The Week in Weed: Ludacris, Dizzy Wright flaunt doja love & 13 other pics

A compilation of favorite weed photos seen on Instagram. This installment has cameos from hip-hop stars Ludacris and Dizzy Wright, plus plenty of plant pics.

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Colorado pot plants quarantined due to possible pesticides

The city of Denver has ordered commercial pot growers to quarantine hundreds of marijuana plants because of possible pesticide violations.

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Police raid pot club owned by Alaska TV reporter who had infamous ‘I quit’

Anchorage police served search warrants at marijuana activist Charlo Greene’s Alaska Cannabis Club after receiving reports of illegal marijuana sales.

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Pediatrician: I would rather my kids choose marijuana instead of alcohol

One of the most viral pieces of marijuana-rooted journalism on the Internet in the last week wasn’t written by a newspaper veteran or hot-shot blogger. The column, rather, was penned by a professor of pediatrics at Indiana University School of Medicine, and it ran in The New York Times. In Aaron E. Carroll’s column “Alcohol or Marijuana? A Pediatrician Faces the Question,” the doctor-educator addresses a question he’s hearing more and more often lately: “Which would I rather my children use — alcohol or marijuana?”

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#Coleg Notebook: Maximum fight for minimum wage

Minimum wage comes to the Capitol  

Advocates for raising the minimum wage to at least $12.50 an hour rallied on the Capitol steps today in support of two bills facing an uphill climb in the Republican-controlled Senate.

MinimumwagechartAccording to the above poll from Myers Research, two-thirds of voters support raising the minimum wage.

Not over a barrel yet 

Rep. Lori Saine, R-Firestone, plans to take her advocacy for the rain-barrel bill to the Senate. The bill would allow Coloradans to collect run-off from roofs for gardens. Saine was one of the few members in her caucus to support the bill, which she says is just common sense.

“It’s true conservation because it helps everyone,” said Saine, pointing out that water collected in rain barrels and used to water plants eventually ends up exactly where it was headed in the first place – just a little bit later.

For whom the test standardizes

Ricardo Martinez, left, chating at minimum wage protest.

Ricardo Martinez, left, chatting at minimum wage protest.

Not everyone wants to see standardized tests slashed. Activists from Padres and Jovenes Unidos arrived in force at the Capitol today not just to support raising the minimum wage but to support evaluations to ensure a minimum standard of education.

“We want to make sure all kids get access to a great education. And by all, we mean all,” said Ricardo Martinez, a director at Unidos. “We don’t want to have kids of color and poor kids getting lost in the mix. For us, evaluations are a way to measure that opportunity gap.”

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Forbes just hired Julie Weed to cover pot. And yes, that’s her real last name

Forbes recently announced that contributor Julie Weed will cover the legal marijuana industry for the business magazine — “and yes, that’s my real last name,” Weed says in her bio.

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Nepotism, Merit, And The Perils Of Underpaying People In Important Jobs

I estimate that the son of an N.B.A. player has about a one in 45 chance of becoming an N.B.A. player. Since there are far more N.B.A. slots than Senate slots, this is only about an 800-fold edge. . . . 

An American male is 4,582 times more likely to become an Army general if his father was one; 1,895 times more likely to become a famous C.E.O.; 1,639 times more likely to win a Pulitzer Prize; 1,497 times more likely to win a Grammy; and 1,361 times more likely to win an Academy Award. Those are pretty decent odds, but they do not come close to the 8,500 times more likely a senator’s son is to find himself chatting with John McCain or Dianne Feinstein in the Senate cloakroom.

From the New York Times Op-Ed page via Marginal Revolution.

The ratio for Presidents is 1.4 million times greater, and for Governors is about 6,000 times greater, although both involve very small base numbers.  There was one father-son set of Nobel Prize winners.

It is fundamental and natural that children share many of their parents strengths and weaknesses due to genetics and their upbringing.  As a first order approximation, the assumption that a son will be as successful in life as his father is a more accurate mirror of the world than the assumption that a son’s success is completely uncorrelated to his father’s success.*

We would like to think that our society is highly meritocratic.  And, for most of human history, society was less meritocratic than it is today.  But, parents continue to have a significant impact on a son’s socioeconomic success that is not merely attributable to merit or luck.

The examples of athletes and musicians above both involve narrow, highly hereditary traits in fields of endeavor known for being quite meritocratic.  So, they represent something close to an upper limit on the extent to which merit can help you achieve, although even in those fields, outright nepotism and other advantages a parent in a particular field can confer on a child (like mentoring and advice and networking) probably confer some benefits beyond mere personal merit.

Nepotistic advantage in the economic world should hardly surprise us.  Children generally inherit their parent’s wealth when their parents die, and receive substantial economic support from their parents during their lives.  Mainstream economic theory assumes that one of the main reasons that people who aren’t going to spend the money they’ve already earned in their lives still work is to pass wealth on to their children.  And, people wouldn’t provide their children with economic support and inheritances if they didn’t genuinely believe that their children are better off as a result.

But, the extreme edge a parent can confer on a son in the military, which is often perceived as a particularly meritocratic institution, is more notable.  We expect politics to be rather corrupt.  We are surprised, in contrast, to see nepotism play such a powerful role in the military.

Then again, historically, all political leaders were also warriors, a circumstance that continued, at least, into the late middle ages in most of Europe, and remains part of the tradition of, for example, the British monarchy.  And, during the era when all political leaders were warriors, the extent to which the hereditary principle governed political succession was much greater than it is in modern democracies run by people who are, at least currently, civilians.

It isn’t obvious how this plays out in the modern bureaucratized military, although one can guess at how this comes to be.

One important factor comes from varying personal assessments of the desirability of being a top military officer among people who are qualified to do the job.  Top military officers are paid profoundly less than civilian top managers in the private sector with comparable authority.  People motivated by money who have the talent to be generals in the military leave to become business chiefs instead.  Only people who value the prestige of a high military office more than money stick it out to become generals, and family influences drive that motivation.

Thus, one of the main drivers of nepotism in the military, as in many circumstances where we encounter corruption, is that the purely economic compensation that a sufficiently talented person can obtain by performing the job is less than could be secured elsewhere.

This is also probably one of the drivers of nepotism in politics.  Elected officials are rarely paid well in comparison to the power the wield and the extent to which they are exceptional relative to members of the general public, particularly in the early phases of the pursuit of elected office that form the minor leagues from which most senior politicians emerge.  Working as a state legislator is a demanding full time job, requires you to raise far more money than you will make at the job to be hired, involve responsibility for sophisticated policy making decisions that entail oversight of billions of dollars, and often pays less than a junior level clerical position or entry level school teaching job.

Only those people who value power much more than personal economic wealth (at least as so wealthy that they need not concern themselves with making a living or have been raised to have very long time horizons for cashing in with personal economic wealth) become career elected officials.  The values that a child of a politician learns greatly influences how that child evaluates power relative to money as an objective in life.

The fits the observation that the single most powerful means of culling potential elected office holders is the decision of particular potential candidates to run for office or not.  More talented potential elected office holders drop out of contention at this stage than any other.

Of course, in the arena of politics, the way that voters evaluate candidates also plays a part.

Human nature has a strong monarchist predisposition that plays out in the tendency of voters to favor candidates who are part of political dynasties.  Electoral politics do not produce winners on a meritocratic basis.

In part, political dynasties can be rational for the voter in much the same way as political parties are rational for the voter.  Voters are in a poor position to evaluate a candidate’s actual merit in politics (a concept that is nebulous anyway in this field of endeavor).  So, voting for someone closely related to someone who has already demonstrated political merit may be the most reliable available proxy for merit that is easily available to them.

It is also worth recalling one of the most notable observations of Milton Friedman in his economic writing aimed at the general public, like his book “Free to Choose”: that while there is inequality in both economic power, and in political power, inequalities in political power are usually greater than those in economic power.  Our political theory says that politics should restrain economic inequality, but experience teaches us that politics is often even worse.

After all, in politics, there is a zero sum game and inequality is built into the structure of constitutional government.  Only a handful of people can lead the nation as elected officials.  In contrast, in the economic sphere, the success of one person does not nearly so inevitably have to come about by denying economic rewards to another.  In theory, in a world where many people are highly productive, many people can prosper.  There are about 5,000-10,000 professional elected officials in the United States.  There are far more people who are very wealthy.  There are 3 million people in the top 1%, and 30,000 people in the top 0.01%, an economic stratum limited to people who each have a net worth of dozens or hundreds of millions of dollars or more, making them serious contenders in terms of combined economic and political power with the lower echelons of professional elected officials in the United States, only a handful of whom make more than $250,000 a year.

When we pay public senior officials, elected or otherwise, less than they could make in comparable private sector positions, we do so at our own peril as a nation that would like to be free of corruption.

To conclude, lets circle back to athletes and entertainers.  While the top performers in these fields are well paid, life in the long tail is merger.  The average professional ballet dancer earns less than twice poverty line compensation.  Starving artists are a thing, not just a myth.  Only people who have been raised to truly value excellence in these fields and who have independent financial means are likely to be able to stick it out for the long years of demanding work for little pay that are necessary to eventually have a shot at rising to the top.  So, maybe the world of athletes and entertainers, while meritocratic at the top, isn’t as fully meritocratic in the pipeline to those top positions as it might seem, which in turn can explain the extreme nepotism factors in those jobs.

* The gender distinction I make here and that the author makes in the quoted material below, reflect the fact that men and women’s paths to socioeconomic success were almost completely different until sometime after 1980 when women who chose not to have children, at least, started to have similar economic prospects to men leaving only a single generation of precedent for them in a world where the rules of socioeconomic attainment for women is still in flux.  The analysis as applied to women is important, but far more complex.

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Mining History for Horror

While Colorado mourned the 2014 centennial of the Ludlow Massacre with earnest theatrical reenactments, filmmaker Kirk Loudon was busy cooking up his own morbid take on the event: Diggerz: Black Lung Rises.

The movie reinvents the Ludlow Massacre, the day the Colorado National Guard and the Colorado Fuel and Iron Company attacked more than a thousand striking miners and their families and killed 19.

The movie’s antagonist, Black Lung, is a wicked spirit, symbolizing 13 murdered miners. Every fifty years, he returns for vengeance and kills 13 townspeople.

Loudon, a third-time filmmaker, plans to shoot his upcoming gore-fest in Trinidad, Colorado, where he has owned a home for the past five years and has immersed himself in local lore.

“We’re going to rewrite a little bit of Ludlow history,” said Loudon.

Loudon’s last film, Dawn of the Crescent Moon, was a thriller that relied on suspense and mystery to scare the audience. This time, he wants to lure kids with a boatload of blood and guts.

Loudon is casting the film this weekend and plans to shoot over the next year.

For more: Ludlow: One hundred years of silence

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Denver seeks to stop 60 pot-growing collectives; plant count up for vote

Denver officials may shut down dozens of pot-growing collectives scattered across the city. Officials say they’re trying to shut down about 60 collective growing operations.

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Hick on Vaccines: Strong statement, still no real plan

DENVER — Governor John Hickenlooper has recently made a strong case for the need to raise Colorado’s bottom-of-the-barrel vaccination rates, but he has fallen short of outlining a specific plan to make it more difficult to obtain vaccination exemptions or to address widespread public skepticism toward the science of immunization and fears about its safety.

“Kids that can be vaccinated should be vaccinated,” Hickenlooper told the Independent earlier this month. “There are these urban myths — and in many cases these are now suburban myths and rural myths — that somehow vaccinations increase the probability of autism or other unnamed maladies. But there is no science to support this. The science clearly states that having more and more people unvaccinated puts other children at risk.”

He echoed warnings public health experts have been sounding for years.

“One of the basic principles of community is that we look out for each other,” Hickenlooper said. “In places where we’re clearly not taking on an additional risk but providing greater safety to our neighbors, that’s generally how we should act.”

The point Hickenlooper and so many others have been trying to make is that immunization science is about protecting the health of the community and its weakest members — infants, seniors and immune-compromised people. Vaccinations work in concert to form a larger bulwark against stalking diseases. The point is to prevent fast-moving outbreaks.

‘Live and Let Live’

But Colorado is in many ways still a culturally libertarian “live and let live” state, and that is reflected in its loose rules around immunization. The Centennial State is among 20 that allow parents to cite any personal opposition to immunization in order to opt-out their children. Vaccination rates here for infants and preschoolers have ranked near the bottom nationally for years. In 2013, nearly 550 reported cases of vaccine-preventable illness among Colorado school children lead to hospitalization that cost $29.2 million, according to a report by Children’s Hospital Colorado and the Colorado Children’s Immunization Coalition.

Colorado experienced a whooping cough outbreak beginning in 2012, where the number of reported cases hit epidemic levels two years running. Yet Colorado still has the lowest vaccination rate in the nation among kindergartners for measles, leading many to believe it’s just a matter of time before that highly contagious and dangerous disease enjoys a run in schools across the state.

It doesn’t have to be this way.

California, home to a popular “alternative medicine” movement that dates back decades, was home to a measles outbreak earlier this year. Facing high vaccine opt-out rates there, Gov. Jerry Brown is supporting lawmakers who are pushing to write new tougher vaccine exemption policies. Five members of the legislature there have said they planned to introduce legislation to abolish all religious and other personal-beliefs exemptions for parents who do not want their children vaccinated before starting school, leaving only exemptions for medical reasons in place.

Such a move seems highly unlikely in Colorado. The legislature here has wrestled with the vaccine question for years to no effect, and this legislative session, the Republican majority in the Senate has voiced sympathy for the wing of the anti-vaccination movement that sees immunization requirements as the kind of state intrusion on personal decision making that it is better in the long run to resist.

Bring on the Quirky

Given the apparent gridlock on the issue, the thinking among state politics watchers has been that Hickenlooper will mount a public-interest education campaign, the kind he has been so good at undertaking in the past, where he makes himself the face of the message. As Mayor of Denver, he famously appeared in winningly oddball public service TV ads, including one that saw him parachute from an airplane, touting the benefits of a proposed unpopular tax increase. “Voting yes … will help lift us up,” he said as he floated away into the ether.

Denver Congresswoman Diana DeGette doesn’t possess the same kind of oddball charisma and she’s not as well known as Hickenklooper, but she took it upon herself earlier this year to campaign for vaccinations. She taped a public service announcement in her offices and gave it to Colorado television and radio stations.

“She recorded [it] after the measles outbreaks became especially worrying,” said DeGette spokesman Matt Inzeo. “She is the top Democrat at the Energy and Commerce Oversight and Investigations Subcommittee, which oversees public health, and, after bringing in several top Center for Disease Control and National Institute of Health officials, she thought it was worthwhile… We were grateful so many [broadcasters] have been willing to share it and get the word out.”

But in reply to several requests for comment on the vaccination issue, the governor and his staff — while always clear that the administration fully believed the state’s low vaccination rates were unacceptable — never hinted at plans for a larger advocacy campaign.

That seems out of character. Hickenlooper has shined as a leader when public health and safety in the state have been at risk. His calm and inclusive leadership during the historic floods of 2013 made national news. He was everywhere in the waterlogged regions and all over the media. He successfully tapped local and national officeholders to help green-light material and financial assistance and he encouraged politicians across the aisles to work together — and to be seen working together — to support constituents.

Reacting to floods and fires is the business of disaster relief. Colorado’s Chief Medical Officer, pediatrician Larry Wolk, said Colorado has to begin to work toward vaccine-related disaster prevention.

“We already have the evidence,” he said. “Cases of whooping cough are 200 percent higher here in Colorado due to our below-average immunization rates.”

Wolk would like to see the state tighten the rules around immunization exemptions, but he said the department of public health can’t do that alone. It would take legislation to make it happen.

And that’s where things get complicated.

Forced Group-Think

Even though there has been no bill introduced this session targeting vaccine opt-outs, passionate citizen testimony in favor of broad exemption policy has filled committee hearings on other measures, such as the “Parent’s Bill of Rights,” introduced by conservative Sen. Tim Neville, R-Littleton. His bill aims to elevate parental-power in relation to the state in the public sphere.

Indeed, hours before Hickenlooper argued in favor of vaccination as a community value, Neville took aim at a bill that would have required naturopaths to notify patients or their parents about the Center for Disease Control’s recommended vaccinations.

“I want to make the point that, if we can do this as a body, what are we doing to dictate next that our doctors or naturopaths must do?”

Democrats and three swing-district Republicans killed the amendment. But the chamber’s Republican leaders all voted with Neville.

Even in the Democratic-controlled House, tightening vaccine exemptions is an uphill battle.

Freshman Rep. Susan Lontine, D-Denver, has been poring over the Center for Disease Control report that puts Colorado last in the nation for early childhood vaccinations.

“It’s an accident waiting to happen,” she said. “If you put ten people in a room where someone with measles has been, nine of them will catch it.”

Lontine was chief of staff for physician-senator Irene Aguliar, D-Denver, two years ago when the state legislature started its most recent debate about immunization rates, and she watched with interest last year as the debate continued.

Last year’s vaccine bill, HB 14-1288, garnered headlines and fueled debate even though its proposed changes to existing law were fairly modest. The measure would have required parents seeking exemptions to provide a doctor’s note or take a 45 minute online course about the medical science of immunization. It also required schools to report student-vaccination rates. The bill would not have removed any existing exemptions.

The measure, co-sponsored by Aguilar and Rep. Dan Pabon, D-Denver, was pilloried as government overreach, a form of enforced group-think and an assault on individual rights. It passed the House and was gutted in the Senate. The final law requires only that school vaccine rates be made available online.

Throwing up Hands and a Winking Opportunity

Lontine said that that history at the Capitol and the partisan edge that characterizes politics in the state more generally presses hard against launching any new efforts on the issue.

“I think people outside of this building want something to be done. But here, at the Capitol, it seems like that really loud vocal minority is the one that gets their way,” she said. “What would work is getting rid of the personal exemption, but that’s a huge battle — and actually getting rid of the religious exemption, too, but that would be an even bigger battle…

“I’m throwing up my hands here,” she said at last. “I really, literally, don’t know the answer.”

But Rep. Pabon isn’t ready to give up. He said he thought all the recent coverage in the state and national media has set opportunity winking on the horizon.

“There are more conversations happening,” he said.

 

Image of Colorado Gov. John Hickenlooper via Flickr.

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