Maine bill to legalize it

You know what “it” is:

A bill unveiled Wednesday would legalize the personal use and private and commercial cultivation of marijuana and tax consumer purchases at 7 percent. Democratic Rep. Diane Russell of Portland, who is sponsoring the bill, said it’s time to stop turning otherwise law-abiding citizens who use marijuana into criminals…

Russell’s bill would allow Mainers 21 and older to possess up to 1 pound of marijuana and legally smoke or ingest it in nonpublic places, including private residences. People could grow pot within 75 square feet of space for personal consumption and within 2,000 square feet of space for commercial cultivation.

I say do it. Telling people they can’t do something only makes them want to do it more. Besides, the war on drugs is a dismal failure. Time to move on.

I get mail, too

I have to admit I was pretty disappointed when PZ got a cease and desist notice from Christopher Maloney and I didn’t. I mean, what am I, not good enough? Haven’t I been offensive enough? I know I don’t have PZ’s following, but I thought I had made a perfectly valiant effort to be as disrespectful as possible in my fight against the anti-science nature of naturopathy. Yet still, Maloney struck me a blow, an insult, a real dig to my ego. No notice. No letter. Woe was me.

But all that has changed. You see, Maloney has decided that the trickle of posts I make only in response to him nowadays needs challenging. (Click to enlarge.)

(The bottom two lines read: “…cherry-pick evidence, often lie and misrepresent facts. Recently a local naturopathic “doctor” Christopher Maloney…” You wrote this response in reply to Dr. Maloney’s editorial on October 29, 2009 which…”)

There is also a cover page (which would not scan for the life of me). Titled “NOTICE TO CEASE HARASSMENT & NO TRESPASS NOTICE”, it continues:

Pursuant to 17-A M.R.S.A. 506-A(1), you are hereby being served with notice to immediately cease and desist from engaging in any course of conduct with the intent to harass, torment or threaten Dr. Christopher Maloney, N.D., 4 Drew St., Augusta, Maine, whether on or off of premises, in person, or via electronic means. Violation of this Notice is a Class E crime under the laws of the State of Maine, pursuant to 17-A M.R.S.A. 506-A(1).

In conjunction with the foregoing Notice to Cease Harassment, you are also hereby prohibited from coming within 100 feet of the above-described premises for any reason. Violation of this No Trespass Notice may result in your arrest and/or civil and criminal trespass charges being filed against you pursuant to 17-A M.R.S.A. 402(1)(D)-(E).

Where to start, where to start.

How about my publication, Without Apology? Never billed as a newspaper (I would never produce such a vile thing), it is a publication I put out from 2009-2010 over the course of roughly 6 months. Contrary to the lies implied by Maloney, the idea for the publication was hatched long before I had even heard of naturopathy. And even when I had heard of that quackery, the first 3 editions were about politics, social concerns, local issues, and science. It wasn’t until the forth edition that I even mentioned Maloney, and even then it was only in two articles. There was also an article about objective morality and another about poker. (A fifth edition came out that said nothing of the quack; a sixth edition featuring Ashley F. Miller will be out soon.) The paper was not made for him.

Next take a look at the fourth paragraph in the first image. Maloney says I add the keywords “Christopher Maloney” to all of my blog posts daily. To prove the point, March 25, 2011 is cited as an instance where I did this three times. Goodness. How wrong can one sentence be? First, it isn’t even possible to add the same keywords more than once to a single post. Get with the times, you old fogies. Second, I don’t even post about Maloney on a daily basis. Go ahead, do a quick search. The last time I posted about him was February 20th (and gee, wouldya look at that, it was a response to something he said; crazy that). Third, I didn’t make any post about him on March 25. Not March 25, 2011, not March 25, 2010, not March 25, 2009. So why mention that date in particular? Look near the top of the page. It was the date that Maeghan Maloney (once she was done creating the ugliest header in history) wrote the letter. Totally professional, huh?

Oh, and how about those “impeccable credentials”? It looks like some more bullshit to me:

Not that I doubt that a naturopath could come out of Harvard—the university has produced its share of creationists—but as a Harvard University alum, I had to see if Christopher Maloney was also one. I found one, but the one listed, who lives in Hawaii, earned an MBA and a MPA (public administration, probably from the Kennedy School) in 2006. None with a Diploma in Continuing Health Studies, whatever that is, is listed. I suspect Maloney took a couple of extension course in the Harvard Extension School (a night school opened to any and all who have the money) and possibly one which awards some kind of diploma. But it’s a stretch to claim as his lawyer/wife does that he has a “…pre-medical degree from Harvard.” Harvard issues no such animal.

And I thought the alt-med crowd was above reproach.

The most laughable part of the whole letter (aside from the @live.com email address) is the accusation that I make these posts in order to boost my search engine results. Trust me, Maloney is not the big draw on FTSOS. In fact, a ctrl+f look at all the search terms that have landed people here over the past year yields 16 results for the word “Maloney”. In contrast, searches that use the word “Hubble” number around 27,000.

Wondering about the CC at the bottom of the page? That would be my father, the good man. Apparently Maloney thought it would be okay to investigate my family, the sneaky little creeper pants. I think his point was to tattle on me, as if I haven’t kept my mother, my brother, my cousins, my aunt, my uncle, my grandmother, and, yes, my father, all in the loop about his shenanigans this whole time. Given Maloney’s endlessly immature actions, I guess it isn’t surprising that he would think an adult might be afraid of basic communication with his parents.

I really don’t see the point in all this. I have been crystal clear: If Christopher Maloney stops effectively begging me to post about him by virtue of his continued chirps, then I will stop. Threatening me, especially after whining about everyone on the Internet (rightly) calling him censorious, isn’t going to help anything. I’m not one to be intimidated, especially on such flimsy, pathetic, and unprofessional grounds.

P.s., Christopher Maloney is a quack.

Exploiting children

I remember working my high school job at a grocery store. As I recall, I could only work 4 hours and until 9 p.m. on school nights when I started. I soon turned 18 and was able to work longer and later. And that I did. I soon took on the role of supervisor, something that unfortunately translated to working until close – 11 p.m. I remember just how rough it was getting up in the morning for school. I had to be there by 7:15 a.m., so I was up by 6:50 a.m. at the latest. That is, if I even went to school. In my Senior year I skipped like crazy; in just one quarter I missed 11 days. My grades didn’t suffer (as I recall, I had a 94 average that particular quarter), but I was also fortunate in going to a school that granted Junior/Senior privileges. Depending on the week, I either had 2 or 3 days in which I could go home and sleep from about 11 to 1.

But that isn’t the case for everyone. First, not every school has the system mine did. Second, many students are going to struggle to do moderately well, much less achieve privileges (if their school even has them). Allowing kids to work that awful schedule I dumbly undertook in high school is an obvious mistake that will negatively impact education. Well, it’s obvious unless you’re a member of the Maine GOP:

Rep. Burns, who did not respond to an interview request Tuesday, apparently thinks Maine’s kids are not only underworked, but also overpaid.

And how would Burns correct this, ahem, problem?

Well, he’d remove any limit whatsoever on the number of hours kids over 16 can work on a school day — the current limit is four on most days and eight on the last school day of the week.

He’d raise from three to four the maximum hours kids under 16 can work on a school day.

And finally — listen up, kids — he’d whack the pay for any high school student under the age of 20 from Maine’s $7.50-per-hour minimum wage to a “training wage” of $5.25-per-hour for the first 180 days on the job.

This has to be the worst idea I have heard from Republicans since we invaded Iraq. Kids don’t need to be working late nights while trying to juggle school and their social lives. It sucked for me under relatively fortunate circumstances; it will suck just as much, if not more, for everyone else.

Co-sponsor of the bill Rep. Bickford had this to say:

“I would support removing the cap for daily and weekly hours, but I would also support amending it to six hours when school is in session, so the student could get home from school — say 3:00 — and could work from 4:00-9:00. They’d still have plenty of time for homework,” Bickford added. “Most of these kids are generally up well past 10:00. They could work a 3:00-9:00 shift.”

So let’s just keep them up later. Hell, I used to stay up until 12:30 a.m. quite often. How about we let kids work until midnight? Or, hell, let’s allow them to do overnights. They can go to work at 11:00 p.m., work an 8 hour shift, get to school at 7 the next morning, sleep from about 2:30-10:30 p.m., then head back to work. It’ll be a real resume builder.

Aside from being an education-second bill, the whole point of this legislation is to cheapen up labor for Maine’s tourist industry. Anyone who has ever been to the Maine coast in the summer knows that teenagers get hired all over the place – and for less than 180 days. Burns and Bickford want to allow businesses to pay teenagers less money for the same work that those over 20 are doing. It’s horseshit. It’s unfair, without a good or reasonable basis, and it will have negative ramifications on the educations of working teens.

But hey, how about some science?

Citing no fewer than eight published studies, [Maine Women's Lobby direction Laura] Harper said the data consistently show that holding down a job while in high school is actually a good thing for most kids — up to a point:

One study, appearing in the “American Educational Research Journal,” found that kids who work between one and 15 hours per week are actually more likely to complete high school. Pass the 15-hour mark, however, and the dropout rate starts to rise.

Ditto for another study in “Sociology of Education” that found “intensive work involvement” of more than 20 hours a week leads to higher numbers of kids giving up on school.

Then there’s the “Journal of Educational Research” study that found a direct correlation between hours worked and academic performance — the more the hours go up, the more grades and standardized test scores go down.

Meanwhile, as Harper noted in a recent letter to the committee, “no evidence presented suggests that there is an unskilled labor shortage in this state.”

LePage pulls a Porky’s

Remember that scene from the movie Porky’s in the boy’s locker room? There’s the one kid who hates Jews, just hates them. So after gym or practice, he starts calling the one Jew in the group a “kite”. Naturally, the high flying kid made of light material attached to a string says, “It’s kike, not kite. You aren’t even smart enough to be a good bigot.” It’s the one funny line in an otherwise ugly scene of ignorance.

So that brings me to Maine governor Paul LePage (R):

In his comments last week, LePage said he has yet to see enough science to support a ban on BPA, a common additive to plastics that some research suggests may interfere with hormone levels and could cause long-term problems. LePage said until scientists can prove BPA is harmful, the state should not rush to restrict its use.

“Quite frankly, the science that I’m looking at says there is no [problem],” LePage said. “There hasn’t been any science that identifies that there is a problem.”

LePage then added: “The only thing that I’ve heard is if you take a plastic bottle and put it in the microwave and you heat it up, it gives off a chemical similar to estrogen. So the worst case is some women may have little beards.”

This is such a huge facepalm. I mean, wow. Wow. Wow. Wow. Not only is LePage overtly ignoring the huge mass of evidence on the dangers of BPA, but he’s also making moronic claims about estrogen and what it does. The guy doesn’t know a damn thing about science. We should never listen to this guy on these sort of issues (or, really, any other issue). He’s as ignorant about science as the character in Porky’s was about Jews; a bigot to science, if you will.

So let’s summarize what we know about LePage so far: he believes the NAACP is a special interest but anti-abortion groups aren’t, he thinks it’s okay to teach creationism in schools, he wants to tell Obama to “go to hell”, he and his wife purchased a home in Florida so they could save money on tuition for their kids and then they lied about it, he thinks BPA is just a fine chemical, and he believes estrogen grows male traits.

Awesome.

Christopher Maloney wants to appear on FTSOS

That’s the only reasonable conclusion. After all, I have explicitly told him if shuts up, slinks away, only hurts people in silence, then I won’t be forced to post about him. But not only can he not do any of these things, he has to even make sure he directly references me.

Christopher Maloney, Naturopathic Doctor said…
Dear Wendy Pollack,

Terribly sorry to see that you’ve been Pharyngulaed by the esteemed PZ Myers (made himself famous by destroying the Catholic host) and his zombie horde.

Having had them attack me, I can say with complete sincerity that they haven’t an open mind among them.

One local follower had the gall to compare his own sightseeing tour of Tanzania with your humanitarian work, as if he contributed anything to anyone while he was there.

Keep up the great work!

At least he used the qualifier “naturopathic” so as not to fool anyone into thinking he was actually useful for doing anything medically meaningful.

But let’s get to the bulk of the post. Maloney is writing to Wendy Pollack, a quack who is bringing woo to Tanzania. As with most woo artists, she wants to hide from criticism. Maloney did the same thing by sending PZ a cease and desist notice. (That notice becomes all the more hilarious given that Maloney is the one that keeps talking about PZ; the quack brings it on himself.) It isn’t surprising that one outed quack would feel bad for a fellow outed quack. And at this point, I can’t say the continued lying is surprising either. Notice where Maloney says the local follower (that’s me!) compared Pollack’s “humanitarian” efforts to sightseeing. Here is what I actually said:

The area [Pollack] will specifically be visiting is the Kilimanjaro region. I’ve been all through it. It’s composed of rampant poverty. The medical “facilities” consist of small shacks of basic medicine, most of which can be found in the first half of aisle 14 at your local Rite-Aid. I made sure to purchase evacuation insurance before departing because I wasn’t about to find my way into a Tanzanian hospital if anything happened; I never needed it, but seeing that part of the country only confirmed that I had made a good purchase.

I didn’t compare Pollack’s “humanitarian” efforts to the sightseeing I did. The amazing group and amazing guides and amazing porters I had were far too good for me to compare to trash like her.

No, the point is obvious: Tanzania is desperately poor and desperately needs medical help. Real medical help. I doubt Pollack has any idea just how bad it is there. Hell, until I live in squalor and abject poverty and see members of my family die at age 50, there is no way I can really grasp the situation. But to tease the Tanzanian people with woo? To taunt them with pure fucking quackery? I fully grasp what an awful, awful person it takes to do something like that.

Anyway. Let me say it again because honestly – honestly, honestly – I hate making these posts: If Maloney ever wants to regain his web presence so that he may once again better give people fake medicine, he has to stop practically contacting me. Don’t give me a reason to post.

Update: I almost forgot. PZ’s fame comes from his flowing beard, not the cracker incident.

Wendy Pollack the liar

I wrote about a quack by the name of Wendy Pollack almost two weeks ago. She has gone over to Tanzania in order to tell people with serious illnesses lies about the efficacy of homeopathic ‘medicine’. She is going to do no good.

But I wasn’t the only one who mentioned this quack. PZ made a post about her first. This resulted in a number of people going to her website and leaving comments. To my surprise, at least on one of her posts, many of the Pharyngulites were generally, dare I say…respectful. (Or at least as respectful as those of us on the side of science can be when faced with blatant anti-science nonsense.) Most granted that Pollack had good intentions – and I’m positive she does – but they all lamented the fact that she wasn’t going to help anyone. If anything, her presence will cause harm because people will believe they’ve actually been helped; good feelings are nice, but they’ve never cured HIV. One person even offered directions on how to contribute to people using real medicine. (Go here for a version of that post.)

But Pollack is a quack. And as any regular FTSOS reader knows all too well, alt-med quacks aren’t especially interested in open discussion. Take a look at the comment section of one of Pollack’s posts. Currently there are 4 comments. There used to be at least 20. The quack went through and deleted every bit of criticism (including the directions on how to make worthwhile contributions). Anything pro-malarkey, however, was left. Take a look at this post:

Gail said…
The human body and spirit has a remarkable ability to heal itself.Homeopathic meds facilitate this. I have first hand experience of being cured twice from conditions that conventional meds could not cure. In one I suffered for over 20 years & it was cured in days.As for the naysayers on this blog,don’t knock it if you haven’t tried it.

February 8, 2011 6:59 AM

Strange how someone would mention “naysayers” on a blog that doesn’t feature an ounce of criticism, no?

But maybe that isn’t good enough. After all, this is just based upon what I’m claiming to remember combined with some circumstantial evidence from a random person on the Internet. I could just be making it up, really. And I would agree with you. I need better evidence than just my word and plausibility. I need something like Google cache.

Gabe Ortiz said…
If you would research homeopathy with a truly open mind, you would understand that it does not work. A homeopath nearly killed my sister by treating her with ineffective, useless fake medicine when she needed real medical attention. This is exactly what you will be doing to these poor people. Your misguided intent WILL kill people, and you will have to live with that for the rest of your life. Please, reconsider.

February 2, 2011 9:00 AM

and

laura said…
I know you believe in what you do,but there is no evidence that homeopathy works.

One day,you will realise this,and you conscience will weigh very heavily on you. i feel sorry for you,i would not like to look back on my life and see how much harm i had caused others by my unsubstantiated beliefs …sad

February 2, 2011 2:14 PM

and

Just zis Guy, you know? said…
Hey, homeopaths for health! So, are you pooling your takings from peddling psychotherapy to the credulous and sending some doctors down there? Oh, no, wait, you’re going on a jolly and handing out sugar pills to sick people. Well that’s a bit of a bummer for them, still, I am sure you will show real empathy when they die of medically preventable (but homeopathically unpreventable) diseases like cholera, typhoid and malaria.

February 2, 2011 3:49 PM

Do your own Google search to find the cached pages and compare them to Pollack’s scrubbed versions. It’s almost fun to see how poorly these types of people react when challenged.

But I guess I’m not surprised that a quack would try and destroy the criticism on her site. I’m just frightened to know the other facts she’s going to try and hide while she’s “treating” people over in Tanzania.

Is Maine the dumbest state in the Union?

It would seem so based upon this map (via Jerry Coyne).

The dubious honor is based upon 2010 SAT scores by state (including Washington D.C.). Maine ranks dead last with a combined mean score of 1389. In contrast, the top performing state, Iowa, has a combined mean score of 1798. In fact, the traditionally dumbest state, Mississippi, comes in at number 18 with a score of 1666. It would seem Maine has really gone down the tubes over the past few years.

Or not.

Maine, as far as I know, is the only state which requires students to take the SATs. Other states may require ACT tests, though I’m not sure. However, many other states do trend towards those tests as an alternative to the SATs. As a result, Iowa’s participation rate is a paltry 3% (the same as Mississippi). In fact, 19 of the top 20 states are 10% or under in participation (Colorado, ranked number 13, is at 18%). Maine, by contrast, has a 92% participation rate. (For the remaining 8% I suspect the ACT tests are allowed as an alternative, some students just don’t bother, exceptions are made for certain circumstances, etc, etc; in 2007, the participation rate in the state was 100%.) The result is that over 15,000 Maine students took the test whether they cared or not; Only 1,100 students took it in Iowa – and I bet most of them cared. In fact, take a look at the reports by state. Of the students in Maine taking the test (who responded), 32% were in the highest tenth of their class. In Iowa, it was 64%. In Maine, 24% of the students taking the test made up the bottom three fifths of their class. In Iowa? 4%.

So in short, no, Maine is not the dumbest state. All students in Maine are considered college-bound by these SAT statistics, so that makes state-by-state comparison pointless. Iowa and most of the other states suffer from sample bias. In fact, Massachusetts is the closest state to Maine in participation and still only reaches 86%. Besides, in other various rankings, Maine students consistently rank well above average. By these rankings, the state is 5th overall.

Remember when LePage was against special interests?

Yeah, that was Friday. But come Saturday he must have had a change of heart.

The activists rallied Saturday at Augusta’s St. Michael School and later marched to the State House to trumpet the anti-abortion cause. Gov. Paul LePage, an abortion opponent, joined them for part of the rally, which was organized by the Maine Right to Life Committee.

St Michael’s School is where the last Maine governor, Baldacci, sent his children. As it happens, back when it was known as St. Mary’s School, I also received a big hunk of my education there. I never saw Baldacci. But then, he wasn’t the sort of governor to say he believed one thing one day and another thing another day. At least not this blatantly.

And LePage’s handlers in all this? Not very good so far.

Asked Saturday whether the Maine Right to Life Committee represented a special interest, [Dan] Demeritt said special interests inevitably would end up on LePage’s schedule.

“This isn’t about politics,” he said of Saturday’s rally. “This is about supporting a group that’s worked very hard to make sure that life is a choice that everybody can make.”

What about supporting groups that have worked very hard to make sure a chance at equality is possible for people who are actually alive? Or maybe giving black people as a group the time of day in Maine isn’t something political advantageous enough for LePage.

Black people are a special interest group

At least Maine Gov. LePage said as much.

While attending a meeting for business leaders in Sanford, Governor Paul LePage spoke out about why he would not attend Martin Luther King ceremonies on the upcoming holiday.

LePage has declined invitations from the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP). The organization has already expressed its displeasure with the governor’s plans to not attend the events.

“They are a special interest. End of story…and I’m not going to be held hostage by special interests.

He also points out that he has an adopted black son, so I don’t think anyone is about to accuse LePage of being racist. But if he’s right that the NAACP is a special interest group, then doesn’t his logic dictate that EVERY INSTITUTION OF GOVERNMENT is just special interest? Ya know. For whites.

LePage really doesn’t get it. I mean, he gets his core constituency, but he doesn’t get why he needs to attend this Martin Luther King Jr. day ceremony. This isn’t about special interest. It’s about honoring a man who fought dearly for civil rights – not special rights, but fucking civil rights – so that we might remind ourselves of our very (proclaimed) values.

Update: From other articles I’ve been reading, it seems one of the big sticking points for people is that LePage said the NAACP can “kiss my butt”. Who cares? I’m glad he’s using direct and overt language. The real issue is that he is dismissing an equality group as being merely “special interest”.

One of Baldacci’s last acts: Morally outstanding

One of now former Maine Governor John Baldacci’s final acts was one I cannot help but admire so much.

In one of his final acts as governor, John Baldacci signed an order Wednesday pardoning a Portland man [Touch Rin Svay] who faced deportation to Cambodia because of a drunken-driving crash that killed his sister [Sary Svay] 10 years ago.

Although he had lived in the United States since he was 4, he faced likely deportation because he was born to Cambodian parents in a refugee camp on the Thai border. He does not speak Cambodian and has no ties to that country.

The sentencing judge said deporting Svay would be “a horrible and unjust resolution.” Svay’s immigration attorney, Beth Stickney, said Svay’s only way to stay in the country was a pardon, a rarely used power the governor has to forgive crimes.

Baldacci said in a prepared statement that he issued the pardon largely because of Sary Svay’s two children and Touch Rin Svay’s role in supporting them.

“He has complied with the terms of his sentence, and has turned his life around,” Baldacci said. “But, in my mind, he continues to have an obligation to his sister’s two children — his niece and nephew — to be involved in their lives and to explain to them his actions. He is actively involved in their lives, and his debt cannot be fully repaid unless he maintains that supporting role.”

The article continues that Svay was due a pardon in 2004, but he admitted to minor transgressions of his parole and that caused a delay (as well as another 5 months in prison). Other than that, however, Svay has been a model citizen since completing his original sentence and subsequent probation violation, holding a steady job and helping to care for his niece and nephew. I greatly admire Gov. Baldacci for his decision. Svay has no connection to Cambodia; deporting him would be nothing short of inhumane. The right call was made today.

(Gov. Baldacci also pardoned a second man who had served a morally trivial but legally significant conviction from 18 years ago. That man, who was not named in the article, faced a similar situation, with all his family ties existing in Maine.)

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