Never pass up a chance to sit down or relieve yourself. -old Apache saying

Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Marin Headlands

My nephew in Northern California likes to ride down - bail down - descend, at high speed, mountain roads.  On a bicycle.  And record it with his helmet cam.  And lay some music on it.

Ride on!  Watch out!   

While the rush downhill would be dangerous enough, it's the push UP to the top of the hill that would probably kill me.

When we were last in Maui we almost took part in a much slower bike descent from high up on Haleakala, but you don't have to pedal to the top; they drive you up to the top of the volcano.   Sounded really cool, until I realized that you'd have to get up at 5am to start up the volcano.  5am?!  We're on vacation!  Maybe next time.

Do dolphins know they exist?

Monday, May 28, 2012

Paul Krugman

Since the New York Times (NYT) has placed a limit on the number of free website visits per month (10), I have reduced my viewing down to Paul Krugman's political columns and David Pogue's technology columns.  Who's got time for much else anyway?  Well, maybe Maureen Dowd's column or Gail Collins or maybe even David Brooks.  

I, like probably the vast majority of Americans, choose not to pay for the NYT at this time.  Maybe in the future....

Here's a succinct little snip from Paul's May 17 column:

Apocalypse Very Soon
snip: The story so far: When the euro came into existence, there was a great wave of optimism in Europe — and that, it turned out, was the worst thing that could have happened. Money poured into Spain and other nations, which were now seen as safe investments; this flood of capital fueled huge housing bubbles and huge trade deficits. Then, with the financial crisis of 2008, the flood dried up, causing severe slumps in the very nations that had boomed before.
At that point, Europe’s lack of political union became a severe liability. Florida and Spain both had housing bubbles, but when Florida’s bubble burst, retirees could still count on getting their Social Security and Medicare checks from Washington. Spain receives no comparable support. So the burst bubble turned into a fiscal crisis, too.
Europe’s answer has been austerity: savage spending cuts in an attempt to reassure bond markets. Yet as any sensible economist could have told you (and we did, we did), these cuts deepened the depression in Europe’s troubled economies, which both further undermined investor confidence and led to growing political instability.

Sunday, May 27, 2012

Who's dumb?

So, the banking regulators don't look so dumb anymore.  Jamie Dimon is the one looking dumb.  And so what do we expect to happen if there is little or no penalty exacted upon the wild speculators who got us into the Great Recession in the first place?  Damn near collapse of the banking system worldwide.

An interesting connection....back in the mythical magical '50's - that time that the Republicans and all nostalgics seem to pine for - Americans were gainfully employed making decent, middle-class wages, women could stay home and take care of the kids, and things were booming.  Oh, and the highest tax rate was 91%!  

Nowadays, the top tax rate is much much lower, millions of Americans have been thrown out of work in favor of dirt-cheap labor overseas, both husband and wife have to work just to try to make ends meet, and corporations are revealing mega-profits.  


...then, higher middle-class wages, good jobs, high tax rates, reasonable corporate profits and stability...., low middle-class wages, maybe a job, low tax rates, low corporate tax rates, huge gaps between "rich" and "poor" and seemingly endless turmoil and instability.  

The current economic system does not appear to be very healthy.

Sidetracked again ...  this anonymously authored column was recently published on the HITC (Here Is The City) website.  (London city, that is)

Regulators Don't Look Much Like Idiots Now

'Given the JP Morgan news, the recent derivatives Trader: 'The Trouble Is, Regulators Are Idiots article appears to be the victim of unfortunate timing.
Having been a derivatives trader for over 10 years, I can, however, sympathize with many of the comments in the article. The point about derivatives is that they are synthetic and are extremely vulnerable to liquidity problems when things get tight. The more structured the derivative product is, the more vulnerable it is. Also the more structured it is, the harder it is to analyse, measure and control risk-wise. Besides, a lot of senior managers have little clue as what derivatives are and the language associated them, much less manage them.
The fundamental problem is that in the 1990s the derivatives market moved away from real markets of bonds, currencies, equities and commodities into the artificial world of mathematics and black boxes. What does a 22-year old coming out of University with a first class math or physics degree know about the dynamics of the market and market behavior ? Nothing, that's what.
Let's face the facts - over that last ten years things spiraled out of control. The black boxes got us all into a mess - but, trouble is, there are no black boxes to get us out of it!.
Yet banks still entrust billion dollar portfolios to young traders, and rewarded them excessively. Madness! Much the same criticism can be directed at the regulators. They tended to be a group of box-ticking bureaucratic accountants, who are more concerned about completing returns on time than understanding and determining risk.
Overall derivatives do actually have tremendous power and can be a force for good. The problem is that in the hands of technocrats, derivatives have drifted too far from their roots and have become ends in themselves. They have become toys for the 'rocket scientists', and the synthetic products they construct are built on shaky foundations.
And this is where we started - JP Morgan loses $2bn on a failed synthetic credit product and a flawed risk management system! It may not be too late to bring back Glass Stiegel. It maybe just the right time to break up the banks into more sensible sizes, and have reasonable capital adequacy requirements (whatever they maybe!).
'Big' in banking is turning out to be a very bad and a very dangerous thing'.

Friday, May 25, 2012

A patent on pot?

Why would the U.S. government, in the shape of the Health and Human Services Department, take out a patent on cannabinoids?  Hasn't the government consistently said that there is no known medical use for marijuana?  They have, and it's total bullshit.

U.S. Patent No. 6,630,507 B1.
Date of Patent: October 7, 2003.

Back in 1998, a group of scientists working for the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services applied for a patent on "Cannabinoids as Antioxidants and Neuroprotectants."  Cannabinoids are found in cannabis, aka marijuana, aka hemp.  The U.S. scientists found that "cannabinoids have been found to have antioxidant properties....this newfound property makes cannabinoids useful in the treatment and prophylaxis of a wide variety of oxidation associated diseases, such as ischemic, age-related, inflammatory and autoimmune diseases."

What's that?  Weed has antioxidant properties that could boost the immune system?  Wait, I thought it had no medicinal properties?!

The patent was issued in 2003.  Continuing from the text of the patent, "The cannabinoids are found to have particular application as neuroprotectants, for example in limiting neurological damage following ischemic insults, such as stroke and trauma, or in the treatment of neurodegenerative diseases, such as Alzheimer's disease, Parkinson's disease, and HIV dementia."

Come again?  It helps in the treatment of Alzheimer's and Parkinson's??!!

With the mounting evidence that hemp oil will help treat or outright cure some tumors and cancers, and the existing uses for glaucoma and nausea, adding the antioxidant properties and neuroprotectant qualities, and this herb appears to be one of the most useful natural substances ever discovered.  

The fact that weed is still illegal, and the mere growing of industrial hemp is still illegal is a travesty of the highest proportions.  If I didn't know better, I'd say there was a conspiracy to keep this herb down and out of the public eye.  

I don't know better.

A link to the patent is here.  It's time we stopped the prohibition.


Mitt's Mendacity

Recently I made a post about the multitude of lies coming out of Republican candidates for various office in the Texas primary of May 29.  But those lies pale in comparison to what regularly comes out of Mitt Romney's mouth.

The tragic thing is that, by and large, the "liberal" news media lets Romney get away with lying, over and over and over.  Thank goodness there are some in the media who try to keep track of all the lies.  It's hard, because there are so many.  So many in fact that the info below is VOLUME 19.

Who can trust a candidate who is chronically mendacious?  I've watched a lot of politics in my short time on planet Earth, but I have never seen anyone lie so often and brazenly as Mitt Romney.  Republicans must be sooooo proud. 

(There is a link after every Romney lie that refutes it.  If they are not working, they will be soon.  Come back tomorrow).

Chronicling Mitt's Mendacity, Vol. XIX
by Steve Benen

Campaigning in Iowa yesterday, President Obama reflected on some of Mitt Romney's recent speeches, including last week's remarks in Iowa. "I know Governor Romney came to Des Moines last week; warned about a 'prairie fire of debt,'" Obama said. "But he left out some facts. His speech was more like a cow pie of distortion. I don't know whose record he twisted the most -- mine or his."

It was a rhetorical point, of course, but when it comes to Romney's falsehoods, I'm not sure whose record he twists more, either. Maybe you can help me decide by taking a look at the 19th installment of my weekly series, chronicling Mitt's mendacity.

1. In an interview with Mark Halperin, Romney argued about President Obama, "Did he hold unemployment below 8%? It's been, what, 39 months now. That hasn't happened. He promised it would happen by virtue of his stimulus."

As Romney surely knows by now, that's simply not true.

2. In the same interview, Romney asked, "Are people happy with ... the level of foreclosures?"

Romney was trying to attack the administration, but he's on record supporting more foreclosures, making this, at a minimum, wildly misleading.

3. Romney added, in reference to the president, " Look at him right now. He just doesn't have a clue what to do to get this economy going. I do."

Actually, Obama's jobs agenda, unveiled in September, included specific policy proposals that Romney had previously endorsed. If the president "doesn't have a clue," then Romney doesn't have a clue.

4. Romney went on to say, "I actually lay out a plan to get us to a balanced budget within eight years."

That's plainly false. Romney says his plan "can't be scored," but independent budget analysts have found his agenda would make the deficit bigger, not smaller, and add trillions to the national debt.

5. Romney also argued, in the context of talking about budget savings, "I'm going to take action immediately by eliminating programs like Obamacare, which become more and more expensive down the road -- by eliminating them, we get to a balanced budget."

He's lying. In fact, this is the polar opposite of the truth -- Obamacare's savings become greater in future years, and killing the law makes it harder to balance the budget.

6. Romney said, in addressing likely budget cuts, " I'd like my grandkids to be able to watch PBS. But I'm not willing to borrow money from China."

The implication here is that U.S. debt is financed by the Chinese. This isn't true -- China only holds about 8% of the nation's debt.

7. On taxes, Romney argued, "I'm not looking to lower the tax burden paid by the highest-income Americans. That's a fundamental principle."

That's a fundamental falsehood. Romney's plan slashes taxes on the wealthy.

8. On a related note, he added, "I'm looking, if there's any break at all, the break will go to middle-income Americans that have been most hurt by the Obama economy."

In reality, it's the rich, not the middle class, that primarily benefits from Romney's tax plan.

9. In a speech in Washington, Romney insisted, "President Obama has decided to attack success."

The Romney campaign has never been able to point to a single credible example of Obama attacking success.

10. In the same speech, Romney added, "When the President took office ... he faced a spending crisis. It's only gotten worse."

There is no universe in which this is even close to being true.

11. In making the case against Obama's student-loan reforms, the Romney campaign said it intends to "reverse President Obama's nationalization of the student loan market."

This is demonstrably false -- the market wasn't nationalized. Since all kinds of private-sector banks still make all kinds of student loans, the argument doesn't even make sense.

12. Romney told Fox News that "it certainly sounds like" the president is, as Rush Limbaugh put it, "running against capitalism." Romney added, "There's no question but that he's attacking capitalism."

No sensible person could possibly believe this is true, and neither Romney nor his aides have ever provided an example of the president attacking capitalism. Obama routinely does the opposite.

13. Romney argued in an op-ed that Obama "signed into law a budget scheme that threatens to saddle the U.S. military with nearly $1 trillion in cuts over the next 10 years," which the president's own Defense Secretary criticized.

That's not even close to being accurate.

14. Referencing Noam Scheiber's book, The Escape Artists, Romney argued, "In this book, [White House officials] point out that they said the American people will forget how long the recovery took. So that means they went into this knowing that when they passed Obamacare, it was going to make life harder for the American people."

That's not really what the book says, and it's not what the president's team argued.

15. Romney boasted this week, in a rare reference to his one term as governor, "[W]e didn't just slow the rate of growth of our government, we actually cut it."

No, you didn't.

16. The Romney campaign also argued this week that Romney created "well in excess of 100,000" jobs as an executive at Bain Capital.

You've got to be kidding me.

Previous editions of Chronicling Mitt's Mendacity: Vol. I, II, III, IV, V, VI, VII, VIII, IX, X, XI, XII,XIII, XIV, XV, XVI, XVII, XVIII


Empty Bowls

My wife has recently been making pottery at the Foelber Pottery Gallery & Studio here in the Montrose in Houston.  She's made some really nice beautiful things.  You have to admit there is an extra level of satisfaction when you make things yourself (and they work!).   She will be donating a work or two of hers for the 8th Annual Empty Bowls event which benefits the Houston Food Bank.  If you're in Houston and have the opportunity, please come by.

Whole Foods Market presents eighth annual Empty Bowls Houston

Whole Foods Market will hold the eighth annual Empty Bowls Houston from 11 a.m.-3 p.m. on Saturday, May 26, at the Houston Center for Contemporary Craft, 4848 Main Street, Houston.

Soup will be served from 11 a.m. until it runs out.

Empty Bowls is an international effort to fight hunger and benefits the Houston Food Bank. Houston area ceramists, wood turners and artists working in all media are working together to organize and hold the event.

Attendees donate $25 and receive a soup and bread lunch provided by Whole Foods Market, as well as a bowl from more than 1,000 one-of-a-kind, hand-crafted bowls donated by Houston area ceramists and craft artists.

There will be live music and artist demonstrations throughout the day.

For more information, go to

Thursday, May 24, 2012


I just discovered Schiller, a German electronic ambient pop dance band.  It was one of those "eureka" moments.  They make some fine melodies.  "Dream of You" is one, and it's mixed with simple and beautiful pictures in this video.

Earth Song

Just out of the blue today, I remembered this song written by Michael Jackson.  It can still make me cry.

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Spending Spree

Here in Texas, our primary is coming up May 29.  In the last couple of weeks, and I'm sure right up to the election, Republicans have been and will be bombarding the airwaves with political ads.  Interestingly, I have not see ONE SINGLE ad for ANY Democrat. 

Texas continues its slide towards Mississippi by electing predominantly Republicans.  Texas has fallen into the bottom of U.S. states in most metrics.  Perhaps the one bright spot in Texas has been the employment picture. 

For various reasons, few of which have to do with Republicans, I'm sure, the major cities in Texas did not suffer a real estate bubble and collapse that hit many other areas of the country.  Our unemployment rates also did not rise as high as the rest of the country.  Could it have something to do with the fact that the major cities in Texas tend to keep voting for Democratic mayors?  Could be.

Getting of the major themes in the avalanche of political ads here in Texas is bashing Obama.  A couple of candidates claim to be the "best antidote" to Obamacare, as if providing health insurance is a bad thing.  Laughably, one Supreme Court justice brags proudly that he fought to keep "under God" in the Pledge of Allegiance.  Really important stuff.  All of them claim to be "REAL" conservatives, whatever that means.  One thing it means is that they will never get my vote.

Sidetracked again.....another major theme running through these Republican ads is how Obama is spending the nation into oblivion.  Spending out of control!  An avalanche of spending!  Well, well, my suspicion is confirmed.  Obama isn't spending anywhere near what recent Republicans did.  See the chart and story below. 

How is it that Republicans still have this aura of fiscal restraint when it turns out they spend like drunken sailors, and it's the Democrats (Clinton and Obama) that get things under control?  How?  Lies, lies, lies.

David Dewhurst is about the worst now.  His ads are just one lie after another.  One that sticks in my mind, and probably the mind of the mindless Republicans in Texas is that "Dewhurst will cut spending, cut taxes, and balance the budget."  Mindless pandering lies.  But Texans seem to eat it up.  Texans don't want truth.  Texans want someone who tells good lies.

Anyway, check out the spending chart.  (Click it if you have trouble reading it)

An Obama Spending Spree?  Hardly.

A dominant theme of the national political discourse has been the crushing spending spree the U.S. has ostensibly embarked on during the Obama presidency. That argument, ignited by Republicans and picked up by many elite opinion makers, has infused the national dialogue and shaped the public debate in nearly every major budget battle of the last thee years.

But the numbers tell a different story.

The fact that the national debt has risen from $10.6 trillion to $15.6 trillion under Obama’s watch makes for easy partisan attacks. But the vast bulk of the increase was caused by a combination of revenue losses due to the 2008-09 economic downturn as well as Bush-era tax cuts and automatic increases in safety-net spending that were already written into law.

Obama’s policies, including the much-criticized stimulus package, have caused the slowest increase in federal spending of any president in almost 60 nears, according to data compiled by the financial news service MarketWatch (not dominated by liberals).

The chart shows that Presidents Reagan, both Bushes, and to a lesser extent Clinton, grew federal spending at a far quicker pace than Obama. Part of the reason for the slow growth is that Obama — unlike his Republican and Democratic predecessors — signed a law in February 2010 necessitating that new spending laws are paid for. In addition, Obama last year signed into law over $2 trillion in debt-reduction over the next decade.

Republicans argue that safety-net spending has crossed a critical threshold in recent years and Obama has been unwilling to address it. The two sides have jousted over who is to blame but the President has put hundreds of billions in cuts to Medicare, Medicaid and Social Security on the table in deals that have been derailed, thanks in no small part to the GOP’s resistance to raising new tax revenues to help bridge the budget shortfall.

Last week, Obama’s likely Republican opponent Mitt Romney accused Obama of lighting a “prairie fire” of spending and said he “added almost as much debt as all the prior presidents combined.”

Link is here.  I guarantee you won't hear about this if all you watch is FOX.  Of course, if all you watch is FOX, you won't be reading this here.

Sunday, May 20, 2012

Saturday, May 19, 2012

The power of hemp

Powerful interests are arrayed against the legalization and cultivation of industrial hemp.  But, this is America, right?

A short film about the miracle plant called hemp. Get to know potentially the greatest land plant that could tremendously benefit humanity and the planet and find out why the federal government doesn't want you to grow it in the US.

Romney Economics

There are four slick, well-made videos at this link that highlight Mitt Romney's vulture-like capitalism.  

Romney would be a disaster for America.  Or, I should say, Romney would be awesome for the top 1% and a disaster for everybody else.  But so many people are just blinded by party loyalty and are brainwashed by the drumbeat of trash media (FOX, Rush, etc) that they don't think clearly.  That, plus lingering racism sparks a lot of the Obama-bashing.

Romney is a perfect representative of the top 1%.  

Here's one of the four videos.....the website is also good.


Go here.

Friday, May 18, 2012

Legalize it

Sane, reasonable people know it's the right thing to do.  This cop makes some persuasive arguments in favor of legalization.  It would be nice to have a real conversation about it without the hysteria.

Cop Says Legalize Marijuana in 2012 to Protect Kids

Thursday, May 17, 2012

Simpson charges dropped

The persecution.  The needless, wasteful persecution....all because of a natural herb.


AMHERST – A series of drug charges against an Athol man who says he’s exiled in Europe have been withdrawn.
Rickey Logan Simpson, 62, was charged with the production of cannabis marijuana, possession of cannabis marijuana for the purpose of trafficking and possession of cannabis marijuana and possession of cannabis resin following a raid of his Athol Road home in November 2009.

rick simpson freedom fighter cannabis oil cancerSimpson was in Amsterdam, Holland accepting the Freedom Fighter of the Year Award at the annual Cannabis Cup when the raid occurred and it’s believe he has been in Europe since then.

Crown attorney Doug Shatford said the court approved a forfeiture application against Simpson under the Controlled Drugs and Substances Act last week. Once that occurred, he brought forward a motion to withdraw the charges against Simpson, who declared himself an exile in Europe after the 2009 raid.

“The application was made to forfeit the items that were seized in the raid and upon completion of that the decision was made to withdraw the charges,” Shatford said Friday.

Under the order, Simpson forfeits cannabis marijuana and resin seized in the raid along with growing equipment, marijuana plants and seeds, syringes, three crossbows and arrows, two pellet guns - including one with scope and suspected silencer, grow up materials, video equipment, books, documents and building materials.

Shatford said one the issues facing the court was Simpson’s whereabouts.

“We’re really not sure where he is. We believe he is somewhere in Europe. He had been in Holland, but we’re not sure if he’s still there or somewhere else in Europe,” Shatford said.

Withdrawing the charges would appear to clear the way for Simpson to return to Canada. Shatford is not aware of any other outstanding charges against him.

In December 2009, Simpson said via email he could not return to Canada because he would be put in jail “without jail or medicine.”

He said he’s not afraid of jail, but could not go without his medicine. To him, returning to Canada “would be like committing suicide.”

Simpson said he grew the marijuana plants, extracted the oil, and provided it free of charge. He said he has never hidden his activities from police. After he was convicted in 2007, he told the judge he would not stop.


Solar Eclipse 5/20

In the good ol' days, during a solar or lunar eclipse, the head dudes probably thought the earth was coming to an end or the eclipse was a powerful signal from the gods (of what?) and probably freaked out. 

Hey!  Let's sacrifice somebody!  Apparently, contrary to recent myths about female virgins being sacrified to appease the gods, it was males that were sacrificed.  So, they weren't completely stupid.  Not completely.

Solar Eclipse this Weekend

May 15, 2012: Something strange is about to happen to the shadows beneath your feet.

On Sunday, May 20th, the Moon will pass in front of the sun, transforming sunbeams across the Pacific side of Earth into fat crescents and thin rings of light.1

It's an annular solar eclipse, in which the Moon will cover as much as 94% of the sun. Hundreds of millions of people will be able to witness the event. The eclipse zone stretches from southeast Asia across the Pacific Ocean to western parts of North America: animated eclipse map.

Crescent sunbeams dapple the ground beneath a palm tree during an annular eclipse in January 2010. The picture was taken by Stephan Heinsius on the Indian Ocean atoll island of Ellaidhoo, Maldives. [more] [video]
In the United States, the eclipse begins around 5:30 pm PDT. For the next two hours, a Moon-shaped portion of the sun will go into hiding. Greatest coverage occurs around 6:30 pm PDT.

Because some of the sun is always exposed during the eclipse, ambient daylight won't seem much different than usual. Instead, the event will reveal itself in the shadows. Look on the ground beneath leafy trees for crescent-shaped sunbeams and rings of light.

A "ring of fire" over China in 2010.

Near the center-line of the eclipse, observers will experience something special: the "ring of fire." As the Moon crosses the sun dead-center, a circular strip or annulus of sunlight will completely surround the dark lunar disk. Visually, the sun has a big black hole in the middle.

The "path of annularity" where this occurs is only about 200 miles wide, but it stretches almost halfway around the world passing many population centers en route: Tokyo, Japan; Medford, Oregon; Chico, California; Reno, Nevada; Albuquerque, New Mexico, and Lubbock, Texas. In those locations the ring of fire phenomenon will be visible for as much as 4 and a half minutes.

"The ring of sunlight during annularity is blindingly bright," cautions NASA's leading eclipse expert Fred Espenak of the Goddard Space Flight Center. "Even though most of the Sun's disk will be covered, you still need to use a solar filter or some type of projection technique. A #14 welder's glass is a good choice. There are also many commercially-available solar filters."

The path of annularity cuts across the continental United States near sunset on May 20, 2012. An interactive map is also available: click here. See also the ScienceCast video.

Many astronomy clubs will have solar-filtered telescopes set up for public viewing. Through the eyepiece of such an instrument, you can see the mountainous lunar limb gliding by dark sunspots and fiery prominences. It's a beautiful sight. Be absolutely sure, however, that any telescope you look through is properly filtered. Magnified sunlight can cause serious eye damage even during an eclipse.

A safe and fun way to observe the eclipse is to use your own body as a solar projector. For example, try criss-crossing your fingers waffle-style. Rays of light beaming through the gaps will have the same shape as the eclipsed sun.

Or just stand under that tree. The sight of a thousand ring-shaped sunbeams swaying back and forth on a grassy lawn or sidewalk is unforgettable.

For more information about the solar eclipse, please view the ScienceCast video Solar Eclipse over the USA

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Rick Simpson

We have here perhaps the most useful and medicinal herb on the planet, but we can't use it because it's still illegal.  This is one of those injustices and ironies of life that make the world a crazy fucking place.

Do you have an open mind?

Rick Simpson's Hemp-Oil Medicine

Why is the Canadian government persecuting him, why does the media ignore him, and where is the American Cancer Society when you need them?

published from High Times magazine in the January 2010 issue

From the time he was 12 years old, Rick Simpson just wanted a job so he could make some money. He was smart enough to get by in school without having to open a book, so education wasn’t something he took very seriously. After getting in trouble for supplying his ninth-grade teacher with a case of beer as a Christmas present, he dropped out rather than face the consequences from school administrators. At age 16, he went to work in the steel mills in Ontario, Canada. Two years later, he moved back to his hometown in Spring Hill, Nova Scotia, and got married. Before long, he had a job maintaining boilers for All Saints’ Hospital. Then his cousin was diagnosed with cancer.
“They found a little bump on his rib cage and cut him open,” Simpson says. “He went from 200 pounds down to about 130. In 1972, we were having a drink and he collapsed right in front of me. I knew damn well it had to be the cancer coming back. They gave him six months to live, and he made it through three. I was 22 years old and didn’t know anyone who had died from cancer. He was down to about 50 pounds when he died on November 18, 1972. I used to shave him, and it was like trying to shave a skeleton.”
Two years after his cousin died, Simpson was listening to his car radio when he heard the results of a medical study at the University of Virginia claiming that THC reduced brain tumors in mice. “I stopped my car and just stared at the radio,” Simpson recalls. “At the time, I didn’t smoke pot or anything, although most of my friends did. The guy on the radio was laughing like a fool. Like this was all a big joke. I never heard anything more about it, so I thought it must be a joke.”
It was no joke. The Medical College of Virginia had been funded by the National Institutes of Health to find evidence that marijuana damaged the human immune system. Imagine their surprise when the results came back indicating the opposite: Instead of hastening the death of mice implanted with brain cancer, marijuana dramatically slowed the growth of their tumors and extended their lives. The DEA quickly shut down this promising research. According to Jack Herer, two years later, President Gerald Ford would put an end to all public cannabis research and grant exclusive rights to major pharmaceutical companies to develop synthetic THC.
Fast-forward to December 1997: Simpson had been working at the hospital for 25 years and was covering asbestos on the boiler pipes with duct tape. He was using an aerosol spray that allowed the tape to stick to the asbestos. He didn’t realize, however, that this spray was capable of causing a temporary nervous-system shutdown if the fumes were inhaled too deeply. And that’s exactly what happened.
“Luckily for me, the boilers were shut off, or I would have been burnt to nothing,” he says. “I fell backwards off the ladder and struck my head on a steel loading ring. Of course, I don’t remember any of that. When I came to, I was hung up in the pipes by the side of the boiler.”
Simpson slowly made his way back to his office and fumbled around for over an hour trying to call for help, but he couldn’t even make the phone work. Finally, another engineer showed up for his shift and took Simpson to the emergency room. When asked his name, Simpson had no response. He was taken to the trauma center and put on oxygen.
“It felt like my head was going to explode,” he says. “I remember it looked like people were moving funny—they were kind of jerky. I told the doctor, and he just kind of shook his head.”
After three hours in the trauma center, the sensation went away and Simpson was told to go home. He doesn’t remember much about the next few days, including the drive home, but somehow he made it. When his next scheduled shift came up on Christmas Eve, Simpson reported for work even though he was still feeling woozy. At around 10 p.m. that night, while still at work, Simpson’s head began ringing. The ringing got louder and louder. By 3 a.m., he was back in the emergency room seeking treatment. When the nurse checked his blood pressure, she was so alarmed that she immediately gave him a pill and called a doctor. The ringing never went away.
“At lower levels, it’s about 93 decibels,” he says, “which is about the same as having a lawn mower running in your living room. I became very short-tempered. They tried every possible drug, but nothing worked. It got so bad I wanted to shoot myself.”
Within a year, Simpson was having trouble remembering anything because he was taking 1,000 milligrams of Tegretol a day. Reading was out of the question, because by the time he got to the end of a sentence, he’d already forgotten what the sentence was about. Then, one day, he watched an episode of Dr. David Suzuki’s The Nature of Things, Canada’s longest-running documentary series. The episode was about the enormous promise of marijuana as a medicine.
“I went right back to my doctor and asked if marijuana would help,” Simpson recalls. “Of course, he told me it was bad for the lungs and still under study. So I went out and got some pot and tried it, and it worked better than anything they were giving me. So I went back again and asked for a prescription, but they still wouldn’t give it to me.”
By 2001, Simpson was a chemical zombie from all the drugs he’d been taking. But he was still determined to get legal medical access to marijuana, so he asked his doctor: “What would you think if I took the plant and made an essential oil, and then ingested the oil rather than smoked it?” The doctor agreed that this would be a more medicinal way to take it, but still refused to write a prescription allowing Simpson legal access to the plant. A few months later, the doctor informed him that they had tried every possible treatment and nothing had worked, so Simpson was now on his own. He decided to stop taking pharmaceuticals and start eating cannabis oil exclusively.
“I didn’t really believe the hemp oil could bring me back the way it did,” he recalls. “But once the system gave up on me, I just continued making oil and taking it on a regular basis. The ringing was still there, but now I could live with it. Within a few months, people saw the difference. The oil controlled the pain, my blood pressure, and it allowed me to sleep. I lost weight and looked 20 years younger.”
For many years, Simpson had lived with three suspicious spots on his skin—two on his face and one on his chest. “Yes, this looks like skin cancer,” his doctor said upon examining them. In January 2003, the doctor surgically removed the spot near Simpson’s eye and sent it in for a biopsy. A week later, Simpson was sitting at home when he recalled the 1974 news report about THC and cancer. “I knew I was supposed to go back and get the other two spots removed,” Simpson says. “When I removed the bandage from the spot they had removed, I noticed it looked red and infected, and there was pus coming out of it. That’s when the news report from 30 years earlier kicked in. I looked at the oil and I thought, ‘Well, this is full of THC, and I’ve probably got skin cancer.’ I put a little oil on two band-aids and covered the two little bumps. Four days later, I took the band-aids off and both bumps had disappeared.”
Within a few weeks, the cancer that had been surgically removed reappeared. So Simpson tried the same treatment and got the same results: Four days after treating himself with the cannabis oil, the red bump was gone and the skin had completely healed.
Obviously, Simpson was overjoyed by this discovery, and he could hardly wait to share this information with his doctor, who had for so long resisted marijuana as a treatment for his head injury. So, after picking up his pathology report, he mentioned to the receptionist (who was also the doctor’s wife) that he had something important to discuss with her husband. “I treated my skin cancers with hemp oil—” he began. But he’d barely gotten the words “hemp oil” out, he recalls, before the receptionist went ballistic: “The doctor will not go there!” she yelled. “The doctor will not prescribe this!”
“I felt like I was in the Twilight Zone,” Simpson says now. “I’d just told her I cured my cancer, and she should have been interested. It was freaky.”
Simpson soon made a visit to his mother’s house. For years, she had suffered from weeping psoriasis. He applied the oil to her infected skin, and within a few weeks the sores were healed and the scales had disappeared.
Thus began the long journey of Rick Simpson and his miraculous cannabis-oil medicine. The fact that Simpson has always given this oil freely and without any charge has greatly enhanced his already-legendary status. “In the beginning, a lot of people didn’t want to put the oil on their skin,” he recalls. “In the first year, I treated 50 to 60 people for various skin conditions. The following year, I was treating a man with a melanoma cancer on his left cheekbone. It had been removed five times. It was a nasty-looking thing—you could put your finger right into the hole. I told him I could heal it, but of course he didn’t believe me. Three weeks later, it was completely healed. And that’s when he mentioned to me he had glaucoma. I said, ‘Well, hemp is the best treatment for glaucoma.’ He was the first one to start eating the oil other than me. At that time, he also had arthritis and had to sleep with a pillow between his knees. About two weeks after taking the oil, he stopped sleeping with a pillow, and his ocular pressure was already way down. When I started giving him the oil, the pressure was around 31 or 32. Last time I checked, it was 13 or 14.”
Once Simpson started giving people the oil to take internally, it was only a matter of time before he tried it with cancer patients. Simpson became increasingly confident of the oil’s healing properties after it was successfully used by several people with internal cancers. Even patients with Stage 4 terminal cancer—people who had been given only weeks to live—were miraculously brought back to health. Not only did the oil heal diabetic ulcers with a topical application, it also cureddiabetes and allowed some patients to stop using insulin. Simpson kept treating patients until they got better, but he soon determined that a 60-gram treatment was necessary for serious illnesses. The oil is eaten as quickly as possible, starting with small doses until a resistance is established. Eating a gram of cannabis oil a day can be disorienting, but many adapt rapidly to the pharmacological effects.
After Simpson successfully treated a woman with cervical cancer, she visited the local chapter of the Royal Canadian Legion to share her story. The Legion is a veterans’ organization whose lodges function as unofficial town halls in remote areas of Canada. Rick Dwyer, the bartender at the Legion, was so fascinated by the woman’s story that he asked her to invite Simpson to drop by.
“I met Rick in 2005,” Dwyer recalls now. “He told me he could cure skin cancer and diabetic ulcers and other skin diseases. I didn’t believe him, but I could see he was sincere, so I asked if I could go with him to visit some of the people he was treating. So I interviewed his patients, and there was no doubt there wassomething to what he was doing.”
Before long, Simpson was treating members of Dwyer’s Legion chapter, and the cannabis oil continued to show successful results against a variety of chronic illnesses and infections. As a past president of the organization, Dwyer knew the Legion’s mission—to serve veterans and their dependents, promote remembrance, and act in the service of Canada—and he felt strongly that this included a responsibility to share the information about Simpson’s oil with as many people as possible. Dwyer contacted the local public-health authorities and asked them to investigate. He made calls to elected officials.
“Nobody would even come look at the evidence,” Dwyer says. “I told the zone commander, ‘People are suffering, and this stuff works.’ But I just kept running into brick wall after brick wall.” The Royal Canadian Mounted Police had already raided Simpson’s property in 2003, after hearing reports that he was circulating cannabis oil. They seized all the plants in his backyard and confiscated his oil, but no charges were filed. In 2005, Simpson voluntarily returned to the RCMP office to drop off scientific information supporting his treatment, as well as a videotape containing interviews with patients. He made it clear to the RCMP that he intended to keep helping people who had nowhere else to turn. He continued to get plants to make the oil by working out trades whereby local marijuana farmers brought in their buds and split the oil they generated with Simpson. Most growers use shake to make water hash or hash oil, but Simpson is adamant that the best colas are necessary for making the best medicine for cancer. He will not make oil from shake unless it’s intended for topical application only. He also likesindica-dominant strains, which means that although he prefers the term “hemp oil” for a variety of reasons, his medicine consists of the essential oil derived from flowering female Cannabis indica plants—i.e., THC-laden “hash” or “cannabis” oil.
Shortly after Simpson dropped off his video with the RCMP, the Mounties returned and seized 1,620 plants from his backyard. This time he was arrested and charged with marijuana possession, cultivation and trafficking.
Meanwhile, Dwyer’s father had checked into the hospital with Stage 4 lung cancer. “He also had a bad heart and sugar diabetes,” Dwyer says. “I remember telling him, ‘Dad, don’t take the chemotherapy—if you take it, you’re dead. Go to Rick and get some oil and your chances of survival will be a lot better.’ I remember my father looking at me, and what was he thinking? ‘My son has no medical background.’ Who’s he going to trust?
“After his first chemotherapy treatment, he swelled up real bad. His legs swelled; his arms were full of fluid. He was suffering horribly. The doctors told us he wasn’t going to make it. He talked to us and said the things a father says to his children when he knows he’s going to die. I just kept thinking about the oil. I knew it worked on skin cancers and diabetic ulcers, but I wasn’t sure it would work internally. So I called Rick and said my dad only had 24 hours to live, 48 at the most. Rick didn’t know if it was too late. I think my dad wanted to die, he was suffering so horribly. It was like he was breathing out of a straw. I had a tube of oil in my pocket, and I remember thinking, ‘I’ll probably get arrested if I give this to him.’ I asked the nurse to give him the oil, but she refused. The doctors didn’t want to be responsible. So I put some oil on a cracker, and my father ate it. Then I left the hospital, and my brothers stayed on the death watch.”
When Dwyer returned the next morning, something truly miraculous had taken place: His father had slept soundly for the first time in weeks, and he continued to sleep throughout the day. When he finally woke up, he had a smile on his face. “I thought to myself, ‘My God, he’s got a chance, but I’ve got to get him out of this hospital,’” Dwyer says. …

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