marijuana

A Certain Shade of Gray

Detail of frame from Durarara!!!

KING 5 overstates the lede:

Washington health experts say deaths due to fentanyl have roughly doubled in the state in only a year. The drug is cut into heroin and other drugs as a cheaper alternative and often times without people knowing.

A new investigation released Wednesday by the State Department of Health, State Toxicology Laboratory, University of Washington Alcohol and Drug Abuse Institute, and Public Health Seattle & King County shows deaths from fentanyl and related drugs rose to 70 in 2016 from 28 in 2015.

The State Toxicology Lab says we can’t compare the numbers directly because halfway through the year, the lab changed its testing methods in order to detect smaller amounts of fentanyl. Had it used the old protocol, the lab would have identified 53 fentanyl-related deaths in 2016.

However, the 70 deaths account for 10 percent of all opioid-related deaths in the state.

Even still, the comparative reality isn’t exactly good news. Nor is there much comfort in not being elsewhere. WUSA, via KING 5:

Knoxville police are keeping their eyes out for a dangerous and deadly drug. It looks like a chunk of concrete, can kill with one dose, and is being called ‘Gray Death.’

So far, it’s been found in Ohio, Georgia, and Kentucky, which are all states connected to Tennessee by an interstate.

According to reports, the drug is 10,000 times more potent than morphine, 100 times more powerful than fentanyl, and includes an elephant tranquilizer called Carfentanil.

That tranquilizer showed up in Tennessee for the first time this year. Since then, it’s been found in five separate cases, including one in East Tennessee.

Remember: You can call it “gray death”, and someone will still want to use it.

At the same time, the joke about the nanovirus doesn’t work; the opioid epidemic is a bit more serious than video game obscurities. Still, of course they called it “gray death”.

(It’s a marketplace thing. See, back when KGB was popular as “killer green buds”, the marijuana didn’t actually kill you. Of course they called it “gray death”. Think about who we’re dealing with, here inasmuch as anyone would actually manufacture and distribute the stuff.)

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Tan, LiLi. “‘Kill pill’ intensifying opioid epidemic”. KING 5. 10 May 2017.

WUSA. “New drug called ‘Gray Death’ can kill with just one dose”. KING 5. 10 May 2017.

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Something Completely Different

Shizuo Heiwajima wanders Ikebukuro. (Detail of frame from Durarara!! episode 7, "Bad-Ass Dude".)

“Have to face it, I’m finally an addict; the smell of popcorn and worn plush lingers for weeks.”

Margaret Atwood

Here’s a change of pace:

No matter where you go, the movie theaters tend to smell the same: like popcorn, and the butter-like stuff they put on the popcorn, and that stale odor of recycled air-conditioned air.

Also fear, and sadness, and joy. These feelings aren’t scents, per se, in that you don’t take a whiff of air and consciously think, “Man, it smells scary in here.” But in a study published earlier this week in the journal Nature, a team of researchers found that the air in movie theaters tends to take on unique chemical signatures based on how the audience reacts to what’s happening on the screen. A horror film, for instance, will have a different chemical imprint than a comedy, which will leave a different mark than a tearjerker.

The report from Cari Romm for Science of Us actually sets a number of thoughts in motion, including a weirdly recursive context in which yes, actually people do now have ideas of something smelling scary, and as the colloquialism sets roots in American culture the idea will eventually concretize or crystallize long enough to be noted, and then set right back to shifting and changing and growing and evolving. It’s not quite the same as the decade-old debate whether sour apple or lime tastes like green, though even then the question illustrates contextual challenges. To wit, the straightforward answer: I’m middle-aged; the sour-apple thing is “new” by comparison, so “lime” is what tastes like “green”. A more honest answer: Marijuana. A more cultural-contextually useful answer: I’m sure as a middle-aged lifer in cedar and hemlock country, green means something different to me than it would a young’n barely as tall as the wheat that is all he can see for miles in any direction.

Smells, of course, are more interesting, but translating the relevant trivia about memory into something useful seems a challenging return on investment especially according to a daunting prospect against success.

Nor should we wonder why Atwood comes to mind.

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Image note: Shizuo Heiwajima wanders Ikebukuro. (Detail of frame from Durarara!! episode 7, “Bad-Ass Dude”.)

Atwood, Margaret. “You Take My Hand And”. 1971.

Romm, Cari. “Movie Theaters Smell Like People’s Feelings”. Science of Us. 13 May 2016.

The Straight Dope

'Scuse me while I responsibly point this at you.

Here’s a a narrative for you, via Kenny Ocker at the News Tribune:

According to court documents:

The teenager set up a drug deal on Facebook with a friend. His friend met the dealer, who showed him the marijuana he wanted. The friend grabbed the bag and ran.

The dealer and the passenger from his car chased the friend about 50 yards before the teenager — wearing a mask and showing a handgun — showed up and asked, “What’s up?”

The dealer and passenger then ran toward their car.

The teenager went to put the gun back into his pants and the weapon fired a bullet through his leg.

In a state where marijuana is legal, this makes exactly no sense. Honestly, you know that bit about how one needs to live, instead of merely exist? Some days it seems like living isn’t enough; it’s like people need to live in an action movie.

Or a one-star farce.

Pick your poison.

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Ocker, Kenny. “Lakewood teenager shoots himself in groin during robbery attempt, documents say”. The News Tribune. 2 May 2016.

Just a Music Moment (The Microorganism)

Boiled in Lead, 'From the Ladle to the Grave' (Omnium Records, 1989).  Composite including detail of cover art.

In truth, I can’t believe it took me this long. You know, as if I really need an excuse for a plague song.

In April, when your barge sailed through, I fell in love with you; alas! my paramour, alack! a stranger to me ’til the test comes back. O! the microorganism! O! the microorganism! Dive in the gene pool, down you swim, down to where the light grows thin. Flail, little fishies, flail if you can, but avoid the microorganism man. O! the microorganism! O! the microorganism. Caffeine, sugar, and THC is all the doctors are gonna find in me when they do the autopsy, the microorganism won’t get me. O! the microorganism! O! the microorganism. God is good, and God is great; God’s a big invertebrate. God made the river change its route, but He won’t pull the microorganism out. O! the microorganism! O! the microorganism! The cowslips bloom, and the bluebells to; here’s advice I’ll give to you: Rattle your sword before you strike, and never kiss anyone you like. O! the microorganism! O! the microorganism!

Boiled in Lead, “The Microorganism” (1989)

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Inevitable (¡Phleorg! Mix)

Detail of framegrab from FLCL episode 2, 'Firestarter'.

“It has nothing to do with God; I don’t have the balls to describe a god to anybody.”

Bill Levin

File under … um … you know … er … ah … dude, where’s the filing cabinet, again?

Indiana’s new “religious freedom” law has been widely criticized and condemned by many, but an innovative marijuana activist in the state is using the bill’s legal protections as a means to set up a new religious sect — the First Church of Cannabis, where members would aim to use marijuana freely as a sacrament in a state where the substance remains banned.

“It’s a new religion for people who happen to live in our day and age,” Bill Levin, the church’s founder, told The Huffington Post in an interview Monday. “All these old religions, guys walking across the desert without Dr. Scholls inserts, drinking wine out of goat bladders, no compass, speaking Latin and Hebrew — I cannot relate to that shit. I drive by Burger Kings, bars and corn fields. I cannot relate to an antique magic book.”

Just say 'No' to the War on Drugs.It’s, uh … you know, like somebody would have thought of it already, you know, like, in yo’ mama’s piehole! … I mean, er, right.

Sorry.

Couldn’t fuckin’ see that one comin’, eh?

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Ferner, Matt. “Church Of Marijuana Gets Boost From Indiana’s Anti-Gay ‘Religious Freedom’ Bill”. The Huffington Post. 30 March 2015.

Your War on Drugs (Cherryburst Edition)

Suicide is never funny.

Then again, if you want the detail, Oren Yaniv, et al., of New York Daily News have an article for that. Still, though, there is something much more succinct about Dan Savage’s capsule summary:

Authorities in New York City raided a maraschino cherry plant in Brooklyn looking for environmental violations because illegal runoff from the factory—maraschino red syrup and waste—was turning bees in the area red. When they spotted a false wall in the plant … the owner excused himself, went to the bathroom, and blew his brains out.

Just say 'No' to the War on Drugs.Right. Not funny. Nor is the war on drugs.

Seriously, this guy killed himself over marijuana, because, you know, it’s just like methamphetamine: “‘Underground, it was really Breaking Bad,’ said the astounded law enforcement source.”

Frankly, between growing dope and manufacturing maraschino cherries, I’d say the abuse of fruit is probably more detrimental.

Look, none of this would have happened but for the war on drugs.

This is your brain. This is your brain on drugs. And this is your brain spattered all over the bathroom because there is a war on drugs.

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Yaniv, Oren, et al. “Owner of Brooklyn Maraschino Cherry company kills himself after police find huge marijuana-growing operation: sources”. New York Daily News. 24 February 2015.

Getting Silly

Eric Holder in Washington, D.C., 1 June 2014. (Andrew Harrer/Bloomberg News)

Every once in a while a politician pops off, like Bill Clinton saying he never inhaled, and somewhere in the world several people are laughing in a specific context: Ha! He really went and said it!

But then there are times when we just want to put our foot down. It is considerably more abstract a sense of outrage, and there really isn’t anything funny about this particular flavor of disgust.

Paul Kane and Juliet Eilperin bring the latest very nearly predictable twist:

President Obama has yet to reveal his choice to succeed Attorney General Eric H. Holder Jr., but already the Senate confirmation process has begun its march toward contentiousness.

Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX)With Nov. 4 midterm elections potentially tipping the balance in the Senate, some Republicans immediately called for a delay in the hearings and votes on the new attorney general until January, when the possibility of a GOP majority in the Senate might give Republicans almost total control of the outcome.

Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Tex.) issued a political call to arms for conservatives, saying that outgoing senators should not vote on the nominee during the post-election lame-duck session. “Allowing Democratic senators, many of whom will likely have just been defeated at the polls, to confirm Holder’s successor would be an abuse of power that should not be countenanced,” Cruz said in a statement.

It would seem a strange proposition that the United States Senate actually doing its job would constitute some sort of abuse of power. Kevin Drum rightly wonders, “Unless Cruz is suggesting that [lame-duck senators] should be banned completely, then of course business should be conducted during lame duck sessions. What else is Congress supposed to do during those few weeks?”

And, yes, this is the sort of idiocy we have all come to expect from Mr. Cruz; his is a unique brand of fertilizer. And, certainly, it is reasonable to run down the list of reasons why the junior senator from Texas is wrong. In the larger picture of the Beltway Republicans, though, the Senate backbencher and honorary President of the Tortilla Coast Junta in the House is, for once, actually taking his lead from Speaker Boehner instead of working to frustrate him.

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Not Quite Relationship Advice

SMBC-20140920-WheelPerversion-detail-bw

Remember always that intimate relationships discovered in a search for idyll will be perpetually compared against the idyll. Similarly, Zach Weiner notes, albeit perhaps unintentionally, that such relationships founded in ritual can really, really ruin the fun.

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Weiner, Zach. Saturday Morning Breakfast Cereal. 20 September 2014.

A Reason to Get Mice High

Must've been high ....

Oh, come on. It was inevitable:

A team of European neuroscientists led by Giovanni Marsicano of the University of Bordeaux has found that, in mice, THC fits into receptors in the brain’s olfactory bulb, significantly increasing the animals’ ability to smell food and leading them to eat more of it. A big part of the reason why you might eat more food after using marijuana, the research indicates, is simply that you can smell and taste it more acutely.

That’s right. The science of getting mice high. No, really: (more…)

Seventy-Five Pounds of Dope

“You’d need at least four or five immigrants, and mango-sized calves would do just fine.”

Ryan Kearney

One of the challenges facing the armchair pundit, or even average voter in this age of industrial-grade politics is that one can effectively legitimize scandalous behavior through saturation marketing. Whether it’s waxing romantic about the wetbacks on his father’s farm, or finding women—invariably past their own fertile years—willing to say that Todd Akin and Richard Mourdock were right, or sending Rep. Marsha Blackburn out to put a feminine face on the proposition that women don’t actually want equal pay for equal work, Republicans just can’t seem to keep from choking on their own toes.

To catch every one of King’s offensive statements, one would need an army of trackers. To keep an accurate record of the insanity coming from the GOP’s vociferous hardline right wing would require career decisions.

Still, though, in the end, well, come on.

Lost in all the jokes about cantaloupes, though, was the real absurdity in King’s quote: that anyone could conceivably carry 75 pounds of pot. Seventy-five pounds of marijuanaTrue, the weight itself is not necessarily prohibitive, though it would take a very fit, hydrated person to carry that much through the desert. But dried marijuana, no matter how “dank” its buds are, is not a heavy product by volume. Which is to say, it takes a lot of pot to get to 75 pounds. How much, exactly? This picture, from a 2011 post in Kansas City alt-weekly The Pitch about a highway bust, shows exactly that weight in marijuana. No backpack is large enough to fit this much bud. You’d need at least four or five immigrants, and mango-sized calves would do just fine.

I mean, you know. Any excuse to post a picture of seventy-five pounds of sweet and kind.

Many thanks to Ryan Kearney of The New Republic for putting that lovely two and two together.

And, yes, I would laugh if that was trafficked over from Kansas.