Archive for the ‘drugs’ tag
Conor Friedersdorf has an interesting theory about the online illegal drug marketplace, The Silk Road, that authorities shut down a few weeks ago:
But for all of the DOJ details that, if accurate, make The Silk Road an indefensible enterprise, I can’t help but conclude, after reading the complaint, that the world is actually going to be a more dangerous place in the absence of the online marketplace.
It’s an interesting idea, and one I find believable.
That said, I do think it’s likely that this specific market contained almost exclusively nerdy and/or upper-class shoppers. I find it hard to buy that those demographics are typically involved (or victimized by) violent drug markets. Suburban (or more controversially: white, rich) drug distribution is a almost always — for better or worse — ignored by authorities specifically because it’s free of the side-effects Friedersdorf is positing that the Silk Road didn’t have.
Really interesting story from Brendan Koerner in Wired about a speaker installer whose side business in putting secret compartments into vehicles landed him in jail. The heart of the issue in the case:
Alfred Anaya’s case makes clear that the government rejects [the “technology is morally neutral”] worldview. The technically savvy are on notice that they must be very careful about whom they deal with, since calculated ignorance of illegal activity is not an acceptable excuse. But at what point does a failure to be nosy edge into criminal conduct? In light of what happened to Anaya, that question is nearly impossible to answer.
L. Alan Sroufe’s argument against medicating children is good. But it also contains the most succinct takedown of the entire psycho-pharmechological complex I can imagine:
Thus, only one question is asked: are there aspects of brain functioning associated with childhood attention problems? The answer is always yes. Overlooked is the very real possibility that both the brain anomalies and the A.D.D. result from experience.
(via The Browser)
I’ve thought that thought before, but having no experience with either depression or the drugs that treat it, never offered it to anyone. But I’m not the only one to think it and this first half Marcia Engall’s review for the NYRB offers more support for the idea than I’ve ever heard. For example, from studies submitted to the FDA of the six most-prescribed antidepressants:
Altogether, there were forty-two trials of the six drugs. Most of them were negative. Overall, placebos were 82 percent as effective as the drugs, as measured by the Hamilton Depression Scale (HAM-D), a widely used score of symptoms of depression. The average difference between drug and placebo was only 1.8 points on the HAM-D, a difference that, while statistically significant, was clinically meaningless. The results were much the same for all six drugs: they were all equally unimpressive.
UPDATE (20 June 2011): NYRB is offering the second half of this piece for free as well. (Pleasantly surprised by that.) It has a slightly different focus — the way pharmacologically armed psychiatrist have largely taken over mental healthcare — but a very worthy complement.
Blake Hounshell is quite right, this is a gem. An exiting hedge fund manager — who made 866% profit last year — manages to sound like a reasonable but bitter guy until he lapses into two paragraph I’ve heard from every pothead I’ve ever known:
Lastly, while I still have an audience, I would like to bring attention to an alternative food and energy source. You won’t see it included in BP’s, “Feel good. We are working on sustainable solutions,” television commercials, nor is it mentioned in ADM’s similar commercials. But hemp has been used for at least 5,000 years for cloth and food, as well as just about everything that is produced from petroleum products. Hemp is not marijuana and vice versa. …
At Snarkmarket, Matt offers some advice I find both intriquing and scary:
If you’re like most people, you purchase Benadryl. A slightly smaller and savvier subset of you will always reach for the drugstore’s “generic” counterpart, e.g. Waldryl. Stop this madness, all of you.
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. Yes, that is 400 tablets containing 25 mg. of diphenhydramine HCI, for about $10 when you factor in shipping. Once more with feeling:
Benadryl - 22¢ / pill
Wal-dryl - 16¢ / pill
True generic - 2.5¢ / pill
While the price is amazingly good, I’m (perhaps erroneously) worried that quality assurance must be much less rigorous.
Though the crusade against methamphetamines has been rather effective, cocaine’s perceived danger has shrunk.
According to the Michigan study, the share of 18-year-olds who believe that using crystal meth even once or twice carries a great risk has risen every year since 2003. Unfortunately, perceptions of crack cocaine appear to be moving in the opposite direction. The proportion of 17-18-year-olds who believe regular crack use is very risky has fallen from almost 90% in the early 1990s to just under 83%. Powder cocaine meets with about as much disapproval as steroids. It is as though teenagers have a fixed quota of worry, which merely moves from drug to drug.
The latest technique involves “submarines”:
…Home-made submarines. These first appeared a decade ago, but were considered by officials to be an oddity. Now it seems the traffickers have perfected the design and manufacture of semi-submersible craft (although they look like submarines, they don’t fully submerge). In 2006, American officials say they detected only three; now they are spotting an average of ten a month.
Of those, only one in ten is intercepted. Many sail up the Pacific coast, often far out to sea. With enough cargo space to carry two to five tonnes of cocaine, they also carry large fuel tanks, giving them a range of 2,000 miles (3,200km). They are typically made of fibreglass, powered by a 300/350hp diesel engine and manned by a crew of four. They normally unload their cargo onto fast power boats for the final leg to shore. None has been sighted unloading at ports or beaches.
For a while, Slate’s media critic Jack Shafer has been saying that “pharm parties” — parties where teens throw a bunch of prescription drugs into a bowl and take them by the handful — are a myth made for newspapers. Now he’s also found their historical predecessor: “fruit salad parties.”
The March 30, 1966, Lowell Sun was the earliest clip I located, and it is a classic of the genre. In a general piece about drug use, the Sun’s reporter confided:
In Medford, several months ago, a group of teen-agers had a “fruit salad party.” Each person brought three pills. The pills were mixed together in a bowl, and each person took three. Most of the takers were hospitalized, and one is still in serious condition, in a coma.
Observe the journalistic rigor practiced by the Sun. No sources. No names. No mention of specific drugs. How do you gauge the truth value of such a paragraph?
New York has an interesting — if not exceptionally deep — photo essay about homelessness in the city. From Nancy’s story (the only one longer than a paragraph):
It’s a cold night—we can see our breath—but under the overpass, Nancy’s warm. “I got, like, six blankets here,” she says, laughing and coughing at the same time. The river bubbles. The glow of a streetlamp shines on the water like moonlight. “The river’s peaceful to me,” she says. She’s been homeless now for almost four years, moving from place to place. She says she likes this spot the best, but as the night goes on, she talks about the sacrifices she’s made, the three children she rarely, if ever, sees—a teenager, a 4-year-old, and a 2-year-old. Talking about the children makes Nancy cry—long, low sobs.
Soon enough, though, she’s better. “I love to cry,” she says. It’s one of the reasons she won’t take Prozac. “When I’m on the mental meds, I don’t like the way I feel,” she says. “I’m not Nancy.”