The Null Device
Posts matching tags 'drugs'
The Quietus' John “Menk” Doran, possibly British music geekery's closest thing to a Charles Bukowski, started writing a review of the new L. Pierre album and ended up with a piece on transcendence through alcoholism:
One of the things I didn't know I'd hear about though was the quest for beauty, a struggle to achieve aesthetic perfection in an imperfect world. For me, every morning I woke up, the world was too ugly to face. There was dirt, horror and disfigurement everywhere I looked. But after one stiff drink I could leave the house; after two drinks the fear started lifting and then after the third drink I'd feel like an artist. Or to be more precise, I would see the world through the eyes of an artist. And after five drinks, well, take your pick. On a good day I felt like Picasso. But there were all kinds of days. Imagine being Gustav Klimt in Hull, the golden light of the low winter sun at 3pm in the afternoon radiating along the avenues. Imagine being Walter Sickert in Manchester, the violent brown and black smudges radiating from your feet and along canal tow paths. Imagine being Vincent Van Goch in St Helens. That is something close to victory, something close to beating death.
There was a fantastic advert in the 1980s that opened with a camera panning across a tropical lagoon while a narrator said: "Peckham, on a wet Saturday afternoon." Then the film cut to a brightly coloured parrot: "Next door's budgie." The next bit was pretty weird – pretty fucked up. It showed a sultry young woman looking sexually provocative on the beach as the voice over continued: "Auntie Beryl." The next shot was of sophisticated looking rich people in white linen clothes sipping cocktails before running down a jetty to get into a speedboat lit by an unnaturally swollen full moon: "The Dog & Duck, down the high street… Catching the last bus home…" All of which was the set up to the emphatically delivered punch line: "If you're drinking Bacardi." ... You'd never be able to screen an alcohol advert like this now… which is wrong because it's the only truthful drink commercial that's ever been made.
An art exhibition in Berlin involves a hall divided into two parts, each of which containing six reindeer. One half of the reindeer are (possibly) fed fly agaric mushrooms, fabled by Lapp shamans to give their urine hallucinogenic properties. In the centre of the hall there is a hotel-like suite, which may be rented for €1,000 a night; the suite contains a minibar, which is stocked with bottles of urine collected from the reindeer; however, the bottles are not labelled as to which reindeer they came from. The title of this show is Soma, though an alternate title is "how to make hipsters pay €1,000 to drink piss".
Pabst Blue Ribbon is the main sponsor.
Dorothée Brill, the museum's lead curator, says: "As far as we can tell, nobody's done anything they shouldn't have." Staff at the restaurant, however, report that some guests "drink the minibar dry".
After the embarrassment of the Labour government having to sack a drug policy advisor for making a scientific case against drug prohibition, the new Con-Dem government has moved to ensure that this sort of thing does not happen again, by removing scientists from its drug control committee, and allowing the government to unilaterally decide which drugs to ban without interference from scientists who know nothing about public morality or political expediency. This, incidentally, completely discards the Liberal Democrats' platform, which promised an evidence-based drug policy centred around harm minimisation, though it has already been established that Liberal Democrat pledges made before the election are, to use a term from Australian politics, "non-core promises", so no great surprise there.
(To be fair, it could be a lot worse if the Tories had power in their own right; for one, the BBC is still standing, and the Tories' debt to News Corporation still unsettled in that regard, and there is the possibility of the electoral system being reformed. Nonetheless, the Liberal Democrats have either drank the Kool-Aid and turned into doctrinaire neo-Thatcherites or are being held hostage. Not surprisingly, they seem to be finished as a moderate, progressive third party; perhaps we can expect the old Social Democratic wing to fall off, joining that more moderate neo-Thatcherite party, Labour, with a few idealists going to the Greens, and the rump becoming the wet wing of the Tories.)
Under the new policy, scientific assessment of the danger of drugs will be replaced by a classification of drugs into two categories: "evil" and "non-evil", which relate to the spiritual and moral harm caused to the fabric of society as perceived by the readership of the Daily Mail. "Evil" drugs are those like cannabis, heroin, LSD and MDMA, whereas "non-evil" drugs include alcohol and tobacco. This is a scientific fact; there is no evidence for it, but it is a scientific fact.
In 1951, residents of a small French village named Pont-Saint-Esprit were struck by a wave of violent hallucinations. At least five people died, and dozens ended up in mental asylums. The hallucinations were believed to have been caused by bread contaminated with ergot (such incidents had occurred from time to time throughout history, and in the Middle Ages, were known as "Saint Anthony's fire"); but newly revealed information suggests that the hallucinations were the product of a CIA experiment into the use of LSD as a weapon:
One man tried to drown himself, screaming that his belly was being eaten by snakes. An 11-year-old tried to strangle his grandmother. Another man shouted: "I am a plane", before jumping out of a second-floor window, breaking his legs. He then got up and carried on for 50 yards. Another saw his heart escaping through his feet and begged a doctor to put it back. Many were taken to the local asylum in strait jackets.
Mr Albarelli said the real "smoking gun" was a White House document sent to members of the Rockefeller Commission formed in 1975 to investigate CIA abuses. It contained the names of a number of French nationals who had been secretly employed by the CIA and made direct reference to the "Pont St. Esprit incident." In its quest to research LSD as an offensive weapon, Mr Albarelli claims, the US army also drugged over 5,700 unwitting American servicemen between 1953 and 1965.
(via Boing Boing)
The British government has sacked its top drug advisor for contradicting official dogma of the War On Drugs:
Most drugs experts believe his analysis is right. But ministers did not want to hear the truth or at least to be reminded of it repeatedly. The Home Secretary asked him to consider his position after a recent lecture in which attacked what he called the "artificial" separation of alcohol and tobacco from other, illegal, drugs. Last night Professor Nutt said he stood by his comments. "My view is policy should be based on evidence. It's a bit odd to make policy that goes in the face of evidence. The danger is they are misleading us. The scientific evidence is there: it's in all the reports we published. Our judgements about the classification of drugs like cannabis and ecstasy have been based on a great deal of very detailed scientific appraisal.
In a recent broadside, Professor Nutt accused Jacqui Smith, who oversaw the reclassification of cannabis from Class C to Class B, of "distorting and devaluing" scientific research. He said her decision to reclassify cannabis as a "precautionary step" sent mixed messages and undermined public faith in government science.What mixed messages? Cannabis, Ecstasy and LSD, but not alcohol or tobacco, are what is scientifically classified as "evil drugs", which are infinitely more harmful than non-evil drugs even if their actual effects may be less severe. (The extra infinite harm comes from the moral effects of doing evil drugs.) That is a scientific fact; there is no evidence for it, but it is a scientific fact.
And here is an article by David Nutt, the sacked drugs advisor, about the absurdity of New Labour's tabloid-driven cannabis policy.
A review of a new book on changing patterns of recreational drug use in the USA:
...according to several metrics, acid use was at "an historic low: 3.5 percent." By 2003, it was down to 1.9 percent. Why? It wasn't just that LSD had gone out of style, although it had, somewhat. Grim found evidence of a perfect storm of causes for the decline. In 2000, the DEA had arrested a man named William Pickard, thought to be the manufacturer of as much as 95 percent of the available acid in the U.S. The Grateful Dead, whose concerts provided an opportunity for suppliers and users to connect and network, had stopped touring after the 1995 death of Jerry Garcia, and Phish, a jam band that had stepped in to fill the gap, also stopped touring by the end of 2000. The rave scene began to fade away under pressure from authorities who threatened to arrest organizers for drug offenses committed at their events.And then this depressing picture of an atomised, asocial society, which ties in with the bowling-alone mass-alienation idea:
Today's kids aren't smoking much pot because pot is a "social" drug, shared among peers who gather in parking lots and other hangouts; teens have less unstructured time now and tend to socialize online. They still get high, only on prescription drugs pilfered from adults or ordered off the Internet. "There's no social ritual involved," he observes, "just a glass of water and a pill," which "fits well into a solitary afternoon."The rest of the review looks pretty interesting, including the theory that recreational drugs have cycles, in which they become popular, then become lame, and then come back sometime later to a generation who have never witnessed their effects, illustrated by an anecdote about kids regarding Ecstasy as "too hard on your body" and cocaine as "not that bad".
Apparently, all is not well in Melbourne; the World's More-Or-Less Most Livable City is reportedly in the middle of an epidemic of brutal, random violence:
Neurosurgeon Professor Andrew Kaye says: "We have a really serious problem. The viciousness of these attacks is really frightening." He sees new assault victims admitted with significant brain injuries at least twice a week and patients with less serious damage daily. But he says even the so-called less serious assaults can leave the victims with long-term and often permanent disabilities
According to Professor Kaye, the assaults are not just alcohol-related. "We see people who have been attacked with clubs, knives and screwdrivers or repeatedly kicked until they are unconscious. This is a huge issue."The increase in violence seems to be manifesting itself in a number of disparate phenomena; violent street robberies, bashings for thrills, and gangs of teenagers targetting teenage parties to crash are some of them. Nobody's clear as to why there has been an increase in violence now, but some speculate that it could have to do with changing tastes in social pharmacology:
One suggests the trend has altered from young people popping party pills and drinking water to mixing amphetamine-based drugs, which heighten aggression, with large amounts of alcohol, which limit inhibitions.See also: this Mess+Noise discussion thread, which is full of anecdotes of encounters with violence. By the sheer volume of reports, Melbourne sounds like a more dangerous place than London these days.
A study in Japan, correlating suicide rates with lithium levels in water supplies, has found that lithium in the water supply reduces the suicide rate:
High doses of lithium are already used to treat serious mood disorders. But the team from the universities of Oita and Hiroshima found that even relatively low levels appeared to have a positive impact of suicide rates.
Levels ranged from 0.7 to 59 micrograms per litre. The researchers speculated that while these levels were low, there may be a cumulative protective effect on the brain from years of drinking this tap water.The researchers hace stopped short of recommending that lithium be added to the water supply, in the way that fluoride is.
Members of the New South Wales parliament could soon face breath tests before voting on legislation. The move was prompted after a number of reports of bad behaviour by apparently inebriated parliamentarians, including a frontbencher shoving a female MP after a Christmas party and the police minister having to resign after dancing in his underpants at a drunken party in his office.
The move is supported by the state's transport workers' union, on the grounds that if rail workers have to suffer the indignity of random alcohol tests, so should politicians.
At least eight men in Singapore sustained severe brain damage after taking an illegal sex-enhancement drug named "Power 1 Walnut", apparently containing diabetes medication. As Jim points out, the cyberpunk future's already here, only more ridiculous:
This is what I love about the real world. This sort of thing happens all the time in early cyberpunk scifi, but there the drug would have a painfully cool street name. Never Power 1 Walnut.
The Mind Hacks blog has a summary of a paper looking at the content of another adulterated street drug, in this case, heroin. Not surprisingly, your average wrap of street smack contains a lot of adulterants; the analysis lists random medications and pharmaceutical substances, anaesthetics, dietary supplements and chelating agents for metals, as well as other street drugs including cocaine and amphetamines.
The article also looks at the economics and business practices behind the adulteration of heroin. Obviously, taking advantage of the lack of quality control and getting more money out of less actual expensive heroin is a major consideration for the dealers, but it isn't the only one:
Interestingly, the paper also notes that professional heroin cutters are expensive, charging up to $20,000 for a kilo of heroin. This is likely due to the skill and knowledge needed to select ingredients that will have certain effects, which can be different for 'smokers', 'snorters' and 'injectors'.
Additionally, some ingredients are added purely for their psychoactive effect to give a different experience and 'brand' the dope.
(via Mind Hacks)
Analysis of street cocaine found in Britain has shown that your typical sample is about 10% pure, with the rest being made up, essentially, of anything white and powdery, including some rather nasty chemicals:
Much of the seized cocaine is found to have been cut with phenacetin - a pharmaceutical drug banned some years ago in Britain and most other nations for causing kidney failure and cancer.
Other drugs used for cutting or "bashing" cocaine include lignocaine (a dental painkiller), tetramisole (used for de-worming pets) and boric acid (used to kill cockroaches).Not that such revelations are likely to dampen demand for what is essentially Britain's national drug. After all, the risk of an agonising death from cancer hasn't put many people off bacon, and cocaine feeds into the celebrity-obsessed, superficially success-oriented bling culture of Blatcherite Britain; and even if people know that the £2.50 line of coke they do is unlikely to be like anything their footballer/WAG/indie-star idols touch, suspension of disbelief is a powerful thing.
The problem, of course, is that cocaine is, by definition, sold by criminals, and there is no incentive for anything remotely like fair dealing. One answer, of course, would be to legalise cocaine and regulate it as stringently as alcohol and tobacco are. As soon as that happened, coke dealers would go the way of bathtub gin merchants and the quality and reliability would go up; Waitrose would carry organic, fair-trade cocaine from day one, and for those on a budget, £3.79 would get you a line of Tesco Value coke (3% purity, but cut with thoroughly innocuous substances). Lidl would undoubtedly come to the party with a janky-looking faux-authentic store brand; "Medellin Hills", perhaps, or "Mr. Montana's"?
Of course, legalising drugs is the sort of thing only somebody with an excess of common sense would advocate, and there is no way that it would ever happen in the real world. Thankfully, there are other, more politically viable, possibilities. Given that the majority of the active ingredient in street cocaine is not actually cocaine but various tranquillisers (hence the feeling of numbness which many naïve cokeheads assume as proof of the drug's authenticity), the next logical step would be to do away with the illegal substance altogether and sell perfectly legal pseudococaine. It'd have the right colour, texture and consistency for doing a social line at a party, would function excellently as a prop for one's fantasies of celebrity glamour, and would even give one a mild buzz, though would contain nothing more dangerous (or illegal) than a few stimulants and tranquillisers, heavily diluted.
You know those cocaine-smuggling submarines operating out of South America? Well, apparently, they're run by Hezbollah. Yes, the Lebanon-based Shi'ite Islamist militant group have submarine capability, and it's all in Latin America, earning good money. For the jihad, of course.
So what's the Hezbollah connection? "I continue to be concerned about the tri-border area [between Argentina, Brazil and Paraguay]," Stavridis said. "It is, in my view, principally Hezbollah activity. There is clearly fund-raising, money laundering, drug trafficking. And, certainly a portion of the funds that are raised in that are making their way back to the Middle East."
The latest threat to America's children is digital drugs, or MP3 files which affect the listener's brain to induce illegal and dangerous states of consciousness. Called "idozers", they're sold from web sites by evil drug dealers:
Some sites provide binaural beats that have innocuous effects. For example, some claim to help you develop extrasensory powers like telepathy and psychokinesis.
Other sites offer therapeutic binaural beats. They help you relax or meditate. Some allegedly help you overcome addiction or anxiety. Others purport to help you lose weight or eliminate gray hair.
However, most sites are more sinister. They sell audio files ("doses") that supposedly mimic the effects of alcohol and marijuana.
But it doesn't end there. You'll find doses that purportedly mimic the effects of LSD, crack, heroin and other hard drugs. There are also doses of a sexual nature. I even found ones that supposedly simulate heaven and hell.It gets worse than is. I have it on very good authority that paedophiles are using similar technologies to remotely molest children with penis-shaped sound waves. There's no evidence to prove it, but it is a scientific fact.
The fact that the audio files are allegedly being "sold" by evil drug dealers is a dead giveaway. If today's kids are willing and able to download the latest movies and music, would they really pay or MP3s alleged to get them high or simulate heaven or hell?
I wonder what the provenance of this absurdity is. Could it be a particularly desperate RIAA-instigated black-ops campaign to bring the full force of the War On Drugs to bear against uncontrolled file-sharing and/or lock down the internet?
The Dutch authorities have trained about 200 inspectors to catch people illegally smoking tobacco in marijuana cafes. Smoking tobacco indoors has just been outlawed in the Netherlands, as it has elsewhere, though smoking marijuana in Amsterdam's famous "coffee shops" is allowed, as long as the weed isn't diluted with tobacco.
Research is showing that a compound found in cannabis has antipsychotic effects. The compound, cannabidiol, naturally occurs in cannabis, though it is perhaps no surprise that high-potency varieties of "skunk" now on the market, which have been bred for maximum THC (the psychoactive compound in cannabis, which has been linked to psychosis) have less cannabidiol than older varieties.
Which, IMHO, is an argument for legalisation and regulation of cannabis. Alcohol is regulated; relatively safe varieties are easily available, and those selling liquor with ingredients considered unsafe (from poisonous ethanol to excessive amounts of thujone) face prosecution. With cannabis-induced psychosis looming as a public health issue, perhaps a law restricting the ratio of THC to cannabidiol would ameliorate the crisis?
The other solution, and one infinitely more culturally appropriate for the Anglo-Saxon world, is the familiar zero-tolerance Reaganite war-on-drugs approach. Perhaps if we build more prisons, jail more users and dealers (and perhaps execute a few particularly bad apples for good measure to put the fear of God into potheads), and institute a regime of mass surveillance and appropriate abridgements to civil liberties to catch offenders, then maybe, just maybe,
the damned horse can fly we'll eventually achieve a drug-free society.
(via Mind Hacks)
Studies have found that our water supplies are full of pharmaceutical substances, from antibiotics to antidepressants to birth control drugs. Not to worry, though; the heady pharmaceutical cocktail is far too dilute to have any immediate effects.
Of the 28 major metropolitan areas where tests were performed on drinking water supplies, only Albuquerque; Austin, Texas; and Virginia Beach, Va.; said tests were negative. The drinking water in Dallas has been tested, but officials are awaiting results. Arlington, Texas, acknowledged that traces of a pharmaceutical were detected in its drinking water but cited post-9/11 security concerns in refusing to identify the drug.
Contamination is not confined to the United States. More than 100 different pharmaceuticals have been detected in lakes, rivers, reservoirs and streams throughout the world. Studies have detected pharmaceuticals in waters throughout Asia, Australia, Canada and Europe - even in Swiss lakes and the North Sea.Meanwhile, tht beefburger you're eating may well be full of delicious steroid goodness:
Cattle, for example, are given ear implants that provide a slow release of trenbolone, an anabolic steroid used by some bodybuilders, which causes cattle to bulk up. But not all the trenbolone circulating in a steer is metabolized. A German study showed 10 percent of the steroid passed right through the animals.There you have it: it's a scientific fact that eating beef makes you more masculine.
There are red faces in the Oxfordshire constabulary, after a police officer mistakenly circulated a warning to schools about a made-up drug named "strawberry meth", which led to some schools holding special assemblies. Strawberry meth was apparently meant to be a form of crystal meth flavoured with strawberries, for extra appeal to children, and sold outside schools.
One thing's for sure: today's hoax drugs are more sinister than a decade ago. Back then, all they did was make you perceive a single note as lasting 4 hours, and now they come with the fucking-up power of crystal meth. We live in less innocent, more paranoid times, it seems.
Scientists have developed a vaccine against cocaine, which permanently reconfigures the immune system to attack and destroy cocaine molecules before they can reach the brain:
The developers of the new cocaine vaccine, known as 'TA-CD', are doing essentially the same thing by cleverly combining a deactivated cocaine molecule with a deactivated cholera toxin molecule. The deactivated cholera toxin is enough to trigger the immune system, which finds and adapts to the new invader.
If effective, you can see that some parents might want to vaccinate their non-addicted, perfectly healthy children, so they are 'immune' to cocaine. The difference here, is that once given, the 'immunity' may be permanent. In other words, you would make the decision that your child will never be able to experience the effects of cocaine for the rest of their life.Another option (and one with a whiff of authoritarianism about it, though perhaps not much more than the militarised, prison-filling War On Drugs) would be a compulsory mass vaccination programme, perhaps of all school-aged children. Implemented on a large enough scale, this could be the only way of killing off the cocaine cartels other than legalising the stuff (politically unpalatable) or rendering coca extinct by biological means (an ecological non-starter).
A vaccine against heroin may also be possible, though one wouldn't want to ever be in need of strong painkillers if one has had one of those.
(via Mind Hacks)
Phrase of the day: "white lobster": cocaine dumped by traffickers and washed up on beaches, bringing fortunes for the villagers and fishermen who find it.
It also sounds like a good song title, in a 1970s-revivalist sort of vein.
Cheap cocaine is not only killing good music, it could be killing its users; apparently one of the reasons cocaine available on the streets of Britain (the cocaine capital of Europe, undoubtedly due to its status-oriented values compared with the continent) is so cheap is because it's cut with a carcinogenic additive, a banned painkiller which looks like cocaine and is cheap.
I wonder how long until pushers start selling "organic cocaine" to Britain's aspirational classes. (It needn't even be any different than the regular stuff; a 200% markup would give it all the authenticity one could plausibly expect.)
An Italian television programme invited 50 politicians to its studio on the pretext of being interviewed and surreptitiously tested them for drugs; the result was that 12 politicians tested positive for cannabis, and 4 for cocaine:
The programme sent a reporter to interview lower house deputies allegedly for a programme about the 2007 draft budget currently going through parliament.
But unbeknown to each of them, the make-up artist employed by the show was dabbing their brow with swabs, and their perspiration was later tested for cannabis and cocaine.The satirical programme, Le Iene ("The Hyænas") is on the network run by right-wing ex-Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi, so it is not known how impartial the target selection was. Given that cannabis was more prevalent than cocaine, one does wonder.
According to the UK's Public Health minister, pregnant teenagers are deliberately taking up smoking to have smaller babies and thus an easier birth.
In Berlin, a city known for its ultra-cool club scene, a community health service has launched drug awareness ads modelled on the iPod ads.
As an uncommonly severe cold snap hits Russia, zookeepers are giving their animals vodka and other alcoholic beverages to help them endure the cold:
In the ancient town of Yaroslavl, 100 miles north of Moscow, a travelling circus said it had been forced to start giving its trio of Indian elephants vodka mixed with water in buckets as the mercury dipped.
In Lipetsk, where meteorologists recorded temperatures of minus 32C, the zoo's contingent of macaques was being fortified with cheap French table wine three times a day and in other zoos camels, wild boars and reindeer were being given regular shots of vodka to stave off the chill.
After three decades, veteran American fringe publisher Loompanics is closing down, and is liquidating its entire catalogue at half price. Their works include from conspiratological alternative history, anarchism, atheism, Satanism, extremism, visionary/crackpot ideas, drug literature, criminal how-tos (for educational purposes only, of course), various 1960s-vintage utopianisms, and a lot of freaky shit; well-known titles published by Loompanics include the Principia Discordia and How To Disappear Completely.
Australian lingerie model arrested for ecstasy possession in Bali released. Michelle Leslie, best known for appearing in an underwear ad, has been released from prison and deported as a criminal after the prosecution in her ecstasy-possession case agreed to only seek a penalty of 3 months' imprisonment (i.e., the time served). It is not clear whether she would have received a more severe sentence had (a) she not allegedly been with the son of Indonesia's Economics Minister at the time of the arrest, or (b) the Indonesians not feared hordes of bloody-minded tabloid-reading Ugly Australians boycotting Bali and demanding their tsunami-aid donations back if one of their sheilas went down.
I suspect that the pivotal factor in Leslie's early release was not her showing up in a burqa at her trial and announcing that she had converted to Islam, seemingly oblivious to the fact that (a) Bali is a largely Hindu province, and (b) burqas are not commonly worn in Indonesia. Oddly enough, she did not seem to be observing Islamic traditions of modest dress upon release; perhaps when she sells her story to Womens' Weekly or the Herald-Sun, she'll say that Islam was just a phase she was going through, as if it were Kabbala or Scientology or Hollywood Buddhism or something. (Though doesn't converting from Islam technically make her an apostate? I wonder whether she'll end up with a fatwa on her head.)
Between the time absinthe was banned in the early 20th century and when it was (accidentally) legalised in the EU in 1988, the details of how to make it were lost. That is, until a microbiologists from New Orleans reverse-engineered it, using samples from old bottles and a mass spectrometer::
Breaux explains how the testing works. He takes a bottle of the liqueur, inserts a syringe through the cork (absinthe oxidizes like wine once the bottle is open), and extracts a few milliliters. He transfers the sample into a vial, which is lifted by a robotic arm into the gas chromatography tower. There it is separated into its components. Then the mass spectrometer identifies them and measures their relative quantities.
Breaux wasn't the only one rediscovering the long-banned beverage. In Europe, food regulations adopted by the EU in 1988 had neglected to mention absinthe, and when they superseded national laws, the drink was effectively re-legalized. New distilleries were popping up all over Europe, selling what Breaux dismisses as "mouthwash and vodka in a bottle, with some aromatherapy oil." Absinthe had disappeared so completely for so long that no one knew how to make it anymore.
At the EASI lab, Breaux ran tests on the pre-ban absinthe samples, as well as on samples spiked with thujone (from the very bottle I had sniffed). This allowed him to isolate the toxic compound. He spent his free time studying the test results, and late one night in June 2000 he had his answer. "I was stunned. Everything that I had been told was complete nonsense." In the antique absinthes he had collected, the thujone content was an order of magnitude smaller than Arnold's predictions. In many instances, it was a homeopathically minuscule 5 parts per million.After debunking the widespread belief about thujone being the key ingredient differentiating absinthe from ordinary alcoholic beverages, Ted Breaux went on to use his knowledge to create a variety of absinthe named Nouvelle-Orléans, which went on to win awards. Despite its name, Nouvelle-Orléans is made in France, as absinthe is still illegal in the US (and, by the sound of it, as difficult to get hold of as marihuana).
"It's like an herbal speedball," he says. "Some of the compounds are excitatory, some are sedative. That's the real reason artists liked it. Drink two or three glasses and you can feel the effects of the alcohol, but your mind stays clear - you can still work."
(via bOING bOING)
The BBC looks inside the world of pirate radio stations:
"These stations don't just play music - they keep communities informed as to what's going on," says Lynx who now appears on Newstyle, a station with a community licence. "Pirate radio is not just about this protest, it gives platforms to local talent, helps create local events and communicates what is going on. They're not doing anything different to legal stations."
"We know that station owners charge DJs for slots on their stations and some are turning over more than £5,000 in untaxed income a week. Many raids on pirate stations have uncovered links to drugs," says a spokesman for Ofcom. "We've had pirate stations playing a particular song as code to local gangs, telling them drugs are available for collection."
But many pirate stations build an audience on strident views. One south London station is notorious for its presenters' uncharitable views of white people; rather ironically, its signal very often cuts across that fortress of Middle England, BBC Radio Four.
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.
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?
A (possibly somewhat biased) social history of drinking in England reveals that talk of a pathology of "binge drinking" is more the product of Victorian squeamishness and snobbery than anything else:
In fact we are rather poor drinkers compared with our ancestors. Queen Elizabeth I was renowned for drinking ale stronger than any of her courtiers could take. During her reign, British beers were so popular abroad that exports were only permitted if sufficient quantities of wood to replace the casks used was imported. Elizabethan brewers were often urged to reduce the formidable strengths of their beers, one of which, Pharaoh, was so named because it "would not let the people go". James took a similar line, only to be told that the brewers would be more minded to follow his advice were he rather more prompt in settling his bills.
Expressions like "binge drinking" tell us less about our present drinking habits than they do about the neo-Puritan climate we live in. In truth the drinking habits of many have not changed greatly, but they are seen from the standpoint of a society that does not recognise that the values and attitudes of the late Victorian and Edwardian eras were the exception rather than the rule.
Meanwhile, England's drinking problems come not from an excess love for beer, but ultimately from its displacement by things such as gin.
Gin forced people to realise for the first time that it was possible to make intoxicating beverages that were not sustaining and wholesome, and from then it was but a short step to demonising alcohol in all its guises, to separate the middle and upper classes from their previous habits and haunts, and to allow them to convince themselves that their domestic consumption of wine and gin was somehow superior. This attitude prevails today, principally perpetuated by newspapers.
The author, former secretary general of the Society of Independent Brewers, concludes to say that getting smashed on good English ale can be a fine thing indeed:
If journalists would stop writing hysterical leaders about "24-hour drinking" and turn their hands instead to thoughtful drinks page features about the merits of our national drink, that would be useful in improving debate and reconnecting us with our forgotten history. Drunkenness is an attribute of those who do not appreciate what they are consuming, not of those who do.
A quote from a Graun interview with Baxter Dury, who, of course, is the son of cockney punk-funker Ian Dury.
"Drugs have never helped music, they've killed music," he says. "People on acid haven't actually made a great deal of music, they've usually gone mad and dug holes in Wales or whatever. People on heroin choke on their own vomit. Cocaine just makes them turn up the high frequencies and ruins everything. Dad was fiercely outspoken about coke, probably did it sometimes, but didn't agree it had any relation to being creative. He smoked a lot of spliff, though."
Scientists have found that the River Po in northern Italy is full of cocaine residue; or, more precisely, of benzoylecgonine, a chemical produced only by metabolising cocaine and eliminated in urine. According to this test, people around the Po valley consume one and a half metric tonnes of cocaine a year, three times as much as official estimates suggested.
In other related news: cocaine traces found at EU parliament.
Free raves have returned to the English countryside, driven by pill-poppers' disaffection with highly commercialised, expensive and increasingly London-centric superclubs. The "free parties" are secretively organised using disposable pre-paid mobile phones (as they are illegal under the Criminal Justice Act, which has not been repealed), are centred around hard house and trance, and are claimed to be more responsible than the raves of yesteryear; though locals and the authorities disagree, and are planning to step up prosecutions.
"You think it would be quite heavy but it's mellow and chilled. You don't see people passed out on the floor. You don't get stupid young girls who drink too much that you get in commercial clubs. They cause the trouble, they cause the fights. You get that in Lynn way too much."
"There were five or six police on duty in south Norfolk that night," he said. "They talked to people at the rave and decided they didn't want any confrontation and let it run its course. What I'd like to see is the organisers being arrested or their equipment confiscated so they can't do it again. If the police don't want confrontation, fair enough, but why not confiscate it at the end of the rave?"
Norfolk police are investigating a number of free party organisers with a view to prosecuting them. Supt Scully dismissed claims the organisers acted responsibly. "If you get 300 cars and 600 people gathering in a site of special scientific interest, how can you say you are being responsible?," he asked. "It's insulting to the local local communities to suggest that."
Tory-affiliated British magazine The Spectator has a rather arch write-up of the Schapelle Corby spectacle and reaction to it in Australia: (registration required)
It's the ultimate reality TV show. Corby, who seems to be the only bule (foreigner) in Bali who doesn't sweat, has adapted well to her starring role. In jail she has slimmed down from a plumpish and brassy suburban shrill to a demure girl-next-door. Last week she added an elegant and much-fingered necklace crucifix to her outfit. The news execs love it, but their concern for Corby contrasts with their apparent indifference to the plight of the dozen or so other Australians -- Asian Australians -- held elsewhere in the region and either charged with or convicted of drug-smuggling.
Australians fancy they see something of the Gallipoli spirit in Corby. She has been cast as a humble "Aussie battler" abandoned by her government and struggling in vain to overcome an insurmountable foreign adversary. The enemy is not "Johnny Turk" this time but the "brutal" Indonesian legal system which has the nerve to conduct its affairs in Bahasa Indonesia, not Australian English. As Corby fans see it, the bases were clearly all loaded against their girl, the sinister outcome predetermined in Indonesia's murky shadows.
Though could one think of a better folk hero for a nation which prides itself on its larrikinism, whose unofficial national anthem is a song about a sheep thief, and where an armed robber has been transformed into everything from Robin Hood to the spiritual father of the Australian Labor Party and/or the Republican movement? Especially in the age of reality-TV, where photogenic looks and image management count for a lot.
At the end, the article ties in the spectacle to the latte-sipping-cosmopolitan-elite-vs.-silent-majority-of-suburban-battlers culture-war dialectic:
The demographer Bernard Salt says the Corby matter explodes what has always been the myth of Australian egalitarianism. Salt has previously noted, controversially, that Australia, like most countries, has an educated minority, a cultural and cosmopolitan elite that directs its politics, its economy, its popular culture, with the majority functionong as essentially its market. He says that Australia's cosmopolitans account for at most one million of the nation's 20 million people.
But the elite aren't calling the shots on this one. There has been talk of a "redneck coup". And the circus shows no signs of packing up. A new lawyer has just been appointed to handle Our Schapelle's appeal. I met him last week, and he did not disappoint me. His name is Paris Hutapea, and he carries two sidearms (a Beretta and a Walther), sports shiny blue suits and an impressive mullet, and drives to work in a Humvee. His fingers drip with opal and diamond rings. He and big sister Mercedes should hit it off.
Meanwhile, Bruce Schneier writes about the anthrax scare at the Indonesian embassy, revealing that, since 9/11. there has been a white-powder scare in Australia on average every four days (most of which have been kept out of the news by the Australian press's (voluntary) D-notice regime).
A survey of the similarities between love and various pathological conditions:
The initial drive - lust - is brought on by surges of sex hormones, such as testosterone and estrogen. These induce an indiscriminate scramble for physical gratification. Attraction transpires once a more-or-less appropriate object is found (with the right body language and speed and tone of voice) and is tied to a panoply of sleep and eating disorders.
Obsessive thoughts regarding the Loved One and compulsive acts are also common. Perception is distorted as is cognition. "Love is blind" and the lover easily fails the reality test. Falling in love involves the enhanced secretion of b-Phenylethylamine (PEA, or the "love chemical") in the first 2 to 4 years of the relationship. This natural drug creates an euphoric high and helps obscure the failings and shortcomings of the potential mate. Such oblivion - perceiving only the spouse's good sides while discarding her bad ones - is a pathology akin to the primitive psychological defense mechanism known as "splitting". Narcissists - patients suffering from the Narcissistic Personality Disorder - also Idealize romantic or intimate partners. A similar cognitive-emotional impairment is common in many mental health conditions.
Love, in all its phases and manifestations, is an addiction, probably to the various forms of internally secreted norepinephrine, such as the aforementioned amphetamine-like PEA. Love, in other words, is a form of substance abuse. The withdrawal of romantic love has serious mental health repercussions.
Also via Mind Hacks, studies of the neurology of sarcasm, which turns out to be a good subject for exploring subjects' theory of mind, being carried out at the fantastically-named Rambam Medical Center in Haifa, Israel.
Photogenic Australian drug smuggler convicted in Indonesia, sentenced to 20 years. This is a somewhat more lenient sentence than many were expecting; initially she was facing the death penalty, though presumably the economic pressure of a potential Australian boycott of Bali prevailed. If she wasn't a photogenic young woman with the tabloid media on her side, she'd probably be facing a firing squad (much as nine other less fortunate Australians are set to do).
Meanwhile, the government is quick to make political hay with a populist gesture of donating two QCs to work on her appeal, paid for by your taxes, and working on a prisoner-transfer agreement to save her the indignity of a barbaric Indonesian jail (expect the Schapelle Corby Act 2005 to show up in Hansard soon); you'd think there was an election coming up or something. An much wailing and gnashing of teeth ensues online:
"I am devestated with the verdict of the Indonesian Courts for Schapelle Corby. When the verdict was given, I fell into a bit of a heap, but Schapelles strength made me gain my composure pretty quickly.
"strength"? Looks like Australia has now found its Princess Di. Look for discount mobile-phone baron Ron Bakir, who owns the trademark on "Schapelle Corby", to make a mint in the commemorative-mug trade.
Some sought to tie Australia's tsunami aid to the issue. Bryan Griffin wrote: "I am sure that all people, not just Australians will also feel sick. "Maybe some of the donations made by us for the disaster should be returned to pay her fine. It's like a double wammy for Indonesia and their finances.Note the subtexts there: the life of an Australian convicted of drug trafficking is worth more than those of Indonesians affected by the tsunami. And the fact that she was convicted of drug trafficking is irrelevant, because we all know that Indonesian courts are corrupt. The fact that the "evidence" for the defence consisted of prison hearsay that no Australian court would have accepted seems to have gotten conveniently lost along the way.
And, of course, the Australian media's content-free, sensationalist beat-up hasn't helped things.
I wonder whether Indonesian restaurants across Australia are hanging up prominent "Schapelle is Innocent" signs (which, I imagine, the Herald-Sun will provide) in their windows to avoid being summarily boycotted or worse, much as Afghan restaurants proclaimed their opposition to terrorism after 9/11.
The Russian scientists behind RU-21, a pill originally developed to allow KGB agents to drink and remain sober, have now developed a pill which keeps you drunk for longer.
My only question is: why? Would having another drink be too enjoyable or something?
An Australian company is trialling a testosterone spray to boost the female sex drive. The spray, designed for post-menopausal women, also works on young women wanting to get their bootywhang on; the only side-effect so far is abnormal hair growth.
Of course, the street finds its own uses for things. Viagra and its competitors have transitioned from prescription-only anti-impotence solution to nightclub party drug (in some places, drug dealers mix them with speed or the cocktail of dubious shit that goes into "ecstasy" tablets and call it "sex-tasy"), and young men with no medical problems can buy them online for recreational uses from dodgy pharmacies (sometimes with tragicomic effects, such as the teenaged schoolboys who thought it'd be cool to take Viagra before going to school one day, not thinking through the mortifying social consequences of spending a day in school with a conspicuous erection). And there's no reason why the same won't happen for the testosterone spray. One imagines rampaging hordes of young women huffing the stuff like Dennis Hopper in Blue Velvet and ravaging their way across the urban landscape like amazon Viking berzerkers, aggressively hitting on everyone in their path, their mustaches shining in the full moon, and occasionally getting into testosterone-fuelled "he's mine! no, mine!" fistfights.
It seems that everything from cheese to pornography, from technology to obesity to all-terain vehicles, is "the new heroin" these days.
According to recent research from Bush's America, pornography is not communication but a drug; the technical term for this, according to the California Protective Parents Association, is "erototoxin". The implications of this are that material that induces an erotic response may not be protected under the First Amendment, but may instead come under the jurisdiction of the War On Drugs.
Psychologists in Canada have proven that the mere sight of an attractive woman can induce men to act irrationally, impulsively. Candidates of both sexes were shown images of people's faces, ranked in terms of attractiveness (and taken from amihotornot.com), and then offered a choice between a small amount of money tomorrow or a larger one at some variable time in the future; men who saw images of highly attractive women were more inclined to go for the smaller reward available the next day (an irrational behaviour, much like those exhibited by drug addicts). Female candidates showed no difference in their behaviour when shown images of attractive or unattractive men.
Scientists in the Netherlands have discovered that an orgasm is neurologically equivalent to a hit of heroin. By getting volunteers to have sex whilst keeping their heads perfectly still in a PET-scanning machine, researchers at Groningen University were able to form an image of the neurological effects of orgasm.
Last year, scientific journal Science published a study which showed that just one dose of Ecstasy (MDMA) can cause irreversible brain damage and premature Parkinson's disease. The piece was picked up on to give impetus to laws prosecuting dance party organisers for not enforcing a drug-free environment. Now it emerges that the experiment was a sham; the substance injected into the hapless monkeys in the experiment was not MDMA but methamphetamine; the result of mislabelled test tubes. Oops! Though I bet that prohibitionist zealots and prison industry lobbyists will keep trotting this experiment out as "proof" that we need more draconian anti-drug laws, confident that the average voter isn't going to have a foolproof scorecard of just what has been discredited.
Tonight I went to see Pure, a film by Gillies MacKinnon (who also did Glaswegian tenement kitchen-sinker Small Faces and Kate Winslet art-house romp Hideous Kinky) about a 10-year-old boy in gritty East London and his heroin-addicted mother. The film was somewhere between Ken Loach's kitchen-sink social realism (particularly films like Kes) and Trainspotting; it had a touch of the pop-cultural sensibility of the latter (in a few visual effects), but was somewhat less light (though unlike many kitchen-sink films, it didn't offer a scathing indictment of capitalism/contemporary British society). The acting was excellent, especially from Canadian actress Molly Parker (she was the necrophiliac in Kissed some years back) who played the mother, struggling with heroin addiction. Meanwhile, Australian actor David Wenham (of The Boys) played the slimy wide-boy drug dealer/pimp, and up-and-coming actress Keira Knightley (she's in some Disney formula flick or something) played a teenaged prostitute. The musical score was by Nitin Sawhney, and alternated between traditional film-score territory (neo-classical synth-strings and pianos) and jungle/drum-&-bass-inspired beats. Well worth a look, if it gets local release (quite possible, because of the local-boy factor).
It was interesting to contrast the gritty, working-class East London in Pure, with its housing estates, drug addiction, teenage prostitutes and the mass ritual of the football match, with the almost Thatcherite upwardly-mobile neighbourhoods just a little further west in The Mother which I saw on the weekend.
As public-health-conscious governments/lifestyle fascists ban smoking in various public venues, some venues are starting to sell drinks laced with nicotine, complete with tobacco aftertaste. (via bOING bOING)
Something to keep in mind as you fill in your tax return: The Australian Federal Court has ruled that a convicted heroin dealer can claim a tax deduction for money lost during a failed drug deal.
This reminds me of something I heard many years ago: a man filled in his tax return forms, giving his profession as "burglar". The ATO allowed him to claim his burglary implements as tax deductions, but not the cost of travelling to/from the premises he robbed.
Authorities across the Middle East are cracking down on music subcultures: form heavy-metal fans in Morocco to gay disco-dancing "Satanists" in Lebanon to anything to do with Michael Jackson in Saudi Arabia.
Among the objects exhibited in court as being contrary to good morals was a black T-shirt with heavy metal symbols on it. This prompted the judge to comment that "normal people go to concerts in a suit and tie".
Lebanese devil worshippers are easily recognised. According to one security official, they are young men with long hair and beards who "listen to hard rock music, drink mind-altering alcoholic cocktails and take off their black shirts, dancing bare-chested".
What is probably the most bizarre heavy-metal-and-satanism case occurred in Egypt in 1997 when state security police, armed with machine guns and satanically clad in masks and black uniforms, dragged about 70 youngsters - some as young as 16 - from their beds in a series of dawn raids. They took away posters from bedroom walls, CDs and tapes ranging from Guns 'n' Roses to Beethoven's fifth symphony and, in one household, a black t-shirt with a Bugs Bunny design.
"In the 1980s," Mohammed continued, "Saudis started dressing like [Michael Jackson], copying his hairstyle and doing moonwalks on the roundabouts. This is the reason most people give me about why his stuff is not allowed here.
North Korean defectors testify about weapons programme, government-run heroin export industry, suggesting that North Korea gets a big chunk of its funds from its heroin and methamphetamines industry, and that the government thereof is essentially the world's first nuclear-armed drug cartel (though given its penchant for kidnapping useful talent from overseas, that's not too surprising). Though weren't there rumours of the Soviets having massive opium plantations in their Asian republics to bring in hard currency in the '80s or so?
Rational Ministries could well be the next Time Cube. He goes on about communism (in a quasi-religious sort of way, mixed in with bits of Wagnerian Viking mysticism), LSD, sex and psychiatric medication, expounds his rigorous moral system and names his favourite porn star and video. He has his own version of the political compass test, with added questions about sexual kinks and drugs, and a page outlining his beliefs:
sex does have some social issues, that need to be kept in place, all sex has a dominance/humiliation aspect, some people take this attitude out of the bedroom and into the rest of the community, if you are trying to say the women, or submissive, doesn't want to act and be treated like a slut, you are really naive, if you are saying the dominant or man doesn't like to humiliate women or submissives, you are naive.
open systems technology, like ISA was, and like java is, satisfies capitalist economic theory, in that there will be more competition, and satisfies socialist theory, in that no imperialist can take control, this leaves only dainty imperialists that like proprietary systems, and dainty imperialists have no place in Valhalla
And then there's this personal ad:
I am seeking to reproduce, so I am looking for artificial insemination with women who have support means, and as many as possible. What I have to offer is my DNA. and as you know instinctual information along with physical traits is stored in DNA. If you like the qualities of my philosophy, it is most likely my DNA contributed to them. Much liked a bird's DNA tells it to make a nest when it is ready to lay eggs. Contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org , RIGHT NOW, the child can know me by my philosophies. And once again, this is not about sex, I WOULD PREFER ARTIFICIAL INSEMINATION IF YOU CAN AFFORD IT, if you cannot I will do otherwise.
...followed by a spot of Holocaust-revisionism, in case that wasn't loopy enough. (via Psychoceramics)
In what could be another poke in the eye for the Washington Consensus, the Belgian parliament has voted to legalise the personal use of cannabis; sale within Belgium will still be illegal (though importation from the Netherlands probably won't be that difficult).
Life imitates Reefer Madness: Man goes on psychotic rampage after smoking 100 bongs a day. It is believed that the staggeringly huge quantities of primo-grade ganja consumed by the man led to a violent psychosis. So remember kids: don't smoke marijuana; it'll make you go mad and kill people.
Researchers at Victoria University in New Zealand have found that being drunk is partly in the mind. A group of students were given water to drink in a pub-like environment; half were told it was vodka, and the other half were told the truth. The candidates were then shown slides of a crime and asked to assess a story full of misleading information. The students who thought they were drinking vodka had poorer memory and were more suggestible and less reliable as witnesses.
(Which shows that if you believe (from external evidence) that you should be drunk or perceptually impaired, your brain will go out of its way to induce this state, to the point of subconsciously degrading your perception appropriately. Which makes one wonder: what proportion of people's inabilities to achieve various things is the result of suggestion or conditioning, with no physical basis?)
What would Jesus do? Marijuana, or so new research claims. The research by a professor of classical mythology, published in the scholarly journal High Times, claims that the oils used in the "miracle healings" attributed to Jesus contained a cannabis extract.
A new study at the Max Planck Institute for Psychiatry has found that mental illness precedes Ecstasy use; the study shows that 69% of Ecstasy users had a history of mental problems (as defined in DSM-IV; this includes things like depression and anxiety, not just schizophrenia, psychosis and such); and in 88% of cases, the problems preceded Ecstasy use. Does this mean you'd have to be nuts to be a raver?
(Then again, who isn't at least a little fucked up these days?) (via FmH)
Canada's outgoing Prime Minister wants to decriminalise marijuana. Not because he's a pothead or anything (he's not), but for more practical reasons. The US is unhappy with this, and has made threatening noises about trade restrictions and more. Perhaps if it happens, we'll see Whitlam-style "regime change" in Canada?
Conspiracy theory of the day: is the Bush administration drawing up plans to
put Prozac in the water supply to head off the mass protests that are inevitable when Bush
steals wins his second term and continues screwing things up?
(via New World Disorder)
They noted that since the election of George Bush, the use of Prozac has increased by 30% and it was the opinion of this board of Department of Defense psychologists that if Bush has another term in office, it could lead to mass depression in the United States, wherein suicide and homicide rates could continue to rise.
There is also a memorandum from the FBI, expressing concerns about this -- that if Bush is allowed a second term in office, there could be not only an economic depression but also a mass psychological depression in the United States.
And then there's the connection between financial statistics and violent crime:
There's another reason why the Department of Defense wants to put Prozac in the water supply. The Department of Justice has begun to notice a very disquieting correlation - a rapid and tremendous increase in violent crime over the last six months. These include murders, kidnapping, rapes, and assaults, and this has occurred in correspondence with the time when people get their IRA and 4o1(K) statements.
Of course, they could just legalise marijuana and encourage everybody to toke up. It's remarkably useful for making people passive and docile, increasing snack food consumption (thus patriotically boosting the profits of companies like RJ Reynolds and Mars) -- and it has that countercultural cachet of rebellion and underground culture which will make some of those most prone to oppose The Man self-medicate into compliance. (The Netherlands, where cannabis is all but legal, has had surprisingly nonviolent international football matches, some believe due to the effects of all the hooligans taking advantage of the local ganja bars and getting mellow.)
Though, of course, it won't happen; the War On Drugs fundamentalists in the Republican party (and US government as a whole) are too committed to their ideology. Though it could be achieved surreptitiously; for example preventing the police from arresting cannabis growers, or even having the CIA start funneling high-grade skunk to the suburbs (as they allegedly did with crack cocaine in the inner cities). That would have the advantage of not risking diluting marijuana's underground cachet.
At the same time, synthetic cannabinol-based medications without the fundie-scaring image of Marihuana ("The weed with roots in Hell!"), and a milder buzz, could be developed and put on the market, all profits going to Republican-donating drug/food companies. Perhaps a genetically-engineered THC-bearing tobacco strain could be developed to get around the ban, ending up in "extreme cigz" for pierced, wallet-chained mooks.
As the hardline government of the United States redoubles its' crusade against the evil of marijuana, medical marijuana users are seeking asylum in Canada. (While some US states have ruled medical marijuana to be legal, the federal government is zealously prosecuting all involved in its provision. And with all those FBI agents assigned to the War On Drugs and son-of-COINTELPRO, makes you wonder who's actually doing something about boring old-fashioned crimes like murder and robbery.)
Canada's legislators debate decriminalising or legalising marijuana; in response, U.S. Government threatens to impose trade sanctions, which would devastate the export-oriented Canadian economy, unless Canada toes the line.
"To antagonize government leaders and grass roots leader because you insist on having a radical drug policy that we will not ignore in the long term, then its going to have adverse consequences and I hope we would be able to rectify it before it comes to blows," explains Maginnis.
You've heard of the research unanimously pointing to ecstasy causing long-term brain damage? Well, apparently much of that is propaganda, with experiments being compromised to give politically useful results, and contradictory research being frozen out of journals.
An interesting page on the history and chemistry of absinthe. Apparently many of the so-called absinthes which are now legally obtainable contain little or no thujone (the active ingredient), and are basically nothing more than extremely expensive alcohol containing green food dye. (via bOING bOING)
Burn down the disco, and hang the blessed DJ: An aging rocker on why dance music is rubbish:
The dance craze is the very antithesis of what punk stood for. Punk was iconoclastic. Its gigs were exuberant and unpredictable. The Pistols and The Clash lifted two fingers at some of the worst aspects of British society, with its class-ridden inequality, nauseating obsession with the Royal Family and penchant for vile-tasting beers. Dance, on the other hand, is contrived and controlled. John Major's government gave it an undeserved outlaw appeal by trying to curb large raves through public order legislation. The little grey man need not have worried his funny-looking head. Dance culture is about as big a threat to the governing classes as Val Doonican or Celine Dion.
A friend of mine, a former punk who claims to appreciate the underlying aesthetics of dance music, explained to me why I am a dance philistine. "It's very simple, Dave. You don't take E." Taking ecstasy "gives you a great buzz", my friend informed me. After popping an E tab once, he stayed up all night reading gardening books, planning his shrubbery in minute detail. Hearing that an ex-punk resorts to rave drugs, to improve his gardening, convinced me that something is seriously wrong with the world.
I must confess that I don't entirely disagree with him; I listen to more music played by live musicians than pre-sequenced electronica (though a bit of the latter), I don't have much time for the sorts of homogeneous, repetitive records that you can only appreciate when on drugs at a club, and on most of the times I saw "live electronica" acts, I found them boring (with the exception of the more theatrical acts like Down Town Brown).
OTOH, I wouldn't write off all electronica in the same vein; some of it (such as Negativland's The Letter U and the Numeral 2, which he rubbishes in the article) has more in common with his beloved punk genre's core ethos than he gives credit.
The punk rebellion started because music in the Seventies had become mind-numbingly bland. As we approach the millennium, the dance music promoted by the style gurus is even more infuriating. Any attempt at a punk rebellion now would probably be ludicrous. Yet we urgently need something with similar vitality and imagination to challenge the mediocrity stifling European club-life.
I think the problem is not that there is no challenging, vital music, but that the industry and market ignore it and select for easy-to-digest blandness instead. (link via 1.0)
The youngest of the late Princess Diana's children, Prince Harry, has been committed to a drug rehabilitation clinic, after it emerged that not only had he drunk alcohol on several occasions, but had also smoked the evil weed Marihuana.
It was hoped he would meet heroin addicts and get a glimpse of the dangers of drugs.
Yes, of course. Marijuana is a gateway drug, and those who do it are likely to go on to harder drugs such as heroin. Also, masturbation causes blindness, and the hair of a seventh son cures warts. I'm sorry, but that has been debunked, and nobody other than William Bennett believes that anymore. Though, then again, we're talking about the Royal Family here...
(Then again, if you were in his shoes, wouldn't you be getting smashed regularly?)
A woman with the euphonious name of Decca Aitkenhead has written a book about her search for the perfect E (the drug, that is). The Grauniad has published an excerpt, in which her quest takes her to America:
When manufacturers began tampering with Es, they would substitute the cheaper ingredient of amphetamine for MDMA. Then came a spell when pills were laced with a hint of barbiturate, followed by a short but nasty batch of Es containing ketamine, a devastating veterinary anaesthetic. A particularly sneaky substitute is something called MDA, a derivative of MDMA. Popular with drug dealers, it mimics the effects of its chemical cousin for the first 15 minutes but then, very suddenly, it's over - giving the unlucky clubber just enough of a glimpse to tempt them back to buy another. A typical dud pill nowadays contains little more than glucose and caffeine, but MDMA is still out there and the quality of Es varies widely, each new brand quickly acquiring a reputation on the club scene.
Making the best of a bad thing: Convicted perjurer, former Tory deputy chairman and best-selling pulp novelist Lord Jeffrey Archer is able to use his stay in prison as a unique opportunity for research. Archer says that prison has taught him more about drugs than life outside ever did. He has also been using his spare time in writing, but given his history, I doubt we can expect the next Ballad of Reading Gaol to emerge.
Scare meme of the day: Drug users in the US are turning to a new kick: embalming fluid, which is comprised of formaldehyde, methanol and various other chemicals. Some of the users are robbing funeral parlours to get high. The effects of embalming fluid are said to include hallucinations, euphoria, a feeling of invincibility, and increased pain tolerance, as well as anger, forgetfulness and paranoia.
Dr Julie Holland, of New York University School of Medicine, said: "The idea of embalming fluid appeals to people's morbid curiosity about death. "There's a certain gothic appeal to it."
Coming soon to a goth club near you?
Some 80 years after being outlawed, some say as the result of a conspiracy of winemakers, absinthe is once again legal in France. And this is the real thing, so beloved of the likes of Baudelaire, Toulouse-Lautrec and Alfred Jarry, and not the allegedly inferior Czech variant. The first bottles are expected to appear on shelves by Christmas.
The memory of absinthe is remarkably green. People still tell the story of the day in 1901 when one of the biggest distilleries in town caught fire. Fearing an explosion, a quick-witted worker opened the vats. The river Doubs ran green for hours and the soldiers from the garrison rushed to the water's edge to lower their helmets and drink their fill.
I wonder whether they'll sell it over the Internet. (via Lev)
The French government sez: wear a pro-marijuana T-shirt, go to jail. The T-shirts apparently violate laws against "portraying in a favourable light and promoting or inciting the consumption of any product classed as a banned substance".
As the former hippie-trail resort town of Byron Bay bcomes fashionably popular with mainstream people with respectable jobs and kids and such, the police have acted to make it safe for suburban normalcy, and tackling the town's runaway marijuana smoking problem. This they are doing by cracking down on cannabis possession with sniffer dog patrols, searching suspected drug fiends in the streets. Naturally, the dreadlocked and drugfucked hippie types that have frequented the formerly easygoing town for decades aren't pleased, and are planning to protest what they consider an erosion of their civil liberties. (Or perhaps the goal is to get them to move to Nimbin, thus making room for people with more money to spend?)
According to the Victorian police, 95% of the "ecstasy" in Australia is fake, containing no MDMA and god only knows what. This is because of Customs stopping most shipments of the real stuff.
So what's in these tablets? Amphetamine is the main ingredient, says Quinn, "but in an attempt to mimic some of the effects of real ecstasy - euphoria, increased energy, pleasurable rushes, feelings of empathy, dreaminess and a hallucinogenic-like glow - producers of the fake pills typically combine various stimulants, hallucinogens and sedatives, depending on what chemicals they have access to... We're also seeing paracetamol; the stimulants pseudoephedrine and ephedrine; and heroin, codeine and cocaine all mixed up in the one tablet. And we've found tiny pieces of LSD tickets pressed inside tablets. We're finding benzodiazepines Temazepam, Diazepam, and Rohypnol, which are all sedatives. There's sometimes caffeine. We've also found Promethazine, a motion-sickness medication, which makes you feel woozy, cloudy, dissociated."
(Which sounds like a good argument for legalising and regulating the substance, like tobacco, in the name of harm minimisation. If there's a market for MDMA, give the buyers something that won't kill them and put the criminals who make fake pills out of business. Unless one accepts the neo-Darwinian argument that people who take recreational drugs with unknown long-term effects are unfit to consume resources and pass on their genes and are best culled from the gene pool.)
Sometimes, in the course of protecting the public interest from dangerous deviants, the defenders of law and order must improvise. Details emerge of how the police used publicity to frame the Rolling Stones (who were sort of the Oasis of their day or something) on drug charges in 1967.
Drugmusic update: Skinny Boy Tubby, that James Brown of the chemical generation, copped some flack over his upcoming album from the mother of Tragic Ecstasy Victim Leah Betts, 15YO and permanently 'sorted'. Janet Betts, now an anti-drug warrior to rival Bill Bennett, who called for laws banning such music. Never mind that she hasn't heard it, or for that matter that the canonical Big Beat drug is alcohol.
Switzerland prepares to formally legalise marijuana, a substance which is rapidly gaining an aura of safe, middle-class respectability. (BBC News)
The latest Narcolombian drug craze: Burundanga, a "zombie powder" which induces total obedience and temporary amnesia. (via Rebecca's Pocket)