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Otters gonna ott, and other stories. - Tactical Ninja

Mar. 5th, 2013

10:49 am - Otters gonna ott, and other stories.

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A whole bunch of schoolboys just passed under my office window, marching and chanting something incomprehensible. When I say schoolboys, I mean ones of the older teenage variety, with the booming voices of adulthood, but in that drab uniform they make boys wear so you can't tell them apart. Anyone know what they were on about?


I found these in a box at home:



Marineland penguins. They are Little Blue Penguins, the kind they have the road signs about on the south coast, known also as Fairy Penguins back then.





Otters! Tarka and Mitch. We used to be allowed to feed these guys, and apparently Mitch gave my brother a harsh lesson when he was little about offering food then taking it away. I remember them being kind of like cats.





Snoopy the chimp, posing with an unlit cigarette. This sort of thing was considered cute back then. Meanwhile, I have very strong memories of Dad's insistence that everyone learned the difference between a monkey and an ape, and even now if someone calls a chimp a monkey, Dad appears in my head going "APE, DAMNIT, APE!"

So when the bloody creationists start in with the bullshit about how evolution says we came from monkeys, you can imagine what happens. I have zero respect for creationism, and even less respect for people who equate monkeys with apes.



On the upside, I now know that I can express my disrespect for monkey/ape equators with int, whereas for creationists I am better off using unsigned int because it gives me more scope for full expression. Lalalala..


Meanwhile, last night's heroin class was .. interesting, but not in the way I expected. I am accustomed to the drug being the focus of discussion about drugs, but in this case, the lecturer made the politics surrounding the drug his main focus. So we learned about the machinations of various governments (particularly the US government), and the way in which they worked with various organised crime groups in the 20th Century to aid the heroin trade in return for helping to control the 'communist threat'. It wasn't new ground for me, but more a new angle to look at it from.

My impression of the lecturer is that he's in the 'drugs are bad mmk' camp, which could prove interesting when we get to Lecture 4 and cover the legalisation debate. He's also passionate about his topic, but not enough to make a 2 hour lecture that ran 15 minutes overtime all that engaging. My bum went numb and I noticed it, which means I wasn't riveted. But, interesting. And worth doing if only for the resolution of my internal question about why the US would on one hand vilify Chinese immigrants at home, and at the same time manipulate international treaties to prevent the UK selling opium in China, ostensibly to help the Chinese. The answer? Marginalising the Chinese was the only way they could get public support for banning heroin internationally, which they wanted to do in order to break the association between their missionaries and opium, who arrived in China on the same boats, and which the Christian fundamentalists thought was the reason China wasn't turning Christian as fast as they thought it should. Or at least that's the generally accepted theory. Fucking religion.

Comments:

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From:tatjna
Date:March 4th, 2013 10:47 pm (UTC)
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It's true - even when scientists revisited this analysis with more comprehesive criteria and discovered that alcohol is actually more harmful, heroin still came out close to the top in terms of potential harms through use:



However, one of the things that is not really taken into account in either graph, because it's almost impossible to measure, is the amount of impact the legal status of any drug has on its risk of harm. It's fairly well established that a significant amount of the harm related to heroin is due to a combination of its addictive nature and its illegal status - the things people have to do to get their fix are much more harmful than they would be if heroin were legal.

So yes, using heroin is very risky. The fact that the world made it illegal has made it orders of magnitude more risky. 'Bad' is not a term I will use in relation to an inanimate molecule.

PS I have a copy of the later study if you're interested.

Edited at 2013-03-04 10:47 pm (UTC)
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From:ferrouswheel
Date:March 5th, 2013 12:33 am (UTC)
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Some of us give up smoking, and nicotine is often considered more addictive than heroin.

Part of the low safety factor is due to not knowing the purity which is a result of prohibition.
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From:tatjna
Date:March 5th, 2013 02:33 am (UTC)
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Then you get situations in which probation requires abstinence-based drug treatment, and a person who's been clean for ages smokes a joint, realises they are going back to jail at the next drug test and decides to have one last taste since they're already fucked. They inject themselves with a dose similar to the one they used to used, OD and die, because they've lost their tolerance.

This says more about the unintended consequences of abstinence-based drug treatment programs (or in my opinion, the blatantly obvious failings of same) than it does about the relative safety of different substances. It does, however, reinforce my point that the risks of harm from heroin are substantially increased by its legal status.

Edited at 2013-03-05 02:56 am (UTC)
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From:tatjna
Date:March 5th, 2013 04:18 am (UTC)
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Sure. Nobody's arguing that heroin isn't dangerous. But dangerous is one thing and bad is another, and I find it frustrating how many people assume that one adds up to the other.

And just to bludgeon you with it a bit more, it's these kind of assumptions that add to the stigma of heroin, and a) make it more dangerous while b) making it more difficult for the kind of discussion that is needed to create policy that makes heroin less dangerous to happen.

Edited at 2013-03-05 04:20 am (UTC)
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From:tatjna
Date:March 5th, 2013 12:53 am (UTC)
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This is why I use 'risky' to refer to heroin use rather than 'bad' to refer to heroin itself.

I mean, you have your black tar heroin you get off the dodgy fucker in the back ally, you have your homebake you made out of poppies that grew in your back garden, and you have your pure heroin you had prescribed by a Swiss doctor at no cost and administered with a clean needle in a safe injection space, you know? So which heroin is badder? Which safety factor is lower? If you injected daily for 20 years, how would the relative harms then relate to those of alcohol?

I just can't agree that 'bad' is appropriate terminology to apply to the so-called reality of heroin, when the reality of heroin itself is so obfuscated by misinformation and politically-imposed morality-based controls.

I'll give it a miss too, because it's risky.
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From:nick_101
Date:March 4th, 2013 11:44 pm (UTC)
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Little penguins are so cute.
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From:richdrich
Date:March 5th, 2013 12:22 am (UTC)
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The US was historically (late 19C) opposed to empires, European empires in general and the British Empire in particular, just on general principles. At the same time they were keen to expand their own < strike > empire < /strike > sphere of influence. That drove opposition to anything the Brits were doing (ripples of this continued through to Suez in 1956).

Opposition to Chinese immigration was the usual dumbass populist racism, and existed in a separate domain to foreign policy. All part of wanting the working classes to hate the "other", not their employers and rulers, etc.
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From:meathiel
Date:March 5th, 2013 08:18 am (UTC)
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The "penguins crossing" sign is too cute!
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From:tatjna
Date:March 5th, 2013 06:45 pm (UTC)
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It's even cuter when they do it! ;-)
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From:pundigrion
Date:March 9th, 2013 08:06 pm (UTC)
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Want!
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From:jaelle_n_gilla
Date:March 5th, 2013 08:43 am (UTC)
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I love the otters. I heard somewhere before that they are kind of like cats in their behaviour.

It's always funny how much emphasis the English speakers put on the difference between monkey and ape. In German, monkey is "Affe" and ape is "Menschen-Affe" which literally translates to "human-monkey". So, still monkey but more human. So our children get to say "Affe" and it's still correct for both of them. It's one thing where Pratchett's Librarian jokes don't translate well.

Creationists *rolls eyes* Show them one of these:
http://www.landschaftsmuseum.de/Bilder/Menschwerdung-2.jpg
There are still monkeys because monkeys also developed from monkeys.

I had a funny chat with a creationist years ago. He kept insisting "but what about the missing links" and I was like "yeah, there's another proof for you..." and all I got was blank looks. Took me a while to figure out that he thought the "missing links" were still missing *lol*
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From:tatjna
Date:March 5th, 2013 06:45 pm (UTC)
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My Dad had a big long explanation for why monkeys and apes are not the same thing, and it did make a lot of sense but I can't remember most of it. Mostly it's now just him going APE DAMNIT, APE! in the back of my head.

He would have had a hard time with German. ;-)
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From:jaelle_n_gilla
Date:March 5th, 2013 06:58 pm (UTC)
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Basically, I think they are just much closer relatives to us than to lesser monkeys, so you might call the five of us apes, including the humans, and everything else monkeys.
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From:tatjna
Date:March 5th, 2013 07:10 pm (UTC)
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Pretty much.
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From:brynhilda
Date:March 5th, 2013 04:55 pm (UTC)
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OMG...weee, the otters!! How can one not love these supercute creatures :D??
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From:tatjna
Date:March 5th, 2013 06:42 pm (UTC)
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I'm not sure how my brother feels about them after his kid self got chewed on by one, but yeah. They are my favourite thing at the zoo, too. ;-)
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