Cocaine's A Helluva Drug ~ NanoThoughts 1.0

Thursday, August 26, 2004

Cocaine's A Helluva Drug

The navigation, um... blows, but otherwise, it's a great site when you're up late at night high on Honey Nut Cheerios:

Better living through chemistry, that's what I say. Oh, and please note that Jason has never done cocaine. Well, that's what I heard anyway.

Some excerpts: "The world's first drug-testing scandal occurred in 1876. Competitive long-distance walking had become a popular sport. American Edward Weston challenged the English champion to a 24 hour race. The contest was held at the Agricultural Hall in the North London Borough of Islington. The effete Englishman gave up after a mere 14 hours and 66 miles. The American carried on walking for the full 24 hours and 110 miles. It later transpired that Weston had being chewing coca leaves - 'Peruvian marching powder' - throughout the race. There was an outcry; but Weston kept his title."

According to Internic records (1998), contact details for the domain still belonged to the CIA, although the accuracy of the whois record has been challenged.

If cocaine is consumed on its own, it yields two principal metabolites, ecgonine methyl ester and benzoyleconine [sic, should be "benzoylecgonine" I think]. Neither compound has any discernible psychoactive effect. Cocaine co-administered with alcohol, however, yields a potent psychoactive metabolite, cocaethylene.

Cocaethylene is very rewarding agent in its own right. Cocaethylene is formed in the liver by the replacement of the methyl ester of cocaine by the ethyl ester. It blocks the dopamine transporter and induces euphoria. Hence coca wine drinkers are effectively consuming three reinforcing drugs rather than one.

Ok, so this site and others are part of David Pearce's so-called Hedonistic Imperative whose mission statement, that I vehemently disagree with, is:

The Hedonistic Imperative outlines how genetic engineering and nanotechnology will abolish suffering in all sentient life.

The abolitionist project is hugely ambitious but technically feasible. It is also instrumentally rational and morally urgent. The metabolic pathways of pain and malaise evolved because they served the fitness of our genes in the ancestral environment. They will be replaced by a different sort of neural architecture. States of sublime well-being are destined to become the genetically pre-programmed norm of mental health. It is predicted that the world's last unpleasant experience will be a precisely dateable event.

Two hundred years ago, powerful synthetic pain-killers and surgical anesthetics were unknown. The notion that physical pain could be banished from most people's lives would have seemed absurd. Today most of us in the developed world take its routine absence for granted. The prospect that what we describe as psychological pain, too, could be banished is equally counter-intuitive. The feasibility of its abolition turns its deliberate retention into an issue of social policy and ethical choice.


Tim said...

I say never be complete. I say stop being perfect. I say let's evolve. Let the chips fall where they may.

Rog said...

Thanks for the haiku, but I'm gonna evolve without cocaine. Well, that was my new year resolution and I'm sticking to it. (I really don't care if people do it in the privacy of their own homes though.)