Smoke Two Joints in the Morning, Smoke Two More at Night, Legalizing Marijuana is the Number One Suggestion in President Obama’s Virtual Suggestion Box

Ending Marijuana Prohibition

The Register published a story yesterday regarding President-Elect Barak Obama’s experiment with a public suggestion box over at is a sort of government suggestion box where people can ask questions or offer suggestions to the newly elected President that supposedly he’s going to consider. Users on the site can vote suggestions up or down. And the top suggestion amongst the thousands offered to the new President. Yep, you got it, people wanna get high, legally.

From the Register:

“Obama’s site will close down its internet suggestion box today, after a week of taking suggestions and opinions on the new administration’s executive policy from the web public at large. In standard Web 2.0 fashion, users can vote up or down on existing entries — the theory being that the best schemes will rise to top.

Supposedly, the “top ideas” will be presented directly to the new Commander-in-chief in the form of a “Citizen’s Briefing Book” following his inauguration on January 20.

Barring any massive last-minute changes, the tip-top idea will be best summarized by the philosopher/poet Chris Tucker in his cinematic role as Smokey: “I’m gunna get you high today, ’cause it’s Friday; you ain’t got no job…and you ain’t got shit to do.”

There are lots of other interesting ideas that the general public has come up with including suggestions for bullet trains and light rail, ending Govt sponsored abstinence programs, creating a more green country, etc. But top of the list is legalizing pot.

Barack Obama of course is the first President who has admitted that he smoked pot in the past and actually inhaled frequently because “that was the point.”

With the budget woes that are currently facing the country, certainly legalizing marijuana could provide for a windfall of Government revenue. It was largely the need for tax revenues that got the government to end the prohibition against alcohol back after the Great Depression. In an interesting editorial in the San Francisco Chronicle last week the tax benefits of legalizing marijuana were raised once again with the argument being made that the State of California could possibly address our current budget woes by a tax on the popular drug:

“The marijuana crop is valued at $13.8 billion annually – nearly double the value of our vegetable and grape crops combined. Our state is the nation’s top marijuana producer. Indeed, the average annual value of our marijuana crop is more than the combined value of wheat and cotton produced in the entire United States.

According to government surveys, 14.5 million Americans use marijuana at least monthly but both the producers and consumers of this crop escape paying any taxes whatsoever on it. While precise figures are impossible given the illicit nature of the market, it is reasonable to suggest that California could easily collect at least $1.5 billion and maybe as much as $4 billion annually in additional tax revenue, if we took marijuana out of the criminal underground and taxed and regulated it, similar to how handle beer, wine and tobacco.”

It will be interesting what our new President has to say about legalizing marijuana if he has the political gumption to actually broach the subject. Certainly almost 100,000 people on the internet have. One person though who it looks like doesn’t support marijuana legalization is Obama’s pick for Surgeon General, Sanjay Gupta.

Netflix Watch Now Borked for the Second Saturday Night in a Row, Maybe Netflix is Not Ready for Prime Time

Netflix Watch Now Borked for the 2nd Saturday in a Row

Earlier this week I wrote a blog post about Netflix’s new Watch Now service being, well, out of service, last Saturday night. A couple of folks called me a cry baby for being a bit worked up over having my Friday Night Lights episode pulled out from underneath my eyes right at a very tense part of the show (ok, so how tense can Friday Night Lights get right?). In the post though I worried that Netflix’s Watch Now technical difficulties last weekend might be a harbinger of things to come.

Unfortunately it looks like this Saturday night Netflix’s Watch Now service is dead once again. Note to Netflix, if you want to screw around with your servers, do it on a Monday afternoon when nobody’s watching TV anyways. Saturday night is of course probably just about the worst time for Netflix’s service to go down.

The photograph above is what my screen looks like right now. On the plus side Netflix does seem to offer a toll-free number to contact them (866-579-7113). On the negative side that toll-free number has been busy for the past 20 minutes. Netflix’s customer service number on their website has also been busy for the past 20 minutes as well. Of course nowhere on Netflix’s site is any indication that they are having these technical difficulties but a quick Twitter search confirms that I’m not the only one who’s not going to be able to watch my Friday Night Light’s tonight.

As much as I love me my Netflix Watch Now, I’m beginning to worry a bit that their service may end up being a whole lot worst than your cable or satellite provider. At a bear minimum Netflix ought to post on their website that they are having problems with their service. Or if this is going to be an every Saturday night sort of problem, maybe they ought to think about hiring that Frank Cares Twitter guy from over at Comcast so he can get chummy with all the people complaining on Twitter about this outage right now.

Update: I was finally able to get through on the customer service number. I just spoke with Benjamin over at Netflix after being on hold for a bit and he told me that in fact the service is down for most of Netflix’s customers right now. He said that they are working on the problem but has no ETA. He said that he wasn’t able to offer a credit rebate for the down service because Watch Now is a bonus feature for Netflix subscribers.

Thomas Hawk’s Digital Connection Redesigned, Now on WordPress

Thomas Hawk's Digital Connection, Now on WordPress

Today marks the first day that Thomas Hawk’s Digital Connection is publishing on WordPress. After over four years publishing on Google’s Blogger platform I made the switch today over to WordPress. Aaron Brazell did the transfer for me for which I’m extremely grateful. Aaron is a pro and I’d highly recommend him should you have any web work that you might need done.

I’d also like to especially thank both Google and the Blogger team for providing me with the Blogger platform for so many years. The Blogger team was also very helpful with helping me to move my blog and as part of the process they fixed a Blogger limitation which limited transferring comments to 5,000 (turns out I’ve got 21,896 comments on my blog over the past four years).

The main reason that I moved over from Blogger to WordPress was due to comment spam. My blog has been very heavily hit by comment spam over the past year especially and without a tool like Akismet or an easy way to search and bulk delete spam comments Blogger wasn’t working for me in that regard. I am excited also though to begin working with all of the interesting tools and plug ins that seem to thrive in the WordPress Community.

I still need to do a few design tweaks to the layout of my new blog, do a little work with my archives and photos, get my blogroll back in place, etc. Aaron’s going to help me with some of this stuff in the next few days. As part of the change I decided to go with a white background instead of the dark blue background that I’d used for so many years. I originally picked the dark blue background because I thought photos looked better against a dark background, but over the years I had a lot of complaints from people who told me that it was harder for them to read my blog on a dark background. I wanted something that was super easy to read with the new blog and something that was very, very simple so I’m using the very basic plainscape theme. I also redesigned and added a new masthead to the blog.

Today I’ll probably spend a lot of time both exploring WordPress, as well as figuring out what cool new things, widgets, etc. that I can add to my blog. If anyone has any suggestions on features, widgets, etc. that you think I should be using feel free to let me know. Keep in mind though that I’m going for a very simple look and feel with the new blog design. I’ve got FriendFeed posts linked up to my blog posts already. I still need to add a FriendFeed badge as well which I’m hoping to be able to do later today.

Let me know what you think of the new design. Like it? Hate it? What improvements would you like to see on the blog or suggestions would you have for it?

Mostly Peaceful Protest in Oakland Turns Violent

Preparing the March

Earlier this evening I attended a peaceful protest over the death of Oscar Grant. The protest was large, with almost 1,500 participants and seemed very organized. Speakers advocated protesting against the killing of Oscar Grant but urged protesters to do this peacefully. The protest ran from 4pm to 7pm.

Oakland Mayor Ron Dellums spoke at the protest as did hip hop star Too Short. The protest, which started at Oakland City Hall, marched from City Hall down to the Alameda County Court House where protesters demanded the resignation of Oakland District Attorney Tom Orloff. Several more speeches were given down at the Courthouse, including one by Oscar Grant’s football coach.

After the speeches at the Courthouse, the protest again marched back to City Hall where the protest continued for about another hour.

Leading a Parade Down 14th Street for Oscar GrantJusticeShow of SupportToo Short in Oakland for Oscar Grant

After 7pm about 100 or so of the original protesters were still hanging around 14th and Broadway and there are reports of trash can fires and broken windows in that area. Bart was also briefly closed while the rioting was going on. According to KTVU, 18 people were arrested including 2 for possession of molatov cocktails. I suspect the violence may still be going on in downtown Oakland as I still hear helicopters hovering over head.

Most all of the retail stores down in the protest area had supportive Oscar Grant signs in their windows. Several were boarded up in anticipation of tonight’s violence.

Yesterday former BART Police Officer Johannes Mehserle was arrested for the New Year’s Day shooting of Oscar Grant.

If you’d like to see my set of images from tonight’s protest you can see them all here.

Want to Know Why People Don’t Respect Police? Read the Comments in This Cop Forum on the Oscar Grant Shooting

I have a number of friends who are cops, good friends and even family members. I respect the police mostly. I respect how hard their job is and that they sacrifice a great deal to serve and protect the public. But there are always bad apples out there and I was extremely disappointed to read comments in a police officer internet forum today on the Oscar Grant shooting.

Here are some choice posts:

“Any number of reasons that he may have shot… can see from the video that there is a struggle before the shot is fired (even before the officer pulls his weapon)…..the suspect may have reached underneath him, leading the shooter to believe that he was attempting to retrieve a weapon….. There isnt enough info to call it a bad shoot…….not by a long shot….. btw….saying ‘liberal media’ is redundant…….esp. in SF area…….” by Forum Member LA DEP who says he’s an officer for the Los Angeles Sheriff’s Department.

Forum member Brenden then adds:

“I don’t know why people worry themselves with such things. The people that get shot are the people who put lives at risk. That cop probably saved the taxpayers over 200K in Courtfee’s and other convictions anyways. Maybe he even saved someone from getting killed.”

jb5722, who describes himself as a sworn police officer from North Carolina writes: “I would say that I’m sure the officer had his reasons for firing his weapon,” after adding earlier that if a reporter’s mouth is open they are lying.

, who describes himself as 23 year veteran patrol sergeant from Texas, speculates that: “the guy may have repeatedly told the officers he was going to shoot them and then reached under his body. Or a million different things that would prove in the end that this was a righteous shoot.”

One member, scratched 13, who describes himself as a police officer from the South goes so far as to suggest that the video of the incident may have been faked.

People wonder why some people hate the police. They wonder why people don’t respect the police. They wonder why protesters around the Bay Area have been protesting with chants of “F*** the police,” for the past week. All I can say is that asinine cops making comments like the ones above in a public forum are as big a part of the problem as anything. How a cop behaves in online forums and the words they choose can be amplified and magnified.

As much as many of these comments made by cops are offensive, just the overall tone of a forum like this troubles me. Referring to shootings as “righteous,” claiming that taxpayers are saved court fees when someone is killed, even the signatures that many of these cops choose to use as their taglines (Fear not the night. Fear that which walks the night. And *I* am that which walks the night.) just goes to show me that much of the hatred towards the police is due at least in part to the attitudes that comes from the cops themselves.

You can read more comments in this thread but the overall tone is that the news media and reporters (especially in the Bay Area) suck and mostly people trying to somehow defend the actions of Johannes Mehserle, the cop who shot Oscar Grant (and the cop who was arrested for the murder of Oscar Grant yesterday).

Interesting to read what this shooting looks like from a police perspective.

By the way, this same police forum has been discussing my recent stop by the Long Beach Harbor Patrol while shooting last month here. It’s unfortunate for me to read comments like this one: “Point is, if they ask you to move, then move. Why do people have to be so annoying about minor stuff. I am sure there are tons of other things you can take pictures of. If they say it’s against the law, then say ok and move along.”

Update: It seems that has now deleted in it’s entirety the post about my recent run in with the Long Beach Harbor Patrol. Why does it not surprise me that a site like this one would so easily censor the threads in their forums?