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  • Detroit group Feral Ground is out to prove hip-hop is alive and well

    By LeeAnn Brown Some people say that hip-hop is dead. Local ban Fderal Ground is proving that is not the case. The seven-member band, consisting of three lead vocalists, a DJ, bass, drums and guitar, plays what they call “living hip-hop.” Their music, peppered with multiple styles, covers all aspects of life from growing up in the D to playing with fire despite knowing you will likely get burned. Their undeniable chemistry and raw lyrics compose a music that is living, breathing, and connecting to their listeners. It has been nearly 11 years since Vinny Mendez and Michael Powers conjured up the basement idea that has flowered into the Detroit funk-hop band Feral Ground. Throughout high school the two wrote and rapped consistently, playing shows here and there. In those years they matched their rap stanzas with the animated, dynamic voice of Ginger Nastase and saw an instant connection. The now trio backed their lyrics with DJ Aldo’s beats on and off for years, making him a permanent member within the last year, along with Andy DaFunk (bass), Joseph Waldecker (drums), and newest member, Craig Ericson (guitar). We sat down with Feral Ground and their manager, Miguel Mira, in their […]

    The post Detroit group Feral Ground is out to prove hip-hop is alive and well appeared first on Metro Times Blogs.

  • Yale professor talks Plato, James Madison and Detroit’s emergency manager law

    Much has been made about Detroit Emergency Manager Kevyn Orr’s decision this week to transfer authority of the city’s water department to Mayor Mike Duggan. In what is the most interesting read on the situation, Jason Stanley, professor of philosophy at Yale, pens an analysis on Michigan’s novel emergency manager law on the New York Times Opinionator blog. Stanley deconstructs Michigan’s grand experiment in governance by addressing two questions: Has the EM law resulted in policy that maximally serves the public good? And, is the law consistent with basic principles of democracy? Stanley ties in examples of Plato, James Madison’s Federalist Papers, and Nazi political theorist Carl Schmitt. A short excerpt: Plato was a harsh critic of democracy, a position that derived from the fact that his chief value for a society was social efficiency. In Plato’s view, most people are not capable of employing their autonomy to make the right choices, that is, choices that maximize overall efficiency. Michigan is following Plato’s recommendation to handle the problems raised by elections. Though there are many different senses of “liberty” and “autonomy,” none mean the same thing as “efficiency.” Singapore is a state that values efficiency above all. But by no stretch of […]

    The post Yale professor talks Plato, James Madison and Detroit’s emergency manager law appeared first on Metro Times Blogs.

  • Where to meet a baby dinosaur this week

    Walking with Dinosaurs, a magnificent stage show that features life-sized animatronic creatures from the Triassic, Jurassic, and Cretaceous periods, will be in town next week. But to preview the show’s run at the Palace, a baby T-Rex will be making an appearance at four area malls to the delight and wonderment of shoppers. Baby T-Rex, as the creature is being affectionately referred to, is seven-feet-tall and 14-feet-long. He’ll only be at each mall for about 15 minutes, so while there will be photo opportunities, they’ll be short. The dino will be at Fairlane Town Center Center Court at 18900 Michigan Ave. in Detroit from 2-2:15 p.m. today, July 30; The Mall at Partridge Creek at 17420 Hall Rd. in Clinton Township from 5-5:15 p.m. today, July 30; Twelve Oaks Mall at the Lord & Taylor Court at 27500 Novi Rd., Novi tomorrow, Thursday July 31 from 1:30-1:45 p.m.; and Great Lakes Crossing Food Court at 4000 Baldwin Rd., Auburn Hills from 5-5:15 p.m., tomorrow Thursday, July 31.  

    The post Where to meet a baby dinosaur this week appeared first on Metro Times Blogs.

  • Detroit website offers stats, updates on city operations

    Interested in reading about what Detroit accomplishes on a week-to-week basis that’s produced by the city itself? Great. You can do that now, here, at the Detroit Dashboard. Every Thursday morning, the city will publish an update to the dashboard because Mayor Mike Duggan loves metrics, even if the data might be hard to come by. According to Duggan’s office, the dashboard will provide data on how many LED street lights were installed, how many vacant lots were mowed, how much blight was removed, and more. This week, the city says it has sold 13 site lots through, removed 570 tons of illegal dumping, and filed 57 lawsuits against abandoned property owners.  

    The post Detroit website offers stats, updates on city operations appeared first on Metro Times Blogs.

  • Long John Silver’s makes nod to Nancy Whiskey in YouTube commercial

    We don’t know about you, but usually Nancy Whiskey and Long John Silver’s aren’t two concepts we’d place in the same sentence. However, the international fast food fish fry conglomerate made a nod to the Detroit dive in their latest YouTube commercial. LJS is offering free fish fries on Saturday, August 2, which is the promotion the commercial is attempting to deliver. But, we think we’ll just go to Nancy Whiskey instead.

    The post Long John Silver’s makes nod to Nancy Whiskey in YouTube commercial appeared first on Metro Times Blogs.

  • Michigan’s women-only music fest still shuns trans women

    We came across an interesting item this week: Apparently, a music festival with the name “Michfest” is quietly oriented as a “Women-Only Festival Exclusively for ‘Women Born Women.’” It seems a strange decision to us. If you wanted to have a women-only music festival, why not simply proclaim loud and clear that it is for all sorts of women? But if you really wanted to become a lightning rod for criticisms about transphobia, organizers have found the perfect way to present their festival. Now, we know that defenders of non-cisgender folks have it tough. The strides made by gays and lesbians (and bisexuals) in the last 20 years have been decisive and dramatic. But the people who put the ‘T’ in LGBT have reason to be especially defensive, facing a hostile culture and even some disdain from people who should be their natural allies. That said, sometimes that defensiveness can cause some activists to go overboard; when we interviewed Dan Savage a couple years ago, he recalled his “glitter bombing” and said it was due to the “the narcissism of small differences,” adding that “if you’re playing the game of who is the most victimized, attacking your real enemies doesn’t prove you’re most victimized, claiming you […]

    The post Michigan’s women-only music fest still shuns trans women appeared first on Metro Times Blogs.



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Higher Ground

When science goes to pot

Poring over the tens of thousands of scientific papers on pot

Welcome to the world of science. I didn't do well in high school science and have pretty much avoided addressing scientific subjects formally until now. That's because I've been delving into the science of marijuana to try to figure out some of the hows and whys of medical marijuana's workings. There are some 20,000 published scientific papers analyzing marijuana and its parts. So don't let anybody tell you there is too little known about marijuana to make a call regarding its usefulness.

Most of those papers are beyond my understanding, and making sense of those I could understand came with the help of a medical dictionary. But at least I'm trying. Most public policy and attitudes about the plant have been formed without the help of science. In fact, when President Richard Nixon ramped up the drug war in the early 1970s, it was in direct contradiction of the information and recommendations of his own marijuana task force.

There are probably lots of things we believe wthout a scientific basis, but maybe we're at a point where more clearheaded inquiry is possible. So here we go. First of all, delta-9-tetrahydrocannibinol, or THC as we commonly call it, is not the only active substance in marijuana. We know about it mostly because it's what gets you high. However it is not the only component that has medicinal value.

In my last column on medical marijuana, I posed questions about what in marijuana gives you the munchies, what relieves spasm and what causes memory loss — not to mention numerous other effects such as pain reduction and nausea relief. I can't give you definitive answers to all of that, but here is an explanation of how our bodies interact with marijuana.

The first thing we need to get a grip on is the cannabinoid system in the human body. OK, that word sounds like cannabis (the scientific name for marijuana), but that is only because the system was discovered during the 1990s during research on how marijuana affects the brain. Apparently, most multicellular organisms have a cannabinoid system and cannabinoid receptors that process the endocannabinoids (naturally occurring cannabinoids) that they produce. The system plays a role in regulating things like body temperature, blood pressure, hunger, etc.

Or as is formally stated by Neil Goodman, Ph.D., in "An Overview of the Endogenous Cannabinoid System," research suggests "that the endocannabinoids and their receptors constitute a widespread modulatory system that fine-tunes bodily responses to a number of stimuli."

"It's a regulatory system for things like appetite, circulation, pain response and immune response," says Paul Armentano, deputy director of the National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws and expert witness on marijuana science. "Cannabinoids seem to regulate or maintain all of these different functions. ... When mice are bred not to have these receptors, a couple of very shocking studies show they die almost immediately. They suffer from failure to thrive and have no appetite at birth. If you force them to stay alive, they die of old age long before they become old. If this system doesn't work right, people don't survive."

A functioning cannabinoid system is essential for good health. Cannabinoids are found around injuries stabilizing nerve cells and promoting anti-inflammatory responses. There are cannabinoids in mothers' milk that give babies the munchies so that they learn how to eat.

Well, now, what are the cannabinoids and how do they affect specific maladies? The best-known is the aforementioned delta-9-tetrahydrocannibinol, aka THC. It is the main psychoactive ingredient in marijuana and produces the euphoria recreational users seek. It's also what gives you munchies. THC is very similar to the endocannabinoid (naturally occurring) that the body produces to tell you it's time to eat. Therefore when marijuana is eaten, THC binds to the cannabinoid receptors and, in addition to the euphoria, you feel like eating. There are further indications that it specifically stimulates taste buds related to sweets in the mouth.

Of up to 100 cannabinoids, a handful are known to show promise as therapeutic agents. The second most widely known cannabinoids is cannabidiol, or CBD, the most exciting cannabinoid for medical science. There are indications it's helpful for inflammation, nerve pain in disorders such as multiple sclerosis and Crohn's disease; it's an antispasmodic, anticancer, antidiabetic and neuroprotective substance.

"What makes marijuana so interesting is that we can explain why we get the results that we get," says Armentano. "We have this strain that is high in CBD. We know this person has Crohn's disease. We know that CBD interacts with receptors in the gastrointestinal tract and it reduces inflammation."

Most other known cannabinoids have a variety of healing properties that support those of THC and CBD. In fact, natural marijuana as a whole seems to work better than any of its isolated components. Cannabinoids as a group have a synergistic effect that produces better outcomes and fewer side effects. And those effects are both palliative (relieving symptoms) and curative (modifying the disease itself).

For instance, laboratory testing has indicated CBD slows down the proliferation of certain cancers, lowers the incidence of diabetes, and slows the development of multiple sclerosis. Also, some traditional drugs seem to work better when used in tandem with marijuana's cannabinoids and, over time, some patients have less need to take their traditional drugs.

Pharmaceutical companies have taken note of this and, mostly outside the United States, many drugs using marijuana are in the pipeline. In the United States, it is almost impossible for a pharmaceutical company to even experiment with drugs using any naturally occurring part of marijuana because it's listed as a Schedule 1 drug. There are synthetic cannabinoids such as dronabinol (marinol) and WIN 55,212-2 available in the United States. However, a British company, GW Pharmaceuticals, has developed an oral spray, Sativex, which employs natural parts of marijuana and treats MS. It is available in several other countries, including Canada.

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