Weekend Thoughts - 8.20.16

Image  by  k f , courtesy of  Creative Commons  licensing.

Image by k f, courtesy of Creative Commons licensing.

Happy Saturday y'all! Below, I have rounded up some things for you to think about this weekend:

1. Following last week's news that the DEA declined the opportunity to reschedule (or preferably, deschedule entirely) cannabis in the Controlled Substances Act, deciding to keep it in Schedule I, a tier reserved for substances that have "a high potential for abuse" and "no currently accepted medical use". This will seem completely absurd to anyone who has educated themselves about cannabis, as the plant does not tend to lead to addiction and has a large array of medical uses. I have already sent and encourage you to send a message to your state Senators requesting them to reschedule cannabis at the federal level. The above link will make the job extremely easy for you—all you need to do is click it and fill out your information. Please let your local representatives know how you feel about this issue, because the DEA is showing no signs of using scientific research to determine their decisions, and that means we the people need to step up, speak up, and be heard.

2. In an unexpected announcement, the U.S. Justice Department announced that it will end its use of private prisons after officials concluded that they are both less safe and less effective at providing correctional services than those run by the government. According to Deputy Attorney General Sally Yates, in a memo instructing officials to either decline to renew contracts for private prison operators when they expire or "substantially reduce" the contracts' scope, the goal is "reducing – and ultimately ending – our use of privately operated prisons". Private prisons have a range of issues, including higher assault rates (both by inmates and staff) and eight times as many contraband cellphone confiscations than state-run prisons each year on average. There are numerous examples of how terrible these prisons have been, however perhaps a more sensible approach would be to reform our criminal laws so that there are less people going to prison in the first place.

3. As a longterm Apple fan (the first Apple product I owned was a second-generation iPod from 2002), I greatly enjoyed this in-depth interview with Tim Cook, and highly suggest giving it a read if you can block off some time to give it your full attention. The conversation commemorated his fifth year as CEO of Apple and the production of the billionth iPhone. The interview covers topics like Apple's future product plans, approaches to security and privacy, Tim's experience as CEO and memories of former-Apple CEO Steve Jobs, the company's international tax practices, and more.

That's all for this week's edition of Weekend Thoughts. Until next week, keep thinking wilder.