Tuesday, January 6, 2015

It's a tropical heat wave in Paradise!

It's a tropical heat wave in Paradise!  I walked the dogs this morning at 3 am, and the temperature was 36°F.  I just needed boots and my jacket, not the full-on arctic defensive clothing I've been wearing outside.  The snow is melting rather quickly – our driveway is completely snow and ice free already, and the yard is full of spots where the (dead) grass is showing through.  We're due for a few more days of this before it gets cold again – I think we may be completely snow free by then...

Something is badly wrong here...

Something is badly wrong here ... in America, I mean.  If you've been paying attention, you already know that America has the highest (by far) incarceration rate of any first-world country.  The chart at right shows the total state and federal prison population since 1925.  Note the clear inflection point in the early '70s, just as the “War on Drugs” was launched.

Leave aside for a moment all the moral arguments about drug use.  Ask yourself these questions instead:
Is it worth it?  That is, do the benefits of the War on Drugs (assuming you can even identify any) outweigh even the direct costs (roughly $10B/year, and 1.5M people in prison)?  The benefit that most people presume – reduced drug use – is rather obviously not a benefit that is actually obtained.  America has one of the highest rates of drug use of any first-world country.

Would legalizing drug use be worse than the War on Drugs?  The experience of other countries suggests – strongly – that our society would be better off treating the direct consequences of drug use, rather than outlawing it.  This is actually identical to how we treat alcohol use today, and few would argue that our society was better off with Prohibition.
If you know me, then you know I'm not a supporter of drug use in general.  I am, however, a rabid supporter of liberty, and the criminalization of drug use (and the consequent War on Drugs) is one of the most flagrant abuses of liberty America has ever perpetrated upon its citizens...

The Andromeda galaxy...

The Andromeda galaxy ... as you've never seen it before, in this glorious Hubble composite.  Full resolution version here.  Via APOD, of course.

Astrophotography certainly has come a long way since I was a kid!

Quote of the day...

Quote of the day...  This time, from Elon Musk (CEO of SpaceX and Tesla), from a Reddit AMA:
Q.  What daily habit do you believe has the largest positive impact on your life?
A.  Showering
I'm with Elon on this one :)

That's especially true in our new home, where I have been greatly enjoying our shower.  It's in our remodeled master bathroom – 27 square feet of tiled, doorless luxury, with three giant shower heads and a thermostatic temperature control.  That shower is my favorite feature of the entire house!