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The Emerald Cup in the face of pot legalization

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From a very interesting report in the LA Times:

. . . With legalization less than a month away, unimaginable changes are afoot in the industry. Many of the old timers who fought for cannabis during the years of prohibition, who were driven out of the cities into the mountains of the Emerald Triangle, who risked their safety and freedom to bring pot to consumers and patients, are going to get left behind as cannabis comes out of the shadows into a tightly regulated, legal market.

Some people are going to get rich, and some people are going to get crushed. Already, new growing techniques have led to a supply glut. Big growers are making big plays. In the last year or so, the per-pound price of cannabis has plunged from $1,500 a pound to as low as $500.

“The old-school guys up in the mountains, growing their 250 pounds, a lot of them are not going to make the transition very well,” said cannabis entrepreneur Tim Blake, who founded the Emerald Cup in a field near his home in the hills of Mendocino County. “They don’t grow enough, the prices aren’t high enough, they don’t want to go through the permit process. It’s really a tragedy in the sense that a lot of the people that built the industry and pushed for legalization are going to get left behind.” . . .


. . . On Sunday afternoon, I sat through most of a panel discussion called “What to Expect on Jan. 2, 2018” in which state officials discussed their new bureaucracies, categories of licenses and permitting processes. Lori Ajax, the state’s first cannabis czar, heads the California Bureau of Cannabis Control; the Public Health Department has a Manufactured Cannabis Safety Branch to oversee extractions, infusions, packaging and labeling; the Department of Food and Agriculture will oversee cultivation licensing; and the Department of Tax and Administration will implement the collection of sales, excise and cultivation taxes.

It gave me a headache. (Especially compared to a lively Saturday lecture in which, among other things, I learned about a new anti-pot scare called “scromiting,” in which heavy users are said to experience a malady that causes them to scream and vomit at the same time. ) . . .

Written by LeisureGuy

14 December 2017 at 4:41 pm

Mario Batali and the Appetites of Men

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Helen Rosner has a powerful column in the New Yorker:

In the pantheon of American celebrity chefs, Mario Batali is a figure of appetites so legendarily large that his name is scarcely invoked without one of several modifiers: hedonistic, Falstaffian, Dionysian. He is also, according to reports published this week in Eater, the Washington Post, and the Times, a serial sexual harasser whose years of abuse of employees and others have included crude language, unwanted physical contact, and—as allegedly witnessed, in real-time, by a server on a security camera, according to the Times—kissing and groping an unconscious woman. In response to these revelations, Batali, who owns or co-owns more than two dozen restaurants, hosts the ABC morning show “The Chew,” and has extensive licensing partnerships, has issued a number of apologies. The first, to Eater, includes an explanation: “We built these restaurants so that our guests could have fun and indulge, but I took that too far in my own behavior.”
Celebrity chefs sell more than food; they sell stories. In October, the New Orleans Times-Picayune published a report on the culture of harassment and sexual predation in the thousand-employee restaurant empire of the chef John Besh. Part of the shock of those revelations came from the dissonance between the allegations against Besh, which include engaging in a “long-term unwelcome sexual relationship” with a female employee (Besh has called the relationship “consensual”), and the story he had sold of himself. An ex-marine with a Sunday-school side part and Chiclet teeth, Besh had marketed himself as a family man, a good dad and a loving husband, a churchgoer and a patriot who liked to mention offhand that the aroma of toasting almonds for trout amandine was similar to the scent in the air that his Desert Storm platoon was trained to recognize as a chemical attack. For people plugged in to the restaurant-industry whisper network, however, Besh’s comeuppance was no surprise.
There is no such clash between public image and private reality in the revelations about Batali, because Batali has always in a sense been selling sex. It’s there in his worshipful gazes at ingredients held aloft, his exhortations to his friends, viewers, and dining companions to taste whatever rests on the tongue—to really taste it, to pour your body and brain into it, to concentrate yourself into nothing but a single scintillating bud of physical sensation. It’s there in his body itself, in an abundant, flushed fatness that seems to physically manifest a flagrant rejection of the superego. And it’s there in his language, his voice. As a food writer and editor, I’ve crossed paths with Mario over the years, and I can report that it is almost an intoxicant. He has whispered in my ear about the rice in a paella, how the grains are both soft and firm. He has growled across a recording booth about the cornmeal dusting a po’ boy from Domilise’s, in New Orleans. In a 2002 New Yorker Profile that trembles with carnality, Bill Buford immortalized the chef’s grandiloquent libidinousness: “In Batali’s language, appetites blur: a pasta made with butter ‘swells like the lips of a woman aroused,’ roasted lotus roots are like ‘sucking the toes of the Shah’s mistress,’ and just about anything powerfully flavored—the first cherries of the season, the first ramps, a cheese from Piedmont—‘gives me wood.’ ”
It’s worth noting that appetites like Batali’s are, for the most part, not permitted to women; neither are bodies like his, with their evidence of hungers fulfilled. (Batali has been held up as something of an icon within the wildly misogynist pickup-artist community, where he’s considered an archetype of a man who “can be seductive and yet completely visually unattractive.”) A woman’s hunger, by contrast, “always overreaches, because it is not supposed to exist,” Jess Zimmerman wrote in her 2016 essay “Hunger Makes Me.” “If she wants food, she is a glutton. If she wants sex, she is a slut.” The world does not extend to women the courtesy we have granted Batali, that of reserving our condemnation until his indulgences cross the line into abuse.
For years, Batali’s behavior has been a subject of gossip: his vulgar comments, his roving hands, his propensity for bad behavior in the public privacy of the Spotted Pig, the West Village gastropub in which he is an investor. That establishment is co-owned by the restaurateur Ken Friedman, whose own persistent pattern of sexual harassment was also exposed, on Tuesday, in the Times. (“Some incidents were not as described, but context and content are not today’s discussion,” Friedman said in a statement to the Times. “I apologize now publicly for my actions.”) We learned, in that report, that, among employees, the Spotted Pig’s V.I.P.-only third floor had been nicknamed “the rape room,” and Batali the Red Menace. “He tried to touch my breasts and told me that they were beautiful,” a former server at the Spotted Pig told the Times. “He wanted to wrestle. As I was serving drinks to his table, he told me I should sit on his friend’s face.” Behold, in these stories, the insidious duality of a powerful man’s rapaciousness (the word shares a root—the Latin “rapere,” to take by force—with both “ravenous” and “rape”): Batali’s disregard for boundaries has in the past been a foundation of his mythology, a thing not to recoil from but to admire; in the context of the current #MeToo movement, his behavior is just repugnant.
Buford’s Profile—and the terrific book into which it was later expanded, “Heat,” a touchstone for food writers of my generation—is packed with other anecdotes that now seem troubling. Revisiting the book this week, I was appalled that my earlier self, reading “Heat” a decade ago, hadn’t even registered them as reason for concern. . .

Continue reading. The list that follows is stunning in its overtness.

Written by LeisureGuy

14 December 2017 at 3:00 pm

The Republican tax bill that could actually become law, explained

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Dylan Matthews explains in Vox what seems likely to become law. The public overwhelmingly does not like or want the bill—but of course what the public wants no longer matters (cf. the FCC decision to end net neutrality: the public hates, the idea, but the telecoms control the FCC now with the GOP in power).

Congressional Republicans have reportedly struck a deal on tax reform, enabling them to pass a final bill shortly after the House and Senate each passed its own proposal.

The combined proposal would slash corporate tax rates permanently, offer temporary cuts for individuals, and repeal the individual mandate in Obamacare, a $338 billion health care cut that leaves 13 million more people uninsured by 2027. The result is that by that year, when the individual cuts expire, most Americans will be worse off due to higher taxes and lower health care coverage, while rich people who own shares in corporations will continue to benefit.

Overall, it bears a closer similarity to the Senate bill than the House one. But there are important differences that set it apart from both previous proposals.

It sets a top individual income tax rate of 37 percent, below 38.5 percent in the Senate bill and 39.6 percent in the House bill (which is also the rate under current law). It finances that with a slightly higher corporate tax rate of 21 percent. It retains a more generous deduction for state and local taxes, and limits the mortgage interest deduction slightly for wealthy homeowners. The bill also eliminates the corporate alternative minimum tax, which added to the Senate bill and would’ve amounted to a $250 billion corporate tax hike.

And Republicans are on track to pass the bill into law the week of December 18 — well before Democratic Senator-elect Doug Jones is sworn into office, weakening the party’s Senate majority.

Who gets tax cuts, and tax hikes, under the bill

Before delving into the bill’s details, it’s worth taking a moment to consider who, all told, comes out ahead and behind.

We do not have a distributional analysis showing who wins and loses under the new House-Senate compromise; it’s too new. But the nonpartisan Tax Policy Center has run the numbers on the bill that passed the Senate, which is the closest thing to the deal that anyone has analyzed yet.

Note that the TPC analysis ignores the changes to the top individual rate, expansion of the state and local tax deduction, slightly higher corporate rate, and mild limits on the mortgage interest deduction included in the most recent House-Senate deal. It also excludes the effect of eliminating the individual mandate, which effectively reduces the amount of Medicaid and insurance subsidy money going to poor and middle-income people, and increases premiums on many upper-middle-class people too. On net, the poor would actually lose out in all years once this effect is taken into account.

With that in mind, here’s the big picture: . . .

Continue reading. Chart (and more) at the link.

Written by LeisureGuy

14 December 2017 at 1:13 pm

Salma Hayek: “Harvey Weinstein Is My Monster Too”

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Salma Hayek writes in the NY Times:

HARVEY WEINSTEIN WAS a passionate cinephile, a risk taker, a patron of talent in film, a loving father and a monster.

For years, he was my monster.


This fall, I was approached by reporters, through different sources, including my dear friend Ashley Judd, to speak about an episode in my life that, although painful, I thought I had made peace with.

I had brainwashed myself into thinking that it was over and that I had survived; I hid from the responsibility to speak out with the excuse that enough people were already involved in shining a light on my monster. I didn’t consider my voice important, nor did I think it would make a difference.

In reality, I was trying to save myself the challenge of explaining several things to my loved ones: Why, when I had casually mentioned that I had been bullied like many others by Harvey, I had excluded a couple of details. And why, for so many years, we have been cordial to a man who hurt me so deeply. I had been proud of my capacity for forgiveness, but the mere fact that I was ashamed to describe the details of what I had forgiven made me wonder if that chapter of my life had really been resolved.

When so many women came forward to describe what Harvey had done to them, I had to confront my cowardice and humbly accept that my story, as important as it was to me, was nothing but a drop in an ocean of sorrow and confusion. I felt that by now nobody would care about my pain — maybe this was an effect of the many times I was told, especially by Harvey, that I was nobody.

We are finally becoming conscious of a vice that has been socially accepted and has insulted and humiliated millions of girls like me, for in every woman there is a girl. I am inspired by those who had the courage to speak out, especially in a society that elected a president who has been accused of sexual harassment and assault by more than a dozen women and whom we have all heard make a statement about how a man in power can do anything he wants to women.

Well, not anymore.

In the 14 years that I stumbled from schoolgirl to Mexican soap star to an extra in a few American films to catching a couple of lucky breaks in “Desperado” and “Fools Rush In,” Harvey Weinstein had become the wizard of a new wave of cinema that took original content into the mainstream. At the same time, it was unimaginable for a Mexican actress to aspire to a place in Hollywood. And even though I had proven them wrong, I was still a nobody.

One of the forces that gave me the determination to pursue my career was the story of Frida Kahlo, who in the golden age of the Mexican muralists would do small intimate paintings that everybody looked down on. She had the courage to express herself while disregarding skepticism. My greatest ambition was to tell her story. It became my mission to portray the life of this extraordinary artist and to show my native Mexico in a way that combated stereotypes.

The Weinstein empire, which was then Miramax, had become synonymous with quality, sophistication and risk taking — a haven for artists who were complex and defiant. It was everything that Frida was to me and everything I aspired to be.

I had started a journey to produce the film with a different company, but I fought to get it back to take it to Harvey.

I knew him a little bit through my relationship with the director Robert Rodriguez and the producer Elizabeth Avellan, who was then his wife, with whom I had done several films and who had taken me under their wing. All I knew of Harvey at the time was that he had a remarkable intellect, he was a loyal friend and a family man.

Knowing what I know now, I wonder if it wasn’t my friendship with them — and Quentin Tarantino and George Clooney — that saved me from being raped.

The deal we made initially was that Harvey would pay for the rights of work I had already developed. As an actress, I would be paid the minimum Screen Actors Guild scale plus 10 percent. As a producer, I would receive a credit that would not yet be defined, but no payment, which was not that rare for a female producer in the ’90s. He also demanded a signed deal for me to do several other films with Miramax, which I thought would cement my status as a leading lady.

I did not care about the money; I was so excited to work with him and that company. In my naïveté, I thought my dream had come true. He had validated the last 14 years of my life. He had taken a chance on me — a nobody. He had said yes.

Little did I know it would become my turn to say no.

No to opening the door to him at all hours of the night, hotel after hotel, location after location, where he would show up unexpectedly, including one location where I was doing a movie he wasn’t even involved with.

No to me taking a shower with him.

No to letting him watch me take a shower.

No to letting him give me a massage.

No to letting a naked friend of his give me a massage.

No to letting him give me oral sex.

No to my getting naked with another woman.

No, no, no, no, no …

And with every refusal came Harvey’s Machiavellian rage.

I don’t think he hated anything more than the word “no.” The absurdity of his demands went from getting a furious call in the middle of the night asking me to fire my agent for a fight he was having with him about a different movie with a different client to physically dragging me out of the opening gala of the Venice Film Festival, which was in honor of “Frida,” so I could hang out at his private party with him and some women I thought were models but I was told later were high-priced prostitutes.

The range of his persuasion tactics went from sweet-talking me to that one time when, in an attack of fury, he said the terrifying words, “I will kill you, don’t think I can’t.”

When he was finally convinced that I was not going to earn the movie the way he had expected, he told me he had offered my role and my script with my years of research to another actress.

In his eyes, I was not an artist. I wasn’t even a person. I was a thing: not a nobody, but a body. . .

Continue reading.

Written by LeisureGuy

13 December 2017 at 10:54 am

Why experiments are necessary: Teens are smoking less weed in states where it’s legal

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The common prediction and primary worry on the conservative side was that suddenly teen usage of marijuana would skyrocket (although that never made sense: legal marijuana cannot be sold to underage kids). Joshua Marcus of Vice reports:

As marijuana legalization spreads across the United States, opponents have maintained that there will be negative long-term consequences, especially on young people. On Monday, for example, anti-pot activist Kevin Sabet tweeted“young adult use has skyrocketed over the past 10 years.”

There’s just one problem: The latest federal data says the opposite is true. Weed use by teens is dropping, especially in states that allow recreational marijuana use. The National Survey on Drug Use and Health, an annual nationwide survey, found declines in teen marijuana use in all but one of the five states that had legal weed from 2014 to 2016.

Colorado sold more than a billion dollars worth of weed last year, but the number of teens who reported smoking pot in the past year there dropped from around 18 percent to 16 percent, with a similar drop — from 11 percent to 9 percent — in teens reporting they’d smoked in the past month.

Other states saw similar declines or no major change in yearly use, including Washington, D.C. (16 percent  to 13 percent), Oregon (17 percent to 17 percent), and Washington state (15 percent to 13.5 percent), while underaged smoking ticked up just barely in Alaska (18.44 percent to 18.86 percent).

It’s still unclear why this is happening. It could be that teens are deciding that smoking weed is uncool because they’re seeing their parents do it, or it could be that states with recreational marijuana laws often employ public health campaigns designed to discourage young people from getting high. Or maybe it’s something else entirely. . .

Continue reading. Some very interesting charts at the link.

I imagine to some it made sense that legal marijuana would result in greater teen marijuana use, but experiments are needn’t precisely because many things that make sense turn out to be false when tested.

Written by LeisureGuy

12 December 2017 at 2:29 pm

Former Facebook VP says social media is destroying society with ‘dopamine-driven feedback loops’

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Amy Wang reports in the Washington Post:

A former Facebook executive is making waves after he spoke out about his “tremendous guilt” over growing the social network, which he feels has eroded “the core foundations of how people behave by and between each other.”

Chamath Palihapitiya began working for Facebook in 2007 and left in 2011 as its vice president for user growth. When he started, he said, there was not much thought given to the long-term negative consequences of developing such a platform.

“I think in the back, deep, deep recesses of our minds, we kind of knew something bad could happen,” said Palihapitiya, 41. “But I think the way we defined it was not like this.”

That changed as Facebook’s popularity exploded, he said. To date, the social network has more than 2 billion monthly users around the world and continues to grow.

But the ability to connect and share information so quickly — as well as the instant gratification people give and receive over their posts — has resulted in some negative consequences, according to Palihapitiya.

“It literally is a point now where I think we have created tools that are ripping apart the social fabric of how society works. That is truly where we are,” he said. “The short-term, dopamine-driven feedback loops that we have created are destroying how society works: no civil discourse, no cooperation, misinformation, mistruth. And it’s not an American problem. This is not about Russian ads. This is a global problem.”

Facebook has pushed back on the former executive’s comments, saying in a statement Tuesday that Palihapitiya has not worked there for more than six years and that it was “a very different company back then.”

Palihapitiya, a venture capitalist and part owner of the Golden State Warriors, made his remarks at a talk for Stanford Graduate School of Business students in November. Video of the talk was widely shared again this week after the Verge reported on his comments Monday.

Though he didn’t have immediate answers on . . .

Continue reading.

Written by LeisureGuy

12 December 2017 at 2:09 pm

Cannabis News Round-Up

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Daniel Harvester posts at The Reality-Based Community:

California begins accepting permit applications for the sale of recreational marijuana. As Californiaembraces legal marijuana, many cities and counties just say “no.” A weed wonderland in the CaliforniadesertLos Angeles power brokers of pot crank up the kook. By legalizing recreational marijuana sales, Los Angeles will “set the tone for the rest of the country.” Got a criminal recordLos Angeles might help you get into the pot biz — or ban you. Why California cannabis rules promise a bumpy ride.

Marijuana prices are plunging in Colorado and that could be bad news. Colorado October HIDTA report an eye-opener.

Massachusetts proposal would allow the social consumption of cannabis. Delaware panel continues talks on legalized marijuana.

Is Illinois ready for legal recreational marijuana use? Their governor isn’t.

Sessions hints at crackdown on recreational pot.

Why it’s getting easier for marijuana companies to open bank accounts. Marijuana businesses, excluded from finance, face unusual risks. What 3 marijuana heavyweights are doing to become the P&G of pot. New study says marijuana legalization reduces alcohol use. Medical marijuana took a bite out of alcoholsales. Recreational pot could take an even bigger one. How tax reform could push more states to legalize marijuana.

The user guide to legal pot in all Canadian provinces, territories. Former head of Canada drug squad now leads national marijuana businessCanada could make billions from legal pot. Legalization of marijuana unlikely to kill Canada black market right away. This is the formula Canada is using to figure out  . . .

Continue reading.

Written by LeisureGuy

10 December 2017 at 1:32 pm

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