Hard News by Russell Brown

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Hard News: Pills, not so many thrills

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  • Craig Ranapia,

    But it's interesting to see Labour now acting like an Opposition party and employing the same slow-drip attempt to erode its opponents' credibility as has worked so well for National.

    Emphasis on the 'attempt' part, and I think there has to be a meaningful distinction drawn between (legitimate) political and policy differences, and the personally destructive crap that runs from the petty to the outright sinister.

    I really think Labour is falling into the same trap as the rabid right-wingnuts who think screeching to the converted doesn't give everyone else the shits. OK, I know there are going to be people who do now, and always will, think John Key is an evil Rogernome who will sell New Zealand as a job lot to Darth Rove by morning tea time given half the chance. Just as there are now, and always will be, those who think Helen Clark is a malevolent bitch squatting at the apex of a vast man-hating, anti-family Communist-Lesbian Cabal.

    What-fraking-ever.

    North Shore, Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 12370 posts Report Reply

  • Michael Savidge,

    Russel,

    Do you have any scoop on what form the post-BZP products will take?

    Is there any real reason to hope they will exceed the performance of the soon-to-be-banned pills and still manage to hurt less the next day?

    Somewhere near Wellington… • Since Nov 2006 • 324 posts Report Reply

  • FletcherB,

    Do you have any scoop on what form the post-BZP products will take?

    Is there any real reason to hope they will exceed the performance of the soon-to-be-banned pills and still manage to hurt less the next day?

    I have no inside info, and in fact no actual interest.... but logic suggests whatever replaces BZP has to be not as good.... if something better was available, it would have already been put on the market.

    "A legal high thats better than BZP" would be quite the selling point wouldnt it?

    What-ever replaces BZP is bound to be not quite as good.... whether thats less effective (as in desired effects) or worse undesired effects, I dont know.... but if something better was available it would already be the best selling....

    Its for this exact reason there wont be much of a black-market for BZP.... because legal was its only selling point.... once you are prepared to buy off the black market, better products are available.

    West Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 887 posts Report Reply

  • Graeme Edgeler,

    It's petty in an entirely different way to the David Parker thing - who was alleged (and completely vindicated) to have misled the Companies Office over the appointment of an auditor - which is an important safeguard for minority shareholders.

    I doubt very much that there is even the hint of Key having done anything wrong - residency rules under the Companies Act differ substantially from those under the Electoral Act.

    I think this is important, people should not mislead the registrar of electors and they should not mislead the Companies Office - and if Key has actually broken the law I want to know, and I'm open to charges.

    The reason this is petty, is because Labour is almost certainly wrong, and are just trying to get a bit of stink around Key. And in relation to the Electoral Act they are both too late to bring any charges, and wrong that it would see him lose his seat.

    Wellington, New Zealand • Since Nov 2006 • 3202 posts Report Reply

  • Neil Morrison,

    The most succinct condemnation of Chavez is a simple comparison with him to President Lula of Brazil - a centre left politician who really is doing something for the less well off, without the benefit of all that oil money.

    Conor Foley often has very good pieces on Brazil in The Guardian.

    Since Nov 2006 • 932 posts Report Reply

  • BenWilson,

    What-ever replaces BZP is bound to be not quite as good

    I shudder to think how bad that would be. NoDoz perhaps? Hopefully Anderton doesn't make drinking coffee illegal before his sorry arse leaves politics forever.

    As for Pilger, I think he's coming at it from the "Chavez isn't so bad because others are much worse" angle. His move to get rid of term limits would put Venezuelan leadership on a similar standard to NZ's so it's not time to shout "fascist" just yet. Extra judicial killings are a shocking travesty, although I'm inclined to wonder if that's just the Venezuelan police force doing it's thang the way it always did. Restricting freedom of speech is seldom good - but perhaps the Electoral Financing Bill deserves a closer look if you're really a stickler for that.

    All those equivocations aside, Venezuela sounds like a shit place. That I'd probably rather go there than Columbia doesn't say much.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 10633 posts Report Reply

  • InternationalObserver,

    I would suggest to this Govt that more people have been harmed by our 'Wild West' financial markets/rules than BZP party pills. And yet the Government's new regulations to protect New Zealanders (and it's the old bumble headed pensioners like my Dad who are always stung) from cowboy finance/investment schemes won't take effect until mid 2008. But BZP party pills will be gone by Xmas.

    but if something better was available it would already be the best selling

    Not necessarily. Why develop and introduce a new product when the new rules have not yet come into effect. Besides, they've still got warehouses full of BZP products to unload.

    As for Pilger, I think he's coming at it from the "Chavez isn't so bad because others are much worse" angle.

    or ... "my enemy's enemy is my friend" ... which is not always the best stategy.

    Since Jun 2007 • 909 posts Report Reply

  • Michael Fitzgerald,

    "While any sensible person would have qualms about Chavez' recent actions"

    Much of central/south america are at war (only on occation openly). As such being on a war footing requires strength.

    Is he doing anything different than Helen Clark has actually achieved (& wants to continue)?

    On Human Rights how about making it illegal for a people to try and get justice form courts, solely based on race!

    Since May 2007 • 631 posts Report Reply

  • Idiot Savant,

    You're right on the button about Chavez. He's not a murdering psychopath (yet), but he's dangerously authoritarian and on a path that undermines rather than strengthens Venezuela's democracy. What he's done for the people of Venezuela has been great (RWDB's MMV), but he should have accepted the constitutional limits rather than seeking to make himself President-for-life.

    Palmerston North • Since Nov 2006 • 1711 posts Report Reply

  • Idiot Savant,

    The most succinct condemnation of Chavez is a simple comparison with him to President Lula of Brazil - a centre left politician who really is doing something for the less well off, without the benefit of all that oil money.

    Well, Chavez "really is doing something for the less well off" as well. The difference is that Lula is doing it constitutionally and properly, without transforming his country into a dictatorship.

    Palmerston North • Since Nov 2006 • 1711 posts Report Reply

  • InternationalObserver,

    but he should have accepted the constitutional limits rather than seeking to make himself President-for-life

    But remember, he is an avowed fan of Fidel Castro ... dictators always see themselves as benign.

    Contrast this with US democracy: Bush I & II, and now possibly Clinton I & II. He insists not, but who would be surprised if Jeb ran in 2012?

    Since Jun 2007 • 909 posts Report Reply

  • Russell Brown,

    I have no inside info, and in fact no actual interest.... but logic suggests whatever replaces BZP has to be not as good.... if something better was available, it would have already been put on the market.

    Not at all. Bowden's Ease (methylone) was way better than BZP, but the MoH changed its mind on whether it fell afoul of the Misuse of Drugs Act, belatedly deciding that it was an ecstasy analog after all.

    Although it doesn't make much sense, the key determinant for new substances will be whether they can be construed to be already illegal. Then manufacturers will have the opportunity -- under yet-to-be-defined rules -- to make a case on safety. The Chen Palmer factor will be most interesting there.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 22754 posts Report Reply

  • BenWilson,

    The difference is that Lula is doing it constitutionally and properly, without transforming his country into a dictatorship.

    The other difference is that Brazil is a LOT bigger than Venezuela. About 10 times as many people. It's like comparing the problems NZ faces with the problems faced by the UK.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 10633 posts Report Reply

  • Kyle Matthews,

    Is he doing anything different than Helen Clark has actually achieved (& wants to continue)?

    Umm, yup.

    I have mixed feelings about Chavez, as do probably a fair few people on the left.

    I also have mixed feelings about Helen Clark, again, ditto.

    But the difference between them and what they're doing, is quite a bit really.

    Helen Clark, for example, isn't importing thousands of AK47s into her country to prepare for an American led insurgency. Or going on six hour long socialist rants (with a whiteboard I saw on the Daily Show). Or standing up at the UN ranting about how bad the US is. Or shutting down media outlets, persecuting her opposition with death squads, etc etc etc.

    She's also not as popular as Chavez I see!

    Since Nov 2006 • 6243 posts Report Reply

  • FletcherB,

    Russell,
    That doesnt disprove my point..... if methylone was better as you say, but turned out to be legal, do you doubt it would have started outselling BZP?

    Yes, the new regulations will change things... but as things stood up until now, if a better legal high was already available, we'd already know about it. We dont. Ergo what will replace BZP will likely be less desirable than BZP. (and if something better and legal was available, maybe it and not BZP would be the target of new legislation?)

    West Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 887 posts Report Reply

  • BenWilson,

    I'm not convinced by the "if a better legal high was available we'd know about it either". Because BZP was so crap I'd rate it as lamer than coffee. Its success was due to cunning marketing, to giving the impression of something cool and slightly dodgy, rather than 0ld 5k00l like alcohol or coffee or cigarettes or anything else parents would use.

    The funniest thing is that it probably led to quite good parties because of it's *ineffectiveness*. Most of the ones I went to as a kid were pissed-stoned affairs, where people did drunken stoner things, and parties were canned by the actions of a few. Nothing like a huge puke across the dinner table, or someone getting violent to kill the vibe of love. That kids could socialize without being actually high is the biggest achievement of BZP. If it was needed as a social lubricant on account of it's symbolic "we're kids rebelling together" function, at least it was mostly harmless. Now that's going to be removed by wowsers. Great. Back to piss then?

    Hopefully the hole in the market will replaced by something equally harmless-but-hip. Maybe sports drinks full of caffeine and glucose, or hemp and guarana will make a comeback. They just need to convey the ideas "XTreem, L3g4l, H1gh" and pay some wowsers in the government to get bitter on it, and kids will flock.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 10633 posts Report Reply

  • Terence Wood,

    Hi Neil,

    Conor Foley's great isn't he.

    That being said, anyone who wants to pin the police repression tag on Chavez is going to have to do the same to Lula too. I've always had my doubts about Chavez and I've always been a huge fan of the PT (Lula's political party - heck, I liked them so much I wrote my masters thesis on them). But police repression is, in all probability, every bit as high in Brazil as it is in Venezuela. And there's not a whole heap that Lula has been able to do about it (in many Brazilian cities the police function more or less as a gang in their own right). I suspect the same is true in Chavez's case too.

    As for the banning television channels and meddling with the constitution - I agree there - Chavez looks definitely to be on the slide.

    Since Nov 2006 • 148 posts Report Reply

  • Russell Brown,

    As for the banning television channels and meddling with the constitution - I agree there - Chavez looks definitely to be on the slide.

    Oddly enough, while it was doubtless whiffy, the refusal to renew RCTV's frequency licence doesn't trouble me as much as some of the other stuff. It did at least take place through a real regulatory structure, and RCTV did seem to have breached its licence terms. It's still allowed to produce locally and broadcast via satellite.

    The prosecution of individual journalists on trumped-up criminal defamation charges because they wrote about the activities of senior ministers is, on the other hand, seriously chilling. It's appalling that Pilger's fervour allows him to dismiss such things.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 22754 posts Report Reply

  • Russell Brown,

    The funniest thing is that it probably led to quite good parties because of it's *ineffectiveness*.

    Ben, they worked for everyone else but you. Just not for all that long -- and not nearly as long as they made you feel absolutely ghastly.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 22754 posts Report Reply

  • Michael Fitzgerald,

    Kyle said
    Helen Clark, for example, isn't importing thousands of AK47s into her country to prepare for an American led insurgency.

    Aunty Helen has led the rearming of the NZDF. (Of course the notable exception of the strike force - that has never ever been used - hell I came closer to shooting one down - a pure cock up in training , not terrorism. ) And led NZ into more fights since WWII, so who's the war monger?
    Exactly which invasion has Chavez been party to?
    Closing a TV station & banning coverage of MPs in parliment, a matter of degree but all going the same way.
    And which ethnic group has Chavez made illegal to have legal representation in a court of law?

    Since May 2007 • 631 posts Report Reply

  • Russell Brown,

    That doesnt disprove my point..... if methylone was better as you say, but turned out to be legal, do you doubt it would have started outselling BZP?

    Yes, it would have, but it was banned before it emerged from Bowden's public trial/direct marketing operation. It had quite a fan base.

    Yes, the new regulations will change things... but as things stood up until now, if a better legal high was already available, we'd already know about it. We dont.

    You don't. The manufacturers already have samples, and I'm pretty sure they'll be better than BZP. Which wouldn't be hard.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 22754 posts Report Reply

  • FletcherB,

    Surely the fact that Matt Bowden was trying to find something better and bring it to market suggests that.... well... that people were trying to find something better? (and legal)

    Ben- I agree that it was definitely a marketing success, and maybe "cool factor" was more in effect than actual psychotropic effects...
    But unless you think the BZP sellers were intentionally selling something weaker than they had available, for the "good of society"... it doesnt follow that something better had to be available just because BZP was so poor.

    There are other good reasons my suspicions could be incorrect.... development costs could be too high for the total market to justifty?
    Something better, but too costly to produce might exist?

    I just think it stands to reason that when you main selling feature is that its legal.... when that gets removed, you have to resort to the next best legal thing, and by definition, next-best is not as good as the thing that preceded it.

    Now, with the change in regulations of what you can bring onto the market in the future.... that will change the economics considerably. Maybe it will become too expensive/difficult to prove anything safe? And the market will die off completely. Or maybe the market is big enough to justify huge expenditure to find a replacement that does indeed turn out to be better than BZP, (when such expenditure couldnt be justified with BZP in the market).

    Alcohol is my drug of choice so its all moot to me.... I was just thinking out loud.

    West Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 887 posts Report Reply

  • FletcherB,

    I guess if "they" have only just recently discovered better than BZP alternatives.... I can see why they would hold off with new regulations coming in soon....

    But if they have known about these better alternatives for some time, why have they not been selling them already?

    Invent a better mouse-trap and people will buy it, etc.

    West Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 887 posts Report Reply

  • BenWilson,

    Ben, they worked for everyone else but you.

    Phew, I thought I must have just been crazily at odds with common perceptions of what 'high' actually meant. Maybe I have odd brain chemistry, and it just didn't work for me.

    Then again, I do recall some effects - there was a sort of gnawing feeling in the stomach, rather like anxiety, and sleeplessness (which I suffer from anyway). Is that what kids call getting high these days? I must confess my experiments with other uppers (which I won't go into here) have also had similar observations. Perhaps I'm just not an uppers kind of guy. Or perhaps I'm too critical to let a placebo effect work on me.

    Fletcher,

    it doesnt follow that something better had to be available just because BZP was so poor.

    Actually I was saying that coffee was stronger, but kids didn't want an upper that their parents used, which smacked of squareness, however effective it might be, and is also an acquired taste. BZP rode the line of being something that was 'barely legal'. For a lot of kids it's enough that you might get busted by your parents, too much that you might get busted by the cops. Personally, I feel the exact opposite way ;-)

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 10633 posts Report Reply

  • Kyle Matthews,

    Aunty Helen has led the rearming of the NZDF.
    Exactly which invasion has Chavez been party to?
    Closing a TV station & banning coverage of MPs in parliment, a matter of degree but all going the same way.
    And which ethnic group has Chavez made illegal to have legal representation in a court of law?

    I don't think the NZDF was ever 'un-armed' for Helen Clark to 're-arm' them. If you mean, modernised and getting rid of 50 year old bits of equipment, then yes, NZ has done some of that, rightly so, given the bad state that it had fallen into. Chavez is apparently preparing (rightly or wrongly) for an American-led insurgency, which he will fend off by supplying local militia with small arms. Helen Clark hasn't been out on the streets handing out AK47s.
    The sentence 'And led NZ into more fights since WWII' doesn't make sense to me. But Helen Clark has got NZ troops involved in one war - Afghanistan. Everything else in the past fifteen years has been peacekeeping (East Timor, Solomons), or reconstruction (Iraq) that I can think of. I'm not sure what is the exactly the same between Clark and Chavez about that.
    I didn't mention invasion.
    Well, coverage of MPs in parliament isn't banned, and hasn't ever been banned. Coverage of MPs for a certain purpose is now (still) banned. I don't agree with the legislation, but in actual fact it opened up coverage of MPs in parliament, because they can now use footage of MPs who aren't standing and speaking. The equivalent of Chavez would be closing down TV3 because they broadcast Ron Marks giving the finger. Again, planets apart.
    And I'm not sure what track you're on about ethnic groups not having legal representation in law.

    Since Nov 2006 • 6243 posts Report Reply

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