Wednesday, May 20, 2009

It's A Pod Person, Get Used To It

Right about now I think what should be on everyone's mind is the question, what did the aliens do with the real Gil Kerlikowske, and why?

Last week, something that looked like Gil Kerlikowske and, even more incredible, calling itself Gil Kerlikowske, said it is not going to use the expression "war on drugs" anymore, adding, "Regardless of how you try to explain to people it's a 'war on drugs' or a 'war on a product,' people see a war as a war on them. We're not at war with people in this country." It then stared directly into cameras, stuck out its tongue, and said, "SKREEEEEEE!"

When the real Gil Kerlikowske was picked by Obama to go from being Seattle's Chief of Police to head of the Office of National Drug Policy, my immediate reaction was "Wuh?" followed by something naughty I shouldn't write here. That's because I had thought that Obama intended to crank down the war on drugs and substitute a focus on treatment, and Gil Kerlikowske had never to my knowledge objected to the war on drugs before, whether or not it wound up being a war on people. In fact, Mr. Kerlikowske had always been a big fan of SWAT teams and busting in doors without knocking.

When the real Kerlikowske has talked about not pursuing enforcement in the past, it wasn't from an objection to the drug war itself. It was just an admission that police resources weren't up to it.

I don't even understand why we're filling a policy position with a police officer. Is there some confusion about the words? "Policy" sounds like "police"? For a policy position you want someone with a record that shows well thought out positions on the policies in question. Now, if it's policies on policing we're talking about, it makes sense to pick a policeman. But the Office of National Drug Policy should be about more than policing, I thought.

Well, I did manage to find a likely reason why Kerlikowske was picked. Seems he had a job once in DC administering a Clinton program. Knowing that, mystery solved. What he's done in the decade or so since probably didn't receive a whole lot of weight, comparatively. But would the Clintons recognize their former pet now, now that he's been implanted or switched out with a pod?

My Mother would have known what to do in a case like this, because she read a lot of cheap books. "Well, what's done is done, no use crying over spilt milk, blah, blah, it's a pod person and that's that, get used to it," is what Mom would have said. OK, Mom, but WHY is he here and who's next? Mom's long gone but I think I know what she would have said. Mom would have said, "It's trying to allay our fears. It wants us to relax and go to sleep, and everything will be just fine in the morning, because you're next, that's who." Then Mom would have said, "So that's all it is, so shut up and go to bed."

So let's summarize. The current Drug Czar, or "Caesar" of US Drug policy, wants us to think we are all safe. The last thing it wants is to stir up panic with talk about wars on this and wars on them. It doesn't want us to find the central pod warehouse and burn it to the ground. "We have not come to wage war," it says. "I mean, me, I, Gil Kerlikowske have not. There is no we. Forget we said that."

Therefore, no matter how many Americans continue to still be incarcerated for various and sundry and mostly nonviolent drug offenses, and no matter how much that undermines our communities and our economic base and our social fabric and corrupts our institutions, the Office of National Drug Policy will no longer call it war.

So, what should it be called, then? Pacification? The Putting to Bed, Permanently, of America?

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Stupidological Theoryism

Let's talk some more about stupidity!

Our regular two readers know that stupidity is my favorite subject. It was my favorite subject in grade school. I tried to major in stupidology in college, but it wasn't offered in those days. So I have had to study stupidity on my own, working without official recognition.

The founding principle of stupidology, as it has emerged from my studies, is that there are really only a limited number of forms that stupidity takes, and that most of them can be found in nearly all humans who have not been taught to watch specifically for them.

The individual study of stupidology is the only method I know for increasing intelligence. After all, intelligence is merely the relative absence of stupidity in the application of imagination and memory to life's problems. The less stupidity the higher the intelligence. So in order to get smart, stop being stupid.

I have discussed different forms of stupidity in previous columns. My favorite is what I call the Universal Negation stupidity. That is the stupidity that is apparently hard-wired into human brains at birth, which is most clearly expressed in the conviction that if not all things of kind X are Y then all things of kind X are not Y. An example is found in this Lou Dobbsism: Not all of American war veterans are potential terrorists. Therefore no American war veteran is a potential terrorist, and to suggest the possibility is an outrage.

A variation on that Lou Dobbsism that would apply to homelessness in Seattle would go like this: Not all homeless people in Seattle are sex offenders. Therefore no homeless people in Seattle are sex offenders, and so if you're looking for sex offenders you don't have to look there. That is a stupidity, and those who insist that we who desire to find sex offenders in Seattle look among homeless people for sex offenders are right to point that out.

However, one of the tricky things you learn in the study of stupidity is that as soon as you get past one stupidity you almost always run smack into another that was waiting for you around the corner. In this case that next stupidity is almost always the Profiling stupidity.

The Profiling stupidity takes over when you have figured out that Ys can be found among things of kind X, so you immediately ONLY look for Ys among things of kind X. This stupidity is often extremely appealing and attractive. The attraction is that looking for Ys everywhere is time-consuming and expensive, so why not only look for Ys where you know that they could be, and not look for Ys elsewhere (where they could be)?

The answer to why Profiling is stupid is that saving time and money isn't everything. There's also thoroughness for one thing. But even more important than thoroughness, is the negative impact that profiling has on the Profiled immediately, and the Profiler, eventually.

By only looking for Ys in one place, you can only find them there. So the Profiling automatically, by its application, generates the illusion that the Profiled are really the best place to look for the quality sought.

The Profilers, then, become convinced by their own Profiling that thoroughness was more than a waste of time and money, "Gosh, look at this! Every single sex offender we've found was homeless! We were right to only look there!" Meanwhile, their friendly next-door neighbor, who was always as likely to be a sex offender as any homeless person, is looking for an opportunity to rape their toddlers in the alley.

The very real and immediate success of Profiling, by saving time and cost and turning in some results, makes the stupid user of the Profiling stupidly cling harder to it. It's a self-intensifying stupidity.

So to summarize, not only is Profiling merely stupid (because it isn't thorough), it is beyond stupid, because it makes those who do it stupider and stupider over time.

Wednesday, May 6, 2009

Floating My Sign

I didn't want to, but I'm going to have to talk about the Great Flu Epidemic of 2009 this week, because I can't row fast enough against the raging stream.

Before I get started, I want to talk about my receding hairline. It could have been worse. But in 1984, at the age of 35, the year I sometimes pretend was my entry into adulthood, and I decided to let my zodiac sign "float", I also decided to wear hats. The idea was to test the theory that hat-wearing among men causes male-pattern baldness, by myself wearing hats. My experiment has shown conclusively that it prevents male-pattern baldness and causes a receding hairline instead.

So, what I'm saying is, I know a little something about the scientific method. I am a practiced inducer. I have had a scientific inducation.

So I am exactly the person you should come to, to get all your answers to your urgent concerns about the so-called swine flu. My answers won't be based on what Fox news says about. My answers will be based on Science.

Science says flus are caused by viruses, and that viruses are tiny little things that are arguably alive and arguably not. They are therefore the scientific equivalent of the living dead. People call them bugs, but under a microscope they look nothing like bugs. I saw a picture of one once that looked like the thing Captain Kirk made crazy by being illogical with it.

Viruses have genetic stuff like DNA or RNA. You have lots of both, but you're alive. Your typical virus only has one or the other, and what it has is paltry, so it's needy. Can you say "codependent"?

Your so-called swine flu virus actually has genetic stuff from birds, pigs, and humans. Some people think this means it must have been manufactured in a lab, but Science says that it's not that hard for genetic material from all those sources to get mixed up in one virus. In fact, viruses jump around from host to host fairly easily, and the mixing of genetic material between virus and host or between two viruses infecting the same host happen fairly often.

Some days ago a Canadian pig farmer returned from a trip to Mexico, already with the flu. Apparently, he then sneezed on his pigs, because they got what he had.

That's so important, it bears repeating. He didn't get the flu from his pigs. His pigs got it from him. They got farmer flu. Now that they've got the farmer flu, farmer genes can mix with pig genes to make a new kind of farmer-pig flu. Now say one of the pigs that has the new strain of virus sneezes on the farmer's pet parrot. You could see how that could get you pig-parrot-farmer flu. OK? Well, something like that already happened with this virus in the past.

Now let's talk about what we should do about this situation. By "we" of course, I mean me, © Dr. Wes Browning. How am I going to save my ass while everyone else is losing theirs?

One thing I could do is just sit tight and wait for Science to come up with a vaccine for this thing. That will take, they say, four or five months. By then, they think we may have experienced what they call a "second wave" of infections, and who knows, a third and a fourth, and the viruses could have gotten worse in the meantime. So waiting sucks.

Therefore my plan is to get the disease now while it's on special. After all, it's been said over and over again that the version going around here is mild. Well, then, that's the version I want. Not as pleasant as a vaccine but does the same trick sooner.

I figure the best way for me to get it is to get everybody else to stop panicking and let this sucker run its course. Can I have that, please?