Have an ecstatic holiday! Dec 24 2015
Erowid notes that Merck patented MDMA on December 24, 1912.
If you've ever wanted to see a video about how to cook a pot-infused Thanksgiving turkey shot in the style of a Requiem for a Dream heroin-shooting sequence, you have come to the right place. (via devour)
A group called Kurzgesagt, in collaboration with author Johann Hari, made this video about taking a new approach to understanding addiction. You've probably heard of the experiments where rats in cages were given access to drugs. The rats quickly became addicted to them and used them heavily until overdosing. But perhaps the problem is not the drugs but the cage. Later experiments showed that if rats were given plenty of alternate activities, freedom, and room to roam, they were not likely to become heavy drugs users or overdose.
Human studies are more difficult to come by, but it still appears that when available, living life, family, and friends are more addictive than heroin. And so, according to Hari, who wrote a book about all this, what we should be doing is not isolating those who become addicted to drugs, alcohol, and other things. Instead, we should build a society that reconnects people to each other so that the drugs become unnecessary.
Hopes&Fears asked a group of scientists and researchers if reality is actually real or if it's all an illusion or hallucination.
How do we know this is real life? The short answer is: we don't. We can never prove that we're not all hallucinating, or simply living in a computer simulation. But that doesn't mean that we believe that we are.
There are two aspects to the question. The first is, "How do we know that the stuff we see around us is the real stuff of which the universe is made?" That's the worry about the holographic principle, for example -- maybe the three-dimensional space we seem to live in is actually a projection of some underlying two-dimensional reality.
It's getting more difficult for new painkilling drugs to be approved because the rate of effectiveness vs. placebos in drug tests is falling. But oddly, the drop is only being seen in the US.
Based on patients' ratings of their pain, the effect of trialled drugs in relieving symptoms stayed the same over the 23-year period -- but placebo responses rose. In 1996, patients in clinical trials reported that drugs relieved their pain by 27% more than did a placebo. But by 2013, that gap had slipped to just 9%. The phenomenon is driven by 35 US trials; among trials in Europe, Asia and elsewhere, there was no significant change in placebo responses. The analysis is in press in the journal Pain.
Before the Reagans cranked up the War on Drugs in the early 80s due to the massive influx of cocaine from Latin America, advertisements offering all kinds of coke paraphernalia could be found in magazines. The World's Best Ever collected a bunch of ads offering spoons, mirrors, straws, knives, and the like for America's coke sniffers.
They should have found a way to do it without the voiceover. Too much telling and not enough showing. (I have a thing about voiceovers. My first exposure to Blade Runner was Ridley Scott's Director's Cut, which omitted Deckard's voiceover, and when I started watching the original version on TV a few months ago, I nearly threw the remote through the screen...so grating and entirely unnecessary.)↩
Mary H.K. Choi writes about reconnecting with an experience she'd had when she was younger: rolling on molly.
When you're a kid, you think you'll be a certain place in your mid-30s. I presumed I'd be rich because when you're middle-class with hardworking immigrant parents that's the whole point. I also thought I'd be married and potentially own a beautiful apartment in New York. Ha ha. What you spend zero time wondering about is whether you'll still be doing drugs. You naturally assume you'll grow out of whatever stupidity you dabbled in as a teen. Even up to my 20s I didn't realize that job-having, non-fuckup grown-ups in their 30s and 40s still smoked weed. Or did ecstasy.
But then I got older and got bored. Saying you're bored as an adult is truly despicable since it implies that your Maslow's pyramid is so satisfied, so abundant with shelter, food, health, and love, that you're driven to idly wishing you liked video games more.
What I want is a vacation from myself. I've tried exercise, meditation, sex, and food. I wait for the desire to plan a wedding or have a kid or buy a house and when those things don't take hold or are plainly untenable, I get my aura read. I open a trillion tabs of internet and drink it in. I gorge on studies about magnets that make you think differently and begin researching the properties of crystals. I don't think about any of it as self-help because that's way too pathetic, certainly more than the itchy meh I feel. I want to hurl my brain into outer space; it's real, real quiet there, the ultimate holiday of feeling small. But because I'm not pregnant and don't have cancer, I just want to do drugs again.
Since I wasn't a High Times reader in 1975, I missed the debut of Dope Rider, a totally trippy, startlingly surrealistic comic strip starring a Wild West skeleton and created by Paul Kirchner. Thankfully, Kirchner has uploaded the entire Dope Rider oeuvre and shared the back story on what may be one of the comic world's stranger strips. The psychedelic comic features dope trading, Hells Angels references, and lines like, "The best things about being high is the view."
If you buy this digital scale on Amazon, the site assumes you might be a drug dealer. Nestled among the calibration weights listed in the Customers Who Bought This Item Also Bought section are tobacco pipe screens, rolling papers, powders for cutting drugs (I assume), zipper bags of all sizes (including some decorated with golden skulls), empty pill capsules, and even a Dr Pepper can safe.
The death of Philip Seymour Hoffman has turned more attention towards America's growing heroin problem, where the gateway drug is often a prescription painkiller. From PBS Newshour: "Why more Americans are getting high -- and overdosing -- on heroin."
As I mentioned at the time, Vermont Gov. Peter Shumlin devoted his entire State of the State to the "full-blown heroin crisis."
As the government has cracked down on the large drug labs located in jungles, the Colombian drug cartels have begun to decentralize their operations, operating small labs in city apartments and cooking batches in microwaves. Here's a look at one of those apartment labs, which includes an interview with a dealer and a look at the smuggling technique du jour.
It turns out that the latest trend in Colombia's cocaine trade is moving processing out of the huge plants in the jungle to small, mobile and disposable urban labs. In this new, decentralized world of cocaine production, two men with some buckets, a handful of microwave ovens and only the most basic knowledge of chemistry can take naturally growing coca leaves and turn them into 100 percent pure cocaine powder. And here's the craziest part...they show us how they do it.
Merck is working on a new insomnia drug that they claim has few of the sometimes nasty side effects of other drugs like Ambien. Ian Parker reports for the New Yorker.
If the Merck scientists succeeded at the F.D.A., they would be the first to bring an orexin-related drug to market. "It's an amazing achievement," Richard Hargreaves, the fourth colleague at the Hilton, said. "Everyone should be really proud." But, he added, "my worry is that a new mechanism is being evaluated on the science of an old mechanism."
"With Ambien, you've got a drug that's got basically only onset," Renger said, dismissively. That is, it sends you to sleep but might not keep you asleep. "Suvorexant has the onset, but it has the great maintenance, especially in the last third of the night, where other drugs fail." And even though suvorexant keeps working longer than Ambien, suvorexant patients don't feel groggier afterward, as you might expect. Impassioned, Renger imagined himself addressing the F.D.A.: "Why aren't you giving this a chance?"
"Drugs usually have some side effects," Schoepp said. "It's all benefit-risk." He added, "There is some dose where suvorexant will be ultimately safe-because nothing will happen. If you go low enough, it becomes homeopathic."
They stood to go to their rooms. Schoepp murmured, "I'd love to take it right now."
Fascinating article about what it's like to buy heroin on the west side of Chicago. The ritual of buying is just as exciting as the shooting up.
The fact is, and I don't care who tries to dispute this, that a majority of the people who make the daily migration to the West Side to cop blows are as addicted to the ritual of copping dope as they are to the dope itself. It is an adrenaline rush no different than those achieved by people who jump out of airplanes. And dope fiends get to experience it every day.
With Silk Road kingpin Ross Ulbricht in custody, one imagines that a whole lot of his former customers are feeling a bit nervous right about now. And they should be. Buyers and sellers are starting to get arrested.
Charles Thompson might be a little nervous as well. As he explains:
In February of 2013, I decided to order one gram of MDMA from Silk Road because I wanted to write an essay on whether it really was that easy to click a few buttons and have a package of Schedule I substances arrive at your door a week later.
It was that easy. And that's the bad news. From The Morning News: My Brief, Binding Road.
In the 1980s, crack babies were all over the news. They were supposed to have severe mental and physical problems, overwhelm our schools and health care institutions, and cost us billions of dollars. None of this happened because the media latched onto some limited preliminary research and blew it all out of proportion.
Retro Report has gone back to look at the story of these children from the perspective of those in the eye of the storm -- tracing the trajectory from the small 1985 study by Dr. Ira Chasnoff that first raised the alarm, through the drumbeat of media coverage that kept the story alive, to the present where a cocaine-exposed research subject tells her own surprising life story. Looking back, Crack Babies: A Tale from the Drug Wars shows the danger of prediction and the unexpected outcomes that result when closely-held convictions turn out to be wrong.
This video was produced by a new news organization called Retro Report, which revisits old news stories with a sober eye..."a smart, engaging and forward-looking review of these high-profile events". In addition to the crack babies story, they've also explored the New York garbage barge and the Tailhook scandal.
Taking a page from Orwell, officials in Chengdu, China endeavored to prevent recent protests by moving the weekend and scheduling security exercises at the same time and place as the scheduled protest.
As text messages circulated calling for another protest, authorities decided to fiddle with the calendar: For many, Saturday became a workday, and the day of rest was moved to Monday, May 6. So as Saturday dawned, schoolchildren straggled reluctantly back to class, and employees at government-run work units discovered the day was taken up by urgent meetings.
But the more radical steps involved brutalizing the addicts themselves. Saakashvili mandated as aggressive a drug policy as any country has attempted since Mao Zedong threatened to execute all Chinese opium fiends and "cured" about five million of them overnight. If you think New York's stop-and-frisk rule is invasive, try Georgia's: Cops can stop anyone at any time for no reason and force him to urinate into a cup. Fifty-three thousand people were stopped on the street in 2007, or about one in 20 of the young men in Georgia. About a third of those passed dirty urine; first-offenders were levied a fine of several hundred dollars. One more dirty test amounted to a criminal offense.
"There was such an unprecedented drug war," Otiashvili says. "What was going on-and still goes on-in Georgia doesn't happen anywhere. No country puts people in the prison for a positive urine test."
Alfred Anaya was really good at putting secret compartments into cars and he thought he was in the clear if he didn't know what his customers were putting in these compartments. He was wrong.
Alfred Anaya took pride in his generous service guarantee. Though his stereo installation business, Valley Custom Audio Fanatics, was just a one-man operation based out of his San Fernando, California, home, he offered all of his clients a lifetime warranty: If there was ever any problem with his handiwork, he would fix it for the cost of parts alone-no questions asked.
Anaya's customers typically took advantage of this deal when their fiendishly loud subwoofers blew out or their fiberglass speaker boxes developed hairline cracks. But in late January 2009, a man whom Anaya knew only as Esteban called for help with a more exotic product: a hidden compartment that Anaya had installed in his Ford F-150 pickup truck. Over the years, these secret stash spots-or traps, as they're known in automotive slang-have become a popular luxury item among the wealthy and shady alike. This particular compartment was located behind the truck's backseat, which Anaya had rigged with a set of hydraulic cylinders linked to the vehicle's electrical system. The only way to make the seat slide forward and reveal its secret was by pressing and holding four switches simultaneously: two for the power door locks and two for the windows.
Esteban said the seat was no longer responding to the switch combination and that no amount of jiggling could make it budge. He pleaded with Anaya to take a look.
Anaya was unsettled by this request, for he had suspicions about the nature of Esteban's work. There is nothing intrinsically illegal about building traps, which are commonly used to hide everything from pricey jewelry to legal handguns. But the activity runs afoul of California law if an installer knows for certain that his compartment will be used to transport drugs. The maximum penalty is three years in prison. Anaya thus thought it wise to deviate from his standard no-questions-asked policy before agreeing to honor his warranty. "There's nothing in there I shouldn't know about, is there?" he asked. Esteban assured him that he needn't worry.
Read all the way to the end for author Brendan Koerner's conclusions about our government's position of the moral neutrality of technology.
Paul Frampton is a 69-year-old theoretical particle physicist who has co-authored papers with Nobel laureates. In late 2011, the absentminded professor met a Czech bikini model online. Over email and Yahoo chat, they became romantically involved and she sent him a plane ticket to come meet her at a photo shoot in Bolivia. Then she asked him to bring a bag of hers with him on his flight.
While in Bolivia, Frampton corresponded with an old friend, John Dixon, a physicist and lawyer who lives in Ontario. When Frampton explained what he was up to, Dixon became alarmed. His warnings to Frampton were unequivocal, Dixon told me not long ago, still clearly upset: "I said: 'Well, inside that suitcase sewn into the lining will be cocaine. You're in big trouble.' Paul said, 'I'll be careful, I'll make sure there isn't cocaine in there and if there is, I'll ask them to remove it.' I thought they were probably going to kidnap him and torture him to get his money. I didn't know he didn't have money. I said, 'Well, you're going to be killed, Paul, so whom should I contact when you disappear?' And he said, 'You can contact my brother and my former wife.' " Frampton later told me that he shrugged off Dixon's warnings about drugs as melodramatic, adding that he rarely pays attention to the opinions of others.
On the evening of Jan. 20, nine days after he arrived in Bolivia, a man Frampton describes as Hispanic but whom he didn't get a good look at handed him a bag out on the dark street in front of his hotel. Frampton was expecting to be given an Hermès or a Louis Vuitton, but the bag was an utterly commonplace black cloth suitcase with wheels. Once he was back in his room, he opened it. It was empty. He wrote to Milani, asking why this particular suitcase was so important. She told him it had "sentimental value." The next morning, he filled it with his dirty laundry and headed to the airport.
Crazy story. (via @stevenstrogatz)
Ned Zeman tells the story of how The Blues Brothers came to be made for Vanity Fair.
Aykroyd spends his free time speeding through outskirts and befriending coroners. Belushi, being Chicago's favorite son, does anything he wants. Everything about him -- his lunch-bucket charm, his utter lack of pretense -- makes Belushi a figure of such resounding local popularity that Aykroyd calls him "the unofficial mayor of Chicago."
A trip to Wrigley Field, home of the Chicago Cubs, boggles Landis. "Like being with Mussolini in Rome," he remembers. Belushi, having entered one of the stadium's crowded bathrooms, smiles and shouts, "O.K., stand back!" Everyone retreats from the urinals. Belushi does his business. Then, zipping his fly and beaming, he says, "O.K., back you go!"
"John would literally hail police cars like taxis," Mitch Glazer says. "The cops would say, 'Hey, Belushi!' Then we'd fall into the backseat and the cops would drive us home."
But the drug habit that would claim his life two years later also made Belushi a weight on the production.
One night at three, while filming on a deserted lot in Harvey, Illinois, Belushi disappears. He does this sometimes. On a hunch, Aykroyd follows a grassy path until he spies a house with a light on.
"Uh, we're shooting a film over here," Aykroyd tells the homeowner. "We're looking for one of our actors."
"Oh, you mean Belushi?" the man replies. "He came in here an hour ago and raided my fridge. He's asleep on my couch."
Only Belushi could pull this off. "America's Guest," Aykroyd calls him.
"John," Aykroyd says, awakening Belushi, "we have to go back to work."
Belushi nods and rises. They walk back to the set as if nothing happened.
I had no idea that laundry detergent could be so interesting. Procter & Gamble has done such a good job positioning Tide as a luxury laundry detergent that they can charge a premium for it and people will still buy.
Shoppers have surprisingly strong feelings about laundry detergent. In a 2009 survey, Tide ranked in the top three brand names that consumers at all income levels were least likely to give up regardless of the recession, alongside Kraft and Coca-Cola. That loyalty has enabled its manufacturer, Procter & Gamble, to position the product in a way that defies economic trends. At upwards of $20 per 150-ounce bottle, Tide costs about 50 percent more than the average liquid detergent yet outsells Gain, the closest competitor by market share (and another P&G product), by more than two to one. According to research firm SymphonyIRI Group, Tide is now a $1.7 billion business representing more than 30 percent of the liquid-detergent market.
Because of this premium status and because laundry detergent is not usually well-guarded in grocery stores, Tide has become a large target for theft and subsequent resale, either for cash or crack on street corners across the nation.
What did thieves want with so much laundry soap? To find out, he and his unit pored over security recordings to identify prolific perpetrators, whom officers then tracked down and detained for questioning. "We never promised to go easy on them, but they were willing to talk about it," Thompson says. "I guess they were bragging." It turned out the detergent wasn't being used as an ingredient in some new recipe for getting high, but instead to buy drugs themselves. Tide bottles have become ad hoc street currency, with a 150-ounce bottle going for either $5 cash or $10 worth of weed or crack cocaine. On certain corners, the detergent has earned a new nickname: "Liquid gold." The Tide people would never sanction that tag line, of course. But this unlikely black market would not have formed if they weren't so good at pushing their product.
Please don't let this be a hoax, it's almost too good to be true. (via @mulegirl)
From Collectors Weekly, an interview with Steven Martin about his new book, Opium Fiend. Martin collects opium paraphernalia and got addicted to the stuff (the collectables and the opium) while living and collecting in SE Asia.
In 2001, I was working as a fixer and translator for a good friend of mine, Karl Taro Greenfeld, a journalist for the Asian edition of Time. He wanted to do a story about the remnants of opium smoking in Laos, which, at the time, was the only country in the world where you could see opium smoking in the traditional Chinese manner-that is, with a pipe that's designed to vaporize the drug and a lamp as a source of heat and all the crazy, little tools and accoutrements. Through some weird quirk of history, this sort of opium smoking was eradicated every place else, but Laos still had the traditional public opium den that anybody could walk into, recline, and have an attendant prepare opium for them to smoke.
Actually, Karl's story was more about the backpackers who were coming to Southeast Asia and causing a resurgence of opium smoking, especially in Vang Vieng, just north of the capital, Vientiane. This one little town was a must-stop on the backpackers' circuit. Karl, who had at one time been addicted to heroin when he was living in New York City, wanted to do the story, but he didn't want to get anywhere near the opium, obviously. While I was hired to translate and set up interviews, he asked me to smoke the drug so he could observe and write the details into his story.
It wasn't the first time I had smoked opium. When I was traveling in the Southeast Asia mountains, the villagers would often invite me to smoke opium with them. But I had never really given it much thought until I did this story. Unlike the tribal kind of paraphernalia I had seen in the mountains, these Laotian dens were using the traditional Chinese accoutrements. After we visited the den, we went back down to the capital. I told Karl, "Hey, why don't I take you to an antiques shop I know about that has opium pipes? It might be an interesting souvenir." He ended up buying one, and I thought, "Why don't I get one, too?"
Artist Bryan Lewis Saunders has been making self-portraits of himself every day since 1995. For one particularly interesting sub-series, Saunders drew himself under the influence of all kinds of different drugs (adderall, coke, meth, huffing lighter fluid, etc.). Here he is on absinthe and mushrooms respectively:
San Francisco Giant Melky Cabrera recently tested positive for a banned substance and received a 50 game penalty per MLB's rules. Prior to receiving the suspension, Cabrera made an attempt, new at least in the world of sports, to get off without punishment.
The New York Daily News has discovered that in an effort to beat the rap on his 50-game suspension, Melky and his "associates" devised a scheme that included purchasing a website for $10,000, making this website appear to sell a fake product and pretending Melky purchased and used the product, unaware that it contained a banned substance. Ohh, this close.
Cabrera offered the website as evidence during his appeal and the scheme devolved into comedy in short order.
The Baining, an indiginous group of Papua New Guinea, shun play and basically don't do anything but work.
According to Fajans, the Baining eschew everything that they see as "natural" and value activities and products that come from "work," which they view as the opposite of play. Work, to them, is effort expended to overcome or resist the natural. To behave naturally is to them tantamount to behaving as an animal. The Baining say, "We are human because we work." The tasks that make them human, in their view, are those of turning natural products (plants, animals, and babies) into human products (crops, livestock, and civilized human beings) through effortful work (cultivation, domestication, and disciplined childrearing).
The Baining believe, quite correctly, that play is the natural activity of children, and precisely for that reason they do what they can to discourage or prevent it. They refer to children's play as "splashing in the mud," an activity of pigs, not appropriate for humans. They do not allow infants to crawl and explore on their own. When one tries to do so an adult picks it up and restrains it. Beyond infancy, children are encouraged or coerced to spend their days working and are often punished -- sometimes by such harsh means as shoving the child's hand into the fire -- for playing. On those occasions when Fajans did get an adult to talk about his or her childhood, the narrative was typically about the challenge of embracing work and overcoming the shameful desire to play. Part of the reason the Baining are reluctant to talk about themselves, apparently, derives from their strong sense of shame about their natural drives and desires.
But maybe Americans are becoming more boring as our children's freedom to explore is curtailed:
In some ways, I fear, we today are trying to emulate the Baining as we increasingly deprive children of opportunities to play and explore freely and, instead, force them to spend ever more time working in school and participating in adult-directed activities outside of school.
Immediately after reading about the Baining, I read this article by Trent Wolbe about his use of Adderall and was struck by a similar theme of a lack of playful creativity.
A subtler but probably much more profound effect permeates my cycle of Adderall use. I'd stopped eating. I'd stopped sleeping. I'd stopped getting horny. I'd stopped getting distracted by habits that I normally reveled in, which all seemed good. One day, about five months in, I noticed that I had stopped paying attention to music. My pleasure receptors, which in their normal state constantly cry out for sex, french fries, naps, and Katy Perry, had all become blunted. As a DJ that last thirst was something that sustained me not only spiritually but financially, and its void scared me almost as much as my flaccid penis. If I wasn't the California Gurl-obsessed snack addict I knew, then what the fuck was I?
The Sinaloa drug cartel is headed by a man who goes by El Chapo. That Chapo is 55 years old and still around tells you something about well he runs his business.
The drug war in Mexico has claimed more than 50,000 lives since 2006. But what tends to get lost amid coverage of this epic bloodletting is just how effective the drug business has become. A close study of the Sinaloa cartel, based on thousands of pages of trial records and dozens of interviews with convicted drug traffickers and current and former officials in Mexico and the United States, reveals an operation that is global (it is active in more than a dozen countries) yet also very nimble and, above all, staggeringly complex. Sinaloa didn't merely survive the recession -- it has thrived in recent years. And after prevailing in some recent mass-casualty clashes, it now controls more territory along the border than ever.
"Chapo always talks about the drug business, wherever he is," one erstwhile confidant told a jury several years ago, describing a driven, even obsessive entrepreneur with a proclivity for micromanagement. From the remote mountain redoubt where he is believed to be hiding, surrounded at all times by a battery of gunmen, Chapo oversees a logistical network that is as sophisticated, in some ways, as that of Amazon or U.P.S. -- doubly sophisticated, when you think about it, because traffickers must move both their product and their profits in secret, and constantly maneuver to avoid death or arrest. As a mirror image of a legal commodities business, the Sinaloa cartel brings to mind that old line about Ginger Rogers doing all the same moves as Fred Astaire, only backward and in heels. In its longevity, profitability and scope, it might be the most successful criminal enterprise in history.
In 1970, professional baseballer Dock Ellis, who was good at pitching baseballs, threw a no-hitter while under the influence of LSD. In 2011, professional blogger A.J. Daulerio, who isn't so good at video game baseball, attempted to throw a no-hitter while on LSD...playing a customized Dock Ellis in MLB 2K11 on Xbox.
But by the fourth game I started to pick up tendencies in all the batters. Jason Bartlett swung at first-pitch changeups. Will Venable couldn't hit the palm ball. In fact, most of these free-swinging Padres couldn't hit Dock's funky palm ball. I threw it often. But by then, also, the first acid distractions entered: the TV flickered; the cracks in the wall started to move; the hand soap started to breathe -- those sorts of things. Plus I was drawn to the outdoor garden between innings. Rain was near, I sensed.
Felicia Pearson, who played Snoop on The Wire, was arrested today on drug charges.
Felicia "Snoop" Pearson had served a prison sentence for murder and returned to drug dealing on the streets of East Baltimore, before a visit to the set of "The Wire" led to a star turn on the show and offered a new chance to change her life.
But her past kept creeping back - she was a witness to a murder and was arrested after she refused to testify -- and subsequent film and television offers were hard to come by.
Now, Pearson, 30, has been accused of playing a part in a large-scale drug organization, whose members were arrested in raids Thursday throughout Baltimore and surrounding counties, as well as in three other states.
In 2000, Portugal passed a law decriminalizing the possession of drugs, continued to vigorously pursue drug traffickers and distributors, and improved access to treatment. What happened?
But nearly a decade later, there's evidence that Portugal's great drug experiment not only didn't blow up in its face; it may have actually worked. More addicts are in treatment. Drug use among youths has declined in recent years. Life in Casal Ventoso, Lisbon's troubled neighborhood, has improved. And new research, published in the British Journal of Criminology, documents just how much things have changed in Portugal. Coauthors Caitlin Elizabeth Hughes and Alex Stevens report a 63 percent increase in the number of Portuguese drug users in treatment and, shortly after the reforms took hold, a 499 percent increase in the amount of drugs seized -- indications, the authors argue, that police officers, freed up from focusing on small-time possession, have been able to target big-time traffickers while drug addicts, no longer in danger of going to prison, have been able to get the help they need.
One of the fun things about having an Amazon Associates account for kottke.org is that I can see what my readers are ordering on the site. (Amazon only shows the items ordered, not the associated names or anything like that. I have no idea who ordered what.) As one might expect, you folks buy lots of cameras and books and hard drives and movies but also paper towels, sweatpants, soap, and guitar strings.
So anyway, I was browsing around the other day when I noticed that someone had bought a bunch of Whip-It! whipped cream chargers. Four 50-packs for around $115. "Whoa!" I exclaimed to my wife, "Someone out there really likes whipped cream!"
Readers, I could almost hear the eyeroll as my wife explained to this naive bumpkin that people use these canisters of compressed nitrous oxide to get high. So whoever you are, thank you for the novel experience of learning a new Urban Dictionary term from my wife.
Without even looking, you could probably guess that scenes from Pulp Fiction and Requiem for a Dream would make a list of film's greatest drug scenes. But there are 28 other worthy scenes on there as well.
This is a fascinating post made by a man who has just gotten out of prison after serving two years for armed robbery. This is a bit rough in spots, so reader beware.
I joked to my cell mate on the first day that at least the GFC [global financial crisis] couldn't fuck us inside. He'd been done for assaulting a cop when his house got taken by the bank. But within months 'GFC Nigger' became the standard reply to any query as to how black market prices were suddenly going through the roof. The price of a deck of smokes tripled. There was an actual economic reason about this. I went away in Michigan, where a lot of people lost their houses, mostly poor people already. When they had to move away from the prison, it meant they couldn't bring their loved ones as much contraband group, which meant the price of what there was sky rocketed. And the worse things got, the more the people who worked in the store would wonk and take home with them, which meant stocks ran low which fucked us even further.
Bet you didn't read about that one in the Wall Street Journal.
Leaf.ly is a social media site for pot smokers. You can keep track of all the types of bud you smoke (like Cork'd does for wine), check out the likely effects of smoking a new cannabis strain (these are good if you want to just play video games), and earn Foursquare-style badges. What, duuuuuuuuuuuuuuuu.de wasn't available?
From a 1997 issue of Harper's, a Michael Pollan piece called Opium Made Easy. Written before even The Botany of Desire (and his later well-known books on food), the article explores the seeming illegality of growing poppies in one's personal garden coupled with the relative ease of procuring poppies for growing and making them into a sort of opium tea once grown. A long but interesting read.
The language of the statute was distressingly clear. Not only opium but "opium poppy and poppy straw" are defined as Schedule II controlled substances, right alongside PCP and cocaine. The prohibited poppy is defined as a "plant of the species Papaver somniferum L., except the seed thereof," and poppy straw is defined as "all parts, except the seeds, of the opium poppy, after mowing." In other words, dried poppies.
Section 841 of the act reads, "[I]t shall be unlawful for any person knowingly or intentionally ... to manufacture, distribute, or dispense, or possess with intent to manufacture, distribute, or dispense" opium poppies. The definition of "manufacturing" includes propagating -- i.e., growing. Three things struck me as noteworthy about the language of the statute. The first was that it goes out of its way to state that opium poppy seeds are, in fact, legal, presumably because of their legitimate culinary uses. There seems to be a chicken-and-egg paradox here, however, in which illegal poppy plants produce legal poppy seeds from which grow illegal poppy plants.
The second thing that struck me about the statute's language was the fact that, in order for growing opium poppies to be a crime, it must be done "knowingly or intentionally." Opium poppies are commonly sold under more than one botanical name, only one of which -- Papaver somniferum -- is specifically mentioned in the law, so it is entirely possible that a gardener could be growing opium poppies without knowing it. There would therefore appear to be an "innocent gardener" defense. Not that it would do me any good: at least some of the poppies I'd planted had been clearly labeled Papaver somniferum, a fact that I have -- perhaps foolishly -- confessed in these very pages to knowing. The third thing that struck me was the most stunning of all: the penalty for knowingly growing Papaver somniferum is a prison term of five to twenty years and a maximum fine of $1 million.
No, this is not a story from The Onion or about a new Facebook game called Pharmaville. The state of Oklahoma is concerned about kids listening to audio files "designed to induce drug-like effects" because that might be a gateway to actual drug use.
"Kids are going to flock to these sites just to see what it is about and it can lead them to other places," said OBNDD spokesperson Mark Woodward. The digital drugs use binaural or two-toned technology to alter your brainwaves and mental state. "Well it's just scary, definitely scary. Just one more thing to look out for," said parent Kelly Johnson.
I just got so wasted on this and then did a whole kilo of pure heroin; stuffed it right into my ears:
Look at that, I'm a drug dealer now! Now you'll all be pounding on my door in the middle of the night looking to score some tunes. (via clusterflock)
Some breaking news that I missed the other day: Popeye admits to spinach use.
Popeye finally came clean Monday, admitting he used spinach when he delivered a savage and unlikely beating to romantic rival Bluto in 1998. Popeye said in a statement sent to The Associated Press on Monday that he used spinach on and off for nearly a decade. "I wish I had never touched spinach," Popeye said in a statement. "It was foolish and it was a mistake. I truly apologize. Looking back, I wish I had never sailed during the spinach era."
In 2000, Nick Tosches went in search of something that he was told didn't exist anymore: the opium den.
In the early decades of the 20th century, as the drug trade was taken over by the Judeo-Christian coalition that came to control crime, Jewish and Italian names became almost as common as Chinese names in the reports of those arrested for smuggling, selling, and den-running. While the old Chinese opium smokers died off, the new drug lords actively cultivated a market for the opium derivatives, first morphine and then heroin, two 19th-century inventions that offered far greater profit margins than opium itself.
The last known opium den in New York was a second-floor tenement apartment at 295 Broome Street, between Forsyth and Eldridge Streets, at the northeastern edge of Chinatown. It was run by the apartment's tenant, a Chinese immigrant named Lau, who was 57 when the joint got raided and his ass got hauled away. There were a few old pipes and lamps, 10 ounces of opium. And 40 ounces of heroin. The date was June 28, 1957. That was it. The end of the final relic of a bygone day.
To the alarm of the big pharmaceutical companies, the placebo effect appears to be getting stronger. The reasons are many and interesting.
It's not only trials of new drugs that are crossing the futility boundary. Some products that have been on the market for decades, like Prozac, are faltering in more recent follow-up tests. In many cases, these are the compounds that, in the late '90s, made Big Pharma more profitable than Big Oil. But if these same drugs were vetted now, the FDA might not approve some of them. Two comprehensive analyses of antidepressant trials have uncovered a dramatic increase in placebo response since the 1980s. One estimated that the so-called effect size (a measure of statistical significance) in placebo groups had nearly doubled over that time.
In the late 90s, it was easy to get good pot in Idaho...just drive across the border to Canada and pick some up. Nate Norman decided to take advantage of that situation and became an unlikely drug kingpin.
Having doubled their initial investment in roughly a day, Nate and Topher quickly planned a second run. This time, they bought two pounds. Before they knew it, they had gone from struggling to put gas in their cars to running a major pot enterprise that was bringing in thousands of dollars a day. "Within a few weeks I went from selling eighths to quarter pounds," says Scuzz, who could pass for a pro snowboarder with his goatee and wraparound shades. "Our plan was to make 3 million and get out. When you crunch the numbers, that's nothing. We figured out we could do it in fourteen months. But when you're making twenty or thirty grand a week, why the fuck would you stop?"
It doesn't even spoil the story to tell you that it all came crashing down, as these things inevitably do.
Route 36 is a cocaine bar located in La Paz, Bolivia and is understandably popular.
The waiter arrives at the table, lowers the tray and places an empty black CD case in the middle of the table. Next to the CD case are two straws and two little black packets. He is so casual he might as well be delivering a sandwich and fries. [...] Behind the bar, he goes back to casually slicing straws into neat 8cm lengths.
Todd Marinovich was supposed to be the best quarterback of all time. Instead, his life got derailed by drugs and alcohol and even more drugs. His dad has to be the all-time worst sports parent in the history of horrible sports parents...it was difficult to get through page 2 without wanting to FedEx Marinovich Sr. a punch in the face.
For the nine months prior to Todd's birth on July 4, 1969, Trudi used no salt, sugar, alcohol, or tobacco. As a baby, Todd was fed only fresh vegetables, fruits, and raw milk; when he was teething, he was given frozen kidneys to gnaw. As a child, he was allowed no junk food; Trudi sent Todd off to birthday parties with carrot sticks and carob muffins. By age three, Marv had the boy throwing with both hands, kicking with both feet, doing sit-ups and pull-ups, and lifting light hand weights. On his fourth birthday, Todd ran four miles along the ocean's edge in thirty-two minutes, an eight-minute-mile pace. Marv was with him every step of the way.
Since I don't use Adderall or Provigil, it took me a few days to get through this New Yorker article about neuroenhancing drugs. The main takeaway? Like cosmetic body modification in the 80s, mind modification through prescription chemical means is already commonplace for some and will soon be for many.
Chatterjee worries about cosmetic neurology, but he thinks that it will eventually become as acceptable as cosmetic surgery has; in fact, with neuroenhancement it's harder to argue that it's frivolous. As he notes in a 2007 paper, "Many sectors of society have winner-take-all conditions in which small advantages produce disproportionate rewards." At school and at work, the usefulness of being "smarter," needing less sleep, and learning more quickly are all "abundantly clear." In the near future, he predicts, some neurologists will refashion themselves as "quality-of-life consultants," whose role will be "to provide information while abrogating final responsibility for these decisions to patients." The demand is certainly there: from an aging population that won't put up with memory loss; from overwrought parents bent on giving their children every possible edge; from anxious employees in an efficiency-obsessed, BlackBerry-equipped office culture, where work never really ends.
The article is full of wonderful vocabulary. Like the "worried well": those people who are healthy but go to the doctor anyway to see if they can be made more healthy somehow. Being concerned about how good you've got it and attempting to do something about it seems to be another one of those uniquely American phenomena caused by an overabundance of free time & disposable income and the desire to overachieve. See also the impoverished wealthy, the dumb educated, and fat fit.
Myostatin is a protein that, along with its associated gene, limits the growth of muscle tissue in some mammals. The Belgian Blue cattle breed has a natural mutation of the gene associated with myostatin that supresses the protein, resulting in lean and heavily muscled cattle.
Funny surname/subject collision from the Times over the weekend: Cocaine and White Teens by Charles M. Blow.
An aptronym is a name aptly suited to its owner.
I knew I'd posted something about this previously. (thx, mark)
Photos of 99 different ecstasy pills with logos on them, including those with McDonald's, Mercedes, MTV, Harry Potter, and Apple logos.
An interview with the North London Turk, who was one of the biggest heroin dealers in Europe.
Me, my former brother-in-law Yilmaz Kaya, and an Istanbul babas [godfather] named the Vulcan founded the Turkish Connection -- that's a network that smuggles heroin from Afghanistan across Turkey into Europe. Up until the early 90s, Turks had been bringing it in piecemeal. An immigrant would bring in ten keys, sell it, buy a shop in Green Lane and pack it in. We were the first to start bringing it in 100-kilo loads. Stack 'em high, sell 'em cheap...
Matt Thompson has some advice for you: stop buying cheap-ish pseudo-generic drugs from Walgreens, Rite-Aid, and Duane Reade and start buying really cheap true generics.
As you might know, Benadryl (available at Walgreens.com for $5.29 for a box of 24 capsules) and Wal-dryl ($3.99 / 24 capsules) are otherwise known as "25 mg. of diphenhydramine HCI." Compare [with the true generic available at Amazon]. Yes, that is 400 tablets containing 25 mg. of diphenhydramine HCI, for about $10 when you factor in shipping.
Heed his words. Here's 300 tablets of generic Claritin for $11.00, 100 tablets of generic Zyrtec for $6.99, 240 tablets of generic Zantac, 1000 capsules of generic Benadryl for $20.34, 1000 tablets of generic Advil for $11.70, and 1000 caplets of generic Tylenol for $13.91.
Update: It's been brought to my attention that the Kirkland brand is Costco's store brand so any Kirkland products sold on Amazon are being resold by people buying them from Costco. (thx, ivan)
NY Times columnist David Carr has written a book about his days as a junkie who cleaned himself up only when twin daughters came into his life. The Times has a lengthy excerpt; it's possibly the best thing I've read all week.
If I said I was a fat thug who beat up women and sold bad coke, would you like my story? What if instead I wrote that I was a recovered addict who obtained sole custody of my twin girls, got us off welfare and raised them by myself, even though I had a little touch of cancer? Now we're talking. Both are equally true, but as a member of a self-interpreting species, one that fights to keep disharmony at a remove, I'm inclined to mention my tenderhearted attentions as a single parent before I get around to the fact that I hit their mother when we were together. We tell ourselves that we lie to protect others, but the self usually comes out looking damn good in the process.
Carr's book is not the conventional memoir. Instead of relying on his spotty memory from his time as a junkie, he went out and interviewed his family, friends, enemies, and others who knew him at the time to get a more complete picture.
Tomatoes are currently spreading salmonella across the United States. In 1981, the culprit in a smaller outbreak was marijuana. Hey High Times, dude,
the NYer is totally bogarting your pot coverage on this...we need a potcast, stat!
Rather than returning to their original proportions, the muscles of the steroid users who'd stopped taking the drug looked remarkably similar to those of the subjects who were still using. They also had larger muscle fibers and more growth-inducing "myonuclei" in their muscle cells than the nonsteroid users.
I don't really want to imagine a 9-year-old heroin junkie.
Cheese heroin is Mexican black-tar heroin that has been diluted with crushed tablets of over-the-counter sleep medication such as Tylenol PM.
Sniffing heroin is not particularly new, but addiction experts say this outbreak in Dallas is unprecedented. Typically, people who inhale heroin are older and they're white. In Dallas, however, users are mostly Latino, and they're young.
"Reports that we were seeing were pretty striking. Kids as young as 9 or 10 years of age coming to the hospital emergency rooms or detox facilities in acute heroin withdrawal," says Dr. Carlos Tirado, a psychiatry professor at UT Southwestern Medical Center and medical director of a drug treatment center in Dallas.
A short article about coffee and its relationship to The Enlightenment, and smart drugs and body enhancements that may lead to a second Enlightenment. Short on details, but long on implications.
The placebo effect is real apparently even when you know it's a placebo, and, alternately, the possibility exists that cultural expectations of whether a drug works may have an effect on how well the drug works:
There are various possible interpretations of this finding: it's possible, of course, that it was a function of changing research protocols. But one possibility is that the older drug became less effective after new ones were brought in, because of deteriorating medical belief in it.
How America Lost the War on Drugs, a history of the United States government's efforts to stop its citizens from using illegal substances, primarily crack, heroin, and methamphetamines. Quite long but worth the read.
All told, the United States has spent an estimated $500 billion to fight drugs - with very little to show for it. Cocaine is now as cheap as it was when Escobar died and more heavily used. Methamphetamine, barely a presence in 1993, is now used by 1.5 million Americans and may be more addictive than crack. We have nearly 500,000 people behind bars for drug crimes - a twelvefold increase since 1980 - with no discernible effect on the drug traffic.
It's not that hard to see how things got off the rails here. Dealing with the supply of drugs is ineffective (it's too lucrative for people to stop selling and too easy to find countries which seek to profit from it) but provides the illusion of action while attacking the problem from the demand side, which appears to be more effective, comes with messy and complex social problems. What a waste. The bits about meth & the lobbying efforts by the pharmaceutical industry and the medical marijuana crackdowns are particularly maddening.
Somewhat related is a 9-part series from VBS about scopolamine, one of the world's scariest drugs (via fimoculous). Just blowing the powder into someone's face is sufficient for them to enter a wakeful zombie state and become the perfect rape or crime victim.
The last thing Andrea Fernandez recalls before being drugged is holding her newborn baby on a Bogota city bus. Police found her three days later, muttering to herself and wandering topless along the median strip of a busy highway. Her face was badly beaten and her son was gone.
The description of the effect of scopolamine on people reminds me of what the Ampulex compressa wasp does to cockroaches:
From the outside, the effect is surreal. The wasp does not paralyze the cockroach. In fact, the roach is able to lift up its front legs again and walk. But now it cannot move of its own accord. The wasp takes hold of one of the roach's antennae and leads it -- in the words of Israeli scientists who study Ampulex -- like a dog on a leash.
I wonder if the chemical reactions are similar in both cases.
A list of the leaked names from the Mitchell Report of MLB players that allegedly used steroids. The official Mitchell Report is here...many of the names on the preliminary list are missing. Any surprises here? Disappointments?
Update: Deadspin has the official list.
Jessica Dimmock's The Ninth Floor is a series of photos taken of heroin addicts living in a ninth floor Manhattan apartment. The NY Times and New York magazine have slideshows with a little more context. Also available in book form. NSFW. (via clusterflock)
Tim Page, a classical music critic for the Washington Post and author of a recent New Yorker piece on growing up with Asperger's Syndrome, has been placed on leave by the Post for criticizing Marion Barry.
Must we hear about it every time this Crack Addict attempts to rehabilitate himself with some new -- and typically half-witted -- political grandstanding? I'd be grateful if you would take me off your mailing list. I cannot think of anything the useless Marion Barry could do that would interest me in the slightest, up to and including overdose. Sincerely, Tim Page.
At this point, with all the Canadian biting flys and other insects accumulating on my face, I experienced death and went through several stages such as decomposition, becoming earth, growth into new plants, and spiritual reincarnation in the depths of outer-space as almost a gasseous thought floating around and observing all the cycles of everything in, on or about earth. I at once understood everything. In the middle of the night I realized that I was myself again, and bluntly stated, 'I'm done.' to the other members of the group. They welcomed me back and I appologized for anything I may have said or done.
Wait, you can get high on nutmeg?
Chart of the price of cocaine in countries around the world. Cheapest price is in Colombia ($2/g) while New Zealanders have to pay ~350 times that.
Timeline of a 2003 Shabu party in Denver. Shabu is chemlab-pure methamphetamine. "The rush of Shabu itself is freakishly powerful. A single minuscule hit -- about one-tenth of a gram, vaporized and inhaled -- is enough to keep a weekend warrior like Nick riding the lightning for twelve hours. The statuette on Nick's coffee table, cut into tiny pieces and smoked, holds about 250 hits." (via tmn)
What are people smuggling into Germany? Twice as much cocaine as last year, stuffed lion cubs, and wine made from cobras.
Technological interruptions make you stupid: frequent email and phone users' IQs fell more than twice as much as marijuana smokers'.
Photo of Beavis, a homeless man living in San Francisco, shooting up (perhaps NSFW). He was previously photographed in 1994 as a street kid in LA for Time magazine. "he picks his scabs to find a good spot; and tries a few locations before he gets a vein."
Fascinating story of an amateur cyclist who starts taking various performancing enhancing drugs to see how they affect his performance. "I had a life once, and now I'm standing in the Easton WaWa in the middle of the night, looking like a cyborg, with thousands of dollars of drugs coursing through my veins. I started looking forward to the moment when the whole thing would be over."
Video of a Steven Levitt talk on the economics of gangs and why gangbanger is not such a good vocation (for one thing, the job pays less than McDonald's). The board of directors stuff made me think of the co-op on The Wire.
Story of a dog that was addicted to licking toads for the hallucinogenic effect. Listen to the audio version if you can. "Winter was going to come and we were going to have a dog without toad." (via bb)
FDA says morning-after pills will be available for sale in the US to anyone 18 or older without a prescription. Since the morning after pill is just a bigger dose of regular birth control pills, does that mean women can get them over the counter now too? Why not?
Wu-oh. Floyd Landis had "an unusual level of testosterone/epitestosterone ratio" in his blood after stage 17 of the Tour de France. If his backup sample also tests positive, the title could be taken from him. You may remember stage 17 as the scene of Landis' remarkable comeback. Cyclingnews.com says that "some athletes have naturally high levels, and can prove this through a series of tests"...is it possible that Landis was just super amped up from the effort that day?
Seth Stevenson describes an attempt to break out of his introverted shell by taking Paxil. Did it work? Only when he'd had a few drinks...oh and he basically lost the ability to feel emotions the rest of the time. "The fact that I considered a wholesale career change under the drug's effects, and couldn't complete any work, is alarming. "
Speaking of brand genericide, Heroin was actually a brand name trademarked by the Bayer drug company. (thx chris, who joked, "Can I interest you in some Heroin brand morphine substitute?")
New Google product announcement: Google Pharmacy. Spam is occasionally amusing.
Columbia House launches subscription meds program. "Qualified seniors may choose either 12 generic drugs for one cent, or five brand-name medications for 49 cents each, plus shipping and handling."
Barry Bonds finally ties Babe Ruth with 714 home runs. And with relatively little fanfare, largely because the homers will be eventually invalidated by his drug use and because Bonds is a dink.
Update: The kid who caught the home run ball doesn't care for Bonds much: "When asked if he would consider giving [the ball] to Bonds, Snyder declined with a mild expletive." Bonds was also booed at stadiums around the league when the homer was announced.
Mexican president Vicente Fox didn't sign the bill legalizing small quantities of drugs for personal use because of US pressure due to drug tourism fears. What I don't understand is...why not just make it legal for Mexican citizens to allay US fears? Besides, anyone who goes to Mexico for drugs can get them if they want anyway, law or no.
Gladwell's reading Game of Shadows (which alleges that Barry Bonds took steroids) and proposes that record setters like Bonds, Flo Jo, and Bob Beamon should be subjected to a high degree of statistical analysis before their records should be allowed to stand. (followup)
Not a big surprise, but it looks like Barry Bonds took all sorts of performance-enhancing drugs in the last few years of his career, including the season he hit 73 home runs.
"Fans are fascinated by the drugs-and-drink-fuelled excesses of rock stars such as Pete Doherty - but they don't see the heavy personal toll it takes, writes Caroline Butler, who spent years with an alcoholic star". (via tmn)
I'm in luck because it would take more than 260 cans of Pepsi to ingest enough caffeine to kill me. How much of your favorite beverage can you drink before suffering death by caffeine?
Laurie sends along an account of the week she spent in a psych ward. She says she's "trying to publicize it in order to remove some of the stigma of mental illness". Reminds me of Heather's accounts of her psych ward stay last year.
Scientists who have tried drugs have included Carl Sagan, Richard Feynman, and Stephen Jay Gould. Like Sigmund Freud, fictional detective Sherlock Holmes was a fan of cocaine. (via cyc-c)
Table of contents for The Complete Norton Anthology of Emily Dickinson, Post-Zoloft Prescription. Includes "Oh, the ice cubes are melting" and "Today's a good day for stuff".
The illegality of "Rio funk" music has driven it deep into the slums of Rio De Janeiro, controlled by the drug lords. "Funk songs used to pay homage to those who had died, but now it is fashionable to name-check those still alive. Juca is often asked by drug soldiers to write lyrics that include their names."
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