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    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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The Pot Issue

Amsterdam is Viper Central

Consider the advantages of going Dutch

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The Pot Issue

As a prominent European port city, Amsterdam has served as a center for lightweight vice — recreational drug use, prostitution, gambling, public sexual excess — for several centuries.

This sort of activity has been tolerated in Amsterdam since the city's beginnings, exemplified in modern times by fully legalized prostitution and the virtual legalization of small-scale marijuana sales and recreational drug use of all sorts.

But in no way is Amsterdam a wide-open city in any sense of the word. Vice is regarded as simply a part of normal life and, in the Dutch way, sensibly tolerated and regulated to fit proportionately into the everyday life of its 600,000 citizens. Cannabis use has stabilized at something like 20 percent of the populace and presents no sort of threat to the rather staid social order.

Nothing is more boring to Dutch citizens than the topic of marijuana use. There are those who oppose it on the usual religious or cultural grounds, but the sensationalism and public drama of American-style War on Drugs propaganda is nowhere in evidence; the forces of law and order are perfectly happy with the way things work in terms of recreational drug use.

It's important to remember that marijuana is not exactly legal in the Netherlands. Marijuana use and procurement exist in what the Dutch describe as a "gray area" where it's OK to buy some weed and smoke it in the hundreds of licensed "coffee shops" that abound in the Netherlands, with nearly 250 in operation in Amsterdam itself.

But it's illegal to cultivate, grow, harvest, import, transport or deliver cannabis to the outlets where it's sold across the counter to anyone over 18 who can meet the modest price of purchase. An individual may grow five plants for personal use, but larger grow operations intended to supply the coffee shop market with salable product are targeted for arrest and prosecution by the police and courts.

The marijuana smoker is allowed by national governmental policy to enjoy possession of five grams and the ability to purchase them over the counter in the coffee shops, which are themselves permitted to possess no more than 500 grams of marijuana and hashish on their premises at any one time.

Holland has legalized medical marijuana, available at pharmacies with a doctor's prescription, but word on the street is that the medicinal weed isn't as good as that available commercially and even costs somewhat more than the over-the-counter brands.

For centuries, weed itself was scarce in Holland, and hashish mixed with tobacco into joints ("jointjes") was the traditional smoke. But in modern times, the Dutch have learned from the holy farmers of Hawaii and the West Coast how to cultivate vast quantities of top-quality marijuana and make it available to the retail counters in the coffee shops.

Now there are almost countless strains of marijuana — cannabis indica, cannabis sativa and blends of the two basic types — offered to the consumer by means of explicit menus provided at the point of purchase. Standard brands like White Widow, Blueberry, Skunk and Power Plant are always in the house, along with more exotic strains like Super Silver Haze, Amnesia Haze, New York Diesel, various breeds of Kush and Cheese, and whatever hybrid delicacies the growers manage to dream up and cultivate from season to season.

Some coffee shops (such as the 420 Café, the author's favorite hang) offer limited menus with maybe six marijuana and six hashish selections. Others have strains specially grown for them, or specialize in voluminous listings of 20 or 30 types of smoke always kept on hand. Some weigh out your grams and bag them before your eyes, while others sell pre-prepared gram bags.

Unlike our own measures in terms of ounces, quarters, eighths and sixteenths, the Dutch use the metric system, and cannabis is sold strictly by the gram. For the causal smoker of limited financial power, this means that you can cop by the $8-$10 gram and rest assured that there'll be another gram of the same sort and quality available in the same location when you need it next — no pressure to round up $60 or $80 in order to enjoy your smoke.

The great thing is that there's no stigma attached to getting high or enjoying a smoke in a public setting, although the Dutch much prefer that such use is kept indoors and confined to like-minded sorts. Smoking cannabis is de riguer in the coffee shops, and there are many smoker-sympathetic bars that allow the simultaneous ingestion of cannabis and alcoholic spirits.

Until a few years ago, the coffee shops were allowed to serve both smoke and drink, but such mixing is no longer permitted, and the bars that allow smoking don't sell the stuff on the premises. And since the European Union enacted anti-tobacco legislation that forbids smoking cigarettes in coffee shops, restaurants and bars anywhere, only cannabis smoking is permitted in properly licensed establishments.

Coffee shop culture is a topic in and of itself, but a brief historical survey reveals that the coffee shops resulted from the growth of public smoking and cannabis provision that started in squatted entertainment venues like the Paradiso and the Melkweg around 1972.

At the same time, enterprising individuals of the burgeoning cannabis culture determined to make the stuff available in fixed locations, such as the houseboat that originally offered hash and weed for sale, and seminal coffee shops such as the Rusland and Mellow Yellow.

By this time, the effects of the Netherlands becoming a signatory to the Single Drug Convention propagated by the hated Richard M. Nixon administration should have squelched the incipient movement for legalization of cannabis in Holland, but a sort of miracle happened. The son of a prominent Dutch cabinet member convinced his mother that there was little personal or social harm that could reasonably be blamed on cannabis use, and the government should seek to reduce and limit the potential harm to the smoker from the legal system.

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