Making Unique Observations in a Very Cluttered World

Wednesday, 11 February 2015

Sex toy injuries rocket after release of Fifty Shades of Grey -

Sex toy injuries rocket after release of Fifty Shades of Grey - 

Sex toy injuries have doubled since 2007, with a large increase in 2012 and 2013, after the release of the Fifty Shades of Grey books.
The figures are estimates from the National Electronic Injury Surveillance System, which has tracked casualty admissions since 1991, the Washington Post reported.

The injuries relating to "massage devices and vibrators" were initially low but began to rise steeply from 2005, when around 1500 people across the US received treatment for sex injuries.
Middle aged men were most likely to get such injuries. Male patients accounted for 58 per cent, with the median age in that group being 44 years old. The median aged for women was younger, at 30 years old.

The oldest man recorded as receiving treatment for sex injuries was 85.
There was a large increase in the number of sex injuries in 2012, when 2,500 people received treatment for sex injuries. The first Fifty Shades of Grey book was released in 2011. There is no evidence the two are linked, but the bondage-themed novels have been read by tens of millions of people.

It was reported last week that sex shop owners on both sides of the Atlantic were stocking up on whips, pleasure balls and spanking paddles before the hotly anticipated Fifty Shades of Grey film hits the big screen this weekend.
US retailer Babeland, which has 20 Fifty Shades-branded items, has been stockpiling blindfolds and vibrators. "We're ready to respond," co-founder Claire Cavanah told AFP. The novels fuelled a 40-per cent sales increase at Babeland's New York branch.
Neal Slateford, owner of British company Lovehoney, which worked with EL James to produce the official Fifty Shades range in 2012, is also expecting a run on demand: "We have experienced spikes in sales after each movie trailer has been released which gives us a good indication of just how influential this movie will be."


Why animals eat psychoactive plants - the story of the drunk elephants and the stoned water buffalo -

Why animals eat psychoactive plants - the story of the drunk elephants and the stoned water buffalo - 

The United Nations says the drug war’s rationale is to build “a drug-free world — we can do it!” U.S. government officials agree, stressing that “there is no such thing as recreational drug use.” So this isn’t a war to stop addiction, like that in my family, or teenage drug use. It is a war to stop drug use among all humans, everywhere. All these prohibited chemicals need to be rounded up and removed from the earth. That is what we are fighting for.

I began to see this goal differently after I learned the story of the drunk elephants, the stoned water buffalo, and the grieving mongoose. They were all taught to me by a remarkable scientist in Los Angeles named Professor Ronald K. Siegel.

The tropical storm in Hawaii had reduced the mongoose’s home to a mess of mud, and lying there, amid the dirt and the water, was the mongoose’s mate — dead. Professor Siegel, a silver-haired official adviser to two U.S. presidents and to the World Health Organization, was watching this scene. The mongoose found the corpse, and it made a decision: it wanted to get out of its mind.

Two months before, the professor had planted a powerful hallucinogen called silver morning glory in the pen. The mongooses had all tried it, but they didn’t seem to like it: they stumbled around disoriented for a few hours and had stayed away from it ever since. But not now. Stricken with grief, the mongoose began to chew. Before long, it had tuned in and dropped out.

It turns out this wasn’t a freak occurrence in the animal kingdom. It is routine. As a young scientific researcher, Siegel had been confidently toldby his supervisor that humans were the only species that seek out drugs to use for their own pleasure. But Siegel had seen cats lunging at catnip — which, he knew, contains chemicals that mimic the pheromones in a male tomcat’s pee —so, he wondered, could his supervisor really be right? Given the number of species in the world, aren’t there others who want to get high, or stoned, or drunk?

This question set him on a path that would take twenty-five years of his life, studying the drug-taking habits of animals from the mongooses of Hawaii to the elephants of South Africa to the grasshoppers of Soviet-occupied Czechoslovakia. It was such an implausible mission that in one marijuana field in Hawaii, he was taken hostage by the local drug dealers, because when he told them he was there to see what happened when mongooses ate marijuana, they thought it was the worst police cover story they had ever heard.

What Ronald K. Siegel discovered seems strange at first. He explains in his book Intoxication:

After sampling the numbing nectar of certain orchids, bees drop to the ground in a temporary stupor, then weave back for more. Birds gorge themselves on inebriating berries, then fly with reckless abandon. Cats eagerly sniff aromatic “pleasure” plants, then play with imaginary objects. Cows that browse special range weeds will twitch, shake, and stumble back to the plants for more. Elephants purposely get drunk off fermented fruits. Snacks of “magic mushrooms” cause monkeys to sit with their heads in their hands in a posture reminiscent of Rodin’s Thinker. The pursuit of intoxication by animals seems as purposeless as it is passionate. Many animals engage these plants, or their manufactured allies, despite the danger of toxic or poisonous effects.

Noah’s Ark, he found, would have looked a lot like London on a Saturday night. “In every country, in almost every class of animal,” Siegel explains, “I found examples of not only the accidental but the intentional use of drugs.” In West Bengal, a group of 150 elephants smashed their way into a warehouse and drank a massive amount of moonshine. They got so drunk they went on a rampage and killed five people, as well as demolishing seven concrete buildings. If you give hash to male mice, they become horny and seek out females — but then they find “they can barely crawl over the females, let alone mount them,” so after a little while they yawn and start licking their own penises.

Excerpted from Johann Hari's Chasing the Scream: The First and Last Days of the War on Drugs. Available from Amazon.
In Vietnam, the water buffalo have always shunned the local opium plants. They don’t like them. But when the American bombs started to fall all around them during the war, the buffalo left their normal grazing grounds, broke into the opium fields, and began to chew. They would then look a little dizzy and dulled. When they were traumatized, it seems, they wanted — like the mongoose, like us — to escape from their thoughts.

I kept returning to the UN pledge to build a drug-free world. There was one fact, above all others, that I kept placing next to it in my mind. It is a fact that seems at first glance both obvious and instinctively wrong. Only 10 percent of drug users have a problem with their substance. Some 90 percent of people who use a drug—the overwhelming majority—are not harmed by it. This figure comes not from a pro-legalization group, but from the United Nations Office on Drug Control, the global coordinator of the drug war. Even William Bennett, the most aggressive drug czar in U.S. history, admits: “Non-addicted users still comprise the vast bulk of our drug-involved population.”

This is hard to dispute, yet hard to absorb. If we think about people we know, it seems about right—only a small minority of my friends who drink become alcoholics, and only a small minority of the people I know who use drugs on a night out have become addicts.

But if you think about how we are trained to think about drugs, this seems instinctively wrong, even dangerous. All we see in the public sphere are the casualties. The unharmed 90 percent use in private, and we rarely hear about it or see it. The damaged 10 percent, by contrast, are the only people we ever see using drugs out on the streets. The result is that the harmed 10 percent make up 100 percent of the official picture. It is as if our only picture of drinkers were a homeless person lying in a gutter necking neat gin. This impression is then reinforced with the full power of the state. For example, in 1995, the World Health Organization (WHO) conducted a massive scientific study of cocaine and its effects. They discovered that “experimental and occasional use are by far the most common types of use, and compulsive/dysfunctional [use] is far less common.” The U.S. government threatened to cut off funding to the WHO unless they suppressed the report. It has never been published; we know what it says only because it was leaked.

As I write this, I feel uncomfortable. The 10 percent who are harmed are most vivid to me—they are some of the people I love most. And there is another, more complex reason why I feel awkward writing about this. For anybody who suspects that we need to reform the drug laws, there is an easier argument to make, and a harder argument to make.

The easier argument is to say that we all agree drugs are bad — it’s just that drug prohibition is even worse. I have made this argument in debates in the past. Prohibition, I said, doesn’t stop the problem, it simply piles another series of disasters onto the already-existing disaster of drug use. In this argument, we are all antidrug. The only difference is between prohibitionists who believe the tragedy of drug use can be dealt with by more jail cells in California and more military jeeps on the streets of Ju├írez, and the reformers who believe the tragedy of drug use can be dealt by moving those funds to educate kids and treat addicts.

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