Monthly Archives: October 2011

Getting Hip to Hemp

Grass/Jeans

Note: The first Levi’s jeans were made with hemp cloth.

Dear Reader:

Industrial hemp is not a drug.

Just wanted to clear that up right away. While I am not in the least interested in growing, selling, or smoking marijuana, I am interested in the industrial production of Cannibis sativa for clothing, yarn, paper, rope, and the myriad other uses of this ancient plant. Sometime or other I was told that hemp was an environmentally-friendly, versatile plant that had been grown since earliest times throughout the world.

In fact, rumor has it that hemp was grown right here in the good ole U.S.A. from Colonial times through the 20th century. Really? And the founding fathers weren’t all raging drug addicts? Could this be true?

Over the years I’ve done a bit of desultory researching online for my own curiosity, and I have some nagging questions regarding industrial hemp and the politics surrounding it.

Do hemp activists have ulterior motives for wanting to legalize hemp agriculture? (Do they all just want to grow their own weed?)

Why was hemp criminalized to begin with? (Was there some sort of political-industrial collusion involved?)

Would industrial hemp be a profitable agricultural endeavor? Would the average American even be interested in purchasing hemp products? (Or is hemp the exclusive domain of “greenies” and “hippies” and certain television and film personalities with a environmental bug up their you-know-whats?)

Should the federal government continue to prohibit the growing and selling of industrial hemp or should it be left up to the individual states to decide? (And how’s that drug “war” going, anyway?)

Stick with me people. We’re goin’ to get hip to hemp.

Here are some facts taken from a USDA document (that would be the United States Department of Agriculture)regarding industrial hemp. http://www.ers.usda.gov/publications/ages001e/ages001ec.pdf

1. In 1645, the PURITANS brought hemp with them to the New World to use as a spinning fiber.

2. The hemp industry flourished in Kentucky, Missouri and Illinois up until 1860, when cotton became more prominent.

3. In 1937 Congress passed the Marijuana Tax Act which put the production of hemp under government regulation.

4. During WWII the GOVERNMENT instituted an emergency program to produce hemp; after the war, legal restrictions were again imposed.

According to various pro-industrial hemp websites, hemp has been used to make paper for thousands of years. The Gutenberg Bible, the Magna Carta, and drafts of the Declaration of Independence were all written on hemp paper. Thomas Jefferson grew hemp. (from azhemp.org)

Industrial hemp can be used to make acid-free paper, rope, cloth, oil, plastics, composites,soaps, cosmetics and bio-fuel. The seeds can be eaten and are protein-rich. With so many products that can be made from one plant, does it really make sense to prohibit that plant in the United States?

There is also some suspicion that the prohibition of hemp was encouraged by big industries (chemical companies) whose products are needed to break down wood fiber for making paper pulp.

Hemp does not require chemicals to break the fibers for paper.

However, according to a Wikipedia entry, processing hemp into paper is a relatively expensive process, so perhaps, paper made from hemp isn’t exactly what the “legalize hemp” proponents make it out to be. (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hemp)

I suspect many of the “pro-hemp” crowd are motivated by less industrial and more, shall we say, recreational reasons, but it seems pretty irrational to me to prohibit a useful commodity simply because some people like to use its more nefarious cousin for mind-altering or medicinal purposes.

Whether or not growing industrial hemp could or would be a viable business endeavor, there is a bigger question we need to ask ourselves. Do we need the federal government to regulate our industries? Or should this be left to the individual states? Has criminalizing cannibis stopped or even slowed the growth, sale, and usage of drugs?

The Global Commission on Drug Policy says, “No!” Their recent report claims that the war on drugs has failed and urges that countries consider legalizing marijuana and other controlled substances. http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2011/jun/02/war-on-drugs-not-working

Congressman and presidential hopeful, Ron Paul, writes in his book, LIBERTY DEFINED, that the Constitution limits the powers of the federal government, that state laws should determine issues like prohibition of substances, and points out that prohibition usually does nothing but encourage a black market and underground economy for the production, sale, and distribution of the substance in question.

In other words, every dollar spent “fighting the war on drugs” is a dollar wasted.

When it comes to the question of industrial hemp, not only are we losing a potential valuable commodity that could be used to create jobs, but we are also throwing our money away trying to legislate and police morality.

The United States is the biggest importer of industrial hemp in the world. China is the world’s biggest exporter.

Go figure.

Isn’t it time we started producing for ourselves again? Leading the world in production rather than consumption? I encourage you to research this issue for yourself . . . thinking a little bit Outside the Box.

Boo! Pumpkinhead Idea To Change Halloween

Dear Reader:

Of all the pumkinhead ideas I’ve heard over the past few years, this new attempt to change the date of Halloween takes the, er,jack o’lantern. A Connecticut lawmaker wants to officially change the date of All Hallow’s Eve to the last Saturday of October. See http://www.digitaljournal.com/article/313335 Why? Oh, to make celebrating the holiday “safer” and “more enjoyable.”

Puh-lease! Many town and communities and schools already move their Halloween celebrations and “candy-walks” and costume parties to the nearest weekend. Do we really need the government telling us when it is “safest” and “most fun” to celebrate a holiday that has been observed on October 31st for centuries?

According to HalloweenHistory.org the roots of Halloween go back to pagan times in a celebration known as Samhain–honoring the end of the harvest season and preparing for winter. At this time, the boundaries between the living and the dead were thought to be thin, permeable, and disguising oneself was a precaution against bothersome spirits.

Maybe what we need now are precautions against bothersome politicians.

What is next? Changing Christmas to the last Saturday in December so that parents can get that last-minute shopping done? How about New Year’s Day?

Wait a minute. I have the solution. Make All Hallow’s Day, November 1, a national holiday like New Year’s Day. Then the kids can stay out trick or treating as long as they like and everyone can sleep off the sugar rush the following day. Yeah, take that to a vote, Mr. Congressman. Better yet, leave Halloween alone and get to work on some serious issues like job creation, education, and sustainable energy.

Let local communities and families decide for themselves when and where and how they want to partake in celebratory costuming, begging door to door, and wrapping long strands of paper bottom-swiping materials from the branches of the neighbor’s trees.

And to you, my Dear Reader, I wish you a Happy Halloween!

Say It Isn’t So . . . Coffee Will Go?

So, Starbucks is concerned that global climate change is already impacting the coffee yields and that if these trends continue, we may not be able to grow coffee within the next couple of decades. This will presumably be due to more rain as well as longer periods without rain.

Newsy.com has a short video about this disaster waiting to happen at http://www.newsy.com/videos/warning-joe-coffee-extinct-in-the-future/

Can you imagine a world with more rainy days, fewer resources, more stress . . . and no coffee? Talk about Apocalypse!

I’m all for starting a movement right now called Save Our Beans. SOB for short. As in, I will SOB if I can’t get my coffee. Perhaps we should start experimenting with raising coffee plants indoors, say in giant greenhouses right here in Maine where we may not have alot of heat, but our winters are generally pretty sunny. Would that work?

I guess for now I will enjoy every delicious sip. I’ve quit java before; I can survive without it.

I just don’t WANT to!

Quick Post: Numerology

Oink, oink

Poll: Is a “fair tax” fair? If you got rid of all income tax and payroll tax and replaced it with a substantial national sales tax, would lower and middle income people actually pay MORE taxes than they do now? I’m trying to learn more about this 9-9-9 idea. Sounds good at first . . . but now the analysis comes in. Is 9-9-9 just 6-6-6 turned upside down? Or is it the number that will save us? Send me your thoughts.

Mantodea: Thoughts On A Toxic Friendship

The Wishing Tree, Yoko Ono, Hirshorn Museum Sculpture Garden

My wish: I wish for healthy, supportive, positive relationships that strengthen local, sustainable communities.

Dear Reader:

I have this friend, let’s call her Mantodea. Mantodea is the queen of the underhanded cutting remark. The empress of sneaky “take-it-two-ways” observations. The undisputed champion of the wait-for-the-right-moment-and-strike-when-nobody-is-looking emotional attack. Often, when the attack is launched, you don’t even feel it at first. By the time the sting sets in, you try to remember what is was that she said. Most often, you can’t remember. Not exactly. The remarks are all so fast and blurry and out-of-the-blue and off-the-wall and definitely uncalled-for that they slip in, do their dirty work, and slip away again.

She waits for the right moment, disguised as a friend, then she pounces like the predator she is, and you, my dear, are the prey. She’s bitten your head off before you know it.

For years, I have put up with this behavior, excusing it as either artistic temperament, social retardedness, a bad case of running-of-the-mouth disease. I’ve even questioned my perception. Was I just being paranoid? Imagining slights where there were none intended?

But, no. I’ve seen her attack other people, slipping in a little barbed comment with some sweet-on-the-outside smile. Now she’s begun to make similar comments to the Teen–sometimes in my presence but more often when I’m not around.

Hello. Teenage girls do not need their flaws pointed out. They are well-enough aware of every quarter-inch of adolescent fat, every acne spot, every teeny, tiny imperfection–very often imagined and almost always exaggerated.

As a mom, it’s hard enough working against magazine images and music videos and a culture that equate thinness with beauty. Hard enough trying to tell your daughter she’s beautiful just the way she is without some insecure, middle-aged mantis telling her in so many words that she is not whatever . . . thin enough, athletic enough, popular enough. . . or even thin-fingered enough!

I think she’s crossed the line into crazy.

Over the years, Mantodea has alienated most of the women in her circle. She used to have a large group of women-friends in her neighborhood, moms of her daughters’ friends, co-workers, and neighbors, but over the years, one by one, they have all drifted away.

There’s been alot of press lately about toxic friendships. An article in WebMD says:

“The phrase ‘toxic friend’ is pop psychology,” says Jenn Berman, PhD, a psychologist in private practice in Beverly Hills, Calif. “I would say it’s someone who, after spending time with them, makes you feel bad about yourself instead of good; someone who tends to be critical of you — sometimes in a subtle way and sometimes not so subtle; a friend who drains you emotionally, financially, or mentally, and they’re not very good for you.”

A toxic friends counts on you to put up with her digs. She banks on the fact that you might not want a confrontation. She couches her attacks in language that seems rather innocuous. Her words are like that corn-starch clay kids make in craft-class . . . they appear solid but when you try to grasp them, they run through your fingers leaving you with an empty hand. Still, you know what you know. She’s toxic. She makes you feel bad. She undermines you in little ways. She pulls the rug out from under you and tee-hee’s when you stumble and then puts on an innocent face and says, “I didn’t mean anything by it.”

I don’t buy it. Life is too short to put up with toxic relationships. I don’t want to subject myself to her subtle put-downs anymore, and I certainly need to protect my daughter. Good friends support each other. Good friends help each other. Good friends accept you for who you are and build you up, encourage you in your endeavors, help you to be the person you want to be.

As we move toward a more local economy and closer-knit communities, it will be even more important to treat others with respect and care. Otherwise you may find yourself alone, cut-off. Neutralized.

There is the old saying that whenever you point one finger, four others are pointing back at you. As I release this toxic friendship, I am determined to be more aware of the energy I bring to my other relationships, to be ever-mindful that my positive or negative energy affects those around me, and then to act in ways that are uplifting, encouraging, and supportive.

Toxic friendship, you are hereby neutralized.

Ahhh, the air feels clearer already . . .