DXM: A Legal High

July 15, 2009

Disclaimer: Everything I’ve written here is just what I’ve read/heard. I’ve never actually done any. This is because I’ve read that it shouldn’t be taken by someone who uses anti-depressants. So, unlike what I’ve written about other drugs, this blog post is not based on personal experience. Bear this in mind if you’re thinking of taking DXM. Okay?

DXM is dextromethorphan. In small quantities it is a cough suppressant with no narcotic qualities. In larger quantities it acts as a “dissociative anaesthetic” like ketamine or PCP. Apparently, according to the Trip Project:

“A high dose will cause you to feel very spacey and “out of it,” and you may lose motor control (your legs may feel wobbly, for example, or at very high doses you won’t be able to move much at all). It can also produce audio and visual hallucinations, and can sometimes cause nausea and itchy skin.

“Some people use DXM recreationally. When they do, they nearly always do it at home, in bed or on their couch. DXM is definitely not a dance drug.”

Sometimes people are sold DXM pills as ecstasy. DXM can cause heat stroke, as can ecstasy. But the zombied-out feeling you get is nothing like an ecstasy buzz! I know that some rip-off merchants sell ketamine at raves, usually in the guise of something else. So I guess you might buy DXM and think you copped some Special K.

Erowid (something of an internet authority when it comes to this kind of stuff) says:

“People knowledgeable in the field recommend that only products containing DXM alone (sometimes listed as ‘Dextromethorphan hydrobromide’) in the Active Ingredients list should be used.” He lists some active ingredients that should be avoided in particular:

acetaminophen
aspirin
chlorpheniramine maleate
guaifenesin
paracetamol
phenylephrine (hydrochloride)
pseudoephedrine (hydrochloride)
sorbitol

Erowid also advises:

# Do not take DXM if you are using, or have used an MAO Inhibitor within the last 2 weeks.

* MAOI’s include harmine & harmaline, as well as many anti-depressants.
* Check with a doctor if you’re unsure whether you medication contains MAOI’s.
* When combined with MAOI’s, DXM can cause “serotonin syndrome” with fever, hypertension, and arrhythmias.

# Do not take DXM if you are using, or have used an SSRIs within the last 2 weeks.

* SSRIs include many anti-depressants, including Fluoxetine (Prozac), Citalopram (Celexa, Lexapro), Paroxetine (Paxil), and others.
* Check with a doctor if you’re unsure whether you medication is an SSRI.
* When combined with SSRIs, DXM may cause “serotonin syndrome” with fever, hypertension, arrhythmias, etc.

In the UK, a commonly available cough medicine that contains DXM and no other active ingredients is Benylin Dry Coughs Non-Drowsy Syrup. www.netdoctor.co.uk says:

“Benylin dry coughs non-drowsy syrup contains the active ingredient dextromethorphan, which is a type of medicine called a cough suppressant. It is used to suppress a dry, tickly, unproductive cough.”

You’ll find this particular cough syrup in most chemists shops. But be aware that Benylin also makes other medicines for “tickly coughs”. Just remember the name – Benylin dry coughs non-drowsy – and if in any doubt, check that it says on the label on the front of the bottle that it contains Dextromethorphan. If it says that, you’ve got the right stuff. Drink the bottleful, relax on the sofa, and don’t take any anti-depressants or ecstasy. Remember all this, and you’ll probably be okay. If everything I’ve read is true…

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get_iplayer: the c00l way to download BBC shows

July 15, 2009

BBC’s iPlayer service has allowed Windows users to download TV and radio shows for quite some time now. And apparently iPlayer Labs has offered an experimental download facility to Linux users in the past – though I can’t see any sign of it on their site currently. But of course there are hackers and developers out there offering software that answers this need for us Linuxers. You can check out a whole gaggle of such third party solutions at the beebhack wiki site.

Yep, there are a few progs featured there that will allow users of Linux to download BBC programmes. But there is only one that deserves to be called the best. So which is it? Get a load of get_iplayer.

So why have I chosen this particular app? I’m sure some of you will disagree with me – it’s a command-line utility for a start, and although some die-hard geeks think that the terminal is great, an increasing number of Linuxers prefer a GUI. But to that I say: Bah!

The reason I prefer get_iplayer to its competition is that it works great whether you’ve got the fastest light-fibre cable connection ever or a slow-crawling dial-up link. For users with good broadband there are funky functions like PVR and live-TV watching. And for those of us with slow, unreliable connection, there’s a simple download function that will resume recording where it left off if the connection should be interrupted.

Really we have Apple to thank for get_iplayer. Not that Apple had anything to do with creating it! Lord no, that’s a ridiculous notion! But Apple did create the iPhone. And the BBC decided they wanted to cater to people who own the stupid things. But the iPhone is so crap, it doesn’t play streaming content. So the BBC had to allow the Apple fanboi-phones to download the shows. And cunning get_iplayer can also download the content because it pretends to be an iPhone! Pretty sneaky, eh? It’s a classic hack.

Of course, the BBC doesn’t like this state of affairs. So they keep changing their system. But the get_iplayer devs just change their code to compensate. This means you need to update your version of the app fairly frequently. No need to fret though, you just use it with an –update flag and it’s all done automagically.

Believe me, I’m not the only person who thinks this command-line tool is great. There are a bunch of iPlayer-related projects that use get_iplayer. Some of them stick a pretty GUI front-end on the program. But the apps with a graphic interface haven’t worked for me – not a one of them. Whereas get_iplayer Just Works… as a good tool should.

Okay, okay, so sometimes get_iplayer doesn’t Just Work. Sometimes it claims to have finished downloading a show when really it hasn’t. But I’m pretty sure this is to do with my internet connection – I use a mobile phone to get my computer online, and it can be awfully quirky and unstable at times – so I doubt anyone using a more conventional connection will suffer from this problem. Seriously, if you use Linux and want to download BBC TV and radio shows – and even ITV shows – check out get_iplayer. You can download it from linuxcentre.net, and also find plenty of documentation. Seriously, get_iplayer is a bloody marvel! Try it out today!

NB: unfortunately, it will only download to UK-located domains. This isn’t down to get_iplayer – the BBC want to limit the iPlayer service to the United Kingdom. But there is a way around this for would-be viewers who don’t live here, involving the use of proxy servers. Check out the docs if you want to learn more!

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How to reduce the use of drugs… decriminalization!

July 1, 2009

The UK and the USA have many things in common. One of the most infuriating is their drugs policy. While most of Europe follow a liberal harm-reduction line, Britain chooses to emulate America’s ridiculous “War on Drugs”. Even though it plainly doesn’t work.

In 2001, Portugal decided to adopt a policy of decriminalization of the possession of illegal drugs. All illegal drugs. If you’re caught with no more than 10 days’ supply of cannabis, ecstasy, heroin, cocaine, whatever, you won’t go to prison. BBC journalist Claudia Hammond went to Lisbon to report on this innovative policy.

At the time, conservative-minded codgers said the policy would result in Portugal becoming some sort of druggie’s Mecca. They thought drug use would rocket. They were wrong. Just 8% of Portugese have tried cannabis, compared to 42% in the USA. Drug-related deaths are down. The use of every illegal drug has gone down in the 8 years since 2001. Except for cocaine, which has become fashionable.

So, do you think the UK government will learn from the Portugese experience? Of course not! UK drugs policy is becoming more fascistic, not less – remember they recently made cannabis class B? Idiots.

America is seriously messed up because of drugs. Britain’s headed the same way. And, although Portugal has shown us how to rectify the situation, we won’t take any notice. The wise men in power know best, damn them!


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