February 27, 2002

A tour of the drug world

This is a basic cheat sheet of the various drugs and a quick summary of their effects. For a detailed over view I highly recommend the good drugs guide site

Cocaine Fine white powder. Usually snorted. Works as a local anaesthetic. The drug Novocaine is essentially cocaine. Like caffeine it stimulates the release of dopamine and inhibits the absorption of dopamine. Extremely addictive. Cocaine increases mental activity. Its an upper.

Crack Cocaine mixed with baking soda. Its a smokable version of cocaine. The name comes from the crackling sound made when lit.

Ecstacy (MDMA) white powder. usually pressed into pills. Makes people more emotionally open. warm intense feeling. It isnt physically or chemically addictive. It's emotionally addictive.

Heroin powerful, pain killing drug. member of the opiate family (other members include opium, codine, morphine). Generally administered intravenously. Chasing the dragon is heating heroin and inhaling the vapors.

LSD LSD is delivered soaked in blotters which are ingested. LSD degrades rapidly in air. It's not physcially addictive. But the psychological addiction is high.

Ketamine fast acting anaesthetic. Not physically addictive. Delivery is in powder, liquid and ck1 (cocaine, crack, ketamine)

amphetamines Synthetic stimulant similar to adrenaline. Known as a dance drug. Main forms are speed (trade name benzedrine), Dexedrine (Dexy's midnight runners) and the most potent meth. Uppers. Highly addictive. Higer doses are required as the body quickly adjusts to this drug.

Cannabis minor hallucinogen. downer. mildly addictive.

Posted at 11:11 AM | Comments (0)

February 26, 2002

Manufacturing Italian Consent?

with apologies to Noam Chomsky

“In Italy there are three private television networks and one major government network. The three private ones are owned by Silvio Berlusconi, and guess what? He's the prime minister, so maybe he has a little influence over the government network also . . . ”
– Nicholas von Hoffman in the New York Observer
Posted at 10:33 PM | Comments (0)

Irrational exuberance. over a tulip?

During the tulip bubble in 1637, the irrational exuberance of buyers drove up the value of each tulip to several thousand dollars. A single Semper Augustus tulip was then three times as valuable as the most expensive estate in Amsterdam.

One Analysis that I found interesting took the position that the tulipmania of the 17th century was not an example of speculation or preferences of the rich. The rare tulip represented the DNA for a future generation of tulips that could be acquired by winning the auction for that single tulip. Over time, as the tulip propogated and became less of a rare avis the price dropped.

Another article on tulipmania is on Andrew Tobias's site.

Posted at 10:04 PM

Say Cheese. hold it. keep saying it

Daguerreotype was the first real camera.

Posted at 12:46 PM | Comments (0)

February 25, 2002

In God we trust? What God?

Turns out America wasnt really founded by good christians

Deists: The belief, based solely on reason, in a God who created the universe and then abandoned it, assuming no control over life, exerting no influence on natural phenomena, and giving no supernatural revelation. Deists tend to believe in the moral lessons of the bible, but not in the verity of the bible.

The other side of the story. [via Fark]

Posted at 11:21 PM | Comments (0)

Pawn to K-4. Tactics and vietnam

In the 1950's the French were desparetely trying to hold on to their erstwhile territory of Vietnam. The Vietminh controlled the country side with their ragtag army of laborers, farmers and guerillas. The French managed to hold on to the cities and major infrastructure. Effectively a stalemate existed. The French did'nt have the resources to take the war into the country side. The Vietminh with their captured and improvised weapons could not conquer the cities. The initiative entirely lay in the hands of the Vietminh that could attack at will on what they desired. The French wanted to change the playing field.

The US was now actively involved in the war on France's side. They decided the best way to conclude the war with a conclusive victory was to throw down the gauntlet and battle the Vietminh once and for all. The market town of Dien Bien Phu was chosen as the future Waterloo for the Vietminh. The Vietminh under Giap (actually guided by Wei Guoqing from China) accepted the challenge and started an all-or-nothing seige of Dien Bien Phu. While the French remained enconsed in their belief that the Vietminh lacked adequate artillery to attack the town from behind the mountains, Giap's men were digging two hundred miles of tunnels and trenches through the mountains and towards the city. As they dug closer and closer they effectively choked off supplies to the city and the 12,000 strong garrison in the city capitulated on 7th May, 1954. The French premier Pierre Mend&esharp;-France took France out of the equation by temporarily partioning Vietnam into two countries.

Other interesting Vietname facts On January 31st, 1968 the Vietminh launched the Tet offensive which sent 84,000 guerillas into South Vietnam and attacked the NLF everywhere. While it failed, it made significant psychological impact on the United States which could no longer count on a clear line of engagement.

Murray Sayle's article has more information.

Posted at 05:48 PM | Comments (0)

Evolutionary advantages of infidelity and oh so much more

Evolutionary logic of male sexual proprietariness [via metafilter]

Posted at 04:09 PM | Comments (0)

The impudence, Sir

Adlai Stevenson to Richard Nixon:
If you stop telling lies about me then I'll stop telling the truth about you

Posted at 09:43 AM | Comments (0)

February 21, 2002

Quo Vadis? A contrarian

I'm reading Christopher Hitchens's Letters to a young Contrarian. Hitchens has now introduced me to a plethora of new characters. Here are the salient ones:

émile Zola

Rainer Maria Rilke

Roger Martin du Gard

Karl Popper

Isaac Deutscher

Karl Marx de omnibus disputandum

Rosa Luxemburg

Fredrick Douglass

Anthony Powell

Thomas Gradgrind - Charles Dickens - hard times. school master

Brian victoria Zen at war
Caligula (pronounced kligyool) Roman emperor. Renowned for his ruthless and cruel autocracy. He decreed a statue be built in his image and the jews ordered to worship it. Before his order was carried out he was assasinated by his Praetorian guard.

de omnius dubitandum
Fulke Greville
Dietrich Bonhoeffer
Leo Strauss

Posted at 11:27 PM

Saddest Poem

I can write the saddest poem of all tonight.

Write, for instance: "The night is full of stars,
and the stars, blue, shiver in the distance."

The night wind whirls in the sky and sings.

I can write the saddest poem of all tonight.
I loved her, and sometimes she loved me too.

On nights like this, I held her in my arms.
I kissed her so many times under the infinite sky.

She loved me, sometimes I loved her.
How could I not have loved her large, still eyes?

I can write the saddest poem of all tonight.
To think I don't have her. To feel that I've lost her.

To hear the immense night, more immense without her.
And the poem falls to the soul as dew to grass.

What does it matter that my love couldn't keep her.
The night is full of stars and she is not with me.

That's all. Far away, someone sings. Far away.
My soul is lost without her.

As if to bring her near, my eyes search for her.
My heart searches for her and she is not with me.

The same night that whitens the same trees.
We, we who were, we are the same no longer.

I no longer love her, true, but how much I loved her.
My voice searched the wind to touch her ear.

Someone else's. She will be someone else's. As she once
belonged to my kisses.
Her voice, her light body. Her infinite eyes.

I no longer love her, true, but perhaps I love her.
Love is so short and oblivion so long.

Because on nights like this I held her in my arms,
my soul is lost without her.

Although this may be the last pain she causes me,
and this may be the last poem I write for her.

-- Pablo Neruda

Other poems by Pablo Neruda

Posted at 03:48 PM | Comments (0)

February 17, 2002

Staying in the game

Sometimes, its too easy to put your hands up and resign from life. Jack Welch didnt want to quit.

As she tells the story, at one point at 4 A.M. in the hospital,
I turned to her and said, "If something goes wrong, don't let them pull the plug.
Even if they can't tell, I want you to know I'll be fighting like hell in here."
-- Jack Welch, jack: straight from the gut.

Posted at 05:22 PM | Comments (0)

February 15, 2002

A parable on simplicity

Modern day writing implements such as pens work on the principle of gravity. Gravity (that sucking life force that keeps your ego in check by helpfully emptying containers on your sunday best at that oh so very important dinner) allows the ink to descend in an orderly fashion permitting you to scribe the latest happenings of your life on wizened elm.

However, in space the lack of gravity renders pens useless. NASA appropriated money and talent to solve this problem for the benefit of space adventurers. Finally, the grand solution of a spring loaded ultra modern pen was unveiled with a footnote about the explosive potential of this contraption. Years later when NASA collaborated with Russia on MIR, over some friendly space beer the cosmonauts revealed to their capitalist brethren the magic of pencils. Undoubtedly the experience gained in building a space pen will benefit us in a host of new adventures, but the humor in the different approaches taken by people trying to solve the same problem is quite remarkable.

Posted at 02:06 PM | Comments (0)

February 13, 2002

Unexamined life

It is possible for one to over examine one's life. Do we really need to reach a point that exasperated Socrates pines for hemlock to put him out of the misery of constant self examination. Life is for living. Moderation is the key. Examine, but move on. Heisenberg could have reworded his thesis about self examination. When you take a reading of your life, you explicitly disrupt it. Sometimes, you just have to let go and push hard and believe that the goals you've set for yourself are right.

The examination should focus instead on the things that are preventing the attainment of the goals. Do not constantly re examine the worthiness of your goals.

Posted at 07:16 PM

February 12, 2002

Finally, email with verve

"All right, you peevish, pugnacious, paperback pundit," her first volley began. "Pertinaciously pronouncing pro-pretty-print panegyrics, perpetuating perishing panda puns, prizing perfervid pedestrian performances, parading pithy playwrights' petulant paronomasia, plagiarizing pleasure palette penman's passion plight..."

From Caught in Love's nest

Posted at 01:16 PM | Comments (0)

Faulkner on winning the Nobel prize

I feel that this award was not made to me as a man, but to my work — a life's work in the agony and sweat of the human spirit, not for glory and least of all for profit, but to create out of the materials of the human spirit something which did not exist before. So this award is only mine in trust. It will not be difficult to find a dedication for the money part of it commensurate with the purpose and significance of its origin. But I would like to do the same with the acclaim too, by using this moment as a pinnacle from which I might be listened to by the young men and women already dedicated to the same anguish and travail, among whom is already that one who will some day stand where I am standing.

Our tragedy today is a general and universal physical fear so long sustained by now that we can even bear it. There are no longer problems of the spirit. There is only one question: When will I be blown up? Because of this, the young man or woman writing today has forgotten the problems of the human heart in conflict with itself which alone can make good writing because only that is worth writing about, worth the agony and the sweat.

He must learn them again. He must teach himself that the basest of all things is to be afraid: and, teaching himself that, forget it forever, leaving no room in his workshop for anything but the old verities and truths of the heart, the universal truths lacking which any story is ephemeral and doomed — love and honor and pity and pride and compassion and sacrifice. Until he does so, he labors under a curse. He writes not of love but of lust, of defeats in which nobody loses anything of value, of victories without hope and, worst of all, without pity or compassion. His griefs grieve on no universal bones, leaving no scars. He writes not of the heart but of the glands.

Until he learns these things, he will write as though he stood among and watched the end of man. I decline to accept the end of man. It is easy enough to say that man is immortal simply because he will endure: that when the last ding-dong of doom has clanged and faded from the last worthless rock hanging tideless in the last red and dying evening, that even then there will still be one more sound: that of his puny inexhaustible voice, still talking. I refuse to accept this. I believe that man will not merely endure: he will prevail. He is immortal, not because he alone among creatures has an inexhaustible voice, but because he has a soul, a spirit capable of compassion and sacrifice and endurance. The poet's, the writer's, duty is to write about these things. It is his privilege to help man endure by lifting his heart, by reminding him of the courage and honor and hope and pride and compassion and pity and sacrifice which have been the glory of his past. The poet's voice need not merely be the record of man, it can be one of the props, the pillars to help him endure and prevail.

- William Faulkner. 1950.

Posted at 11:10 AM | Comments (0)

February 11, 2002

Does Philosophy help?

Philosophy being nothing else but the study of wisdom and
truth, it may with reason be expected that those who have spent most
time and pains in it should enjoy a greater calm and serenity of mind,
a greater clearness and evidence of knowledge, and be less disturbed
with doubts and difficulties than other men

-- George Berkeley - A treatise concerning the principles of human knowledge

I for one do not believe Berkeley was in full posession of his intellectual faculties when exhorting the power of Philosophy to infuse peacefulness. When René Descarte set out to meditate on human nature and life his quest was indeed for answers that would make sense of the world. However, his escape came in the form of an incestous maxim which is often condensed to I think, therefore I am. Philosophers today are entangled in a web of details that do not assist their progress. The bigger picture is occluded. Its like looking at a mirror thats been fogged. Self doubt and deference to tradition prevents our modern day philosopher from reaching out and wiping the mirror. No answer, is still an answer. Why not accept what is (and what we know for now) as the truth. Why stand underneath the decaying branches of the tree of rational explanations waiting for the apple of knowledge to descend into the outstretched arms of want?

Posted at 06:04 PM | Comments (0)

Sisyphus an absurd hero

The tale of sisyphus is about an ancient highwayman who was sentenced by the gods for eternity to roll a large rock up a hill. No sooner did the rock reach atop the hill did it descend back to its initial position with a weary Sisyphus following it. Albert Camus the existentialist used Sisyphus to point out the inherent absurdness of our life. When Camus toured America he found that people were equating existentialism to a sort of hopeless philosophy. Existentialism, acknowledges the implicit lack of purpose to our lives, but Camus believed a life of devoid of hope did not preclude its enjoyment. He pointed out that when Sisyphus turned around to begin his trek back to the base of the mountain he was a metaphor for our lives. That even as we are subjugated by the every day dreariness of our lives we must like Sisyphus return to it while enjoying it.

Personally, I prefer solipsism when confronted with the bleakness of reality. If I can convince myself the banality of my existence and the vicissitudes that beset me are in the end my own creation, then I just might be able to survive it through some combination of maladroit perseverence and wishful thinking.

Posted at 05:48 PM | Comments (0)

February 07, 2002

How many Starbucks are there in Utah?

Mormons are apparently denied the use the primary vehicle of caffeine delivery, coffee. Ex-mormons or apostates as they are referred to by the mormons will help you figure out the real mormon faith? The Economist has something to say about the spread of Mormonism.

Quick facts
Joseph Smith founder of Mormon religion
accused of multiple sexual liasons
claimed received golden tablets from angel. Translated tablets into book of mormon
only approved pass holders may enter church
coffee, tea, alcohol not allowed
10% of income is tithed.
must perform out of church assignments

Posted at 04:58 PM | Comments (0)

February 06, 2002

Nick Leeson

Nick Leeson gambled $1.17 billion on foreign exchange trades in Singapore and set off the collapse of England's historic Barings Bank.

Posted at 11:05 AM

Which side of the road do you drive on?


Posted at 09:22 AM

February 05, 2002

History of Islam. sort of

Tariq Ali's article Mullahs and Heretics is an unexpected story of islams progression from conception to the ongoing decay. It starts of with his personal history and interaction with Islam. It suddenely diverges into the history of Islam. Over all a good read.

A quote I've lifted from the article is an introduction sent from an Ottoman Sultan to the King of France:

I who am the Sultan of Sultans, the sovereign of sovereigns, the dispenser of crowns to the monarchs on the face of the earth, the shadow of God on Earth, the Sultan and sovereign lord of the White Sea and of the Black Sea, of Rumelia and of Anatolia, of Karamania, of the land of Rum, of Zulkadria, of Diyarbekir, of Kurdistan, of Aizerbaijan, of Persia, of Damascus, of Aleppo, of Cairo, of Mecca, of Medina, of Jerusalem, of all Arabia, of Yemen and of many other lands which my noble fore-fathers and my glorious ancestors (may Allah light up their tombs!) conquered by the force of their arms and which my August Majesty has made subject to my flaming sword and my victorious blade, I, Sultan Suleiman Khan, son of Sultan Selim, son of Sultan Bayezid: To thee, who art Francis, King of the land of France.

Posted at 10:21 AM | Comments (0)

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