Tuesday, 15 February 2011

Public Enemy No.1: Horse Riding or Ecstasy?

By Mowgli.

‘The government ban on substances like cannabis and MDMA seems simply to be in
place to stop young people having fun’ says Professor David Nutt, a psychiatrist and
neuropsychopharamacologist (fuck), as he talks to a packed out crowd of students who
are probably only there to get their minor drug habits supported by science.

The talk Professor Nutt gave was immersed in the politics of government and their
Advisory Council on the Misuse of Drugs (ACMD), from which he was fired after his
claims that, statistically speaking, ‘riding a horse is more dangerous than ecstasy’. Lad.
One of the biggest revelations of his talk was how politicians had completely ignored
concrete evidence from researchers at the ACMD when they declared the rationale for
their drug policy. For instance, Gordon Brown reclassified cannabis from Class C to
B in 2009 under the guise that it caused schizophrenia, despite the ACMD stating that
their evidence was completely against this claim. Even more staggering was the research
that went into the decision to ban mephedrone, when the ACMD was asked to prepare
a risk assessment of the drug two days before the vote for its illegalisation; essentially
banning something where the pharmacology had never been investigated, and the actual
physiological effects were completely unknown.

Important issues about the slant in the press were highlighted as well. Drone was only
banned because newspapers reported that it had led to the deaths of a number of young
people, though coroner’s reports often declared alcohol poisoning was the cause of
death. It was just a coincidence that these kids had taken mephedrone; you wouldn’t ban
Radio 2 because its playing when a drunk-driver crashes into a wall. Research into what
newspapers actually report found only a fraction of alcohol-related deaths were reported,
while every single ecstasy made into the tabloids somewhere.

But for all his merits, Nutt was clearly biased in his view, because for some time at least
he was the government’s bitch. He was just a bit aggy about it. An important thing to
take from him though is that governments don’t ban things because they are dangerous.
Huge numbers of people die from alcohol, but you can get a Kestrel from any corner
shop for £1. But drugs that are illegal, in effect, are still just pharmacological agents. Some are actually quite useful. Aside from the obvious pain-relieving effects of cannabis in horrific conditions
like multiple sclerosis, experimental work with controlled substances is proving fruitful.
One of the tutors here at Oxford is pioneering the use of psilocybin (the active ingredient
in shrooms) to treat depression.

So all in all, it seems that we are back where we started.

Looking at the concrete figures in the mess of unsubstantiated claims, I can only really
make one informed recommendation:

If you’re gonna pop some pills, don’t ride a fucking horse.

Friday, 4 February 2011


DIVERGE @ The Alibi.

Be there, don't be square.


Contributed by Mowgli.

Ok. Let’s get this out in the open. I’m not rich. In fact, I’m not far from dirt poor, and
this socioeconomic truth was what caused my biggest apprehension about taking up my
place at Oxford: ‘Wont they all be rich, arrogant cunts?’

Well generally the answer is ‘No’. While some people are annoyingly intelligent, most
are simply the product of a comfortable childhood under the guidance of supportive
middle class parents; talented, well-rounded, if not a little naive. However, when people
start to talk about their chateaus in France or what glorious humanitarian obstacles
they conquered on their relatively insignificant gap year to Africa/Asia/South America,
you begin to see cracks in the university’s equal opportunities manifesto. While such
examples of genuine affluence are like rare birds, never is the density of these toffs
more apparent then at Camera.

Camera (where it takes shirt and shoes to get in but a title or a trust fund to fit in) is
the prototypical rich boy’s playground. After finding my way into a group of Etonians
hailing from my college I was thrust into the club and with it a world of frivolity. Skipping
queues of anxious social climbers, young men in their best suits with trophy girls on
their arms hoping to find a niche within the nightclub to network their way to success,
it was quickly apparent that these guys I hadn’t thought much of were already part
of a much wider-reaching network. As we were ushered to a private table by another
nameless face that they all recognised as ‘one of the old boys’, it was obvious this
wasn’t a normal club. Nowhere else in the world is there a dance floor where a majority
of men are wearing double-breasted dinner jackets, or where the standard icebreaker
is ‘so, ya, I was on my yacht when…’

In all truth I had thought there would be some oligarchs at Oxford, but that at least they
would be noticeable- top hat, a monocle etc. But the only clue that these guys were any
different from anyone else was a mild, privileged accent and an excessive use of the
phrases ‘banter’ and ‘good effort’. But clearly they were from a different world, a world
where a £200, 3ft bottle of vodka constitutes buying a round.

But to be fair, they aren’t elitists, and you can’t fault the rich for being rich. The Etonians
and I represent opposite ends of the spectrum, the rich and the poor, but we are both
minorities. In fact due to my background I have far more of the taxpayer’s money
given to me than my middle class peers, who despite a few exceptions are all living
off a shoestring. So I suppose yes, there is an elite, but they are not simply hothouse
flowers from private schools whose parents have bought them a place. Most are
completely bereft of arrogance or pretence (allowing ruffians like me into their ranks)
and personally I can think of no better statement of social mobility than when a young
boy from a council house spends an evening drinking with the sons of millionaires. So
long as they don’t expect me to pick up the bill.

Silvio Berlusconi, or better things to do if you run a country.

We all moan about Cameron and Clegg screwing the people of this country, but Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi is screwing his people in an entirely different way. He is literally screwing them. Allegations have emerged that Berlusconi has been sleeping with a number of prostitutes. Furthermore, it’s been said that not only is he paying them for their ‘kindness’ but he’s also been letting them stay in a bunch of apartments he built in the 70’s.
            Now it’s all very well and good to do this when you’re outside of the limelight, and hey, even if you’re an actor you might even get out of it unscathed (We all know you did a ‘bad thing’ Hugh) but if you’re the Prime Minister, surely the last thing on your mind is paying to party. Did you really think it wasn’t going to emerge? Did you assume that all those involved would completely ignore the potential to make money out of selling the story? I know that if I ran a country there’s a whole multitude of things I’d rather do than expose myself in the red light district. And by expose I mean show my face. Obviously.

1)   Entertain your people.
Laughter is the best medicine, and it’s free, in fact it’s probably the only free medicine in the entire United States and look at those guys, they’re having a whale of a time. If I ran a country, I’d be sure to make my people think I’d be a cool guy to hang out with. While David Cameron pretends he likes The Smiths, Vladimir Putin takes his shirt off and hikes, puts his shirt on and fights, puts his Tux on and sings Blueberry Hill before putting on his shades and riding a horse. As a result of this likeable attitude, the Russian people felt he had to stay in power in some respect after his term as President ended, and so he did.

2)   Legalise Marajuana
Anyone who knows anything about drugs knows that Marijuana is the least addictive, least harmful and most widely used drug in the world. It’s also as easy to get ahold of as a Red Stripe. Now, people who drink Red Stripe tend to end up wanting to kick a nose while people who smoke are more interested in the way that nose would look if you turned it upside down. Even though Clinton ‘never inhaled’ he’s certainly the coolest President America had since John F. Kennedy and when Obama took power he jumped right on the drugs bandwagon telling everybody how disappointed he was he smoked dope when really we all know how much he enjoyed eating fifteen packets of Reese’s Cups. Also, you can tax it, make money, eliminate all the kids getting mugged on wiggy estates and actually know that what you’re getting isn’t a packet of oregano.
3)   Not annoy students.
Nick Clegg: “Hey Vince, did you hear the news? Hung parliament man, what on earth shall we do?”
Vince Cable: “Hmm, that’s a difficult one. We’re going to want to be re-elected in the future, right? I’m guessing the vast majority who voted for us were students who believed in a party that wouldn’t betray them?”
Nick Clegg:   “I think you’re right…By jove, I have it! We’ll side with the Tories, they’ll listen to us! We can build a perfect society just like we hoped and I’m sure I can bring David round to the idea of free university, or at least have him keep it as it is. With our influence we can protect the public services and even the Arts! They seem like a new party, nothing like the Thatcher days. This way we can secure our place in government for the indefinite future!
Vince Cable: “Blimey Nick, you’re a genius, this is sure to work.”

If I ran a country I definitely wouldn’t piss of the girls and boys who are going to be voting for the next sixty years.