Sep 12, 2017


Welcome To Life At The Beach
Updated 07/17




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 About These Blogs


“Perspective gives us the ability to accurately contrast the large with the small, and the important with the less important. Without it we are lost in a world where all ideas, news, and information look the same. We cannot differentiate, we cannot prioritize, and we cannot make good choices. “ -John Sununu

Today there are so many talking heads who daily bombard the airwaves, magazines and periodicals with their version of events and issues that affect our lives and the world. And with so many jabbers reporting what is taking place at home and abroad, often it becomes difficult to distinguish what’s accurate and what’s not. Thus, it’s up to each of us to dig below the headlines to distinguish fact from fiction in order to make a near clean conscience decision as to what the truth might be.

These Blogs are filled with articles and opinions that is not necessarily headlines or openly discussed. It's also filled with an accumulation of insightful information for a bit more clarity of the issues, including pictures and videos for your entertainment.

It's my hope that these blogs will be an open window for a better understanding of the world around us, and through this understanding try and make life better for all. There is no one perfect way, but hopefully with eyes open we can rise above the hype and find mutual awareness that will, hopefully, resolve our differences. It’s also a place where readers, like you, can contribute to the conversation.


LIFE AT THE BEACH is strictly about opinions and information seldom included into headline news. It attempts to point beyond the headlines to allow you the reader to understand what the issues might truly be, ugly or otherwise.

FAITH is pretty much a mirror of Life At The Beach. The difference, Faith Blog is spiritual without the “religion”. It’s not about converting, but solely to enlighten, as well as challenge our faith. Since faith is a personal journey it’s important to be knowledgeable of the facts in order to avoid being manipulated by a system that is prtty much void of the truth.

ODEUM is all about videos, entertainment news, reviews and more. You should be aware that some content posted may be to controversial for some.

JOURNAL and MY DEZIGNS are my own. My Journal is filled with post from my own journey through life, and, My Dezigns, is a display of my art and crafts which is available for purchase.

- Posting Schedule -

Monday Holidays - Will Post The Day After
Vacation - June-July

Always remember, Knowledge Is Power. The more you search to understand, life can be a journey filled with enlightened confidence and positive choices.

Enjoy your visit.

Veterans Pushing The VA To Allow Medical Pot

by Carter Sherman

The country’s largest veterans group is once again pushing for veterans to get access to medical marijuana.

The American Legion, which has 2.3 million veteran members, voted Thursday to urge the Trump administration to allow doctors at Veterans Affairs hospitals to talk to their patients about using medical marijuana — and to even recommend its use in states where medical marijuana is legal.

Currently, VA doctors are prevented from even talking to their patients about medical marijuana. Federal law would not need to be changed in order to lift that ban.

“We are all about going after any evidence-based therapy that makes the lives of our veterans better,” Joe Plenzler, the American Legion’s director of media relations, told VICE News. “There’s pretty significant evidence that it works better than placebo in several diseases.” Veterans struggle in large numbers with post-traumatic stress disorder, night terrors, chronic pain and opioid addiction, and some have gotten relief with pot, but from sources outside the VA system.

This isn’t the first time the American Legion has advocated for medical marijuana. Last year, the group passed a resolution asking the federal government to both remove marijuana from its list of Schedule I drugs — which carry the harshest law enforcement penalties — and to allow privately-funded medical marijuana production to carry out research on the drug’s medicinal properties. In May, the American Legion also sent a letter to President Donald Trump asking him to “clear the way for clinical research in the cutting-edge areas of cannabinoid receptor research.”

And some lawmakers are getting interested: A key Senate budget committee this month approved a measure allowing VA doctors to give patients the sign-off they need to access medical marijuana in states where it’s legal, with nine Republicans voting in favor, according to the LA Times.

But the VA leadership is still in a difficult spot, given the administration’s move to pull back on pot legalization in general. When asked for comment on the American Legion’s Thursday resolution, the VA directed VICE News to a comment VA Secretary David Shulkin made in May about the possibility of one day allowing veterans to access medical marijuana.

“My opinion is that some of the states that have put in appropriate controls, there may be some evidence that this is beginning to be helpful,” Shulkin said in a briefing at the White House at the time. “And we’re interested in looking at that and learning from that. But until the time that federal law changes, we are not able to be able to prescribe medical marijuana for conditions that may be helpful.”

Steve Acheson, who served in the Army in the Iraq War, told VICE News that he’d come back from Iraq with a severe back injury and PTSD, illnesses veterans often say they need cannabis has helped them treat. The VA put him on about seven different medications — until he discovered medical marijuana.

Without it, Acheson said, he “really would be dead.”

“I was on so many different pills and borderline addicted,” he added. “To think about doing that for 10 more years, I definitely wouldn’t be here. So marijuana definitely has saved my life. From the VA perspective, I think it’s a shame that we can go to any one of our neighboring states and access medical marijuana.” -Vice News

Ramen Factory Produces Noodles From Start To Finish

Ramen noodles are popular among college students and those who want a convenient, affordable meal.

But have you ever wondered how this budget-friendly meal is made?

In a short clip from Potluck Video, a crew traveled to Sun Noodles in Teterboro, New Jersey, to learn the process of making this starchy snack.

The factory makes 40 different types of dough and 150 different styles of noodles. They produce about 20,000 servings of noodles using 40,000 pounds of flour to be packed and shipped around the world every day.

The video has gone viral and has garnered nearly 800,000 views since it was first uploaded on July 10.

Check out the video below as Sun Noodles shows you how they produce a large number of ramen noodles from start to finish.

Then, go get a chewy, Asian noodle soup dish or a trendy ramen burger, which replaces traditional buns with fried ramen noodles.

Military Spends Five Times As Much On Viagra

by Christopher Ingraham

On Twitter Wednesday morning President Donald Trump announced a ban on transgender people serving in the military, citing “medical costs” as the primary driver of the decision.

“Our military must be focused on decisive and overwhelming victory and cannot be burdened with the tremendous medical costs and disruption that transgender in the military would entail,” the president wrote.

While Trump didn’t offer any numbers to support this claim, a Defense Department-commissioned study published last year by the Rand Corp. provides exhaustive estimates of transgender servicemembers’ potential medical costs.

Considering the prevalence of transgender servicemembers among the active duty military and the typical health-care costs for gender transition-related medical treatment, the Rand study estimated that these treatments would cost the military between $2.4 million and $8.4 million annually.

The study didn’t include estimates of these costs for reservists, due to “their highly limited military health care eligibility.” It also didn’t include estimates for retirees or military family members, because many of those individuals may also have “limited eligibility” for care via military treatment facilities.

“The implication is that even in the most extreme scenario that we were able to identify … we expect only a 0.13-percent ($8.4 million out of $6.2 billion) increase in health-care spending,” Rand’s authors concluded.

By contrast, total military spending on erectile-dysfunction medicines amounts to $84 million annually, according to an analysis by the Military Times — 10 times the cost of annual transition-related medical care for active duty transgender servicemembers.

The military spends $41.6 million annually on Viagra alone, according to the Military Times analysis — roughly five times the estimated spending on transition-related medical care for transgender troops.

Looked at another way, the upper estimate for annual transgender medical costs in the military amounts to less than one-10th of the price of a new F-35 fighter jet. Or, 1,000th of one percent of the Defense Department’s annual budget.

The price of providing medical care to transgender servicemembers, in other words, is negligible, and hardly “tremendous” as the president put it.-Philly

World's Shortest Books

By Tiger Woods

By Jane Fonda & Cindy Sheehan
Illustrated by Michael Moore
Foreword by George Soros

By Rev Jesse Jackson & Rev Al Sharpton

By Hillary Clinton

By Bill Clinton

By Bill Gates

By Dennis Rodman
By Al Gore & John Kerry

By Amelia Earhart

By Dr. Jack Kevorkian

By Ellen de Generes & Rosie O'Donnell

By Mike Tyson


Contributed by Mary

Crackdown On Recreational Marijuana

Trump pledged to respect states’ rights on marijuana during his campaign. This may signal a reversal on that promise.
by Matt Ferner

White House press secretary Sean Spicer suggested during a press conference Thursday that the federal government may crack down on states that have legalized recreational marijuana.

Spicer explained that President Donald Trump sees the legalization of medical and recreational marijuana as two distinct issues. When it comes to medical marijuana, Spicer indicated that the president understands the importance of the drug’s availability, especially to those facing terminal diseases. But when it comes to recreational use, Spicer had a very different take, connecting recreational marijuana use to the opioid crisis currently ravaging the nation.

“There’s a big difference between [medical marijuana] and recreational marijuana and I think that when you see something like the opioid addiction crisis blossoming in so many states around this country, the last thing we should be encouraging people ― there’s still a federal law that we need to abide by when it comes to recreational marijuana and other drugs of that nature,” Spicer said.

When asked if the federal government will take action around recreational marijuana, Spicer said, “That’s a question for the Department of Justice. I do believe that you’ll see greater enforcement of it. Recreational use ... is something the Department of Justice will be looking into.”

Marijuana remains illegal under the federal Controlled Substances Act, despite statewide efforts to scale back on criminalizing the plant over the past few years. Legal recreational marijuana has been approved in eight states and Washington, D.C., which continues to ban sales, unlike the state programs. A total of 28 states have legalized marijuana for medical purposes. Former President Barack Obama’s Justice Department allowed states to forge their own way on marijuana policy with guidance urging federal prosecutors to refrain from targeting state-legal marijuana operations. But this guidance is not law and can be reversed by the Trump administration.

Spicer’s comments Thursday came moments after he addressed the White House’s controversial decision to rescind federal protections barring schools from discriminating against transgender students as a matter of “states’ rights” ― a philosophy that Trump appeared to support with regard to marijuana during his campaign, when he repeatedly said he would respect states’ positions on the issue. But following his election, Trump’s selection of Jeff Sessions as attorney general alarmed many drug policy reformers.

That’s because Sessions has long held retrograde views on marijuana and the war on drugs. During a Senate hearing last year, Sessions spoke out against weed and urged the federal government to send the message to the public that “good people don’t smoke marijuana.” He went on to criticize Obama for not speaking out more forcefully against the drug, saying that “we need grown-ups in Washington to say marijuana is not the kind of thing that ought to be legalized.” In separate comments last year, Sessions also called the legalization of marijuana “a mistake.”

    Either the President is flip-flopping or his staff is, once again, speaking out of turn.” Rep. Jared Polis (D-Colo.)

Earlier this year, during Sessions’ confirmation hearings, the former Alabama senator offered only vague answers about how he might approach the drug. While he didn’t appear to suggest there would be any radical changes to federal enforcement, he left the door open for increased federal interference.

Drug policy reformers have raised concerns that Sessions could use the FBI to crack down on marijuana operations nationwide, or direct the Drug Enforcement Administration to enforce federal prohibition outside of the jurisdiction of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 9th Circuit. The court ruled in August that a federal rider blocks federal officials from prosecuting state-legal marijuana operators and patients. But that rider must be re-approved annually, and if it’s allowed to expire, Sessions could then order the DEA to enforce federal law nationally. He could also sue the various state governments that have set up regulatory schemes.

Spicer’s comments Thursday are also in opposition to statements from Rep. Dana Rohrabacher (R-Calif.), a vocal proponent for reforming marijuana laws, who told The Huffington Post in November that Sessions would not interfere with states that have legalized marijuana, a position that he characterized as consistent with Trump’s.

Rep. Jared Polis (D-Colo.), a vocal proponent for reform of federal marijuana laws, said Spicer’s comments suggest that Trump may be “flip-flopping” on the issue.

“The President has said time and again that the decision about marijuana needs to be left to the states,” Polis said in a statement to HuffPost. “Now either the President is flip-flopping or his staff is, once again, speaking out of turn, either way these comments leave doubt and uncertainty for the marijuana industry, stifling job growth in my state. The public has spoken on recreational marijuana, we’ve seen it work in Colorado, and now is the time to lift the federal prohibition.” -Huffington Post

Circle of Life, from The Lion King - Alex Boyé & the Mormon Tabernacle Choir

Long-Term Marijuana Use

by Kate Ryan

Marijuana has long been touted for being virtually side-effect free. Now, according to one new study, long-term marijuana use may have one negative caveat: gum disease.

After analyzing about 1,000 cannabis users in New Zealand, researchers found that those who smoked pot for 20 or more years had few health problems — with the exception of gum disease.

Lead researcher Madeline Meier, an assistant professor of psychology at Arizona State University, said of the findings,

    Unlike tobacco smoking, cannabis smoking is associated with few physical health problems in midlife, with the exception of periodontal disease… Our analyses show that this association was not explained by tobacco smoking, alcohol abuse or less tooth brushing and flossing.

While the study doesn't prove cannabis can cause gum disease, it does shed some light on the pros and cons that come with regular use, specifically smoking. A co-author of the study and professor of psychology at Duke University, Avshalom Caspi, said,

    What we're seeing is that cannabis may be harmful in some respects, but possibly not in every way. We need to recognize that heavy recreational cannabis use does have some adverse consequences, but overall damage to physical health is not apparent in this study.

While smoking weed every day for multiple decades surely has some negative side effects, using alternative methods like vaporizers and edibles could potentially mitigate some of those consequences. So don't panic just yet, bud buddies. When it comes to cannabis, there's a big, wide world out there with countless options still left to explore. –Elite Daily

Cancer Institute Quietly Confirms Cannabis Can Cure Cancer

by Paul Fassa

Apparently the left hand of this government doesn’t know what the right hand is doing, or more likely doesn’t want to know. With the easy prey of grabbing marijuana users in most states and locking them up in prisons for cheap labor while destroying families, there’s little motivation to curb that racket by dropping marijuana out of its DEA Schedule 1 Controlled Substance rating.

Schedule 1 includes drugs that are dangerous, addictive, and without any medical merit. The DEA needs to justify its budgetary funding and the FDA prefers rubber stamp approving pharmaceutical drugs that are far more dangerous than marijuana and far less effective. The FDA has to oblige their corporate clients to keep their licensure payments from Big Pharma rolling in.

The unpublicized studies that prove cannabis’s medical merits are referenced within the NCI (National Cancer Institute). Though they are pre-utical drugs to enhance chemo or suppress some of chemotherapy’s terrible side effects, there are many, many actual case histories of curing cancers with cannabis.

Of course those are dismissed as anecdotal and not paid any attention by government agencies and the mainstream media. People who are cured by cannabis doesn’t satisfy medical “science”. It has to have a chance to disprove it and carry on with business as usual.

Nevertheless, the following list is excerpted directly from one of the NCI Question and Answer pages about cannabis:

Their Report on Cannabis Antitumor Activity

Studies in mice and rats have shown that cannabinoids may inhibit tumor growth by causing cell death, blocking cell growth, and blocking the development of blood vessels needed by tumors to grow. Laboratory and animal studies have shown that cannabinoids may be able to kill cancer cells while protecting normal cells.

–A study in mice showed that cannabinoids may protect against inflammation of the colon and may have potential in reducing the risk of colon cancer, and possibly in its treatment.

–A laboratory study of delta-9-THC in hepatocellular carcinoma (liver cancer) cells showed that it damaged or killed the cancer cells. The same study of delta-9-THC in mouse models of liver cancer showed that it had antitumor effects. Delta-9-THC has been shown to cause these effects by acting on molecules that may also be found in non-small cell lung cancer cells and breast cancer cells.

–A laboratory study of cannabidiol (CBD) in estrogen receptor positive and estrogen receptor negative breast cancer cells showed that it caused cancer cell death while having little effect on normal breast cells. Studies in mouse models of metastatic breast cancer showed that cannabinoids may lessen the growth, number, and spread of tumors.

–A laboratory study of cannabidiol (CBD) in human glioma cells showed that when given along with chemotherapy, CBD may make chemotherapy more effective and increase cancer cell death without harming normal cells. Studies in mouse models of cancer showed that CBD together with delta-9-THC may make chemotherapy such as temozolomide more effective.

Stimulating Cancer Patients Appetite

–Many animal studies have shown that delta-9-THC and other cannabinoids stimulate appetite and can increase food intake.

Pain Relief

–Cannabinoid receptors (molecules that bind cannabinoids) have been studied in the brain, spinal cord, and nerve endings throughout the body to understand their roles in pain relief.

–Cannabinoids have been studied for anti-inflammatory effects that may play a role in pain relief.

 End of excerpt from NCI, the “government’s primary cancer research agency”. Paradoxically, another government agency that’s supposed to protect us, the FDA, has recently approved the most dangerous painkiller Oxycontin for 11 year old children. Oxycontin is synthetic heroine, very addictive.

Then there are the synthetic speed drugs like Ritalin that are approved for children under five years of age. Both of them mask symptoms while ruining health.

But of course, those drugs are not Schedule I. They all have “accepted” medical merit, approved by the FDA and prescribed by MDs, the official drug pushers. Evidently the studies listed by the NCI don’t indicate medical merit, but less effective, side-effect-laden synthetic derivatives of cannabis that Big Pharma creates are FDA approved – Ka-ching!

And of course, also ignored are the several animal and human trials conducted on cannabis for various diseases, including cancer, in Spain and Israel. You can go to this PubMed site  and do a search for cannabis or marijuana and find several favorable cannabis studies.

Where’s the mainstream media with all this? Honoring their cash flow from Big Pharma’s advertising vast budget with silence, I suspect.

Paul Fassa is a contributing staff writer for His pet peeves are the Medical Mafia’s control over health and the food industry and government regulatory agencies’ corruption. Paul’s valiant contributions to the health movement and global paradigm shift are well received. –Real Farmacy


Are You Still Smoking Weed? You Need To Read This!

With the legalization of weed slowly taking place through out the nation, it's time to decide which ingestion method works best for you.

Before it was all about convenience, but now there is less stigma attached to weed and a broader demand for manufacturers to fill.

Weed has many applications in the private, commercial and consumer sectors. It is used to fight cancer, equalize metabolism, joint relief and stuff.

Smoking it through a piece or rolled up in papers is the classic or old school way of consuming weed.

 With vaping equipment ramping up it's accessibility and use, studies were done to find out which manner was healthiest.

Doctors have stood by vaping options as being better for you. Recent studies have proven them right. The process of vaporizing THC is similar to it's flame induced cousin.

The device heats the weed to the point that the THC crystals break down becoming a fume or vapors that are inhaled.

The classic method of smoking weed, breaks down the all the plant matter present. In this argument of health, it is important to remember that the weed itself isn't the problem.

This danger to the lungs is present anytime smoke is inhaled. This is the baseline, risk minimal version of smoking.

Smoke is full carcinogens and tar. So while weed is a nontoxic herb and is healthier than cigarette smoke, it is less healthy than vapor fumes. It was unavoidable until vaping was refined and accessible enough to the general public.

Through the controllable temperature, anything thing can be vaped, including hash, hash oil, and marijuana. Vaping removes 95% of the smoke that irritates the lungs and may lead to chronic bronchitis.

Besides a healthier method, vaping maybe able to reverse respiratory symptoms.

The Journal Of Psychoactive Drugs published a recent study showing that vaping is more potent than teas and edibles as well.

Vaping has a steeper initial cost, vapes are more expensive than most pipes and bongs, but it maximizes weed use. Users can control the depth and length of their hits easier, making an optimal high easier to attain.

By increasing the THC content of the hits, it maximizes the amount of the chemical that is in contact with the lungs. –High Perspectives

Chicken Paillards with Asian Pear Salad

Recipe by the bon appétit test kitchen

Asian pears are worth seeking out if you can find them—their crunch is unparalleled. Regular apples will do as a substitute in a pinch.


2 tablespoons olive oil
divided 4 4-oz. chicken breasts, pounded 1/4-inch thick
Kosher salt
freshly ground pepper
1/2 Asian pear, thinly sliced
1 celery stalk, thinly sliced, plus 2 Tbsp. celery leaves
1/2 cup fresh cilantro leaves with tender stems
1 tablespoon fresh lime juice

Preparation Heat:

1 Tbsp. oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat.
Season chicken with salt and pepper and, working in 2 batches, cook until golden and cooked through, about 2 minutes per side.

Toss pear, celery and celery leaves, cilantro, and lime juice in a medium bowl; season with salt and pepper. Serve chicken topped with Asian pear salad.

Aug 27, 2017

LGBT Civil Rights 'Are Already Being Stripped Away

by David Badash

'It Often Doesn’t Matter What the Majority of Americans Believe'

Michelangelo Signorile is a veteran journalist who for many years has hosted his own show on SiriusXM radio. He's also the editor-at-large for HuffPost's Queer Voices. And he's out with an eight-point alert for LGBT people: our civil rights are in danger. In fact, our rights "are already being stripped away right before our eyes," he warns in a post at HuffPost titled, "It’s Now Undeniable That LGBTQ Rights Are In Danger Of Being Rolled Back."

Signorile says it's "naive and enormously dangerous" for LGBT people to think our "rights are secured ― while not seeing the perils ahead."

By way of example, Signorile says "some recent exchanges and interactions I’ve had lead me to believe that many people, queer and straight, still believe that LGBTQ rights are secure and advancing. They point to public opinion polls, to cultural changes and to progress even in the most conservative corners of the country."

"One person, educated in the history of the LGBTQ movement, told me that he couldn’t believe that the Supreme Court would undo something that the majority of Americans now supported ― marriage equality ― and implied a lot of the sounding of the alarm was for the conspiracy-minded."

Many people think that.

One highly-respected LGBT civil rights legal group, after Trump was elected, published an FAQ saying marriage was not in immediate danger. But they noted related equality rights for gay people certainly could be.

(Since then, several have noted just how easy it could be to effectively take marriage away from same-sex couples. Or even overturn Obergefell. And some states are working to revoke marital benefits from same-sex couples.)

"Even though the Court is extremely unlikely to take away your marriage, there are ways short of reversing a marriage decision in which the new administration could make life harder for same-sex spouses and their children, such as by permitting discrimination against these families in some contexts," Lambda Legal wrote in December last year. "It is also possible that the new administration could reduce the respect given by federal government agencies to the marriages of same-sex spouses."

We're seeing that, and similar actions against LGBT people being taken already. Betsy DeVos' Dept. of Education offers several  examples, as does Jeff Sessions' DOJ.

Here's the crux of Signorile's very valid argument:

"It often doesn’t matter what the majority of Americans believe ― over 90 percent support universal background checks on gun purchases, after all, but we can’t get the legislation passed. The Supreme Court has handed down ruling after ruling that reversed precedents and defied the majority of Americans’ beliefs on voting rights, corporate money in politics, immigration and so many other issues. What is happening in our country right now is clear: a powerful minority is in control and is trying to get the fix in so that it can rule from the minority for a long time to come. "

And to prove it, he offers these eight events:
  • "Donald Trump’s Supreme Court pick Neil Gorsuch"
  • "Mississippi last year passed the most far-reaching anti-LGBTQ law"
  • "Texas joined Michigan, South Dakota and Mississippi in allowing bans on adoption to same-sex couples by state-funded adoption agencies"
  • North Carolina's newly-elected Democratic governor signed a so-called repeal of HB2 that "still bans local LGBT rights ordinances statewide and regulates transgender people until some time in the future ― when it will surely be extended."
  • "The Trump administration has thrown transgender students overboard"
  • "Trump has essentially made LGBTQ people invisible," by not issuing an LGBT Pride month declaration and removing questions about sexual orientation and "refusing to collect vital data"
  • "Some Democratic strategists are advising that the party move away from “'identify politics,' and that means steering clear of LGBTQ rights"
  • And this vital observation: "Trump’s cabinet and undersecretaries include some of the most ardent foes of LGBT rights, from Housing Secretary Ben Carson and Attorney General Jeff Sessions to Health and Human Services (HHS) Secretary Tom Price and his director of the Office of Civil Rights at HHS, Roger Severino, an anti-LGBTQ advocate who last year accused the Obama administration of attempting to 'coerce everyone, including children, into pledging allegiance to a radical new gender ideology.' Already, we’re seeing important programs that affect LGBT people in jeopardy."
"None of us can believe any of the rights we’ve fought for are safe," Signorile rightly warns. "But more importantly, we need to wake up and see that they are already being stripped away right before our eyes."-NCRM
Dear U.S. Leftists, Liberals/Progressives, Marxists, Socialists, et al:

The latest national developments have made me realize that I want a divorce. I know we have stuck together and tolerated each other for years for the sake of future generations, but our relationship has clearly run its course.

Our ideas of America cannot and will not ever agree on what is right for us all. Therefore, let's just end it on friendly terms. We can chalk it up to irreconcilable differences, smile and each go our own separate way.

Here is what I suggest we do to have an amicable and fair divorce.

First, we equitably divide the land/the territory with each side taking a fair portion. This will be somewhat difficult, but surely, hopefully as mature and sensible adults, we can come to a friendly solution and settlement. After that is done, it should be relatively easy to divide the assets, especially since each side has very distinct and disparate tastes. We can apportion the "assets & valuables" as follows:

You can continue to keep the complicated, graduated, loophole-filled, redistributive tax system. We prefer the simple, across-the-board flat tax;

You are welcome to keep the ACLU and liberal judges. We shall take the cops, the military, and the NRA;

You can keep wind, solar and bio-diesel power. We shall take the [nasty, smelly] oil industry and coal mines;

You can keep (Hanoi) Jane Fonda, Bill Maher, Shirley McClain, Michael Moore, Rosie O'Donnell, Sean Penn, Martin & Charlie Sheen, Barbara Streisand, Ted Turner, and Oprah Winfrey; you can also have the addicts, druggies, hippies, homeboys, homeless, illegal aliens, and welfare recipients, who prefer to live on government dole-outs and freebies. We shall have Bill O'Reilly, the Bible-lovers, the capitalists, the [greedy] CEOs, pharmaceuticals companies & other corporations, as well as the hot Alaskan hockey moms, rednecks, Wal-Mart, and Wall Street;

You can keep CNN, MSNBC, Hollywood, all the anti-Americans/anti-West, Iran, ISIS, Palestine and all the jihadists as well as the peaceniks and war protesters. However, when our allies and/or our way of life are under assault and threatened, we shall provide the needed security and retain the right to hammer and stop the aggressors;
  • You are welcome to have Humanism, Islam, political correctness, Scientology, and any other non-Christian and un-American ideology. We shall keep the original Judeo-Christian principles and values, the original foundation of America;
  • You can keep the United Nations, but we shall no longer pay the bills;
  • You can keep every Leaf, Volt, and all other "non-gasoline-hungry" vehicles. We'll take the SUVs, pickup trucks, and over-sized, gasoline-guzzling luxury cars;
  • You can have your preferred health care system and provide FREE care to everyone including illegals; hopefully, you can find enough practitioners & providers. We shall provide health care coverage judiciously and sensibly as deemed necessary.
  • You are welcome to substitute as your national anthem any of the following: "Imagine", "I'd Like to Teach the World to Sing", "Kum Ba Ya", --or-- "We Are the World". We shall keep "The Star-Spangled Banner" and "The Battle Hymn of the Republic";
  • You can have trickle-up economics. We shall continue to practice trickle-down economics;
  • You are more than welcome to choose your own flag and name, and write your own version of history. We shall keep the original flag, original history, and original name of the United States of America, [which often offend you and which you do not like to give due honor and/or respect].
Finally, in the spirit of friendly parting, hopefully you also consider which one of us will need help 15 years down the road.


John J. Wall

-Contribution by Ralph

Lost Tradition Of The Sunday Tea Dance

by Will Kohler

Many gay men under the age of 30 today are totally clueless of almost lost tradition of the Sunday Tea Dance. (A tradition that really must be brought back.) So here’s a little history primer on the tradition of the “Sunday T-dance” and how and why we embraced it in the LGBT culture.

Historically, tea was served in the afternoon, either with snacks (“low tea”) or with a full meal (“high tea” or “meat tea”). High Tea eventually moved earlier in the day, sometimes replacing the midday “luncheon” and settled around 11 o’clock, becoming the forerunner of what we know as “brunch”.

From the late 1800’s to well into the pre-WWI era in both America and England, late afternoon (low) tea service became the highlight of society life. As dance crazes swept both countries, tea dances became increasingly popular as places where single women and their gentlemen friends could meet — the singles scene of the age.

While tea dances enjoyed a revival in America after the Great War, The Great Depression of the 30’s wiped them out. Tea consumption was in steady decline in America anyways and by the 50’s, tea was largely thought of as something “your grandmother drinks”. Also, nightlife was moving later and younger. Working men and women were too busy building the American Dream to socialize so it was left to their teenaged children in the age of sockhops and the jukebox diner. Rock and roll was dark and dangerous — something you sneaked out for after dinner, not took part in before dinner.

Gay people, of course, were still largely underground in the 50s, but it was in these discreet speakeasies that social (nonpartnered) dancing was evolving. It was illegal for men to dance with men, or for women to dance with women. In the event of a raid, gay men and lesbian women would quickly change partners to mixed-couples. Eventually, this led to everyone sort of dancing on their own.

By the late 60s, gay men had established the Fire Island Cherry Grove and also the more subdued and “closeted” Pines (off of Long Island, in New York) as a summer resort of sorts. It was illegal at that time for bars to ‘knowingly sell alcohol to homosexuals’ and besides many of the venues there were not licensed as ‘night clubs’ or to sell alcohol. To avoid attracting attention, afternoon tea dances were promoted. Holding them in the afternoon also allowed those who needed to catch the last ferry back to the mainland to attend.

The proscription against same-sex dancing was still in effect, so organizers were forced to institute ‘no touching’ rules. Since there were no lesbians around to change partners with, gay men developed the “dancing apart” style that club-goers everywhere now take for granted.

June 28, 1969…the Stonewall Riots mark the fiery birth of the so-called “modern gay rights movement”. Following (and in part perhaps inspired by) the death of gay icon Judy Garland, (as the urban legend goes)  patrons of the Greenwich Village watering hole The Stonewall Inn  fought back against another in a very long line of violent police raids, eventually barricading the police inside the bar and setting off three nights of rioting. The “snapped stiletto heel heard around the world”as some call it is commemorated today with Gay Pride celebrations held around the end of June.

Post-Stonewall, the tea dance moved from the Fire Island Pines to Greenwich Village. A newly-energized gay community around Christopher Street embraced the social dancing craze started on Fire Island. While the Fire Island gays tended to be rich upper-class preppies, the downtown gays of Christopher Street and the Village were working-class and they tended to party at night. As in the straight community, tea dances gradually moved later until they became subsumed into the night club scene.

Through the 70’s, gay men championed the uniform of the working class — t-shirts and denim — as fashion aesthetic. In part because they were affordable, and in part because it projected an appealing hypermasculinity associated with the working class. Gays in the post-Stonewall era were consciously rebelling against the effete stereotypes associated with the manicured, sweater-wearing, tea-drinking gays of the Fire Island set. Real men wore t-shirts and drank beer. Gay men still had afternoon/early evening dances — usually on Sundays, in order to make the most of one’s weekend while still being able to get up for Monday morning’s work.

The downtown gays rejected the term tea dance as being too effete and opted for the supposedly butcher t-dance, and promoted “t-shirts and denim” as the costume of choice. By the mid 70s, the “Christopher Street Clone” look (short cropped hair, mustache, plaid shirt over a tight white t-shirt, faded denim jeans that showed off your ass) had made the trans-continental trip from New York City to Los Angeles (gays in Hollywood) and, of course, to San Francisco (follow the Yellow Brick Road and it leads to Castro). It brought with it the tea dance phenomenon, which is slowly dying out and is nothing of its former self and in may places is all but gone.

So grab those fans and poppers boys and and lets “Ohhhhha, Ooooha” like its 1978 again! 

Lets not let Sunday Tea become a piece of our forgotten gay history also.


“Come to Me” the hit disco song sung by France Joli  received a HUGE boost when Joli performed it as a last-minute replacement for Donna Summer at a concert held on Fire Island on July 7, 1979 before an estimated audience of 5000 dancing gay men. –Back 2 Stone Wall

LGBTs to America: 'We Told You So'

by Lucas Grindley

It didn’t even take long. Donald Trump’s been in office barely six months. Already LGBT people get to tell America: "We told you so."

Maybe listen to us the next time a minority group says someone in power is trying to abuse us, trying to walk back our civil rights, or seems to be hiding their bigotry. We told you so.

I wish I could say it feels good to finally get that out. It doesn’t — but it sure feels necessary.

Our friends and family and allies thought they had sufficient cover for voting against us. No, they guffawed. You silly queers, you think everyone hates you.

You’ve got it all wrong, said the straight, cisgender people. Trump actually loves LGBT people! Didn’t you hear him at the Republican National Convention say “L-G-B-T-Q”? Didn’t you see him hold that rainbow flag? Never mind that it was upside down and written on with black marker.

We told you, at the time, to listen carefully to what Trump said during the RNC speech. Did you listen, though?

Trump wasn’t advocating against firing us, or saying “love is love.” All he said is it’s not OK to murder LGBT people. That’s the extent of his “support.” Then he congratulated the audience for cheering for him.

I know it all sounds new to you, being straight and all. But we’re quite familiar with this kind of “love the sinner, hate the sin” shenanigans, thanks. Bigots have for decades claimed they love us; that they’re our real friend. Then they try to save us from hellfire by sending us to conversion therapy.

Or, in the cases of those given actual power, they ban transgender people from serving in the military. That’s what President Trump did today — with a series of tweets announcing the new policy.

How trivializing of people's lives to type out a tweet of a policy of this magnitude. That in itself says what Trump thinks of LGBT people. He cares so little about LGBT people that he's using us now to distract from all his problems. One Trump administration source told Axios they’re counting on transgender people becoming a campaign issue. Trump readily treats LGBT people this way, like a prop, like something less than human.

Americans should’ve known. He’s done it before.

Candidate Trump used, of all things, the massacre at the Pulse nightclub to advance this lie that he’s our big ally. LGBT people knew then what was going on. Yet mainstream media — which should now apologize — bought this bogus idea and repackaged it for mainstream American consumption.

Trump said that Islam was to blame in another major speech broadcast, of course, via live television. Turn your hatred toward the Middle East, he railed, hoping we’d be distracted. LGBT people weren’t distracted.

But you were, America.

Trump used those 49 killed to advance his Islamophobia. Then he used them to argue for loosening gun restrictions, wishing that the Pulse victims had brought guns before going out to party that night. A Winchester in every pocket! “If the bullets were going in the other direction,” he dreamed, just days afterward.

Now here we are.

Even Trump’s daughter Ivanka tried to distance herself from her bigoted father — who failed to mention Pride Month — by tweeting out an LGBT-supportive message. It's not a good sign when your own brood is backing away from you slowly.

President Trump rolled back protective guidance for transgender students as soon as he got Jeff Sessions confirmed as attorney general. Betsy DeVos played her part and rolled over at the Education Department. He’s tried to stop the Census from counting LGBT people. He’s threatened us with an executive order to allow discrimination by federal contractors, saying religious people should be allowed to fire LGBT people because they believe that’s what Jesus would do. Can anyone name an LGBT person anywhere in the Trump administration? I’m sure you can name a few anti-LGBT staffers — or Cabinet members.

If you told me Trump is an LGBT ally, it's long past time to admit you were wrong. Maybe more urgently, though, it’s time to admit to yourselves that Trump was lying the whole time.

He has no secret plan to stop ISIS. Banning Muslims from coming here won’t make you any safer. Mexico isn’t paying for the wall. You are. And you’ll have to do it while footing the bill for your health care — the cost of which is going up.

Everything Trump promised about keeping jobs in America by blaming a racial minority, or being tough on national security by blaming a religious minority, was all for show. We told you that too. –Advocate

Is Gay Marriage a Threat to Traditional Marriage?

The Rainbow Flag

“A true flag cannot be designed — it has to be torn from the soul of the people.” — Unknown

In 1970, a self-described “geeky kid from Kansas” named Gilbert Baker came to San Francisco as an Army draftee. San Francisco has often been compared to Oz, but Baker didn’t want to click his heels and go back to Kansas. After an honorable discharge he stayed in San Francisco, free to pursue his dreams of being an artist. He learned to sew, making all the fabulous 70s clothes that he wanted but couldn’t buy.

In 1974, Baker’s life changed forever when he met Harvey Milk, who showed him “how action could create change.” Three years after they met, Milk was elected to the San Francisco Board of Supervisors – making him the first openly gay person to hold a high public office in a major American city. Milk, once known fondly as the Mayor of Castro St., had campaigned on a positive message of hope for young gay people, saying, “The only thing they have to look forward to is hope. And you have to give them hope.” After winning the election, Milk challenged Gilbert Baker to come up with a symbol of pride for the gay community – a positive alternative to the pink triangle. The pink triangle, once imposed by Nazis to identify and persecute homosexuals, had been reclaimed in the 70s as a bold symbol of remembrance and action against persecution. It is still widely used, often alongside or superimposed upon the Rainbow Flag.

Inspired, Baker began working on a flag. He dyed the fabrics himself and, with the help of volunteers, stitched together eight strips of brilliant color into a huge banner that spoke volumes: hot pink stood for sexuality, red for life, orange for healing, yellow for the sun, green for nature, turquoise blue for art, indigo for harmony and violet for spirit. He remembers vividly the moment when his new flag was first raised:

“It all goes back to the first moment of the first flag back in 1978 for me. Raising it up and seeing it there blowing in the wind for everyone to see. It completely astounded me that people just got it, in an instant like a bolt of lightening – that this was their flag. It belonged to all of us. It was the most thrilling moment of my life. Because I knew right then that this was the most important thing I would ever do – that my whole life was going to be about the Rainbow Flag.”

A few of his handmade Rainbow Flags were flown in the 1978 “Gay Freedom Day” Parade in San Francisco (now called San Francisco Gay Freedom Day Parade). Soon, Baker approached the Paramount Flag Company to mass produce the flags. Alas, fuchsia flag fabric was not readily available, but Paramount began selling a seven-striped version (red, orange, yellow, green, blue, indigo and violet). According to one source, those flags were a surplus stock that had originally been made for the International Order of Rainbow for Girls, a Masonic organization for young women, but the Rainbow Flag was already recognized throughout San Francisco as a symbol of gay pride.

On the morning of Nov. 27, 1978, San Francisco received shocking news: Mayor George Moscone and Supervisor Harvey Milk had been assassinated at City Hall. Grief and rage galvanized San Franciscans – especially gay activists.

The Gay Freedom Day Committee (now called San Francisco LGBT Pride Celebration Committee) quickly decided that the Rainbow Flag should be flown from the light poles along both sides of Market Street for the 1979 Gay Freedom Day Parade. They split the colors onto two flags, flying each of the three-striped flags on alternate sides of the street. They eliminated the indigo stripe to make an even six colors, and flag production began.

That six-stripe Rainbow Flag was soon proudly flown outside many San Francisco homes and businesses. Indeed, wherever a symbol of pride and hope was needed, the rainbow appeared: on keychains, coffee mugs, T-shirts, bumper stickers – you name it.

In 1988, John Stout of West Hollywood, CA, sued his landlords for the right to display a Rainbow Flag on the balcony of his apartment. He won, as have many others since who have defended their right to display the Rainbow Flag. Recently, Gilbert Baker said,

“The flag is an action – it’s more than just the cloth and the stripes. When a person puts the Rainbow Flag on his car or his house, they’re not just flying a flag. They’re taking action.”

Baker went on to design flags for other events, including state visits to San Francisco by the President of Italy; the President of France; the Premier of China; the President of the Philippines; the President of Venezuela and the King of Spain. He designed flags for the 1984 Democratic National Convention, the 1985 Super Bowl, San Francisco Symphony Black and White Balls, and stage and street decorations for the San Francisco Gay Freedom Day Parades from 1979 through 1993. In 1994 Baker created the history making, mile-long Rainbow Flag for Stonewall 25 in New York to mark the 25th anniversary of the gay civil rights movement. The Guinness Book of World Records recognized the mile-long Stonewall 25 Rainbow Flag as the world’s largest flag.

Recalling one of the defining moments in his career, Baker said, “The moment I knew that the flag was beyond my own personal experience – that it wasn’t just something I was making but was something that was happening – was the 1993 March on Washington. From my home in San Francisco I watched the March on C-SPAN and saw hundreds of thousands of people carrying and waving Rainbow Flags on a scale I’d never imagined.”

Happy news: Hot pink is no longer a non-standard color in flag fabric production. Baker was recently able to create the world’s longest Rainbow Flag – restored to its original eight colors – to celebrate the flag’s silver anniversary. The Rainbow25 Sea-to-Sea Flag – 1.25 miles long – was unfurled in Key West, FL on June 15, 2003. Parts of the Flag will be shared with more than 100 cities around the world, and eight-stripe flags are now widely available. –SF Travel

Gay Men At Risk Of Untreatable Super Gonorrhoea

by Joshua Haigh

A new strain of untreatable gonorrhoea is in danger of being widespread among gay men.

The sexually transmitted disease can infect the genitals, rectum and throat, but it is the last that is most concerning health officials. Shockingly, it currently infects around 78 million people around the world every year.

Symptoms can include a thick green or yellow discharge from the penis and sharp pain when urinating.

However, while it’s completely curable, treatment with antibiotics is leading to the bacteria developing resistance in the back of the throat.

Dr Teodora Wi, from the WHO, said: “When you use antibiotics to treat infections like a normal sore throat, this mixes with the Neisseria species in your throat and this results in resistance.”

When men have oral sex, this can re-introduce the bacteria back into the throat, and that can then lead to “super gonorrhoea,” which is currently entirely untreatable and resistant to all-forms of drugs. The concern comes after three confirmed cases in which antibiotics were completely ineffective.

“In the US, resistance [to an antibiotic] came from men having sex with men because of pharyngeal infection,” she explained.

“We are now at a point where we are using the drugs of last resort, but there are worrying signs as treatment failure due to resistant strains has been documented.”

“The situation is fairly grim,” she added.


Grandpa's New Pool



Gay People Are Building An ‘Army’

by Nick Duffy

A leading evangelical group is terrified that “radical leftist” homosexuals are planning a coup against Donald Trump.

The warning comes from the Liberty Counsel, the ultra-conservative Christian law firm that battles against LGBT rights across the US.

They warned that “an army of radical leftists is gathering… to mobilize against President Trump’s policies on the local, state, and federal levels”

The law firm continued: “Their agenda includes an aggressive pro-LGBTQ campaign that includes fighting against any religious liberty protections that they deem to be ‘antigay’ offered by President Trump or Congress.

“The ACLU (American Civil Liberties Union) is already attempting to overturn President Trump’s revocation of the former president’s Bathroom Directive.

“The plans of this radical group are now among the biggest threats to life, liberty, and family in the history of America.

“Now armed with over $80 million in post-election war chest funds, the ACLU is pushing to advance its radical agenda like never before.”

The Liberty Counsel rose to national prominence after providing free legal representation to embattled Kentucky clerk Kim Davis, when she refused to carry out her duties because of same-sex marriage.

The group has more recently been secretly helping Republican lawmakers draft anti-LGBT legislation in a number of states, leading to a wave of anti-LGBT ‘conscience’ bills and ‘bathroom laws’ that exploit transgender issues as an excuse to strip back anti-discrimination protections.

The group has shockingly anti-LGBT views, however. Its head Mat Staver recently falsely claimed that first responders at last year’s Pulse nightclub shooting have to “get tested for AIDS-related conditions” because of the blood of gay victims.

They have also claimed the United States might be destroyed unless you give them money. –Pink News

Coconut Cream Cake I

Recipe by GPAIN

"An easy cake using a white cake mix, and moistened with a creamy coconut sauce. You may reduce the amount of sauce if you prefer, and it will still be delicious."


1 (18.25 ounce) package white cake mix
3 eggs
1/3 cup vegetable oil
1 cup water
1/2 teaspoon coconut extract
1 (14 ounce) can sweetened cream of coconut
1 (14 ounce) can sweetened condensed milk
1 cup heavy whipping cream
1 tablespoon white sugar
1 cup flaked coconut

  •  Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C). Grease and flour a 9x13 inch pan.
  • In a large bowl, mix together cake mix, eggs, oil, water and coconut flavoring. Beat for 2 minutes and pour into 9x13 inch pan. Bake for 30 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted into the cake comes out clean.
  • In a medium bowl, combine coconut cream with sweetened condensed milk and stir until smooth. When cake comes out of the oven, poke holes into it in even rows using a large fork or chopsticks. Pour milk mixture over, allowing it to soak into the cake. Refrigerate for several hours or overnight.
  • In a large bowl, whisk cream until soft peaks form. Add sugar and continue whipping until stiff. Spread over cooled cake. Sprinkle top with flaked coconut.

-All Recipes

Aug 13, 2017

Poverty Is That It’s Profitable To Other People?

by Katha Pollitt

What if the dominant discourse on poverty is just wrong? What if the problem isn’t that poor people have bad morals – that they’re lazy and impulsive and irresponsible and have no family values – or that they lack the skills and smarts to fit in with our shiny 21st-century economy? What if the problem is that poverty is profitable? These are the questions at the heart of Evicted, Matthew Desmond’s extraordinary ethnographic study of tenants in low-income housing in the deindustrialised middle-sized city of Milwaukee, Wisconsin.

You might not think that there is a lot of money to be extracted from a dilapidated trailer park or a black neighborhood of “sagging duplexes, fading murals, 24-hour daycares”. But you would be wrong. Tobin Charney makes $400,000 a year out of his 131 trailers, some of which are little better than hovels. Sherrena Tarver, a former schoolteacher who is one of the only black female landlords in the city, makes enough in rents on her numerous properties – some presentable, others squalid – to holiday in Jamaica and attend conferences on real estate.

Desmond follows the intertwined fortunes of eight families and a host of minor characters. Arleen Belle and Doreen Hinkston are black mothers clinging to the edge of low-wage employment; Crystal and Trisha are fragile young black women whose upbringing was violent and chaotic; Lamar is a genial black father of two who lost both his legs to frostbite when he passed out on crack in an abandoned house; Scott is a white male nurse who lost his licence when he stole opioids from his patients; Larraine, also white, is a slightly brain-damaged sweet soul. It is sometimes a little hard to keep up with the storylines as they weave in and out of the text, but no matter. What is important is that Desmond takes people who are usually seen as worthless – there is even a trailer-dweller nicknamed Heroin Susie – and shows us their full humanity, how hard they struggle to retain their dignity, humour and kindness in conditions that continually drag them down.

The main condition holding them back, Desmond argues, is rent. The standard measure is that your rent should be no more than 30% of your income, but for poor people it can be 70% or more. After he paid Sherrena his $550 rent out of his welfare cheque, Lamar had only $2.19 a day for the month. When he is forced to repay a welfare cheque he has been sent in error and falls behind on rent, he sells his food stamps for half their face value and volunteers to paint an upstairs apartment, but it is not enough. People such as Lamar live in chronic debt to their landlord, who can therefore oust them easily whenever it is convenient – if they demand repairs, for example, like Doreen, or if a better tenant comes along. Sherrena liked renting to the clients of a for-profit agency that handles – for a fee – the finances of people on disability payments who can’t manage on their own. Money from government programmers intended to help the poor – welfare, disability benefits, the earned-income tax credit – go straight into the landlord’s pocket and, ironically, fuel rising housing costs. Public housing and housing vouchers are scarce. Three in four who qualify for housing assistance get nothing.

Even in the Great Depression, evictions used to be rare. Now, each year, hundreds of thousands, perhaps millions, of renters are put out on the street. Even a paid-up tenant can be easily evicted. Arleen loses one apartment when her son Jori throws a snowball at a passing car and the enraged driver kicks in the front door, and another when the police come after Jori when he kicks a teacher and runs home. Any kind of trouble that brings the police can lead to eviction, which means women can lose their homes if they call 911 when their man beats them up. Think about that the next time someone asks why women don’t call the cops on violent partners.

As Desmond shows, the main victims of eviction are women. Why? They are paid less than men for doing the same job. They are less able to make deals with their landlord, who is almost always a man, to work off part of their rent with manual labor. The main reason, though, is that women are raising children as single mothers. They not only have all the costs and burdens of childrearing, they need bigger apartments – which, since landlords dislike renting to families with young children, are harder to find and a lot harder to keep. Other sociologists – Kathryn Edin, for example – have found that single mothers often get help under the table from their children’s fathers, but Arleen, Doreen and Doreen’s adult daughter Patrice get mostly trouble from men, who are variously abusive, addicted, vanished or in prison. In one of the book’s many small sad moments, Arleen claims she receives child support in order to seem more stable and respectable to a prospective landlord. In fact, she gets nothing.

Desmond lays out the crucial role housing plays in creating and reinforcing white privilege. In Milwaukee, one of the most segregated cities in the US, all black people suffer from housing discrimination and all white people benefit at least a little from the racial dividend – a landlord who will rent to them but not to black people, for instance, or offer them a nicer apartment. Black people have the worst housing in the worst neighborhoods – the great fear of the trailer-park people, who are all white, is that they will end up on the black side of town. Eviction hits black women hardest of all, and the bleak benches of housing courts, which deal with disputes between landlords and tenants, are full of black women and their children: “If incarceration had come to define the lives of men from impoverished black neighborhoods, eviction was shaping the lives of women. Poor black men were locked up. Poor black women were locked out.”

What are the social costs of eviction? It puts incredible stress on families. It prevents people from saving the comparatively small sums that would let them stabilize their situation. They are always starting over from scratch, losing their possessions in the chaos of removal, or putting them in storage and losing them when they can’t pay the fees. An eviction on your record makes the next apartment harder to get. Eviction damages children, who are always changing schools, giving up friends and toys and pets – and living with the exhaustion and depression of their parents. We watch Jori go from a sweet, protective older brother to an angry, sullen boy subject to violent outbursts who is falling way behind in school.

Eviction makes it hard to keep up with the many appointments required by the courts and the byzantine welfare system: several characters have their benefits cut because notices are sent to the wrong address. Eviction destroys communities: when people move frequently, they don’t form the social bonds and pride in place that encourage them to care for their block and look out for their neighbors. “With Doreen’s eviction, Thirty-Second Street lost a steadying presence – someone who loved and invested in the neighborhood, who contributed to making the block safer – but Wright Street didn’t gain one.”

“There is an enormous amount of pain and poverty in this rich land,” Desmond writes in his conclusion. That is easy to say, and many books by journalists and academics have done so. By examining one city through the microscopic lens of housing, however, he shows us how the system that produces that pain and poverty was created and is maintained. I can’t remember when an ethnographic study so deepened my understanding of American life.—The Guardian

Neuroweapons, Micro-Drones and Other Killer Apps

Americans should have a more vigorous debate over Pentagon’s relentless pursuit of “disruptive” innovations
by John Horgan

A year ago historians of technology Lee Vinsel and Andrew Russell, my colleagues at Stevens Institute of Technology, questioned our culture’s adulation of “innovation” in an essay in Aeon. They titled the essay “Hail the Maintainers,” because the flip side of innovation veneration is neglect of maintenance needed to keep societies running. Science and technology scholars explored this theme further at “The Maintainers,” a conference held at Stevens (which I reported on here). Although Andy left Stevens last summer and Lee is leaving soon, they organized a follow-up conference, “The Maintainers II,” held at Stevens this week (April 6-9). Below is a 10-minute talk I’m giving on military innovation.—John Horgan

The late psychedelic philosopher Terence McKenna was one of my favorite thinkers. Epic doses of DMT and psilocybin helped him figure out the meaning of existence: The world was designed to produce innovation for our delectation.

Maybe innovation is a divine creative principle. Who knows? But Andy Russell and Lee Vinsel are right: innovation-worship has gotten out of hand. Our obsession with novelty fuels the replication crisis in science and the high costs of health care, among other problems.

Today, I’ll focus on an especially insidious kind of innovation, involving war. I used to live across the Hudson River from the U.S. Military Academy at West Point. It has a museum that documents, proudly, our increasingly ingenious methods of killing each other. They range from spears and crossbows up through machine guns, tanks and Fat Man, the bomb that devastated Nagasaki.

Seeking Killer Apps

The U.S. is by far the world’s dominant arms producer, peddler and innovator, and it’s always trying to extend its lead. The Pentagon has been reaching out to high-tech companies in Silicon Valley and elsewhere for help in creating “disruptive” weaponry. The so-called Defense Innovation Unit-Experimental, DIU-X, has opened offices in Palo Alto, Boston and Austin to solicit proposals from companies and universities. Here’s how it describes its mission:

“DIU-X continuously iterates on how best to identify and contract novel innovation… with the ultimate goal of accelerating this technology into the hands of the men and women in uniform.” The Defense Department isn't content with slaughtering the English language. Here are a few killer apps I find especially worrisome.

Micro-Drone Assassins

First, drones. The U.S. has deployed a variety of drones for spying and killing. They range from the Global Hawk, with a 130-foot wingspan, to the Switchblade, a baguette-size drone that packs a grenade-size explosive. Research is under way on micro-drones that mimic birds and bugs and can be released in swarms.

The U.S. has catalyzed an international arms race. According to security analyst Peter Singer of the New America Foundation, scores of countries and groups have deployed drones, and many--notably China, Russia and Israel--have their own drone industries.

A few years ago, on assignment for National Geographic, I flew a military-grade drone with an eight-foot wingspan. I almost crashed it, but soon any idiot will be able to fly a drone. Just click a location on your hand-held map display, and the drone will fly there and spy on it or blow it up. Drones are being equipped with software that can recognize faces and license plates.

In short, drones are making assassinations easier to carry out. Is that good innovation?

Brain Science and Bionic Soldiers

Second example: brain science. In his book Mind Wars, bioethicist Jonathan Moreno of the University of Pennsylvania documents the military’s long-standing interest in "neuroweapons.” Decades ago, the U.S. explored the potential of psychedelics like LSD and BZ for interrogating, brainwashing and disabling enemies.

The Pentagon is more eager than ever to exploit brain science, according to Moreno. In 2011, the DOD spent more than $350 million on cognitive neuroscience, and that doesn’t count black-budget spending.

The Defense Department has provided roughly half the funding for Obama’s federal Brain Initiative. The initiative supports research on the brain’s software, or neural code, and on technologies like optogenetics, an implantable method for manipulating neurons.

If scientists crack the neural code, all sorts of sci-fi scenarios become possible, including technologies for mind-reading, mind-control and mind-enhancement. As a U.S. Army publication put it recently: “Advances in brain science could lead to improvements in performance and decision making, changing the way soldiers fight in the near future.”

Far from questioning the wisdom of such research, leading neuroscientists encouraged colleagues to jump on the defense gravy train in the 2009 report Opportunities in Neuroscience for Future Army Applications. Authors include Floyd Bloom and Michael Gazzaniga, former members of the U.S. Council on Bioethics.

Weaponizing brain science could lead to bionic super-soldiers, among other disruptive innovations. How ethical is that?

A New Nuclear Arms Race

My last example involves nuclear weapons. Obama, who won a Nobel Peace Prize for envisioning the abolition of nuclear weapons, signed off on a program to upgrade our nuclear arsenal at a cost of $1 trillion over several decades. Obama sold the program as maintenance of aging facilities and weapons, but it involves plenty of innovation.

Submarine-launched nuclear warheads are being tipped with fuzes that make them more lethal to hardened targets, such as missile silos and underground command-and-control centers. According to The Bulletin of Atomic Scientists, the fuzes would allow the U.S. to carry out a pre-emptive strike against Russia with less fear of retaliation.

Our upgrade will “require Russia to undertake countermeasures that would further increase the already dangerously high readiness of Russian nuclear forces.” So the U.S. modernization of its nuclear arsenal could provoke a dangerous new arms race and undermine anti-proliferation efforts. Is that good innovation?

Can Weapons Innovation Be Stopped?

Considering the stakes involved, weapons innovation has provoked little serious criticism. Yes, thousands of scientists and engineers, including Stephen Hawking and Elon Musk, have signed a letter calling for a ban on autonomous weapons. But we should be debating military innovation in general, not just killer robots.

When scholars address the issue, their criticism is often muted. In 2015 Stevens hosted a lecture by Yale management professor Paul Bracken. His talk was an awkward mixture of concern and cheer leading. He warned that arms innovation is “racing ahead of strategy,” and that novel weapons might make the world more dangerous.

But he also emphasized that the Pentagon, “the mother of all VC firms,” is providing terrific opportunities for researchers and investors. Scholars like Bracken probably worry that if they sound too dovish, they’ll hurt their chances of getting grants, consulting gigs and conference invitations.

Other scholars extol the benefits of war research, and even war itself. Economist Tyler Cowen of George Mason argues that war, or the threat thereof, improves nations’ “long-term prospects” by boosting innovation and economic growth. I find this thesis morally repulsive. It’s akin to arguing for the economic benefits of slavery.

Forget morality. From a strictly practical point of view, military innovation, even if it provides short-term advantages for the U.S., ultimately makes the world more dangerous. No society has ever maintained a monopoly on novel weapons.

I wish technology scholars would give arms innovation the scrutiny it deserves. Perhaps they can propose ways in which weapons research can be wound down, as part of a larger goal of winding down war. This issue is too urgent for scholarly neutrality.

All progress begins with wishful thinking. I wish for a future in which weapons of war exist only in museums. Wouldn’t that be a trip? -Scientific America

How Republics End

by Paul Krugman

Many people are reacting to the rise of Trumpism and nativist movements in Europe by reading history — specifically, the history of the 1930s. And they are right to do so. It takes willful blindness not to see the parallels between the rise of fascism and our current political nightmare.

But the ’30s isn’t the only era with lessons to teach us. Lately I’ve been reading a lot about the ancient world. Initially, I have to admit, I was doing it for entertainment and as a refuge from news that gets worse with each passing day. But I couldn’t help noticing the contemporary resonances of some Roman history — specifically, the tale of how the Roman Republic fell.

Here’s what I learned: Republican institutions don’t protect against tyranny when powerful people start defying political norms. And tyranny, when it comes, can flourish even while maintaining a republican facade.

On the first point: Roman politics involved fierce competition among ambitious men. But for centuries that competition was constrained by some seemingly unbreakable rules. Here’s what Adrian Goldsworthy’s “In the Name of Rome” says: “However important it was for an individual to win fame and add to his and his family’s reputation, this should always be subordinated to the good of the Republic … no disappointed Roman politician sought the aid of a foreign power.”

America used to be like that, with prominent senators declaring that we must stop “partisan politics at the water’s edge.” But now we have a president-elect who openly asked Russia to help smear his opponent, and all indications are that the bulk of his party was and is just fine with that. (A new poll shows that Republican approval of Vladimir Putin has surged even though — or, more likely, precisely because — it has become clear that Russian intervention played an important role in the U.S. election.) Winning domestic political struggles is all that matters, the good of the republic be damned.

And what happens to the republic as a result? Famously, on paper the transformation of Rome from republic to empire never happened. Officially, imperial Rome was still ruled by a Senate that just happened to defer to the emperor, whose title originally just meant “commander,” on everything that mattered. We may not go down exactly the same route — although are we even sure of that? — but the process of destroying democratic substance while preserving forms is already underway.

Consider what just happened in North Carolina. The voters made a clear choice, electing a Democratic governor. 

The Republican legislature didn’t openly overturn the result — not this time, anyway — but it effectively stripped the governor’s office of power, ensuring that the will of the voters wouldn’t actually matter.

Combine this sort of thing with continuing efforts to disenfranchise or at least discourage voting by minority groups, and you have the potential making of a de facto one-party state: one that maintains the fiction of democracy, but has rigged the game so that the other side can never win.

Why is this happening? I’m not asking why white working-class voters support politicians whose policies will hurt them — I’ll be coming back to that issue in future columns. My question, instead, is why one party’s politicians and officials no longer seem to care about what we used to think were essential American values. And let’s be clear: This is a Republican story, not a case of “both sides do it.”

So what’s driving this story? I don’t think it’s truly ideological. Supposedly free-market politicians are already discovering that crony capitalism is fine as long as it involves the right cronies. It does have to do with class warfare — redistribution from the poor and the middle class to the wealthy is a consistent theme of all modern Republican policies. But what directly drives the attack on democracy, I’d argue, is simple careerism on the part of people who are apparatchiks within a system insulated from outside pressures by gerrymandered districts, unshakable partisan loyalty, and lots and lots of plutocratic financial support.

For such people, toeing the party line and defending the party’s rule are all that matters. And if they sometimes seem consumed with rage at anyone who challenges their actions, well, that’s how hacks always respond when called on their hackery.

One thing all of this makes clear is that the sickness of American politics didn’t begin with Donald Trump, any more than the sickness of the Roman Republic began with Caesar. The erosion of democratic foundations has been underway for decades, and there’s no guarantee that we will ever be able to recover.

But if there is any hope of redemption, it will have to begin with a clear recognition of how bad things are. American democracy is very much on the edge. –NYT