Friday, December 19, 2008

Economic Importunity

Reuters had an absolutely hilarious article on dope smuggling from China making the rounds today. With direct links comes 30 kilos of ketamine in the first cargo runs....

About 30 kg (66lb) of smuggled party drug ketamine arrived on one of the first direct cargo flights between political rivals China and Taiwan following six decades of hostile relations, a Customs official said on Friday.

Airport Customs agents in Taipei found the popular powdered hallucinatory drug on Thursday packed into eight boxes on a Chinese cargo plane, customs officials said.

"Our expectation was that direct cargo links could possibly lead to drug smuggling," said Lin Shu-chi, deputy Taipei Customs Office head. "I can't say this was beyond our imagination."

Brilliant to smuggle 30kg of dope on those flights, because everyone knows customs officials wouldn't be paying much attention to the very first direct regular cargo flights in sixty years. The best part was the final paragraph:

A 31-year-old Chinese woman was arrested in connection with the ketamine, which was destined for a convenience store in central Taiwan, local media said.

...and when they say you can buy anything at a convenience store in Taiwan, it's really true. But I'm sure tests will reveal it's not real ketamine, just melamine, recolored, like everything else out of China.

Ketamine is an animal knock-out drug, which reminds me of another sad tale this week: the booming stray dog population as owners dump dogs they can no longer care for. Kudos to the China Post for its superior local reporting, for hitting on this issue. My wife and I live in a popular dumping spot near the mountains, and we've noticed an upswing in the dog population and many new dogs appearing.

Tallies compiled by Taipei City’s Environmental Protection Department, which is responsible for handling stray dogs, show that the highest number of abandoned canines were captured in the Shihlin and Beitou districts, adjacent to Yangmingshan National Park, a recreation area in northern Taiwan.

The park has become a popular dumping ground because dog owners believe its vast wooded environment is suitable for dogs to find food, take shelter and survive on their own.

Huang estimated that there are more than 300 or 400 stray dogs roaming within the park at any given time.

They survive on food and snacks left by visitors as well as small wild animals, such as snakes and mice, Huang said.


Shelter officials noticed that more pricey breeds are showing up as even the formerly well-to-do lose their ability to care for their animals. In our neighborhood that is also true. Unfortunately we already have three large ones, and can't take any more.

MEDIA: Kudos too to Reuters for The Formula:
China has claimed sovereignty over Taiwan since 1949, when Mao Zedong's Communists won the Chinese civil war and Chiang Kai-shek's Nationalists (KMT) fled to the island. Beijing has vowed to bring Taiwan under its rule, by force if necessary.
Note how The Formula takes no position on China's claim to own Taiwan, simply noting that Beijing has promised to kill, if necessary, to annex the island. None of this "bring Taiwan back into the fold" swill, and no "split in 1949" nonsense that AP has taken out a patent on -- instead correctly noting that what "split" were the KMT and the CCP. Great job, guys!

11 comments:

Anonymous said...

"...and when they say you can buy anything at a convenience store in Taiwan, it's really true. But I'm sure tests will reveal it's not real ketamine, just melamine, recolored, like everything else out of China."

Funny!

Anonymous said...

Ah - memories of weekend/typhoon long K fueled parties at the crocodile house come flooding back.

I remember landing in Taipei for the first time thinking that that was it for anything harder than whisky. Boy was I in for a surprise!

Michael Turton said...

Is it really a hallucinogen? Because everyone says it just puts you to sleep.

Thomas said...

It is nasty stuff. Every time I head about people OD-ing on K, I just have to shake my head.

From one website: "It mainly binds to and blocks glutamate receptors (also as N-P receptors) all over the brain. Glutamate is an excitatory neurotransmitter. It turns on cell activity and is part of the computer-like on / off mechanism that underlies brain activity.

"Ketamine blocks glutamate activity, giving rise to either entire cell bank shutdown in some brain areas or changes in the way cell clusters integrate or interpret incoming data in others. Overall, the result is the much famed K-Hole effect: certain brain parts go into temporary hibernation, mainly the senses and physical sensations, while others - imagination, and other unnamed perceptions from the depths of the mind - are amplified".

What this means is that, at small doses, you feel kind of giddy, but at anything over a tiny dose, you go into a dissociative state where you may not be able to move and you are in an alternate reality. Some say it is a great experience, others say it is a nightmare. Regardless, you are effectively unable to function.

And to think... people actually go out of their way to find this stuff and do large quantities? Who wants to pay money to be put in a semi-vegetative state?

But it is cheap, easy to come by, and easy to split into portions, so suited for use among several people at house parties and such.... meaning it is perfect for young, affluent Asian kids who are looking for a quick high when Mom and Dad aren't around. By "perfect" I mean that it is suited to their momentary desires, not that it is a good thing.

You may have good kids, but as a parent, you should be aware of some of the stuff that is "en vogue".

Sean Su said...

Michael, it probably is. Back in HS in NYC I remember a bunch of kids on K all the time. Horse Tranquilizer they said it was. Small doses does that, large doses take you out.

Mashhood said...

it's sometimes used as an anaesthetic agent in kids and it's supposed to be quite pleasant. It also causes anterograde amnesia apparently.

Ben said...

It's not hallucinogenic. Just a tranquilizer that significantly alters the normal relationship between mind and body. It can really be a hell of a lot of fun if you're with the right people - although it can also be intensely scary/exhilarating if you take a big line in one go (think Trainspotting where Renton seemingly disappears through the floor after his dealer exchanges a forged hit for a forged £20 note).

The foreigner teachers engulfed in the "I'm white, not staying here long and can therefore do whatever the fuck I like" bubble threw some legendary marathon parties when i lived in Taipei a few years ago. Very expensive cocaine, pills (bought over the counter by anyone from a nightclub on Nanjing east rd that closed at midday on weekends (shut down for the last time before I left)), freshly picked mushrooms, and lots of Ketamine and hash. Young, hedonistic, newly disposable income and a mindset that one's illegal actions have no negative consequences - a common combination in Taipei foreigners - leads to a hardcore scene at an intensity (and in a climate) rare in the west. A permanent trip to Mexico or Ibiza. Where having threesomes with a Taiwanese gangleader's wife is just part of the afterparty ride.

Inevitably, some people can only stop when the bubble bursts on them - like that Canadian guy who got put away for trafficing Cocaine.

It seems to have been thus for many years in Taiwan. This is Mark's story from many years ago(skip to the end of the ads). watch the 3 parts before if you want the full context (recommended)).

http://uk.youtube.com/watch?v=QKmBhxYZV7c&feature=channel_page

Roy Berman said...

The number of stray dogs in Taiwan is really quite astonishing. Still, at least they tend to be well-behaved compared to the stray dog populations I've seen in other countries.

Robert said...

But Michael, what does that picture of 煎餃 have to do with melamine, ketamine and stray dogs?

Are you implying something??

Anonymous said...

Yeah, big kudos to Reuters!

Marc said...

Just to keep this all in perspective:

Just read in the BBC news (12/21) that Brits are dumping their dogs, too.

And don't forget Nebraskans (USA) are dumping their teenage children after the new state law permitted parents to legally abandon their them at hospitals!!