Wednesday, 14 March 2012

War on drugs - my 2c

Latest news: http://world.time.com/2012/06/26/uruguay-wants-to-legalize-marijuana-sales-should-the-rest-of-the-world-follow/

 

The Americans will dislike me for saying this, but stop the war. It's a waste of time and money. It created the drug cartels. Just like the Prohibition in the USA created the Mafia. Mexico would have fewer headless people if Pfizer were making E, cocaine, etc. Plus fewer people would be getting sick/hospitalised/dying from poor quality stuff, eg coke cut with rat poison - a common thing here.

  1. Legalise the lot.
  2. Get the massive pharma co's to manufacture.
  3. Make it a legal requirement that you get a prescription from a doctor to get them
  4. You buy them at a regular pharmacy, and have your name written down. People who inject must be given enough clean needles to stop HIV/AIDS spread
  5. Make sure they're much cheaper from a pharmacy than from a street peddler
  6. Make it compulsory for schoolkids to go to rehab centres to see what the consequences are
  7. Make it illegal for under-21s to get scripts without parental consent
  8. Track who is using and what they're using and what quantities
  9. Limit the quantities prescribable
  10. Enforce manufacture quality controls, and create jobs manufacturing the stuff
  11. Massive government campaigns against it at schools
  12. Make it illegal to advertise the products in any way, and sell them with major health warnings on the packets, just like the other legal drugs (cigarettes, alcohol)
  13. Sell in quantities too small to overdose on
  14. Make MJ completely legal for anyone to grow and use, but not sell.
  15. Make home manufacture of anything other than MJ illegal.
  16. Tax the products heavily, just like the other (booze and smokes)
  17. Make exclusions on medicare/medical aid/medical insurance that drug usage entails that you won't be covered for certain things like motor accidents, lung disease, artery disease, etc.
  18. Make it compulsory for females over 12 to have a pregnancy test every time they go to collect.

PS. In case you think I'm a druggie - no. But I can't logically see the difference between tobacco (highly addictive, health detrimental), and alcohol, which causes most family violence and road deaths, and the other stuff. It's all the same. Whether someone's slacking off at work because they're on heroin or slacking off at work because they're drunk on alcohol, there's no difference.

What is the objective? To stop drug cartels, to stop imprisoning users who actually just need psychological help, and to stop risky behaviours like needle sharing, petty crimes to feed habits, etc.

Sunday, 4 March 2012

Twitter exchange on land ownership in South Africa

I had the displeasure of talking to a Julius Malema supporter on Twitter recently. It was a bit like talking to a stuck record. All he could say was what they say in Midnight Oil's "Beds are burning". IE nothing new or profound, just obviosities. I was disappointed by this, because I expected Malema supporters to have intelligent, well-formulated arguments, not to mention clear and distinct policies about how land redistribution would take place.

But is it obvious that land should be "given back"? And under what conditions? Here are my Tweets:

Land ownership does not create wealth. Money doesn't grown on trees (or land).

In the Tweet above, I'm pointing out that the land ownership thing is irrelevant to whether he wants economic equality or whatever. Unfortunately, I lost the various tweets from this series - it was a few days ago. But my argument was that economic prosperity comes from economic participation and education - which he agreed with. The land ownership thing is a red-herring; it's nothing more than a call for catastrophic Zimbabwefication. If he got his traditional land in the middle of nowhere, back, what would he do with it? Be a dog in the manger? Sit on it? Cultivate it? Or stay in Joburg and carry on earning money, and ignore it? I guess the latter. It's just a principle of resentment, without any clue about how economics works, and how land turns into wealth. If he was told that once he got his piece of land, that he had to go cultivate it and leave Joburg, I am pretty sure he'd kick up a fuss.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/ Recent_African_origin_of_modern_humans

In this Tweet I'm pointing out that we're all Africans, and that he's a racist.

I agree - if the land "belonged" to someone. Question is how far back in time do we look? Do I ask Rome for land?

In the Tweet above, I'm arguing that since Rome colonised North-West Europe about 2000-1800 years ago, that I am due compensation from Rome. If not, why not? Why is the fact that it was 2000 years ago relevant? And if 2000 years ago was not relevant, why is 350 years ago relevant? What is the cutoff time?

another question. what about mixed people? eg tswana + xhosa person. Do they get land in EC or up north? And coloureds?

In the Tweet above, I'm arguing since some people are of mixed race or tribes, it's not obvious which clan or tribe they technically belong to, and therefore, which land is "rightfully" theirs.

ok another question. If land is all "given back" can I never buy land in africa ever again?

In the Tweet above, I'm asking whether after land redistribution, I will be allowed to buy land from its "legitimate" black owners again, or whether, once it has been seized, I as a "white" person may never ever again own land in Africa?

re Rome - you're missing my point. You're basing your claim on historical land seizures. So I'm asking how far back in time?

basing a claim on 350 years is arbitrary. What about !Xam? What if they owned Pedi land 1000yrs ago? Must Pedi give it back to !Xam?

In the Tweet above, I'm arguing that since the !Xam have been in South Africa since the Neanderthal days, that they have the primary claim on all its land. So, actually, the "black" (Nguni) races may not have any claim. And then, the !Xam have no claim themselves, because actually, prior to them, the Homo Australopithecus clan owned the land. Etc. How far back in time?

Now consider direct ownership. You didn't exist 350 years ago, so your land claim is based on racial ideas created by Apartheid.

In the Tweet above, I'm arguing that my interlocutor is using apartheid race ideology to perpetuate apartheid race ideology. Even though he is also arguing that apartheid was wrong and that land belongs (entirely) to blacks. That being the case, he is inconsistent. If he accepts apartheid race ideology, he needs to consider what other apartheid doctrines might also be "true" or acceptable to him, such as the "empty land" theory. Why accept one doctrine and not another?

so: if you want to claim entitlement on the basis of race, you're sticking to apartheid's ideology.

But there's more than that. Since you didn't personally exist, there's no way to tell exactly which piece of land and how big u get.

In the Tweet above, I'm arguing that he can't say which piece of land he owned 350 years ago, and therefore he has no claim at all.

what about a black guy who buys a piece of land from a white? Does he lose the piece of land because the white didn't really own it?

In the Tweet above, I'm arguing that if a white never really owned a piece of land, he had no right to sell it, therefore, whoever traditionally owned it 350 years ago, is the rightful owner. Therefore, again, the inheritor, even if he is black, has no right to that piece of land. I am trying to provoke my interlocutor into showing that he is a racist, and that he will deny this argument, because he will say that since the black man now owns the piece of land, that he may keep it. But, what I am trying to show here is that he is inconsistent. If ownership derives exclusively from land claims from 350 years ago, the new black owner does not own the land that he thinks he does.

now here's an example. suppose I get told I'm not welcome and I must go 2 europe. Who do I ask for land? Germany? England? Holland?

In the Tweet above, I'm asking my interlocutor for fairness. I'm saying that since I have no land here, where can I have some land? Especially given that my ancestry is mixed. Surely if I consider South Africa to be my ancestral or native home, surely I am entitled, as the Constitution says, to land here? But as it turns out, just today, the ANC made some noises about land rights in the constitution being "sunset clauses" - ie subject to termination.

sa history goes back 2 million years.

In the Tweet above, I'm arguing that it's completely arbitrary what timeframe we choose because humans have inhabited this area for so long. So who really rightfully owns it? My ancestors were also Homo Australopithecus. Just like yours. We are both of that tribe. Therefore, I think, we both have a right to be here.

re amnesia - no - no-one has amnesia. Just that simplistic "you hand over, I take" argument can't work.

In the Tweet above, I'm telling him he hasn't thought it through.

"south africa" arbitrary land demarcation created by whites.

In the Tweet above, I'm arguing that since the nation of South Africa was defined by whites, he can't say that this or that piece of land is necessarily "his"; his ancestral land might be just over the border, in what is now Zimbabwe or Mozambique or Botswana; since linguistically and tribally, these areas overlap. The colonialists drew boundaries on rivers, not on tribal borders. Pakistan and India are another case in point.

re proving which land was taken when - sure, go ahead. I don't own land personally, so indifferent. It's the logic and principles.

In the Tweet above, I'm replying to his claim that land ownership claims have been proven. I'm saying I don't doubt some could be proven, but that his principles are mistaken and simplistic.

I mean I doubt individual persons could prove that their great grandfather owned precisely this or that Erf

In the Tweet above, I'm arguing that I further doubt that there are legitimate claims, since it's all word of mouth, no ownership documents or title deeds were written down by African tribes, since they didn't write.

and even if they could pinpoint land inheritance rights down to particular erf numbers, which descendant gets the land? many descend

In the Tweet above, I'm arguing that any chieftain from 350 years ago may now have millions of descendants, which descendant can lay claim to his former kingdom/fiefdom?

I don't believe I've given a distorted history at all. Please clarify the remark? (Remember who wrote the history textbooks)

In the Tweet above, I'm responding to his claim that I am giving a distorted history. I'm asking him to clarify what he means. He never did. He was just using typical ANCYL rhetoric "bloody agents" "colonialists" "theft" "typical liberal" etc etc. This is all just rhetoric. What I want him to do is say where I've got my facts wrong. It's important to note that I've not disagreed with him over history or over facts of colonialism; I've merely asked him for logical consistent policies of land redistribution. He was unable to provide anything more than "it's not negotiable". Yawn.

"history" is a subjective record. Facts have to be agreed on first about when and where.

In the Tweets above, I'm also arguing that since nothing was recorded by black persons as to their history and what was taken when (in writing, at the time, to the best of my knowledge), that there's no hard evidence of who was where, and that we have to unfortunately take the colonialists' word for it, or, heaven forbid, the colonialists' archaeologists and anthropologists! So unless there is scientific proof of who (which specific person) owned which piece of land, all land seizures will be on arbitrary unscientific hearsay reasons.

and what about partial races? You've not answered that. Suppose my greatgrandmother was black. Do I get a one-eighth piece of land? Or none?

In the Tweet above, I'm arguing that if I were partly black, would I be entitled to a part of a piece of land? Surely if blackness is what qualifies one for land ownership in South Africa, then my hypothetical partial blackness would qualify me? Again, no answer.

because if you can't answer for partial races, you are advocating racial purity dogma, like hitler and verwoerd did.

In the Tweet above, I'm arguing that if he rejects the rights of say, coloured (mixed race) persons to land ownership on the grounds that they're partially white, he's carrying out the Hitlerite doctrine of racial purity, wherein, for example, anyone who was Jewish in the third generation back in time, or 2nd generation, would be gassed at Auschwitz.

so to repeat: not denying 'theft' occurred or 'true' ownership is black. Just asking for principles of how to split it up.

moreover, does anyone have a historical record of true african concepts of land ownership? Was under impression it was chief's land

In the Tweet above, I'm arguing that the original concept of land ownership in Africa was that it all belonged to the king or chief, and you merely were a tenant on his land. This is a feudal obnoxious system that Britain rejected hundreds of years ago, yet it seems (judging from his admission), that this is how he wants the land ownership issue to be resolved. So now it's not a question of individual ownership anymore, it's a question of proving which chief or king existed, and who his direct heir is, so that that direct heir can take monarchical autocratic control over vast swathes of land. I find this concept offensive and crude, no better than dark-ages Europe of 1000 years ago.

present Erf-based land division principles used in South Africa owe their existence to european land ownership ideas.

In the Tweet above, I'm arguing that since white people invented the concept of small owned plots subdivided and purchased, that if he wants to go for that concept, he has to abandon the African concept of chief/tribe land ownership. So, in order to take a person's house, for example, he'd have to show that it was inside part of a chief's piece of land, AND that he was descended from that chief. Tall order.

John Locke, English philosopher, argued that whoever uses a thing, owns it. That's not to deny an "inherent" ownership concept.

Personally, I have a problem with "inherent" ownership concepts because you get a dog in a manger: guy who owns but never makes use

In the Tweet above, I'm giving my own view for the first time: that I do not like the concept of land ownership where a person owns a large piece of land and never uses it.

In my view, good usage should be the required criterion of ownership of anything. Anything not used properly should be forfeit.

In the Tweet above, I'm trying to demonstrate that I am not adverse to the concept of land as public property. But as soon as a particular person cultivates a particular piece of land and maintains it, then no-one at all has any right to take it. Ever.

so the question is how best to put what is available to use for the benefit of all, rather than just rich farmers or just poor.

In the Tweet above, I'm suggesting that the issue is the benefit of all, not the benefit of a different elite; the politically-connected, the chiefs and former kings, etc. Feudalism is not a step forward. Nor is dog-in-the-manger use of land. But I do not think that farmers etc., in this country are dogs in the manger; they all make very good use of their land and provide food for the nation. The same applies to miners. If the mines were handed over, I am perfectly confident that they'd be skimmed of cream, mismanaged, and ultimately collapse. To make something as dangerous as mining a profitable business, it takes a business IE CAPITALIST mindset, which no communist government under Malema could achieve.

GMO - my 2c

Amazing how the conspiracy theories come out over this issue. And also amazing how they only cite conspiracy theory sites as evidence in favour of their arguments. Since I've actually got a degree with biochemistry, I must say I can't really see any harm in it. It's no different to what we do with conventional breeding techniques, except sped up. Plus it undergoes stricter scrutiny because of public fears. GM could help with things like drought-resistant crops, for example.

People have all kinds of fears around it. What do you think it is going to do? Give you cancer? Not unless it contains a carcinogen or makes one as a side-effect of being genetically modified. GM means the DNA has been tampered with. Most plant cells are surrounded by a wall of cellulose, which we can't break down except mechanically - ie by chewing or boiling or something. So it's hard to get at the contents of a plant cell anyway unless you process it in some way. Moreover, even if you do digest GM DNA, well, it's composed of the same chemicals as your own DNA - so by definition it must be harmless. The difference is just the sequence of chemicals (GTCA) that make up the DNA. Hence it's a plant's DNA rather than a human's. (Well there are also different numbers of chromosomes, codons, etc., but it's the same chemical structures that make it up). So I can't see how it's going to be poisonous or carcinogenic. People are really neurotic out of ignorance. They need to look at the studies in academic journals before assuming that there's a problem because they don't understand it. It's the same as any other technology: it looks like black magic till you understand it.

The 'organic' food people are usually living in first-world conditions and can afford to pay for hand-grown, hand-manured, hand-picked food, but not all of us live in such countries.

As for patenting - I think companies have a right to patent their research work. I fail to see the problem with that. If people think it is "evil" or "capitalist", maybe they should ask how and why it is that their evil capitalist countries are so cushy and comfortable compared to the rest of the world.

If someone does have a problem with GM recipes being secret, well, then, get a PhD in biochemistry (no easy feat), go work for a university, and opensource your research. Simple.

List of useful mac apps

This is mostly a note to self so that I can share with others when they ask which apps I recommend. Android File Transfer.app (*) get file...