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Famine, Cholera, Opium, Romanticism and the Volcano That Binds Them

On 10 April 1815, Tambora produced the largest eruption known on the planet during the past 10,000 years. As described in Gillen D'Arcy Wood's new book, the explosion was only the first dose of Tambora's destructive power. In terms of its enduring presence in folklore, as well as its status in the scientific literature, 1816’s cold summer was the most significant meteorological event of the nineteenth century. After the tsunami and famine came cholera, opium, and failed Arctic expeditions. [more inside]
posted by shoesfullofdust on Apr 13, 2014 - 14 comments

Armed With Madness: Mary Butts, writer associate of Cocteau and Crowley

Mary Butts (1890-1937) was a British modernist novelist whose frequently overlooked writing has had a cult following largely composed of fellow writers such as Robin Blaser and Robert Duncan. [more inside]
posted by larrybob on Jul 19, 2013 - 6 comments

How Collecting Opium Antiques Turned Me Into an Opium Addict

In this interview with Collectors Weekly, opium antiques expert Steven Martin talks about How Collecting Opium Antiques Turned Me Into an Opium Addict.
posted by naturalog on Dec 19, 2012 - 41 comments

Opium => Silver => Tea

Recreate a part of history in High Tea, a game where you trade Indian opium in China to supply tea to England. Part of the High Society exhibit at Wellcome Collection. [more inside]
posted by mccarty.tim on Feb 13, 2011 - 39 comments

The Hidden Victims

Rafaela Persson photographed female drug addicts and their children in Afghanistan. [more inside]
posted by gman on Jan 18, 2011 - 9 comments

the other drug war, in that other place

While most of the attention in the war on drugs has been focused on Mexico of late, the opium trade in Afghanistan is still alive. Though perhaps not as well this year, as Tajikistan reports far less opium crossing the border, attributed to more use within Afghanistan as well as an unexplained poppy blight. With yields dropping and prices rising, US-backed efforts to encourage farmers to grow alternate crops (previously) may be derailed, despite a trade agreement with Pakistan which promises to open the country's borders to more trade in legitimate consumer goods with India. Meanwhile, people are looking into ways to turn the poppy fields into biofuels.
posted by jackflaps on Aug 11, 2010 - 21 comments

Smoke 'em if you got 'em

They're responsible for the slang terms "hip" and "dive."1 Among many other traditions, Chinese immigrants brought opium dens to the Western world. Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, Charles Dickens, and Oscar Wilde all embellished the existence of opium dens in Victorian England. In the expanding US, Chinese railroad workers brought opium dens to outposts as far-flung as El Paso. By the 1880s, US readers were familiar with the stereotypical opium den of urban Chinatowns like San Francisco's (pdf) -- where it was made illegal for white people to smoke -- and New York's (pdf).2

Learn more about opium dens, and see the photos, at the online Opium Museum. [more inside]
posted by mudpuppie on Oct 12, 2009 - 45 comments

Reaping what's sown.

With inadequate access to basic health care (WHO .doc summary), impoverished Afghans turn to cheap and available opium as 'medicine' for pain relief, cough suppression and other ailments. The level of addiction among children is at a critical level. Jawed Taiman's film Addicted in Afghanistan provides some further perspective. [more inside]
posted by uaudio on Aug 11, 2009 - 35 comments

Sex, drugs and Islam

"Iran is dying. The collapse of Iran's birth rate during the past 20 years is the fastest recorded in any country, ever. Demographers have sought in vain to explain Iran's population implosion through family planning policies, or through social factors such as the rise of female literacy. But quantifiable factors do not explain the sudden collapse of fertility. It seems that a spiritual decay has overcome Iran, despite best efforts of a totalitarian theocracy. Second, according to a recent report from the US Council on Foreign Relations, "Iran serves as the major transport hub for opiates produced by [Afghanistan], and the UN Office of Drugs and Crime estimates that Iran has as many as 1.7 million opiate addicts." That is, 5% of Iran's adult, non-elderly population of 35 million is addicted to opiates. That is an astonishing number, unseen since the peak of Chinese addiction during the 19th century." [more inside]
posted by 445supermag on Feb 24, 2009 - 72 comments

How Opium Can Save Afghanistan

Poppy For Medicine. "America's drug war in Afghanistan has been a miserable failure. So why not legalize opium production and let Afghanistan become the Saudi Arabia of morphine?"
posted by homunculus on Dec 21, 2008 - 57 comments

Pomegranate dens?

Pomegranate is the Answer. James Brett perhaps has an answer to Afghanistan's Opium issue: On the drive back to Peshawar I saw the same farmer in his fields harvesting his crop. I asked my driver to stop the car. On the card I had previously bought I wrote the words ‘Pomegranate is the Answer’ and ran into the field to go and talk to the farmer. My translator called after me “Don’t go in there you could get shot” but it all happened in a second and I called back to him “come on I need you to translate” . Upon reaching a surprised farmer I asked him many questions and talked to him about the affects of Heroin and also the possibilities of Pomegranates. He explained to me about his family , children, how he lived and why he grew opium. I explained how it was possible for him to change his situation working together with other farmers and how this would help the people of Afghanistan and the rest of the world. He appears to be having some success. (previously 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, ...) via Crooks and Liars
posted by caddis on Nov 10, 2008 - 56 comments

The larks, still bravely singing, fly / Scarce heard amid the guns below.

The poppy is bitterly ironic this Remembrance Day. Borrowed from John McRae's classic In Flanders' Fields, the poppy has shifted from a symbolic meaning to the central subject of an ongoing conflict. As international intervention in Afghanistan continues, opium production has reached record-breaking heights, with this single country now producing 90% of the world's total supply (utterly dwarfing global licit supply). Meanwhile, the world suffers a global opiate shortage(pdf), Canada's heroin maintenance project is threatened by politics, and the National Review of Medicine suggests that prescription opiates are far more dangerous than the "usual suspects".
posted by mek on Nov 11, 2007 - 26 comments

geopolitics of opium 2007

The amount of Afghan land used for growing opium is now larger than the combined total under coca cultivation in Latin America - Colombia, Peru and Bolivia. No other country has produced narcotics on such a deadly scale since China in the 19 th century. Opium in Afghanistan: Eradicate or subsidize? [more inside]
posted by nickyskye on Oct 16, 2007 - 34 comments

The geopolitics of opium

So how's the War on Drugs proceeding in Afghanistan? Barry McCaffrey, former drug czar, trumpets, "Opium production has been dramatically slashed by 48% just in the past year[2005].". Oops, actually that's the acreage of opium cultivation; production went down by only 10%, due to increased yields. In any case, that's so last year. Instead of the socially detrimental policy of poppy eradication, wouldn't it be preferable to allow licensing of poppies for legitimate medical needs? The Afghan farmers agree, but some think the idea is flawed.
posted by daksya on Jun 16, 2006 - 17 comments

Drug War (remember that?) Roundup

Drugs on the Rez. It's a hell of a life going from utter poverty, where your mom gets you drunk so you'll stop complaining about being hungry, to being able to buy your kids toys with $100 accessories and sending them to private schools, to going back to literally not having a quarter to call your dad. In this case, the money came from Canadian oxycontin. It's not just Native Americans who are targeted by the authorities. It's also Indians. There's a pretty good newish book on the subject of black markets, Illicit. Laos' opium market is apparently gone -- in favor of meth and Afghanistan's market is black in name only, so why keep up the facade?
posted by raaka on Feb 20, 2006 - 14 comments

Opium

Opium
posted by caddis on Dec 20, 2005 - 60 comments

How came any reasonable being to subject himself to such a yoke of misery?

Confessions of an EBay opium addict - Like anyone trolling the Internet at 4 a.m., I had been looking for some kind of temporary drug fix. I found it on eBay under Crafts>Floral Supplies>Flowers, Foliage>Dried. (via Alternet)
posted by mrgrimm on Apr 5, 2005 - 74 comments

HeroinLollipopsAndOpiumStarch

Where not to hide your drugs. Tips from the DEA. [via boingboing]
posted by srboisvert on Oct 14, 2004 - 24 comments

Don't touch that plant!

Opium Made Easy: One gardener's encounter with the war on drugs.
posted by Gyan on Sep 22, 2004 - 35 comments

Afghanistan

Women in Afghanistan are still widely oppressed, opium production is flourishing, Kabul is running out of money, and elections may have to be postponed (Karzai denies this). Afghanistan is still a mess.
posted by homunculus on Feb 17, 2004 - 53 comments

IN AFGHAN PROVINCE, POPPY PLANTING HAS STRONG APPEAL

IN AFGHAN PROVINCE, POPPY PLANTING HAS STRONG APPEAL It isa good to be freed from the constraits of the Taliban and to engage in capitalism at the global level. Chhers for the family farmers.
posted by Postroad on Nov 10, 2003 - 14 comments

Geopolitics and Illicit Drugs

Well known for speaking the truth about governments and getting pressured for it [7th paragraph from the top], Alain Labrousse recently published his Dictionnaire géopolitique des drogues [Geopolitical Dictionary of Drugs]. I don't think it's been translated in English yet, but all his previous works have, so I'm sure an English version is on the way. His latest book is being well received by everyone who's interested in "open source" information about drugs, particularly how the various national economies profit from them. A recent review [in French], cites one example of twisted international relations concerning drugs [my translation]: Europe speaks no evil about activities in Morocco, the most important source of cannabis in the world, or in Turkey, where scores of laboratories transform afghan opium into heroin, simply because these two countries provide a frontline of resistance to radical Islam. In North America, in Mexico, the United States tolerated for 70 years the Institutional Revolutionary Party (Partido Revolucionario Institucional - PRI), even though its leaders supported, and even chose mexican drug cartels. Geostrategic interests outweigh the most basic needs of the war against drugs.
posted by titboy on Feb 5, 2003 - 0 comments

Afghanistan leads in poppy production

Afghanistan leads in poppy production Now that we have rid the country of the nasty controlling party, it is good to return to normal business so that exports can help make this a better world. Is this a part of our re-construction plan?
posted by Postroad on Oct 27, 2002 - 19 comments

"Dude, Where's My Lawyer?"

"Dude, Where's My Lawyer?" Note to self: Leave 3,600 grams of opium (allegedly) at home.
posted by KevinSkomsvold on Mar 12, 2002 - 13 comments

Anyone know where I can get some cheap opium?
posted by TiggleTaggleTiger on Oct 19, 2001 - 7 comments

Taliban Magic Trick: $43m...now you see it, now you don't!

Taliban Magic Trick: $43m...now you see it, now you don't! "Afghan farmers are ready to swamp world markets with heroin amid signs that the Taleban has dropped its ban on opium growing."

Okay...can we please end the War on Plants now?
posted by tpoh.org on Sep 24, 2001 - 11 comments


Taliban say

Taliban say they underminded the US economy by halting opium production. ``It's known in select circles.. that opium is more influential than oil in terms of its economic role in America in particular and the West as a whole,''
posted by stbalbach on Jun 16, 2001 - 7 comments

How to get $43 millions dollars from the United States
  1. Strip all your female citizens of their human rights
  2. Single out religious minorities (for their "protection")
  3. Agree to crack down on opium farming without any real monitoring
The War on Drugs finds a new ally in The Taliban.
posted by alan on May 29, 2001 - 18 comments

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