Posts by Russell Brown

  • Hard News: Drugs and the road forward,

    Ooh! Helen Clark and Ruth Dreifuss are discussing the Commission's new report in Auckland on October 26.

    Register here.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 22573 posts Report Reply

  • Hard News: Drugs and the road forward,

    In an example of the complicated world we live in, e-cig vapers in Britain have been buying a product called Kronic Juice – many of them, it seems, in the belief that it contains CBD.

    What it actually contains is 5F-CUMYL-PINACA, a synthetic cannaboid, which is making some users really sick:

    Todd Renje believed he had bought CBD, which he had vaped for the past three years to self-medicate anxiety, having “decided against pharmaceuticals”. The 37-year-old from the United States said: “It was probably within two or three days that I found myself waking up the next morning and vaping a little before work, then taking it to work with me and vaping all day.

    “It got to the point where I’m literally vaping this Kronic Juice every 20 or 30 minutes, and if I don’t I get very nauseous, I start shaking, I get sweaty. It went on for months because I was scared to stop.”

    When he quit cold turkey, he said he suffered violent withdrawal symptoms. “I went from Friday, Saturday and Sunday with no sleep,” he said. “Vomiting, shaking, sweating, just feeling absolutely miserable. Then I had a seizure. I couldn’t even tell you what happened, I just woke up at hospital.”

    Others seem to have more idea of what the product is and are simply buying it because there's less legal heat attached than with natural cannabis.

    Unfortunately New Zealand, we have to own this one. 5F-CUMYL-PINACA was patented in 2015 by Matt Bowden and others, supposedly for therapeutic use, and as far as I can tell is still being sold by New Zealander Matthew Wielenga, who made a bundle out of selling Kronic into suburban dairies when he could.

    The website was shut down when The Guardian started asking questions, but the fact that the company refused to say what was in its products, and may in fact have been actively misleading customers – and endangering their lives in the process – is fucking despicable.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 22573 posts Report Reply

  • Hard News: A painful reflection, in reply to Michael Meyers,

    Reading your criticism of the media reports, the term “churnalism” comes to mind. These meth-industry press releases provided pre-packaged content that can be cheaply produced by media organisations. And they created a public panic with the information.

    Yep, that’s exactly what happened.

    We complain about false balance in stories like global warming where media will engage “both sides” to create debate (where the other side is a crackpot or a racist). A little bit of actual balance wouldn’t have gone amiss here.

    The Science Media Centre’s entry to the debate – which happened after the issue became proper headlines – was quite pivotal. Suddenly, we had two actual toxicologists talking sense. Only one of them, Nick Kim, kept on talking, but his role was absolutely vital.

    The thing was the idea that residues from use only (and at very, very low levels) could cause the harm alleged never made sense. Where was the public health crisis that would imply? How come everyone who handled banknotes didn't get sick? And why hadn’t the tens of thousands of people who’d actually used meth in psychoactive quantities been hospitalised or died? It was weird that the idea was so actively entertained even by people who should have known better.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 22573 posts Report Reply

  • Hard News: A painful reflection,

    I should note this this post is based on a very rapid apprehension of a lengthy report. There's much more detail in it and I'd recommend anyone interested read it for themselves.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 22573 posts Report Reply

  • Hard News: Housing, homeless and drugs:…, in reply to BenWilson,

    As if the alternative is somehow better, that they continue living on the street, where of course addled people do so much better.

    Yeah. I had a rather difficult conversation with a friend who used to live at Greys Ave yesterday, who was outraged that people had died on the ground floor. I did try to explain that these were tenants who would otherwise have no home at all.

    In truth, some of them would have fared better in a 24-7 supported environment. But until Mission Homeground opens, that environment doesn't exist.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 22573 posts Report Reply

  • Hard News: Music: The Others Way, a…,

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 22573 posts Report Reply

  • Hard News: Music: The Others Way, a…, in reply to Nick Russell,

    Did you get to see Miss June? Damn they were good.

    I’d checked out a few bands I didn’t know well beforehand, and Miss June were absolutely one that got my attention. But they were a total clash with the Chickens …

    Good to know my hunch about them was right though.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 22573 posts Report Reply

  • Hard News: Music: The Others Way, a…,


    Oh, and here’s a pic of Bene that didn’t go in the post.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 22573 posts Report Reply

  • Hard News: NZ On Air and the bill that…,

    Mediawatch interviewed Melissa Lee about her bill and it was utterly perplexing.

    Most notably, this part:

    "As a TV producer I used to struggle to find out how many people were watching on a Sunday morning. The public have the right to know and it would help the producers as well,” she told Mediawatch.

    “I know ratings are not everything and the way they do the ratings is probably antiquated and not the best gauge of viewership now especially as not everyone is watching linear television any more,” she said.

    “There are programmes funded by New Zealand in Air that are purely digital and I don’t think they are being measured,” she said.

    Firstly, I’ve never heard of a TV producer who didn’t have access to the ratings for their own programme – that’s nuts. My media show’s production company, Top Shelf, has a Nielsen subscription and I assume the majority of others do too. Otherwise, just ask the network. They know.

    Secondly, online views are measured and the numbers are regularly quoted, including in NZ On Air’s annual reports. WTF?

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 22573 posts Report Reply

  • Up Front: R.O.A.R., in reply to Emma Hart,

    Also, I feel like… I’ve been writing here for ten years. I’ve said everything. Either things have changed – the dominant voice of NZ feminism has hugely changed, for instance – or they’ve remained the same, and what more can I add?

    And there is the exhaustion, there absolutely is. When you have skin in the game, it drains a lot more energy than if it’s all just intellectual. This Trumpian post-truth, lying has no consequences age has just completely sucked out my will to engage.


    My take on exhaustion is slightly different. I look back at this place when it was much, much busier and I can’t believe I had the bandwidth for it all. I don’t have the energy any more for shoulder-tapping new contributors or minding contentious discussions, and I’m genuinely happy for it to be quieter. (Although I’m always pleased and interested when you post.) It’s been 16 years of Public Address – and 11 years of Hard News as a radio/internet rant before that.

    I tend to stick to the stuff I know most about, which is why I mostly post about media, music and drugs. The site still fills a role and I’d actually love to get it tidied up to reflect its quieter life, but I presently don’t have the money to do that. Press Patron certainly helps, but I’m obliged to treat that as a low-word-rate return on the stuff I do write.

    It is interesting to look back a decade and marvel at how respectful the discussion usually was. I think Twitter changed things in a couple of ways – first by drawing off the real-time discussion and secondly by bringing a harsher edge to it. It got really difficult when people started falling out with each other, and hard not to feel I was responsible. Like I said, I just don’t have the mega bandwidth any more.

    (Hmmm. This sounds a bit mopey, but it's actually not meant to.)

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 22573 posts Report Reply

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