While crossing the Atlantic, I had time to pore over the most recent Economist, time that has been precious in other, more dynamic settings. I came across Norm Stamper’s letter to the editor regarding the benefits of legalization. Stamper was the Seattle police chief from 94 until he was either forced out or resigned on his own volition (my money is on some interpretation of the former) following the WTO circus of 1999. I like to see statements like his, though my cynical side would prefer, yet never expect, a serving person of some authority to make such a reasonable argument.
This dream did, indeed happen in the UK a few years ago. Brian Paddick was a police commissioner for a London borough where he proposed that his officers don’t bother with possession charges so they might concentrate on the shit that really matters. While not as radical (or as brilliant) as the “Hamsterdam” experiment suggested in Season 3 of The Wire, it was still one of the rare realistic approaches to the issue.
Of course, while Paddick did realize some success when then Home Secretary (and rumored womanizer) David Blunkett demoted pot (or, what the British charmingly refer to as cannabis) from Class B to Class C, one of Blunkett’s numerous successors, Jacqui Smith, restored cannabis to its full Class B glory.
Hence, while Stamper is fighting the good fight from the security of his retirement, the cause may appear to be in retreat.
Some random bits: I fly a lot, and when I fly, I tend to cover longer than average distances, and frequent several airports on any given itinerary. Which means I sort of know what I’m doing. While generally a patient man, I can’t stand people who are befuddled by simple procedures like the following:
a) check in.
c) airports in general.
This one really gets to me: people wandering around airports, preferably slowly, marvelling at the innovation where your connection is actually on television screens, or even these newfangled innovations where gates at airports now have numbers that operate in a logical manner (repeat after me: 2 comes after 1, 3 after 2, and if you walk far enough, you’ll work out that there is a structured order to where these gates appear. Usually.)
d) the tacit rules of the airplane.
if you are just settling in to your seat, and there is a line behind you, especially if it’s a single aisle aircraft, don’t reorganize the contents of your carry-on that you have just stowed in the overhead bin while 3/4 of the passengers have yet to even view their seats for the first time.
Oh, another bit: I hate flying, and not for any of the reasons listed above. I have a healthy fear of falling out of the sky from somewhere between 35,000 and 40,000 feet.
But over the years, I have developed coping mechanisms. While the coping mechanisms aren’t great in Newark Airport, they’re nicer than the bloody marys I had a dozen hours ago in Bristol Airport.