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Donna Haraway: "From Cyborgs to Companion Species"


Donna Haraway presented her lecture as the 2003-2004 Avenali Chair in the Humanities at the Townsend Center for the Humanities, UC Berkeley. Haraway is a prominent theorist of the relationships between people and machines, and her work has incited debate in fields as varied as primatology, philosophy, and developmental biology. Haraway's The Cyborg Manifesto, first published in 1985, is now taught in undergraduate classes at countless universities and has been reprinted or translated in numerous anthologies in North America, Japan, and Europe.

How Samira made The Blackboard

A documentary about Samira Makhmalbaf and the making of her second film, The Blackboard. The documentary is interesting, even if you have not seen her films, because of this view into Iranian film culture.

Samira Makhmalbaf was the first female in Iran to direct a feature film, "The Apple." She was 17 years old. That film is based upon a true story of two girls who were kept locked in their home for 11 years and, when finally discovered, were found to be "feral children" who could not speak a language. Makhmalbaf's father is the multiple-award-winning Iranian film director Mohsen Makhmalbaf. His movie that was a love letter to cinema, Once Upon a Time, Cinema, is available via youtube, but I won't link to it here.

Here's a clip from Samira Makhmalbaf's first feature, The Apple. The movie is available via per per view via online sites.

I love her, still

Alcohol is a helluva drug.

I also love the work she did with The Dap Kings. Here's a song from them for all the caffeine fiends.

This is the theory behind cannabis' use as treatment for alzheimer's

Cannabis is useful for alzheimer's as an anti-inflammatory for the brain (and, if taken with ibuprohen, will not have many of the effects associated with cannabis use.)

Cannabis stunts the growth of the tendrils that lash brain cells and calms inflammation in the brain -- a hallmark of several neurodegenerative diseases, including Alzheimer's dementia, multiple sclerosis and Parkinson's disease.

A review published in Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society B, (The British equivalent of the National Academy of Scientists) suggests that activating the brain’s cannabinoid system may trigger a sort of anti-oxidant cleanse, removing damaged cells and improving the efficiency of the mitochrondria, the energy source that powers cells, ultimately leading to a more robustly functioning brain.

This is interesting because of the study of the impact of THC on gliomas, which found THC promoted cell death for cancerous cells by preventing the mitchochrondria from providing energy to the cancer cells - while leaving healthy cells intact. (This was done on mice and one human trial - the only human trial ever permitted for cancer cell reduction.)

Previous studies have linked cannabinoids to increased amounts of brain-derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF), a substance that protects brain cells and promotes the growth of new ones. Since new cell growth slows or stops during aging, increasing BDNF could potentially slow the decline in cognitive functions.

Another study indicated synthetic CBD promoted cell growth in the hippocampus.

A synthetic chemical similar to the active ingredient in marijuana makes new cells grow in rat brains. What is more, in rats this cell growth appears to be linked with reducing anxiety and depression. The results suggest that marijuana, or its derivatives, could actually be good for the brain.

In mammals, new nerve cells are constantly being produced in a part of the brain called the hippocampus, which is associated with learning, memory, anxiety and depression. Other recreational drugs, such as alcohol, nicotine and cocaine, have been shown to suppress this new growth. Xia Zhang of the University of Saskatchewan in Saskatoon, Canada, and colleagues decided to see what effects a synthetic cannabinoid called HU210 had on rats' brains.

They found that giving rats high doses of HU210 twice a day for 10 days increased the rate of nerve cell formation, or neurogenesis, in the hippocampus by about 40%.

Conversely, a positive attribute of cannabis for those who suffer from PTSD is the ability to forget. Forgetting is as important to the brain as is remembering. Our brains constantly forget information that is unnecessary to know. The ability to forget information that is painful is also part of our experience as humans - that does not work correctly in those with PTSD.

Physicist compares DEA to creationists aka anti-science bigots.

Physicist: If All Science Were Run Like Marijuana Research, Creationists Would Control Paleontology

In the face of obstacles to marijuana research from both the Drug Enforcement Administration and the National Institute on Drug Abuse, a theoretical physicist at the California Institute of Technology and one-time MacArthur Fellow is calling out the federal government on its obstruction of science.

During an address before a medical marijuana conference Friday, John H. Schwartz explained how the DEA and NIDA act as a “tag team” to censor science, with NIDA holding a monopoly over legal access to cannabis for research, and the DEA refusing to reconsider the drug’s designation in the Controlled Substances Act as a dangerous substance with no medical value on the basis that sufficient research does not exist. He alleges that the government has blocked research even though it has long been aware of marijuana’s potential to serve many medical benefits including shrink aggressive cancer cells is because it might “send the wrong message to children”:

As a physicist, I can assure you that this not how physics works. … We are all expected to act like grownups and accept it gracefully as experiments prove our favorite theories are false. In physics, unlike marijuana policy, we consider the right message to send to be the message that’s true. …

Consider what American science might look like if all research were run like marijuana research is being run now. Suppose the Institute for Creation Science were put in charge of approving paleontology digs and the science of human evolution. Imagine what would happen to the environment if we gave coal and oil companies the power to block any climate research they didn’t like.

complete piece: http://thinkprogress.org/justice/2013/02/25/1629721/caltech-physicist-if-all-science-were-run-like-marijuana-research-creationists-would-control-paleontology/

Congress is too stupid to legislate marijuana law

I hope MPP or NORML, etc. will start a petition to ask Holder to remove cannabis from the drug schedule because it is obvious that the elected representatives from several states are simply too stupid to do the job for which they have been elected.


During a Senate Judiciary oversight hearing on the Department of Justice, Sessions told Attorney General Eric Holder that he was appalled that President Barack Obama had recently said marijuana was no more dangerous than alcohol.

“I’m heartbroken to see what the president said just a few days ago,” Sessions explained. “It’s just stunning to me. I find it beyond comprehension. Did the president conduct any medical or scientific survey?” the senator wanted to know, pointing to studies that claimed marijuana use was linked to impairments in IQ and anxiety.

“That is exactly why one of our aid and enforcement priorities is the prevention of marijuana to minors,” Holder replied.

“Well, Lady Gaga said she’s addicted to it and it’s not harmless!” Sessions insisted. “She’s been addicted to it. Patrick Kennedy, former Congressman Kennedy, said the president is wrong on this subject!”

If a Congressperson is too stupid to read the research that indicates cannabis is no more addictive than coffee - that Congressperson is incompetent to rule on this issue.

If a Congressperson thinks Lady Gaga has anything worthwhile to say about public policy - that Congressperson is too incompetent to hold office, much less rule on this issue.

If members of Congress cherry pick evidence to believe, that person is incompetent to hold public office.

If anyone thinks Patrick Kennedy has anything worthwhile to say about this issue - well, someone whose family made its fortune in a competing industry while said product is illegal has no fucking business saying one word about this subject - and, frankly, the things that he has said indicate he, too, is incompetent (or well-paid to be so) to serve as a spokesperson on this issue.

Congress should READ THE FUCKING RECOMMENDATION from the DEA's own committee to determine the safety of cannabis.


Holder needs to simply remove cannabis from the drug schedule because this Congress has impeded nearly every bit of legislation meant to improve this nation.

If they're a Republican, they have shown they are not worthy of the title they hold.

Americans cannot afford to be ruled by idiots.

edit to add: please sign the petition to remove Michelle Leonart as acting head of the DEA. She is a liar and unworthy of her office. http://www.change.org/petitions/president-barack-obama-fire-anti-marijuana-dea-administrator-michele-leonhart

The Music Instinct: Science & Song

By Elena Mannes.

The Music Instinct: Science & Song explores ground-breaking science revealing the power of music and its connection with the body, the brain and the world of nature. The film deals with research, showing music can heal as well as its potential for education.

Marijuana Billboards At Super Bowl Will Pressure The NFL And Statehouses On Drug Policy

On Super Bowl Sunday, the face-off of Denver versus Seattle brings not just the issue of football to the fore. The match sees two teams play one another from the states that became the first to legalize recreational marijuana last year, in what may be the most prominent platform yet for marijuana reform ads.

At the stadium in East Rutherford, N.J., five ads will be displayed with messages that protest the National Football League’s stance on marijuana, point out there are as many annual marijuana arrests as there are attendees at the game (750,000), and suggest marijuana is safer than both beer and football.

(see other billboards at link, below)

The Marijuana Policy Project, which developed the ads, has also circulated a Change.org petition calling on the NFL to recognize state laws and “stop punishing NFL players for using marijuana.” They planned to deliver the petition, which has garnered more than 12,000 signatures, in front of NFL headquarters in New York City Wednesday morning.

In the past, marijuana ads from sporting events have faced bans from advertising companies, and stringent resistance from marijuana opponents. What would have been the first major marijuana legalization ad at a major sporting event was pulled at the last minute from a jumbotron outside the NASCAR 400 in Indiana in July. Since then, Marijuana Policy Project Communications Director Mason Tvert says billboards have been featured at several sporting events, including a billboard protesting the NFL’s marijuana policy outside Denver’s Mile High Stadium in September.


Petition to fire DEA administrator Michelle Leonhart

This link goes to the petition:


In a recent speech, DEA administrator Michele Leonhart criticized President Barack Obama for his acknowledgement that marijuana is less harmful than alcohol in terms of its impact on the consumer. Yet there is an abundance of research demonstrating that marijuana is in fact less harmful than alcohol.

Leonhart has consistently demonstrated a reckless disregard of such scientific evidence. Under her watch, the DEA has obstructed attempts to remove marijuana from Schedule I of the Controlled Substances Act — a classification reserved for the most dangerous drugs — and at a 2012 House committee hearing, she refused to answer a congressman’s simple question about whether heroin and crack cocaine pose more harm to the consumer than marijuana.

Shortly after taking office, President Obama mandated, “Science and the scientific process must inform and guide decisions of [his] Administration …” Whether Leonhart is ignorant of the facts or intentionally disregarding them, she has fundamentally undermined the president’s directive and is clearly unfit for her current position.

We call on President Obama to immediately terminate DEA Administrator Leonhart and replace her with someone who recognizes the fact that marijuana is less harmful than alcohol.

Hey, hey, ho, ho. Leonhart has got to go!

The White Balloon (Iran/1995)

wiki: The White Balloon (Persian: بادکنک سفيد ‎, Badkonake sefid) is a 1995 Iranian film directed by Jafar Panahi, with a screenplay by Abbas Kiarostami. It was Panahi's feature-film debut as director. The film won numerous awards in international film festivals around the world including the Prix de la Camera d'Or at the 1995 Cannes Film Festival. The Guardian has listed this movie as one of the 50 best family films of all time.

The eve of the Iranian New Year. Seven-year-old Razieh sees a goldfish while out shopping with her mother, but her mother won't buy one. Razieh is upset about her mother's refusal and continues her campaign for the goldfish when they are back home. Her older brother Ali (Mohsen Kalifi) returns from a shopping errand for their father who, although unseen, has a tangible presence causing tension in the family.

Razieh finally gets her wish. Her mother gives her the family's last 500-toman banknote and asks her to bring back the change. Razieh sets off with an empty glass jar to the fish shop a few blocks away, but immediately loses the money to a snake charmer...

Nowrūz (Persian: نوروز‎, IPA: [nouˈɾuːz], meaning "[The] New Day" is the name of the New Year in the Solar Hijri calendar and is the most important holiday in Iran.

Nowruz marks the first day of spring and the beginning of the year in the Iranian calendar. It is celebrated on the day of the astronomical Northward equinox, which usually occurs on March 21 or the previous/following day depending on where it is observed. The moment the Sun crosses the celestial equator and equalizes night and day is calculated exactly every year and Iranian families gather together to observe rituals such as visiting relatives to share special foods, banging pots and pans, and singing songs.

Haft Sîn -Persian: هفت سین‎ -or the seven 'S's is a major traditional table setting of Nowruz, the traditional Iranian spring celebration. The haft sin table includes seven items starting with the letter 'S' or Sīn "س " in the Persian alphabet. This tradition stems from the more ancient "Haft Chin" table.

The "Haft Chin" items are:

Mirror – symbolizing Sky
Apple – symbolizing Earth
Candles – symbolizing Fire
Golab – rose water symbolizing Water
Sabzeh – wheat, or barley sprouts symbolizing Plants
Goldfish – symbolizing Animals
Painted Eggs – symbolizing Humans and Fertility

A bowl of water with goldfish (life within life, and the sign of Pisces which the sun is leaving) is an essential object of the Nowruz table, this goldfish is also "very ancient and meaningful" and has a Zoroastrian connection.

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