Gweek is a podcast where the editors and friends of Boing Boing talk about comic books, science fiction and fantasy, video games, board games, TV shows, music, movies, tools, gadgets, apps, and other neat stuff.
This episode's guest:
Joshuah Bearman. In 2007 Joshuah wrote the now-famous Argo article for Wired, which Ben Affleck turned into a movie that won Best Picture at the 85th Academy Awards. He has also written for for Rolling Stone, Harper’s, Wired, Playboy, GQ, and The New York Times Magazine. He also recently co-founded Epic, an online longform journalism site.
Today, I spoke to Josh about a 30,000 word story he wrote for GQ and The Atavist about a group of Southern California high schoolers who started one of the largest marijuana smuggling rings in the world. It's Coronado High, and is available on Kindle for $1.99, or for $2.99 as a multimedia iOS piece from The Atavist.
Insanity at the intersection of trademark law, marketing, and patient safety: "New drug names aren’t just bizarre," writes David Shultz. "They’re dangerous."
In any other industry, calling your product Xalkori would be the business blunder of the century. But this isn’t any other industry; this is pharma.
“Xalkori is not just a crazy name,” says R. John Fidelino, who, as director of creative at the firm InterbrandHealth, helped bring the word into existence.
Joshua Bearman (who wrote the "Argo" story for Wired that was turned into a terrific movie) has a story in the July 2013 issue of GQ called "Coronado High." Josh told me, "The story is an epic tale about a group of friends from Coronado High in the 1960s who started the first major pot smuggling empire, with the help of their former Spanish teacher. What started as a bunch of hippies swimming small bales across the border with surfboards turned into a super sophisticated operation, bringing in Moroccan hash, Mexican grass, and Thai stick by the ton. They made more than $100m over a decade, and lived the life of Riley until it all came crashing down.:
Coronado High was co-published by GQ and The Atavist. The GQ article (which runs 10,000 words) will be available online in September, and the Atavist has published Josh's 25,000 word version of the article, which is available for $2.99 now in a variety of formats, including text only version for the Amazon Kindle.
[Video Link] HighExistence reports on Atlantis, a "new and improved virtual black market" that offers "cheaper rates, advanced features, ease-of-use, Litecoin and Bitcoin support, and encrypted chat."
A turf war is on. Silk Road has enjoyed a near monopoly on the digital drug business since its inception in 2011, but its tenure is over. The new competition is great for consumers–various black markets will vie for market share by offering more features and a better user experience. In an “Ask Me Anything” session on Reddit, the CEO explains that compared to Silk Road, Atlantis takes lower commissions, has less downtime, has a more “modern” interface, has a feedback system for rating buyers as well as sellers, and supports built-in message encryption.
Also, Andy Greenberg of Forbesbought weed from the top three online black markets (Silk Road, Black Market Reloaded, and Atlantis) and found Atlantis offered the best consumer experience. (Here's a video interview with Greenberg about online black markets.)
A program called "Operation Orange Fingers" will see Seattle cops will welcoming attendees at this weekend's Hempfest with miniature bags of Doritos with links to the department's Marijwhatnow? guide to staying on the right side of the state's law that decriminalized simple possession of sub-one-ounce quantities of marijuana.
Last week, I blogged aboutMore Cute Stories: Volume 1, an audio memoir of Rolly Crump, one of the Imagineers who help build Disneyland and maintain it in its early years. I've had a chance to listen to it since then and it is fantastic. Crump is a charming raconteur, and he treats us to many fascinating remembrances that shine light on the personalities, engineering, business reality, and weird and wild times that made up the early years of Disneyland.
How do pharmaceuticals get names like fluoxetine, atorvastatin, modafinil, or sildenafil? Those are the generic names for some common prescription drugs. The drug company with the patent on the pill gets to choose the generic name. The U.S. Adopted Names Council has rules on such matters though, as The Week's James Harbeck writes:
• "Prefixes that imply 'better,' 'newer,' or 'more effective;' prefixes that evoke the name of the sponsor, dosage form, duration of action or rate of drug release should not be used."
• "Prefixes that refer to an anatomical connotation or medical condition are not acceptable."
• Certain letters or sets of letters also aren't allowed at the beginning of new generic names. These include me, str, x, and z.
Every name has two main parts. The back half of the drug name is the same for all drugs in a particular class — for instance, there are a whole raft of cholesterol-lowering drugs that end in -vastatin: atorvastatin (Lipitor), fluvastatin (Lescol), rosuvastatin (Crestor), simvastatin (Zocor), and several others.
Brian Krebs is a security expert and investigative journalist who has published numerous ground-breaking stories about the online criminal underground, much to the consternation of the criminal underground. Krebs has been the victim of much harassment, including a dangerous SWATting (where someone called a SWAT team to Krebs's door, having told them that an armed gunman was inside).
Most recently, a Russian crook called Flycracker crowdfunded the purchase of a gram of heroin on the Silk Road, which he mailed to Krebs, having first called the cops to alert them that Krebs was a narcotics trafficker. Luckily for Krebs, he lurks in the same forums in which this was planned, and knew of it in advance and tipped off the local cops and the FBI.
Charlie writes, "There is a smoke shop in Scotia NY, owned by a young black man. There are many, many smoke shops in the capital region, but the rest are owned by white people. Undercover police decided to send an 'undercover agent' (an informant facing his own jail time) to investigate. Shortly after, the owner was charged with possession of crack cocaine. He was facing almost a decade in prison. Just one hitch though: the owner had video cameras set up in his shop. The videos captured the informant dropped a bag of crack on the counter; planting the drugs. The charges were dismissed, the informant has suddenly "disappeared" and the owner is now considering a law suit."
Researchers at Children's Hospital of Philadelphia have been following and studying the brains and lives of so-called "crack babies" for more than 20 years. Now, they're beginning to publish their findings, and what they're finding is not what they expected. The researchers saw few statistical differences between kids exposed to crack in utero and those who weren't. But they did find big differences between the exposed babies and the controls when compared to children who grew up in wealthier families. Now, they're coming to the conclusion that it's poverty — not crack — that may present the biggest risk to children's neurological development and their later opportunities in life. — Maggie
Peacelove sez, "The good folks at SaveCannabis.org need your help naming the 2014 Cannabis Legalization Act. The Act itself has been open source written (the full text can be seen and modified) and is aiming to be the most tightly-crafted, airtight act possible.
Finding the right name is crucial, too.
I like 'Cannabis & Hemp Freedom Act of 2014," since it contains the correct and underused names for the plant and combines them with 'Freedom,' something for which I think a lot of Americans would like the chance to vote YES."
I snapped this photo of a popular medical marijuana dispensary storefront in the Venice neighborhood of Los Angeles last week. To me, it represents everything bone-headed about the way LA area pot shops (which operate in a legal gray zone in a conflicting patchwork of federal, state, and local laws) market themselves.
The paper, which is published to coincide with a conference on scientific research with psychedelics at Imperial College London, points to evidence that cannabis, MDMA and psychedelics such as LSD and psilocybin (the compound found in magic mushrooms) have unexplored medicinal benefits and argues that laws should be updated.
Small clinical studies of MDMA, which was originally used in the USA in the 1970s to improve communication in psychotherapy sessions, suggested that it could play a highly beneficial role in the treatment of PTSD patients. The paper’s authors said the drug could also help with “end of life anxiety” and couples therapy”.
Medical use of marijuana is already legal in 17 US states, and the drug has been shown to have benefits such as anxiety reduction and pain relief. However, Professor Nutt said that UK restrictions had blocked development of therapeutic applications for any of cannabis’ 16 active ingredients.
LSD, meanwhile, was widely researched in the 1950s and 1960s, with more than 1,000 papers investigating outcomes for more than 40,000 patients, with evidence suggesting that the drug might be an effective treatment for alcoholism, before bans on the drug around the world ended further research.
The new DSM 5 (and the old DSM-IV, for that matter) includes caffeine intoxication as a valid mental health diagnosis. The new version has also upped the ante, adding "caffeine withdrawal" and "caffeine use disorder" to the list. It's worth noting, though, that the diagnosis criteria is based on a key point — do these behaviors significantly impact the patient's ability to function in daily life. That's, apparently, what makes a difference between everybody in America — sans Mormons — being a caffeine freak, and a few people having a problem. Of course, that distinction is also pretty subjective. — Maggie