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Government-built Google mashup sends a mixed message

Attempts by the U.S. Office of National Drug Control Policy (ONDCP) to make a point about California-legal medical-marijuana dispensaries went horribly wrong earlier this month, when the office’s official “Pushing Back” blog published a Google Maps mash-up supplying the public with a map of downtown San Francisco’s marijuana dispensaries.

The mash-up was originally built to make a point -- San Francisco is so saturated by medical-marijuana dispensaries that they exceed the number of Starbucks coffee shops in the city’s downtown area.

Both San Francisco city officials and the San Francisco Chronicle are questioning the federal governments sources, however. One city official told City Insider that the data presented was “extremely incorrect.”

“I don’t know how they got that,” he added.

According to the San Francisco Department of Public Health, there are only 24 dispensaries in San Francisco in possession of the necessary permits, or trying to apply for them.

Even the ONDCP’s assessment of Starbucks locations is incorrect, said Starbucks spokeswoman Vivian Doan. The map should have listed 71 locations, when it instead listed 66.

In a follow-up post, the ONDCP implies that it gathered its data from publicly-available search engine listings. “It's hard to be exact,” reads the post, “but based on publicly available info on search engines, we believe that there are more listings for pot dispensaries in SF than there are Starbucks.”

The post, authored by ONDCP spokesman Rafeal Lamaitre, then acknowledges statistics from the SF Department of Public Health, before noting that the number of “registered pot clubs” in San Francisco still exceeds the number of Taco Bells (18), Middle Schools (14), and district police stations (14).

“Simple Google searches will find far more pot establishments in the San Francisco area. Some of these even offer delivery services,” the post reads, including a link to one such service.

The original version of the mashup listed a total of 98 dispensaries. When questioned about the source of its data, the ONDCP provided a list of 74 dispensaries and revised its map to show 71. Officials say the removed entries consisted of “alternative-medicine-type” shops whose marijuana offerings could not be confirmed.

Wired’s Threat Level notes that ONDCP was previously caught producing fake news broadcasts in 2005.



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RE: Does this surprise anyone?
By Aarnando on 11/21/2008 11:31:48 PM , Rating: 3
quote:
Now one can certainly argue that a couple without children shouldn't receive the benefit either. However, statistics tells us that most couples presently without children will eventually have them. Even should they be sterile, future medical advances may well change that.


By that same logic, I guess we can also hypothetically predict that future medical advancements may allow homosexual couples to conceive. Now I realize how ridiculous that sounds, but I use it to show that both avenues of hypothesis are flawed. It is ridiculous to base current marriage laws around possible future medical advancements which may allow conception where it is impossible now.

Even when accepting your theory of medical advancements, we're still left with a loophole which doesn't account for heterosexual couples who marry and simply choose to not conceive.

Furthermore, I don't believe the real issue over gay marriage is whether a gay couple can conceive or not. I believe for most opposition is based on bigotry. I'm not accusing you of this. If your stance is based on the inability of a gay couple to conceive, well I can't argue whether or not it is possible (obviously it isn't), but I am inclined to disagree that it is a reasonable basis for what constitutes a marriage. Especially when compared to benefits granted to heterosexual couples who either cannot now, or do not ever want to conceive

It's been interesting debating this with you, but obviosuly we both have our own opinions and will not be swayed. Rather than continue the back and forth, I'll simply hold my opinion until the issue arises in my state.


RE: Does this surprise anyone?
By masher2 (blog) on 11/22/2008 1:16:07 AM , Rating: 2
> "is ridiculous to base current marriage laws around possible future medical advancements "

Now you're just being silly. Current law is based around the fact that the vast majority of married couples eventually have children. Every single one? No, but 95% or more do.

What percentage of gay couples currently conceive and rear their children? Zero. Zip. Zilch. None whatsoever.

> "I believe for most opposition is based on bigotry"

Could be. It's also entirely irrelevant. Lincoln passed the Emancipation Proclamation not to free slaves at all, but simply impair the South's ability to wage war, and to belp the North win. Does that magically make the law itself wrong?


RE: Does this surprise anyone?
By Aarnando on 11/22/2008 2:19:27 AM , Rating: 2
Alright. You've lured me back for one more go round...

quote:
Now you're just being silly. Current law is based around the fact that the vast majority of married couples eventually have children. Every single one? No, but 95% or more do.

No, I'm not being silly. You countered my question of married couples who are unable to conceive by stating that they will probably be able to conceive in the future due to medical advancements. I countered by stating that basing a current law on possible advancements in the future is ridiculous. I stand by that claim. If you want to rescind your previous statement and begin discussing the present as basis for law, as you've done, I welcome that as it is more rational. However, your change in argument does not render my rebuttal silly.

quote:
What percentage of gay couples currently conceive and rear their children? Zero. Zip. Zilch. None whatsoever.

This is true. I admitted as much in my last post. Please refer to that post if you're curious as to how I feel this should or should not relate to marriage laws.

quote:
Could be. It's also entirely irrelevant. Lincoln passed the Emancipation Proclamation not to free slaves at all, but simply impair the South's ability to wage war, and to belp the North win. Does that magically make the law itself wrong?

I don't know enough about that period in history, or the machinations behind Lincoln's descision to pass this law, to agree or disagree with your claim. Luckily for me, I'm not arguing for or against the Emancipation Proclamation.

I will, however, disagree that opposition to gay marriage based on bigotry is irrelevent. Anyone is allowed to harbor prejudice on a personal level. It's the right of any free person. When that bigotry leads to decisions which effect the rights and priveleges of a segment of the population on a state or national level, then I have a problem. If a bigotted mindset is the driving force which leads to the granting or rescinding of rights, then yes, I would say it is wrong.


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