Tag Archives: reputation

Phelps got it wrong

He had a chance to change public perception.

I don’t actually blame him.  The anti-pot crowd is entrenched so deeply in their delusions about the evil marijuana plant that you’d have to essentially sacrifice your reputation, your future, everything, unless you kowtow to their judgment.

Instead of apologizing, as reported in the general media, like this article from CNN, he might have said, “I smoked pot.  It shouldn’t be illegal.  You people have it completely backwards; instead of the pot-smoking reflecting on my gold medals, the gold medals reflect on my pot-smoking.  You all say that pot smokers are shiftless losers, that it destroys your entire life, that it is the gateway to all that is damnable on this earth.  BUT I WON EIGHT GOLD MEDALS.  Idiots.”

Like I said, I can’t blame him.  He’s young, handsome, has his whole life to win more medals and get more sponsors and rake in the loot.  Why should he put himself on the chopping block just to try to end a moronic witch hunt.

It’s just disappointing, that’s all.  If he’d been drinking a beer, which according to statistics as well as common sense wreaks FAR more social havoc and destroys  many more lives than marijuana, no one would have blinked.

But partaking of the devil’s own herb?  Tsk tsk.  Bad times.

Don’t worry, buddy, they’ll forgive you.  You’re America’s darling, and hey, even Clinton admitted to smoking pot.  Just didn’t have a picture published of himself sucking the chamber dry, that’s all.  

And maybe in its own pathetic way, your little faux-pas might bring the US closer to a saner drug policy, eventually.  The advocates of legalization might be able to point back at you from the distant future, show the judge and jury how the medals around your neck were chiming merrily against the bong as you leaned over to take a big hit.

You could have been their hero, your framed portrait hung next to Marley in every dorm room, but this’ll have to do.

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Altered States

Sometimes I feel the need to make sense of our society’s drug policy.  For a brief moment in the ’60s (or so I’ve heard, having not made my entrance into this world until 1970) there was a subculture of people experimenting with altered states of consciousness, often induced chemically.  But besides that, we have all kinds of factions fighting against each other, none of them going anywhere except to hell in a handbasket: the “cool” drug counterculture, the illegal drug making/selling economy, the drug war economy, the poor souls fighting addiction, the puritan idealism that inevitably adopts a hypocritical position of condemning some chemicals utterly while accepting others without question, the pharmaceutical industry, the food industry, the tobacco industry, the alcohol industry, etc.

Okay, well, the legalized industries are doing fine.  But we often excuse their products as harmless, though in the last few decades we have been leaning the other way with alcohol and tobacco.

But we still allow people, including children, to walk around souped up on caffeine and sugar and few of us recognize these effects as altered states.  (I don’t know about you, but the most positive and productive I am all day is the hour or so when I’m flying on my morning caffeine fix.) We are only  just beginning to see them as powerful.  And our inevitable response seems to be to condemn them.

Are we capable of a more intelligent handling of the issue?

No matter where we stand on whatever drug issue, legal or otherwise, we all seem to be operating under the same common assumption: altered states are secretly fun, to some degree dangerous and always carry at least a small stigma of shamefulness.   Even with coffee, aren’t we addicts all at least a little sheepish when admitting our fixation?  Sobriety is held as the ultimate righteous state.

But might altered consciousness be something humans need?  Is it ever beneficial?  We might admire a Native American peyote ceremony for the soul searching and mystical insight it provides, but none of us is allowed to do it.  How would someone’s reputation change in your eyes if you found out they’d done acid?  

We allow, “I was just experimenting in college” and “I didn’t inhale.”  We’ve gotten to where we allow people to be reformed users, like George W., for example.

But for someone to be a respected member of mainstream society who proves their worth on a daily basis and is also a known pot smoker?  Nope.

We all have understandable fears based on anecdotal evidence of some type of chemical destroying someone we know and/or love.  We may even decide to buck the present trend and be against alcohol consumption.  But cars and motorcycles maim and kill lots of people, and isn’t that an altered state for a lot of people?  The power, speed, independence, road rage, status symbol possession… Most of the time we drive in a fairly sober, utilitarian manner, but who among us doesn’t ever floor it or take that corner just a little faster than necessary?  We definitely are not in our natural state, feet on the ground, head surrounded by sky.  Our heavy metal boxes put us in a certain frame of mind.

But we would never dream of outlawing them.

Our tv watching puts us in an altered state, a passive, drooling spectatorship.  How are the hours wasted and life energy atrophied away any different in front of the tube than passed out with painkillers?

Okay.  Granted they are different.  I’m just being dramatic in an attempt to make the point that we try to avoid sobriety in many different ways, some of them demonized as too dangerous and others labeled as simply “entertainment” or “transportation” or “java” some other moniker that makes them untouchable.

What would happen if we said, yes, we need to escape.  Yes, grownups are going to be allowed to choose their method of altering with no legislating and then they will be held responsible for any consequences of their choices.  The pluses and minuses of every method could be discussed freely.  We could openly admit that lots of things we do everyday, even something so innocuous as having a drama queen fit, are forays out of our “right minds.”  We could talk without shame about what we are looking for outside of our sobriety, about what we find there.

Or should we just continue to behave as though stone cold sobriety were the only way to be, ever.  That there is no time or place for getting out of your head or your day to day perspective, unless perhaps you choose Zen meditation, prayer, yogic breathing.  Newsflash — these things are seen as a little bit crazy, too.  Innocuously so, but nevertheless.

I hope this article did not induce any sort of altering in the reader’s awareness of reality as they’ve always assumed it to be — any effects of change in point of view, feelings of lightheadedness or hallucinations were purely unintentional.  Unless you go for that sort of thing.  In which case, you’re welcome. 

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RapLeaf based in California… of course

RapLeaf, the site dedicated to helping people to trust one another, is based in California.  Of course.

Being from the Golden State myself, it makes perfect sense to me that this is where they would come up with such an idea, to “help” people trust each other.  Here in North Carolina, where I am currently in residence, if you told someone that before they do business, they should get advice from an online reputation rating site, they would most likely chuckle and look puzzled.  What a crazy idea.  Citizens of this area, why, they’ve done business with the same people their whole lives.  If they needed a new service, they’d talk to their friends and get a recommendation.

It’s only in a place like California, in the Wild West, where the cowboys roam and the gold diggers are ready to stab you in the back, that they would suffer such a crisis of untrustworthiness.

And what is the solution?  Not get to know your neighbor better, not develop a face-to-face network of trustworthy humans, not conduct the bulk of your commerce with people in the real world, not guard against losing yourself in the online capitalist free-for-all.  No, just log on to a self-appointed reputation judging site and let them decide for you!  After all, the members of the team have stellar ratings themselves!  So of course they are trustworthy!.

I’m up to a rating of 12, not sure how.  That’s 12 out of a million, don’t forget.  So, honestly, trust me, you shouldn’t believe a thing I say. 

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Your Reputation on RapLeaf

Have you heard of “Rapleaf”? It is an online site dedicated to rating people’s reputations so that others will know if they should do business with them or not. If you have had any activity on the internet, like a Facebook or Myspace account, or perhaps you have bought something on Amazon, you will probably find your reputation rated on Rapleaf.

They claim that they exist to promote a society “where it is more profitable to be ethical.”  Presumably we have given up on the idea that we could just get to know people before we trust them. The naive, outdated plan of being recommended by a real person in realtime, or dealing with a network of friends, is just too impractical in this day and age. Luckily, we can just look people up on Rapleaf and we’ll know the good guys from the bad guys!

They have a listing of three of the sites I am on, Myspace, Facebook, and Amazon, but they do not have me as signed up with LinkedIn, Bebo, or, can you believe it, WordPress!!! All this writing and no credit for it! How sad.

So when I first realized they were rating me, I was ranked as a five. Goof around a little, add another email address, now I’m a 10 (as of three minutes ago.) But out of what? I mean, on the beach, a ten is the hottest of the hotties, a rating I could never hope to achieve. So, rock on.

Well, unable to find info to answer the question “10 out of what,” I decide to click on the names of the “Team” over on the right hand side of the screen. Find a guy who’s a 95. Hmmm. Keep clicking, end up on someone whose reputation rates a 4194. Okay, please. So I’m a 10 out of a million? That is so awesome.

What is your reputation in cyberspace? Who is going to search for you on Rapleaf and see that you are a 4 and think you suck? Just thought you’d like to keep tabs on who might be dragging your name through the mud here in cyberspace.

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