Don’t Make Anything Illegal.

I’m no expert on mind altering drugs, but I do consider myself an experienced business person. When a product is more available than there is demand, prices fall. And when a product has more demand than supply prices rise. It’s pretty clear today that the supply of illegal drugs outweighs the demand, and so prices are low.

When I walk down the street the volume of drug use is quite clear, I know the smell of pot quite well, and it’s everywhere. There are also some really weird smells coming from many people walking around, and the smells are more than the usual summer taxi driver body odor, I’m talking about some weird crap people are smoking. And it’s pretty obvious these are either illegal drugs, or some form of drug that has not yet been made illegal and so people are inhaling it to get a buzz without having some person in blue screaming “get on the ground” repeatedly while pointing a Taser gun at them.

There was a thing in years past called the war on drugs. Now if that truly was a war then by every reasonable measure it was and is a war that has been well and truly lost.

Isn’t it time that as a society we get beyond the idea of prohibition and go for a formal legal framework whereby drugs become controlled in the same was as other deadly, addictive substances are (alcohol and tobacco being the most obvious). Once something is legal and controlled, then reasonable discussions can take place about safety and efficacy. Companies can test and market their products, make profits, pay taxes and if the product turns out to be dangerous they can be fined, imprisoned and generally made to pay for being greedy selfish bastards.

Also it means that little things like addiction can be considered. Maybe with research it’s possible to make drugs less addictive. Maybe the levels of active ingredients can be managed, and maybe those who market products (that when misused can inflict harm) can have a reason to invest in treatment centers to minimize the damage caused by their products.

Guns are legal, alcohol is legal, sugary drinks are legal, cigarettes are legal, reality TV shows are legal. All of these can and do cause harm when used in excess or by people who are outside the “safe criteria” for ownership or usage.

So why not just stop making stuff illegal, and instead show people that doing stupid things is just stupid.

There are some drugs that should obviously be controlled, but these are the ones that people can use to harm others. Frankly, taking any drug has side effects, and I personally prefer to take no drugs unless prescribed by a doctor, and even then I question if it’s really required or is it just the doctor either looking to make the big conference sponsored by the drug company or trying to cover their ass by oversubscribing to reduce their legal liability.

Of course I’m lying, I regularly take my drugs in the form of wine, beer, diet coke, Chinese food and tap water. But I choose not to knowingly take un-prescribed prescription drugs or anything that has likely been transported by the rectum of a tourist from Thailand or was made by a peasant in Columbia who doesn’t care about by personal health. And I really like my brain the way it is (I’m sure some could question this statement), and I see no reason to break something that is working quite well for me.

I know many creative people have found the effects of mood changing and psychedelic drugs to be critical to their creative process. Many of these people have since died either from excess, of the effects mind altering drugs have on judgement. I suspect many times more have died from the judgement altering effects of ethanol and the impact of turning their lungs into tar pits. The best things about alcohol and cigarettes are the controls on kids. Most kids don’t get drunk on alcohol, partly because it’s hard for them to buy it legally, but mostly because it’s expensive and so limited by their budgets, and that’s the power of taxation on intoxication.

And of course the whole private prisons thing that is fed millions of pot heads is just plain nuts. Illegal drugs foster a culture of illegality through the whole cycle of manufacturing, transportation, distribution, selling, owning and consuming. Making drugs not-illegal changes all of these businesses into legitimate profit centers paying taxes and being concerned about the health and welfare of their workers and customers.
You don’t have to like a product, or use a product, or like the people who make, sell or use a product. But we all have a responsibility to create a society free from underclasses or processes outside of reasonable society.

I don’t think it’s a case of making drugs legal, it’s a case of stopping making anything illegal.

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Advice to tourists in New York City

Yes summer has arrived, and so I’m being annoyed by tourists (again)

Yes it’s true, New York City is the best city in the world, and while in theory there are 5 boroughs in New York City, this is just a technical “fact” , and is worthy of dispute. If Brooklyn were situated fifty miles or more away from Manhattan it would probably be the second best city in the country, but it’s not.

Manhattan is the best city in the world, and those who know Manhattan call it New York City. Everything else (while full of sports teams with the NY association) are not New York City. The other boroughs of NY (Bronx, Brooklyn, New Jersey, Staten Island and Queens) along with the wannabe states are just not New York City.

As a resident of Manhattan you may think this is just arrogance, but actually I would love the world to recognize that NYC is more than just Manhattan, but it just does not!

I would love it if the world recognized that NYC was a much larger area, and then maybe some of the more annoying attributes of millions of tourists would be diluted.

Here are a few of the most annoying summer actions of your average tourist.

1. NYC is a fast moving place, where walking speeds of 6mph are normal. Therefore walking at 1mph 4 abreast is a terminal crime.

2. Map reading and photo taking are activities that can only be accomplished while standing AT THE SIDE.

3. Red lights for pedestrians mean you should only cross the road when it is clear; it does not mean you have to stand on the street corner blocking the junction for all normal people if there are no cars coming. Also don’t blindly follow someone else as you will be killed crossing the street. Lean to use your eyes.

4. Renting a bicycle when you have no idea how to ride a bicycle is not a good idea on NYC streets, unless you want to win a Darwin award.

Actually if you are planning to be a tourist in NYC here is some excellent advice:

Either:

1. Book a hotel in time square, see the lion king, eat at buba gumps, get photographed with elmo, take a bus down to wall street and then go and spend a week in Brooklyn. You will have a great time and you won’t pollute the delicate sensibility of the city .

Or

2. Stay at the Waldorf, get a great pair of walking shoes, put away the phone and map, walk in single file for eight hours a day at six miles per hour for four or five days and see it all. Just don’t try and rent a bike, take photos that block the flow of others or mess around crossing the road.

It’s one or the other, you’ll have a great time, and so will everyone else.

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People who stand in doorways make me ANGRY

Okay people, when you go through a door, keep going. The idea of a doorway is to allow the transition of people and things from one place to another. It is not a destination in itself. And this is doubly true for train doorways!

What the hell are people thinking when they get on a train and stop dead in the doorway. I can only assume the answer to this question is either

1. Nothing

or

2. It’s okay to be a selfish bastard and block the doorway because they want to get off at the next stop.

Let me explain something to these people. If you are thinking “nothing”, then try thinking nothing away from the doorway, it will save you be zapped with a tazer, which is going to happen sooner than you think if you stand in doorways.

If on the other hand you are a selfish bastard and are blocking the door intentionally then please accept this 100,000 volt charge with the same level of disregard.

Go ahead punk, make my day!!!!

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Commuting made worse by commuters

It does matter if your commute is a 20 minute walk across town or 2 hours in the car or train, there is no reason to be a selfish bastard.

I’m amazed that there are so many idiots who have no concept of others when they travel.

People who insist on a double seat on the train, or even a quadruple seat (feet up on seat in front and wheels bag across two seats). I focus on these people and make a point of getting them To move.

And the drivers who have lane torrettes and twitch between lanes on the highway for no discernible advantage.these plonkers I avoid, as invariably sticking to one lane without changing is just as successful as any number of lane changes, as is a lot more comfortable.

But the common denominator with all these idiots is that they are causing slow downs and discomfort for everyone, and they end is lowering even their own comfort.

I still think that a cattle prod with a single change per week for everyone would encourage better behavior.

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I’m Hep!

Olly Murs singing "Heart Attack"
Olly Murs singing “Heart Attack” for ~30 of us at the Sony Club

So I’m picking up my monthly supply of currently legal anti-fat guy pills at the GNC and I realize I recognize the song on the radio station!  No, not the “oldies” station that still plays Ronnie James Dio mind you, the one that the young people enjoy.  It was a song by emerging Sony artist Oliver Murs from the UK who did a quick two songs a cappella at the Sony Club a few weeks ago when I happened to be there following a branding conference in that building.

While checking out I even found a way to slip in a comment about how Olly (I can call him Olly because we’ve met), was really enjoying America and touring with One Direction (I think that’s one of those popular “boy bands” like the New Kids on the Block).

Don't be a "square!"
Don’t be a “square!”

The young cashier flashed me a look that indicated she was skeptical about my level of “hip” and tried to trip me up by asking me, “What’s his story?”  I searched my memory banks for anything else I remember from the Sony event and recalled something about him being on a British show called the “X Factor” so I replied with that little nugget and a snide remark about how annoying that “Simon” guy is (he’s on or owns all those “Star Search” shows since Ed McMahon died I’m pretty sure).  Well, I got the approving head nod so I must have nailed it.

Anyway, I got the hell out of there before I got any questions about anything else and now I’m walking around feeling pretty “hip” for the first time in a long while.  Being hip is getting tougher and tougher though and I overheard some young people referring to Facebook as “Oh, that’s sooo 2008!” so I guess even the Gen Xers and many of the Millenials are in danger of becoming squares now.  As for me, I’ll bask in the glow of total personal coolness status for both 2012 and 2013 (I’ll avoid the GNC til at least January 2nd so that counts as 2013), secure that at least a few young people consider me “hip” (or is it “hep” these days?  Or maybe I’m a Hep-cat now???… Dammit, I can’t keep that stuff straight)-

Cab Calloway was "Hep"
Cab Calloway was “Hep”

 

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Tipping is Not a City in China

housevsaptHouseowners deal with many issues that are foreign to apartment and condo dwellers.  Beyond the seemingly endless (and often expensive) hassles associated with purchasing and moving into a home, one then has to deal with some combination of tasks which include: trash disposal, lawn maintenance, appliance repair and maintenance, outdoor holiday decoration placement and removal, basement flooding, HVAC maintenance, “Mischief Night” soaping and eggings, neighbors’ rogue pets, and on and on.  But this is the time of year where you “make some of that back.”
The "Where's my tip?" hand
The “Where’s my tip?” hand

The holiday season for apartment and condo dwellers might as well be renamed the “Tipping Season.”  Every person that works in and services the entire building (and parking garage if you have one), expects a hefty tip this time of year.  A reward for a job well done (or perhaps some insurance for good service in the year to come).  Many of these people are relatively invisible for 11 months of the year but like clockwork they’ll appear in your vicinity several times between Thanksgiving and the end of the year.  You’ll get a hearty “Hello!” and smile and even a handshake with eye contact from some of them as they happen to be there vacuuming in front of your door, getting to that old maintenance request, tidying up the lobby or offering to help with a package.  Wonderful, friendly busy staff as far as the eye can see.  Much like waiters and waitresses, the tip is essentially an expected part of their compensation so you’re a heel if you stiff them.

 

But how much to tip?  When?  Who?  How do you appropriately “slip them the cash?”  Despite literally hundreds of years of doorman buildings and other apartment complexes with staffers on the books, there has been no progress on exactly how to do this “tip drill” well.  Does each one get the same or do the people that know your name get more?  Is there a “class system” in which doormen get the big dough and maintenance gets 50% less?  Can you send a big check or bag of cash to some management flunky and trust them to divvy it up fairly?  What’s this year’s “rate?”  $100 each?  $200?  $50 due to Obama and the recession?  Does the Super really deserve $500 (after all, he already makes more than everybody else, right?)?  Do I slip a $20 to the weekend substitute parking guy?
Will "Schneider" fix your overflowing toilet in a jiffy next year?
Will “Schneider” fix your overflowing toilet in a jiffy next year?

 

It’s crazy!  Don’t you already pay a “maintenance” fee each year for these services?  Even if you want to do the right thing, there’s no way to know what “the right thing” is.  Ask most doormen and they’ll shrug and say, “Whatever you think is fair sir.”  That’s no help.  You may spend thousands of dollars tipping different people and still miss the guy that fixed your toilet during your Superbowl party because you forgot what he looked like (note: you’ll know if that happened the next time you desperately need his services and he’s conveniently unavailable btw).

 

So to all you house-owners out there, be happy this holiday season knowing that this is your time… a time where you can relax in your home and enjoy the holidays while your apartment-dwelling counterparts are struggling with the all that goes with the “Tipping Season.”

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Start It Up In NY?

New York wants new businesses to start up here!   Newly hired employees, innovative new services and products, new revenue and profits and tax income to the state and more!  I’ve heard NY politicians talk about it, “We’re making New York an attractive place to start and grow your company!” and the like.

Steve and Woz in Jobs' garage creating Apple.
Steve and Woz in Jobs’ garage creating Apple.

We’ve heard the stories about successful companies started in a garage or studio apartment with an idea and just a few hundred dollars in some cases. The next thing you know they’ve got a campus, thousands of employees and plans to hire thousands more.  Those stories are never about New York companies though, are they?  Coincidence?  Bad luck?  New Yorkers aren’t as smart as people in Washington state or Virginia or elsewhere?

Actually, just the opposite.  New York entrepreneurs are smart enough to know that New York state and especially the 5 boroughs of New York City have a unique “Publication” requirement for all new LLCs that will likely cost them thousands of dollars and 6+ weeks of hassles.  Open your business elsewhere, no such requirement and no such fee.  Hmmm…, NY and pay the fee or anywhere else and not pay the fee.  Tough choice for them, eh?  How does NY compare to neighboring states for formation of new LLCs per capita?  Terrible, of course.

The “Publication” requirement requires new NY businesses to publish an official notice of their existence in multiple printed newspapers for 6 consecutive weeks.  Any newspapers?  Of course not.  They select the newspapers and you have to call the county clerk to get the names of the papers who will get the $.  They say the requirement is so the general public is “notified” yet the New York Law Journal with its high rates happens to seemingly always be one of the required newspapers.  Big circulation of the general public for that one, eh?  Oh, and the information is already available online, for free, to anyone in the general public who wants it on the Secretary of State’s website.

How unique is the fee?  48 states don’t have it, that how unique it is.   If you’ve ever been curious about what a “special interest” group is and how their influence can drive lawmakers to do something for just them at the expense of virtually everyone else, here’s your case study at the state level.

$2000.00 may or may not seem like a lot of money to you but to some budding entrepreneurs it is money they could clearly use better elsewhere (elsewhere meaning anywhere other than New York).

NY and its lawmakers don't seem to love new business
NY and its lawmakers don’t seem to love new business

 

 

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Bourbon: The Elusive Spirit – The Search Continues!

Bourbon.  The quintessential American spirit.  Made by hand and barrel-aged only in new flame-charred oak barrels in old Kentucky.  75+ bourbon brands and over a billion $ in yearly bourbon sales… yet some places and people are clearly confused.

When I order “bourbon” I expect to get bourbon.  Not scotch, not Canadian blended whiskey and certainly not Tennessee whiskey from Jack Daniels.  Not too difficult, right?  Yet, what did I spy the bartender pouring for me from the corner of my eye this week?  Jack Daniels.  Last month at an industry event?  Scotch. (not even bourbon’s fine tasting cousin, single malt scotch mind you – crappy, blended rail scotch).  I even got a Seagram’s 7 one time last year… I didn’t know you could still get Seagram’s 7 in the U.S.  Am I wrong to think this shouldn’t be that difficult for them?  I don’t think so.

Quick tip for all you bartenders:  If it doesn’t say the word “Bourbon” on the label… IT”S NOT BOURBON!

Bourbon (says so right on the label)

And shame on Madison Square Garden and other venues that purport to have a full bar yet don’t have any bourbon.  25 kinds of fancy imported vodka but no bourbon?  Come on people!

Oh, and one last thing bartenders… no limes please.  Bourbon and Coke may visually resemble a Cuba Libre (aka rum and Coke for the average angry unwashed), but it most certainly is different and should never, ever be served with lime, lemon, orange, kumquat or any other citrus fruit. Thank you for your attention.  Next up… eliminating those annoying little red straws in our drinks.

UPDATE:  I have now attended 3 additional bourbon-less events this Fall and I’m not pleased.  To add insult to injury my local liquor stores are all “out” of my holiday favorite, Van Winkle bourbon.  This is bad news for me and for friends and relatives who would get it during our gatherings or possibly as a holiday gift (if they were particularly good this year)!  Now that is something to be angry about!

Has the liquor selling world gone to sleep for 20 years?

 

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“Gate”-gate: A Travesty Analyzed – Breaking News

I think there is an emerging scandal that needs attention.  The “Gate-ing” of non-“Gate”-worthy scandals is a growing epidemic and it’s making me angry.  It is an insult to former President Richard Milhous Nixon, G. Gordon Liddy, and the rest of the Watergate gang to try to “-Gate” these minor scandals/dust-ups and put them on the level of the the G-Men’s “work” back in the 70s.  It’s the 40th Anniversary of the original “Gate” for crying out loud, so it’s time to act… and I intend to!

The one and only original “gate”

So which scandals qualify for “-Gate” status?  Let’s evaluate a small sampling (10), of the “best” of the many contenders:

Travelgate at the White House began in May 1993 and really got the “-Gate” business going when seven employees of the White House Travel Office were fired and replaced with friends of the Clintons.  During multiple investigations the discovery of reportedly false statements made by the first lady drove the Clintons to reinstate most of the employees and remove the Clinton associates from the travel office.  A 7-year+ investigation involving the White House, FBI, multiple Special Counsels, and the Attorney General = YES, it’s “-Gate”-worthy.

Bill & Hillary Clinton were at the center of the new “-Gating” craze

Troopergate began with the allegations by two Arkansas state troopers that they arranged sexual liaisons for then-governor Bill Clinton and the scandal escalated to include salacious and serious accusations regarding Paula Jones (who was paid $850K by the President), Gennifer Flowers, Kathleen Willey, Juanita Broaddrick, and White House intern Monica Lewinsky (leading to his impeachment by the House of Representatives in 1998.  YES

Spygate was born when with the New England Patriots were found to be secretly taping NY Jets (and likely other teams), signals to gain an unfair advantage.  I would have originally voted NO to “-Gate” status for this but upon further review the facts do show an amazing pattern: 3-0 in Super Bowls while spying and cheating, 0-2 in Super Bowls since caught cheating.  That’s a YES.

Bagelgate occurred at a Fortune 500 company’s Annual Meeting in New York when the regular practice of serving breakfast at the stockholder meeting was changed by the incoming CEO, angering long-time stockholders who typically would make a day of it by eating at the meeting, voting their shares (or single share of stock in some cases), and catching a matinee at the theater.  The Q&A was dominated by elderly stockholders asking the new CEO why there were no bagels or other breakfast items provided for them at this year’s meeting.  Hilarious, but not a “-Gate” – NO

Nipplegate – Singer Justin Timberlake revealed Janet Jackson’s right breast to 89.8 million viewers in a staged “wardrobe malfunction” during the halftime show of Super Bowl XXXVIII causing an uproar and national debate about decency in modern culture as well as FCC fines for CBS.  The most viewed breast and nipple in recorded history = YES

Editgate – NBC TV edited a 911 recording in a way that made the motivation for the shooting of Trayvon Martin appear racial.  Powerful case but not “-Gate-worthy”-NO

Nannygate – A 1993 political controversy over nomination of Zoë Baird and near-nomination of Kimba Wood for U.S. Attorney General were withdrawn due to their hiring of illegal aliens as nannies or the failure to pay taxes for them. The soon-to-be chief law enforcement officer of the U.S. government and head of the United States Department of Justice breaking the law?… YES

Paterno/Spanier-gate at Penn State (hey, that rhymes!) – too soon to say but the coverup to hide the actions of a pedophile coach looks extensive and linked to the highest levels of power.  TBD

Camillagate was a Royal affair

Camillagate – Scandal which resulted from a tape of a telephone conversation between the married Charles, Prince of Wales and Camilla Parker Bowles in 1993; the tabloids leaked the details of an intimate recording in which Prince Charles told Camilla that he longed to be her tampon.  I’m still speechless about the content but not quite a “-Gate” – NO

Weinergate – U.S. Representative Anthony Weiner’s Twitter account linked to a picture of a bulging penis (in underwear).  Weiner said his account had been hacked, but later admitted he sent the tweet; numerous other lewd photographs from the married congressman were later “revealed.”  All-time great NY Post tabloid headline (“HIDE THE WEINER”), but not a “-Gate” –so… NO

OK, so our analysis of these 10 media-anointed “-Gate” scandals shows that only half of them met the standard set by “all the President’s men.”  And these are only a handful of the dozens and dozens that people dare to bestow with the vaunted “-Gate” suffix.  This is Watergate we’re talking here… the biggest coverup in american government history; to besmirch it with Weinergates and other inferiors is tantamount to insulting the constitution itself.  It’s not right.   It will not stand.  Why?  I’ll tell you why… Because I’m here, I’m angry and I’m not gonna take it anymore!

“Gate”-ing is only for the worthy.

UPDATE: Since the publishing of this entry several new unworthy “gates” have emerged (which I won’t detail here), and a new “one-to watch” – namely, “Deflate-gate.”  It seems a ballboy at the mighty USC Trojans football program deflated half the footballs (the ones USC QB Matt Barkley would throw), for the recent USC-Oregon football game.  You see, a football slightly deflated below official specs is easier to grip, throw and catch than a typical new game ball.  Results?  Already considered a top QB prospect USC’s Barkley exploded for 303 passing yards and 3 TD passes… in the 1st half!  At half-time, officials discovered the cheating and the seeds of “Deflate-gate” were born.  USC coach Lane Kiffin and everyone else with the program claim the ballboy was a “lone pin-man” who inserted that pin and masterminded the deflatement.  We should all follow this carefully to see if this one becomes worthy of the “Gate” suffix.

USC’s Coach Lane Kiffin: Innocent preppy leader or Nixon 2?

 

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Mr. President, A Budget Tip

November 6, 2012, 3:30pm ET   

President Obamney (I’m not sure who won yet), I feel that if the rest of us have to balance our checkbooks each month (and year), our country should too.

Voters have to balance their checkbooks, right?

Call me crazy but I believe that the USA can find a way to survive on a meager $2.5 trillion/year (or whatever the expected revenue is next year).  Go through every line item the way we workers do with our own budgets and make adult decisions about what you absolutely have to pay for and what is a “nice to have” that will have to wait until you get a raise in revenue or an unexpected bonus.  If you and the leaders of the House and Senate can honestly say that every line item in that proposed budget is 100% required this year, then I’ll personally bet you everything I own that you’re full of crap.  The size of the debt itself is the next economy and retirement-crushing disaster-in-waiting and you and the House and Senate were elected to address just this kind of tough problem.

Line-item veto? OK

Please don’t violate the “No Asshole Rule” and put politics ahead of doing the job right.  I don’t care how you do it or who gets the credit and neither should you.  If a “line item veto” is how it will get done, then I’ll support the President (and Speaker and Senate Majority Leader if needed) getting that power and I don’t care which party any of them are from.

This isn’t rocket science or difficult to understand and you all know it.  Once the budget is balanced for the year, THEN consider options for tackling the existing debt.  Increasing taxes and adding those additional short-term $ to the budget kitty will only increase spending, not decrease the debt in my opinion and isn’t that the point, to eliminate the debt itself?

It’s a balanced budget, not the quest for the Grail

Find a way to spend within your current means and then I’ll support really reviewing all options (including new and higher taxes and fees), to raise revenue for the specific purpose of eliminating the national debt itself.

Who’s with me?

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