Tuesday, December 31, 2013

Colorado to become first state to legalize recreational marijuana January 1, 2014

Photo credit:  Courtesy of Associated Press
With all the battles that patients have had to endure to be able to get some relief with medicinal marijuana use, it is almost unbelievable that now marijuana may soon be widely available on the open market.Beginning January 1, 2014, Colorado will become the first state in the nation to make it legal for customers 21 and over to purchase marijuana for recreational purposes.
Newports, Kools, Camels, and other cigarette brands will now have some heady competition. The advertising companies will have a field day coming up with attractive packaging, memorable jingles and superbowl-worthy television commercials for marijuana. The possibilities are endless.
The biggest difference for medicinal and recreational users will be that those who partake of the newly-legal herbs just for fun will be subjected to a vice tax, if you will. What is a vice tax? According to this article from The Washington Times, “Federal and state governments annually rake in $96 billion in revenue fed by Americans’ appetites for easy money, nicotine and booze, according to an analysis by The Washington Times. Take away the taxman’s take on gambling, drinking and smoking, and many jurisdictions would be in serious financial straits.”
This raises many questions that will only be answered as time passes. Will prisoners currently serving jail time be released or be grandfathered into finishing out their terms because marijuana was illegal when they were arrested? Will this new law cause layoffs for correctional officers and other prison employees?
Serial murders and other horror-movie-styled crimes are actually not nearly as prevalent as it seems. They are just more sensationalized in the media. The majority of prisoners arrested on local drug charges are not running glamorized drug cartels, but possessing and/or distributing everyday, garden-variety weed. So this could lead to a floodgate of people being released. In many towns prison is considered big business.This article details some of the unexpectedly big profits that the detention industry yields.
It will likely be six months to a year before we can see any verifiable statistics on how the legalization of marijuana has affected society and our lifestyles. One thing is for sure, the state of Colorado and its residents can expect an increase of revenue from tourism if other states do not follow suit.

Thursday, December 26, 2013

USC's Connor Shaw's quarterback sneak from backup to "Athlete of the Year"

Photo Credit:  The State.com/MCT/Getty Images

The State Newspaper has selected University of South Carolina (USC) quarterback Connor Shaw as its 2013 South Carolina Amateur Athlete of the Year.  Shaw has an interesting and inspiring history.  He joined the USC football roster as a 2nd string quarterback in 2010 behind Stephen Garcia.  Garcia was a much-beloved hero of the Gamecock faithful,  however over time his favor began to wane.
Garcia was a comeback king who could seemingly snatch a game victory in the last seconds.  The fans loved his feats on the field, but things changed when stories of his antics off of the field began to overshadow his game performances.  Even the “boys will be boys” crowd had to take off their rose-colored glasses as more and more stories appeared about Garcia in trouble.  Finally in October 2011, Garcia was once and for all dismissed from the Gamecock football roster.

Garcia had a promising college football career that ended in shame.  But what was his misfortune turned out to be a window of opportunity for Connor Shaw.  He went from being looked at as an “also ran” to someone who could actually carry the team to victory.  In a complete turnaround Garcia became the backup quarterback to Shaw.  

Shaw has earned this award several times over, even surpassing hometown hero Todd Ellis’ long-held record for the winningest quarterback in USC history.  He is known for his love of anything military, and is even considering a possible career in the military, along with football.  And when a non-sports related story features Shaw, it is normally regarding some event he is speaking at, or a charity he is working with.  Gamecock fans will have one last opportunity to see Shaw play in a USC uniform.  He will be leading the USC Gamecocks on January 1, 2014, as they face the Wisconsin Badgers in the Capital One Bowl.

Tuesday, December 17, 2013

Lyrical Love

Hi everyone.  Well here we are four days after the one and only Mrs. Carter has shattered all ITunes records ever with the secret release of her latest album "Beyonce".  While I too am thrilled with her latest success, I am not at all surprised.  Jay-Z is still in the videos with her and she is still smiling from ear to ear.  So I can't help it.  I want to re-share a post I first published on February 8, 2012. Just because.  :)  

This post is pure indulgent romantica.  I am just so digging Beyonce's evolution of love right now.  Let's take a stroll "back down memory lane" (another great song, but we'll talk about that another time).  Now I'll be the first to admit that I wasn't really a fan of Jay Z and Beyonce as a couple in the beginning.  I thought he was too gangster and she was too elegant.  But as time went on, they kind of grew on me.  And now I'm totally rooting for their love to last.  Let me explain why I get such a rush out of this couple.

Lights out for old bulbs

Video Credit:  Courtesy of Thomas H. Culhane

The 60- and 40-watt light bulbs will no longer be manufactured in the United States as of January 1, 2014.  It will also be illegal to import them.  Retailers will still be allowed to sell them until current in-store stocks are depleted.  This is all a part of President George Bush’s Energy Efficiency Act of 2007.

The 100- and 75-watt bulbs were already phased out in 2012 and 2013 respectively.  According to this law, the primary reason for this change is that “A standard incandescent is only 10% efficient – the other 90% of the electricity it uses is lost as heat”.  The government has issued the following guidelines to ease the transition of shopping for the new bulbs:

• If you used to buy 100 watt bulbs, look for a bulb with 1600 lumens.
• If you used to buy 75 watt bulbs, look for a bulb with 1100 lumens.
• If you used to buy 60 watt bulbs, look for a bulb with 800 lumens.
• If you used to buy 40 watt bulbs, look for a bulb with 450 lumens.

The Energy Act is projected to save as much as $6 billion per year.  But many are a little leery over the fact that these new bulbs contain mercury vapor, although a very small amount.  According to this article in the Scientific American, there is no danger to the household as long as the bulbs are intact.  However, if they break, it is very important to follow cleanup details precisely and all should be fine.

Monday, December 9, 2013

Columbia Mayor Steve Benjamin's Brother-In-Law Murdered

Arthur L. Givens
Photo credit:  Courtesy of TheState.com

Residents of Columbia, South Carolina, were stunned by the news that a murder in Charlotte, North Carolina, had connections with two of Columbia’s most prominent families. Donald Everett Gist, 38, was shot to death in broad daylight this past Friday. According to authorities this was no random act. Police have offered a $5,000 reward for information leading to the arrest of Arthur L. Givens in connection with the murder.
Givens is a known felon with a history of violent offences. Although no motive has been released, police stated that they have reason to believe that Givens and Gist knew each other. Gist was shot outside of a convenience store around 1:15pm Friday afternoon and was pronounced dead at the scene.
Gist is the brother-in-law of Columbia Mayor Steve Benjamin, who was just re-elected to a second term in November. Mayor Benjamin was in Colorado attending a leadership-in-governance conference at the time of the shooting, but he and the Gist family issued a joint statement expressing their shock and grief.
In addition to being the Mayor’s brother-in-law, Gist’s family is also very influential in the state of South Carolina. His sister is a circuit court judge, the Honorable DeAndrea G. Benjamin. His father is Attorney Donald Gist, senior partner of the Gist Law firm. Gist is survived by his wife and son, his parents, his sister, and a host of relatives and friends.