The Null Device
This article debunks some myths about absinthe, the fabled madness-inducing demon drink. If is to be believed, there is no such thing as "real absinthe". Oh, and what you heard about modern legal absinthe being so lacking in thujone as to be nothing more than overpriced yuppie liqueur is only half-true. It is true that thujone is limited, but apparently vintage absinthe contained much less than the myths would suggest, and thujone's psychoactive properties were largely mythical; then, as well as now, the absinthe mystique was born mostly of self-delusion and pretentiousness:
Drinkers of today's absinthe who expect a unique mind-altering experience usually are disappointed. Yet recent tests indicate that absinthe contains at least as much thujone today as it did during La Belle Époque: Turn-of-the-century Pernod Fils absinthe had six milligrams of thujone per liter, substantially less than the 10 milligrams permitted by current European Union rules in countries where absinthe is legal.
King of Spirits Absinth boasts "100mg of psychoactive thujone," the sort of claim that is mocked on La Fée Verte, which dismisses the "glorious descriptions of absinthe highs in 19th century literature" as "so much flowery hot air." Although "thujone is assumed by modern-day druggies to lend some sort of buzz," says the site, "it does not."The absinthe-connoisseurs' site in question is here, and contains detailed reviews of available absinthes and information on the substance in general. Some of the things revealed are that absinthe isn't necessarily meant to be bitter, and most of the trendy Czech absinthes (and, indeed, anything whose name is spelled "absinth") are of dubious quality at best.
An interesting article on the psychology of suicide bombers:
The kind of would-be suicide bomber I have known thinks to himself:
They have accused me of what I have done.
What I have done is no crime.
Therefore those who accuse me are the corrupt of the earth.
Those who accuse me are truly representative of the society from which they come.
The destruction of the corrupt of the earth will be rewarded appropriately. Therefore it matters not which individuals I destroy.
The belief is therefore not in representative government, but in representative guilt.
If you think you've had a bad week, spare a thought for Kate Moss. 48 hours ago, she was a supermodel; now, her career is over (three sponsors have dumped her like a hot potato; most recently, Burberry dropped her from their campaign, presumably to keep the evil of cocaine from being associated with the wholesome chav/townie culture), and now it looks like she stands to be prosecuted (after all, there is photographic evidence of her committing a crime, and not prosecuting her would send the message that celebrities are above the law, or at least above the drug laws), and possibly lose custody of her daughter. And now that the party's over, Pete Doherty is apparently no longer interested; I wonder if he helped himself to a few valuables on the way out the door.
Of course, the argument for not treating Moss leniently is that celebrities, being role models, should be held to a more exacting standard of conduct, and those who fall from this standard should be made examples of to deter impressionable youths from following in their errors. Of course, the current scheme, which depends wholly on tabloid newspapers sneaking in to studios to take surreptitious photographs, is somewhat patchy and inadequate. I modestly propose a better solution: random drug testing of celebrities.
Under this scheme, anyone who is a celebrity (defined by making more than a number of media appearances in a certain period) would be subject to random drug tests, much as athletes are. The tests would be administered by a new agency, which would be called something like the Celebrity Drug Authority or the Public Conduct Authority or somesuch. Testing positive for drug use, or failure to show up for testing, would result in disqualification from a number of professions, including top-tier fashion modelling, acting in films over a certain budget or performing in venues over a certain size; additionally, any recordings by those disqualified would be struck off commercial-radio playlists, and the press would be prohibited from giving publicity to them (so now, if the NME editors ran another piece on Pete Doherty, Dionysiac Genius of Rock, they could be prosecuted for contempt of court). Which sounds harsh, but it may be the only way to protect impressionable youth. Won't someone think of the children?