Monday, November 25, 2019

CBD - A Skeptic's Story

If you’ve been conscious over the last year or so, you’ve probably seen ads or info on Cannabidiol Oil, or “CBD.” This is not to be confused with the CDB, or “Charlie Daniels Band,” who I used to follow in The 80s, before ol’ Charlie became the elderly, country version of Ted Nugent.

CBD is a hemp extract that’s supposed to have a plethora of constructive uses, none of which are “getting you high.” Promoters of this additive claim it provides pain relief, treatment for insomnia, weight control, arthritis, mood and calmness enhancement, stress management, and more. The legality of CBD varies by state.

I found this flyer on my windshield last week.

I saw an ad for it on Groupon a month or so ago and decided to give it a try, just to see what happens. I was hopeful it could help Sweetpea, who sometimes has trouble falling asleep when there’s too much on her mind. And I figured I’d give it a go as well, because who doesn’t want a better night’s sleep? So, I ordered a jar of sour gummies with 750 mg of CBD.

Maryland is a medical marijuana state but it’s highly regulated. They still frown on recreational use so we’re not exactly Colorado on the Chesapeake. But CBD is legal.

I’ve never been a pothead. In fact, you could count on your fingers the number of times I’ve taken a hit and still have some fingers left over. It was never really my thing. I was always much more content with a couple of drinks or some cold beers. I think the biggest reason I shunned pot, besides the illegality was that I never liked smoking… anything. I didn’t see much fun in hacking my guts out after a toke. And then you have the Ashtray Mouth the next morning. Who needs it?

I may be falling apart with age, but my lungs are in great shape.

If Maryland ever went “full Colorado,” I’d love to try some edibles; that would be more my speed. I have it on good authority from a senior relative living in a medical marijuana state, that the edibles and oils really do the trick. This relative, who was once completely anti-pot, has found now that it is a great help with pain relief, which allows him to fall asleep easily and stay asleep.

He tried various methods of ingestion, snacks, inhalers, and such, but found the best results from a couple drops of oil extract on a pizzelle, right before bed. He was so happy he found something that worked, without the risk of pulling an opiate addiction.

I asked if it got him high too and he said, “Oh yeah!”

Ah, the Golden Years…

So, my gummies finally came and Sweetpea and I gave them a try. After a brief trial period, I found that taking two gummies had positive noticeable effect. (I later began ordering 1500 mg gummies instead. I’ve seen them as high as 3000 mg as well.)

I haven’t noticed any mood enhancement or pain relief, but I can tell you I’m getting much better sleep. And because I wear a Fitbit to bed, I get nightly sleep measurements. I’ve been getting about double the REM sleep than I was, and more deep sleep as well. When I do wake up to roll over at night, I almost always fall back to sleep immediately.

According to Fitbit, the benefits of REM (or dream) sleep include mood regulation, learning, and memory, as our brains process and consolidate information from the previous day, so that it can be stored in long-term memory.

Deep sleep promotes physical recovery and aspects of memory and learning. It also supports the immune system.

I’m usually in bed for around seven hours a night. If I was lucky, I was getting maybe 45 minutes to an hour of REM and maybe 20 minutes of deep sleep. Now I get almost two hours of REM and 30 minutes to an hour of deep sleep. (Although a little less deep sleep if I’ve had a few drinks.)

Here’s a typical night’s sleep record for me.

The time awake is exaggerated though. I wake up a bit when Sweetpea gets up or has to tend to the dog (who only seems to want to go out to poop when we’re asleep,) but I’m back out almost immediately. I presume it takes a little time for my vitals to reflect that.

As for Sweetpea, it helps her stay asleep and return to sleep quickly after waking, but it’s still hard for her to go to sleep initially, if she’s got a lot of work stuff on her mind.

So, as far as I can see, CBD is no panacea or cure-all, but it helps get you a good night’s sleep. For this purpose, CBD gets the Darwinfish2 Stamp of Approval.

I should probably warn you though, if you’re prone to nightmares, this may not be the supplement for you. The dreams can be quite prolonged and vivid.

I had one two weeks ago where I realized I’d been shot somewhere in Baltimore and was going to die in the ensuing moments. Surprisingly, I was quite calm about it. Somehow, I found myself at our old house in NW Ohio, where we had The Barn and all our Barn Parties. I was concerned that I’d be leaving all my junk with my parents, who I felt didn’t need the hassle of dealing with all of it. I suggested to my Mom that she have some of the neighbors over to go through my LP and CD collections and take whatever they wanted.

That’s what I was worried about. #Priorities

I just hope when the time comes when I’m facing my imminent mortality, I’m as calm and serene about it as I was in the dream. In real life, I think there would be a lot more cursing and wailing. I definitely see some dramatic hand gestures.

And I’m pretty sure the LPs will be going right in the dumper.

Monday, November 18, 2019

When You Can’t Win the Argument, Change the Subject

Republicans still haven’t seemed to internalize that their Golden Calf has been caught dead-to-rights in impeachable conduct, as specified specifically in the Constitution. As witness after witness testify as to the accuracy of the QPQ with Ukraine, the response from the faithful continues to be alibi and distract.

Everyone does it. It’s not illegal, it’s foreign policy. It’s a coup. It’s violating the will of the people. It wasn’t even successful. Hey, look at the scandals from Obama/Clinton/anyone else.”

Nancy Pelosi nailed it when she flat-out called it bribery; the exchange of money for the desired action. Trump offered money only if Ukraine took the action he desired. That action was to dig up political dirt on an election rival. That’s bribery and it’s an impeachable offense according to the Constitution.

Remember that it wasn’t just dirt that the Trump Administration was looking for, they also wanted Ukraine to announce that the election hacking from 2016 was done at the behest of rogue factions within their own country, as opposed to Russia. In other words, lie for him, in exchange for military aid.

This is what otherwise sentient people are twisting themselves into knots to defend.

Everyone does it. It’s not illegal, it’s foreign policy.” No, they don’t, yes it is, and no it’s not. When has a US governmental entity ask for a foreign government to fabricate the wrong-doing of a political rival? See, it’s not a matter of using a foreign aid package as a carrot to induce better behavior like ending the legal persecution of gays. That would be considered “foreign policy.” This is the highest representative of the US government asking another country for something underhanded for personal gain.

Regarding illegality,  “Article II, Section 4, of the Constitution says the president “shall be removed from Office on Impeachment for, and Conviction of, Treason, Bribery, or other high Crimes and Misdemeanors.” There’s no finessing around that one. I’m sure that’s why the Democratic leadership chose this hill to go to war on, as opposed to emoluments or obstruction of justice.

It’s a coup. Nope. It’s an action prescribed by the Constitution to address crimes committed by a sitting president. If Trump goes, Pence steps in. Where’s the change of power? And in the unlikely event that they attempt to impeach Pence, it doesn’t seem plausible that they’d both go at the same time.

That’s what would have to happen, because if Pence were to assume the presidency, especially if his name is bandied about impeachment talks, I’m sure the first thing he’ll do is name a VP. That would be essential to prevent Pelosi from stepping in to replace him. Republicans still have the Senate; Pence wouldn’t nominate anyone they wouldn’t approve.

So, no coup. That’s just more panicky talk; just one more piece of something sticky to throw at the wall. Anyone talking about a coup doesn’t know what the word means.

It’s violating the will of the people.” Trump assuming office violated the will of the people, three million more of whom voted for his opponent. But we’ll leave Electoral College talk for another time. The will of the people also voted in a Democratic House of Representatives by a landslide after experiencing two years of Trump-rule and have elected Democrats in just about every other important run-off and one-off election. The will of the people is not looking kindly on the Current Occupant.

It wasn’t even successful.” Talk about a stupid defense. Everyone knows that people still get convicted and go to jail for attempting crimes. Guilt isn’t dependent on the success of the crime. This is the kind of desperate talk we get when people have to blindly defend someone no matter the circumstance. 

Hey, look at the scandals from Obama/Clinton/anyone else. Finally, we get to the What-About-ism; that someone somewhere has done something as bad or worse.

Yes, who can forget the Tan Suit Scandal, the Coffee-Salute Scandal, or the Marine-Holding-Umbrella-Over-President-in-the-Rain Scandal. Oh, right, let’s not forget Hillary’s child-sex ring run out of the basement of a pizza shot that didn’t even have a basement.

Fox “News” spend hours winding people up over these “scandals,” because over eight years, they had to complain about something, even if they were things their own standard-bearer was photographed doing.

I think Jon Stewart said it best when he said at the Rally for Sanity, “When you amplify everything you hear nothing.”

Yes, I know, conservatives think there were more scandalous things during the Obama Administration, but mostly it’s a case of believing their own bullshit. There were some things they desperately wished were scandals, but turned out to be nothing-burgers.

Fast and Furious: An ATF plan gone wrong. They lost the guns. Fox “News” acted like Obama was running the guns himself. Presidents aren’t usually involved in the minutiae of planning and executing ATF operations. Worst case scenario, he said, “Yeah, track the guns.”

IRS persecuting conservative groups: Lots of wailing about that despite the eventual finding that both conservative and liberal groups were denied tax-free status. Plus, the whole thing arose out of a single office in Cincinnati. There was nothing to show any input from the White House.

Benghazi: Somehow this embassy attack was so much more heinous than the multiple attacks that occurred during the Bush Administration. Republicans conducted investigation after investigation and came up with nada. Besides hushing up the voting down of an aid package that would have bolstered security at that very embassy. They don’t talk so much about that.

Her Emails/Server: Again, there were countless legal and congressional investigations conducted with another big, fat bagel to show for it. And it’s almost comic that the Trump Administration did and still does the same stuff Republicans were raking Hillary for… using personal phones and keeping a personal server. The upshot of all the email investigations was that they couldn’t come up with a single “state secret” that was outed on account of her security lapse. Hell, we know that Trump has given military intel to other countries himself, which what everyone was so afraid of Clinton doing.

Or maybe the whole thing was just a cover to keep her name and the word “scandal” in the headlines during a presidential campaign.

It amuses me how so many Republicans think that the Clintons are some kind of mob family with 30-40 kills to their credit. Funny how there’s never been a single piece of actionable evidence to back that up. I say, if she can do all those things she’s been accused of, not have any evidence appear and not have anyone turn on her, then she’s totally the one who should be dealing with the likes of Putin.

Monday, November 11, 2019

Red Hearings

The Republicans seem to be approaching the Impeachment Hearings like Goldilocks… First it’s too private, then it’s too public. I have a feeling the only way it will become “just right” is if they get to turn it into an investigation of Hunter Biden.

Luckily, Rep. Schiff is onto their game and will not allow them to call witnesses that aren’t germane to the subject of these hearings, which is the impeachment of President Trump.

Meanwhile, the GOP is throwing everything they can wrap their trunks around at the wall and hoping something sticks. “Where’s the Whistleblower? Where’s Hunter Biden? Why do the meetings have to be secret? Why can’t Republicans attend? Why can’t the president have his lawyer there? Why can’t we call witnesses to bolster our conspiracy theories? What, we CAN attend? No, we don’t want to now because it’s all a sham.

The one thing you don’t see is any evidence that things didn’t play out on that Ukraine call exactly like it’s been described in sworn, direct testimony. Nor do you see any of Trump’s inner circle who were also on the call, lining up to contradict the other witnesses. That’s how you know the Ukraine phone call story is true.

These are the people who aren’t showing up for their subpoenas. They know that if they hold the party line under oath, they perjure themselves and could face jail time. (See Manifort, Paul.) Their only play is not to go, hence the bending over backward to throw up objections to the hearings themselves.

I really wish Rep Schiff would start having the courts (or whomever) enforce these subpoenas. Let these weasels “tell it to the judge.”

So now you have all the Trump toadies and apologists out there running their stories about how such a quid pro quo / arms for dirt deal isn’t really a crime because Trump’s been doing this stuff for three years. I also read in the paper this morning that Rand Paul says these deals are “common among a variety of American elected officials” in Washington. In other words, “business as usual.”

I would agree that it’s BAU in the Trump Administration, but that doesn’t make it legal. You want BAU? It’s political leaders getting their kids on industry boards of directors. They want to make a big deal out of the young Biden? Maybe someone should start looking into the careers of all the other players in town.

I bet you’ll find dozens, if not hundreds, of these kinds of sweetheart deals, starting with the First Family. They better be careful about what they blow up into a big deal. Trump’s unemployment numbers might suddenly take a hit if these silver-spoon offspring start losing their jobs.

Speaking of flights of fancy, I’m amused by the talk of getting Mayor Bloomberg to buy Fox “News,” as something that would be more beneficial to the country than running for president. I’m amused because it’s about as realistic as talk of winning the MegaMillions lottery. It ain’t gonna happen.

Even if Bloomberg wanted to buy Fox “News,” why on earth would the Murdoch family sell it? The Murdochs are filthy rich and have huge influence in the world. If they sold out, they’d still be filthy rich but would no longer have the Fox mouthpiece to broadcast their nationalist, anti-worker, anti-woman philosophy. Where’s their upside?

And if Fox “News” was sold, presumably to shut it down or change the focus, what would prevent someone, maybe even the Murdochs again, from firing up a new conservative mouthpiece? All their on-air “talent” would need to go somewhere… might as well go en masse and keep the party going.

So, as much fun as it is to imagine a world without the disinformation of Fox “News,” remember that it’s just a pipe dream. The only way Fox loses its clout is when people stop watching. And as long as you have people have the need for simple answers, having their biases confirmed, and for someone to shit on, Fox “News” will be right there.

And lastly, happy Veteran’s Day to all who have served our country with honor and distinction. My dream is that one day, the politicians stop using veterans as wedge issues and photo ops and take action to provide them with whatever they need. Our soldiers did their jobs, so we need to uphold our end of the bargain and see to their needs when they come home again.

On the bright side, Veteran’s Day comes on a great day of the year, November 11th. Does anyone else get a special charge when they get to type or write 11/11? And back on 11/11/11? Best date day ever! I’m just bummed I’ll never get to see 11/11/2111.

Director’s DVD Commentary: Yes, I’m that easily amused.

Monday, November 4, 2019

If You've Done the Time, We've Got the Cash

I recently read that the city of Baltimore authorized a total payout of $9 million to five men who had been wrongfully incarcerated, two of whom were jailed for 27 and 38 years. The payouts were derived by using the 6-year median income for the state of Maryland, times the number of years in jail.

I think it’s the least they can do. It doesn’t get much more heinous than jailing an innocent man for most of his life. No amount of money will be enough for what these men suffered… lost time with their families, special events missed, kids growing up without them, the onward march of civilization and technology, plus the untold suffering by enduring what the US prison system dishes out. These guys should never have to work again, for what the state put them through.

Just ask Andy.

It’s an expensive lesson for the state, but I hope they look long and hard at the circumstances that brought this situation to bear. I hope they review what kind of evidence they put their trust in, as well as the reputations of those who procured it in the first place.

We all know how the cops have been taking shortcuts and planting evidence in Baltimore. Maybe this is the inevitable conclusion to when there is no accountability among the Thin Blue Line. Maybe this is what happens when there is so much pressure brought to bear, to catch and convict someone… anyone, for high-profile crimes, so anyone who seems plausible can be run in.

As it is, one of the released mis-convicts is suing the police department for excluding exculpatory evidence.

You also have to acknowledge that back when some of these guys were convicted, the oldest case was from 1968, DNA evidence wasn’t a standard thing. Maybe with DNA and better forensics, some of these cases could have been disproven.

What I take out of it is how shaky “eyewitness testimony” can be. All these guys were ID’d by someone who was completely mistaken. It makes one wonder how good a look these “witnesses” got, and how much pressure they were under to positively identify somebody. In a panic-stricken situation, I wouldn’t believe the recollection of anyone regarding the face of a stranger, not unless they had a long, close-up look.

I feel for the prosecutors who find themselves trying cases that don’t have DNA evidence, photos or video. They have to cobble together a case out of whatever is left. The threat of jailing an innocent person must hang like a cloud over their entire professional life. At least I hope it does. The stakes are too high.

Everyone wants criminals convicted and taken off the streets, but not at the expense of a wrongful conviction.

Other Stuff
California is on fire and the president is quarreling with the governor. Well, “quarreling” probably isn’t the best word. The president is making outrageous fabrications and spreading misinformation because he never carried the state in question and never will.  He’s resurfacing his old crap about how California should have raked their forests to prevent wildfires. It was wrong then but even wronger now, because most of these fires have nothing to do with forests. They’re burning up the suburbs and farmland, not forests.

So, this is political payback, with people’s homes and lives in the balance. How very presidential. This isn’t even George W twiddling his thumbs while New Orleans was being washed away. This guy is reveling in the destruction and taunting of those who are suffering.

Impeachment can’t come fast enough.

And speaking of, he’s still going ape about the Whistleblower, isn’t he? And all his minions are parroting the company line. Don’t any of them know what a whistleblower is and why there is such a thing?

The anonymity is the point! They stay anonymous so that they are free to tell the truth about bad things going on, without retribution and intimidation from the bad thing doers.

And like I said last week, this crusade is 100% pointless because direct witnesses have corroborated everything the Whistleblower said, and then some. It’s obvious that he feels cheated out of his right to retaliate! He has all this animosity and nowhere to point it, so he rages on with the Twitter.

The Whistleblower program was set up specifically to deal with people like this. I think anyone who leaks or publicizes the Whistleblower’s name should be brought up on charges. I’m not holding my breath, though.

And Another Thing…

Isn’t this what Jesus would do? I wonder why Republicans are so hostile to income equality. Their Lord and Savior was all about giving to the poor and denigrating the rich. It’s almost as if they are only using Jesus as a gimmick to get people to vote for them, and not really interested in his words or works at all.

Apropos of Nothing
I had this dream a couple weeks back, that started as a garden-variety frustration dream. I was at some kind of hotel/ballroom complex with lots of glass walls and giant atriums. I was trying to get through it to go outside on the south end of the building. But I couldn’t seem to go directly; I was being forced to go out the doors on the opposite side from where I needed to go.

So as a couple co-workers and I were wandering around the lobby of this place, Barak Obama walks up to us. I remembered that I work for him, and not only that, he’s still the president! (This turns a nightmare into a daydream.)

He walks with us and because I’m apparently as much of a wise-ass in my dreams as I am in real life, I asked him, “Do you ever stick your head in a room just to see the looks on people’s faces?

He says, “Like this?” and strides into the glass-enclosed lobby check-in area, says hi to everyone there, to a round of applause, grabs a newspaper from the counter and breezes back out.

In the dream, I was thinking, “This guy is so freakin’ cool.” Then I woke up and thought the same thing.

Would that we still had some of that juice around the Oval Office…