite the fact that it’s not true, the “doctors hate it” protestation tends to get more attention than it’s due because it sounds scary: “If doctors don’t like universal healthcare, does that mean we won’t have any doctors if we adopt it?”

A world without doctors would indeed be scary. Luckily for us, that’s not going to happen.

In fact, a lot of doctors actually like the idea of single-payer healthcare. You can see that in this poll, and you can see it in the way hundreds of doctors have begun considering a move to Vermont, which is getting closer and closer to adopting a full-scale, government-run, single-payer healthcare system.

According to Physicians for a National Health Program, a coalition of thousands of doctors seeking to establish universal healthcare in the United States, more than 200 doctors and doctors-in-training have said they’d consider moving to Vermont if it finalizes the single-payer bill its House passed on Thursday.

While most of these physicians reside in nearby states, doctors from as far away as California, Oregon and Washington state – and even Hawaii – would contemplate moving to the Green Mountain State…

One of the out-of-state doctors who would consider relocating is Scott Graham, a family physician in Marion, Ky. “I would certainly consider moving to Vermont if it passed single payer,” he said. “The idea of having one set of rules, one form for billing, and knowing that all patients are covered – that would be wonderful.”

In other words, the next time you hear anyone saying, “Doctors hate universal healthcare,” don’t tell them to go to hell. Tell them to go to Vermont.

 

Our hearts and thoughts go out to those affected in the recent happenings in Japan.  As a socially conscious company (and as human beings) we want to help.  And we want to help you help.  20% of all sales through April 10, 2011 will be donated to the International Rescue Committee for Disaster Relief efforts in Japan.  For anyone who wants to find out more information, or donate directly, find more information at the International Rescue Committee Donate to Japan page.

Thank you,

The fiftyseven-thirtythree family

 

Via Good.is

Today America has been involved in its war in Iraq for eight solid years. It’s an engagement that has cost the country thousands of lives and more than $780 billion. Here are some other things we could have done with $780 billion.

1. We could have closed every single state’s FY2012 budget deficit—totaling nearly $112 billion—nearly seven times over. That means no protests in Wisconsin, no mass teacher firings, and no school closures.

2. We could have paid tuition and expenses at four-year, private universities for every single member of the U.S. Armed Forces, both active duty personnel and reservists. There would have been $370 billion left over, $73 billion of which could go toward getting them all master’s degrees.

3. We could have funded the Healthy School Meals Act pilot program, which offers healthful school lunches to America’s increasingly obese schoolchildren, 195,000 times over.

4. We could have offered lifetime treatment to every single person afflicted with HIV and AIDS in the United States.

5. We could have purchased decent homes for all of the 107,000 American war veterans who are currently homeless. Beyond that, we could have then treated them for major depression for the rest of their lives. (Though if we hadn’t invaded Iraq, there would also just be fewer homeless war veterans.)

6. We could have opened 19,500 Oprah-style luxury boarding schools in Africa, providing an elite educational opportunity for nearly 3 million children.

7. We could have completely funded the war in Afghanistan thus far and still had $393 billion left over to put a bounty on Osama bin Laden’s head. That amount of money would be really hard to turn down.

8. We could have outfitted 31.2 million detached, single-family homes— about 45 percent of the detached, single-family homes in America—with solar paneling.

9. We could have rescued all of the at-risk social-welfare programs on this chart and still had 740 billion left with which to mess around.

10. We could have given every kindergarten, elementary, middle, and secondary school teacher in America a $224,000 bonus. Many of them certainly deserve a little extra compensation.