Oprah Time: The Strength of the Wolf

I needed a good paperback to read as I travelled back to Liverpool. It seemed strangely appropriate that I read a book about narcotics travelling back to my home city, given that Liverpool’s recent history and cultural renaissance has been intertwined with its association as the UK’s narcotic equivalent of the Square Mile. Characters like Curtis Warren as it’s big swinging dicks as Liars Poker author Michael Lewis would have called them.

The premise of The Strength of the Wolf by Douglas Valentine is that the US and other foreign governments have had their fingers in the drug trafficking pie for hundreds of years.

Indeed Great Britain fought two wars over the opium trade. However, this is thought to be history.

The US as the 20th century empire ‘ruler’ is alleged to have carried on the practice supporting Chinese nationalists running heroin through the golden triangle, right-wing military figures in South America, friendly factions in the Middle East to smuggle opium to the French Connection and allowing the mafia a degree of freedom in return for using their supply.

Valentine also describes how drugs were used as a way of controlling minorities and how politically motivated drugs laws fanned demand in the US rather than choking it off.

These allegations are made as Valentine tells the story of the FBN (the federal bureau of narcotics), its successes, it’s failures and its politics. How officers trod the line between doing their job, whilst not upsetting the establishment players who most benefited from the drug trade that they combated.

The book covers the inner real politik that tore the FBN apart and the global narcotics market as it evolved from the early 20th century.

Valentine eventually decides to pursue so many leads from Jack Ruby’s involvement with drugs, the CIA and narcotics business associates link with the Kennedy assassination (which sounds only slightly more credible than the Warren Commission finding that Oswald did it on his own with an Italian carbine), DeGaulle’s link with Corsican criminals to fund French intelligence work and Mossad’s alleged involvement with money launderers and Lebanese narco power-brokers.

At times these allegations and avenues come out like a stream of consciousness and the thread of the plot leaps around like an epileptic break dancer. Whilst Valentine has obviously done a very thorough and comprehensive job in researching the book, it seems that he had too much material to work with in too little time.

The book becomes hard to follow because of the huge amount of information and cross-linkages that it tries to convey and not exactly ideal reading material for travelling.

I stuck with the book, not because of the drugs and intelligence drama, but the more human tale of how the agents careers were created and trashed like failed drafts being thrown in the paper basket. The book on balance, deserves the plaudits that have been heaped upon it, but who will recognise the achievements of the reader who pushes through to the end?

Big in Japan

Why do the Japanese get all the coolest stuff?As part of a collaboration with Italian designer Neroli, Stussy have released a Stussy-branded messenger bag made by Porter. Porter are the luggage manufacturer of choice for Tyler Brule so its damn cool whichever way that you come at it.

More in Japanese here.

Links for 2006-11-26 [My Web 2.0]

Family Music – interesting new service

SEO for SMEs

Feels like Siberia

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I have come home to Birkenhead just across the Mersey from Liverpool. I have found it hard to find a decent cup of coffee and a wifi hotspot. In fact I have had to go down the M53 to find a Starbucks at a large retail park in Ellesmere Port.Connectivity is 5GBP for 60 minutes, which reminds me of the old cyber cafe near James Street station that I used to check my emails in nine years ago before moving to London.

Understandably, I won’t be posting again until I get back home, I am still getting email on my phone via a patchy GPRS connection and I am sure that my newsreader will be overflowing by the time I get back online again.

I had a look at 3G data cards, but at the moment they don’t support the ExpressCard socket on the MacBook Pro.

Feels like Siberia.

Links for 2006-11-24 [My Web 2.0]

Kevin Rose Admitting Digg Has Moderators – how very web 1.0 of them, but hopefully it will keep out the spammers and the marketers who don’t pay much attention to the communities that they seek to influence.Newsnight goes UGC

cuisineazine

Links for 2006-11-23 [My Web 2.0]

GigaOM » YouSendIt Bigger Than We Thought

Monday Morning: First lessons from our Second Life

PodCastConUK 2006: Podcasting and the Citizen Journalist. Strange Attractor: Picking out patterns in the chaos

Twitter: A Whole World in Your Hands

Lifehacker book

7 tips to save your cell phone battery life

Ajaxian » Open-jACOB Draw2D

Boing Boing: Record industry association declares DRM dead

I, Cringely . The Pulpit . Declassified | PBS

STUSSY Sample sale

I am gutted as I am off back to Liverpool and will miss this stellar opportunity. Peepz grab ya’ snapz and head to the Truman Brewery. Which reminds me, posts will be thin on the ground for the next week or so. Peace out, rc :-)

Stussy sample sale

Links for 2006-11-22 [My Web 2.0]

Daily Cup of Tech » Recovering Your Lost PasswordsChevy Tahoe remix marketing case study

The interview: Robert Pirsig | Review | The Observer

Daily Cup of Tech » FreeNAS

Blackberry is Bond-approved

Sony Ericsson must be steaming, after going to the trouble of doing their product placements for the new Bond film, BlackBerry ended up stealing the ultimate endorsement from Daniel Craig according to The Metro (November 21, 2006) – The Green Room column by Neil Sean.

Daniel Craig may earn his millions but he still enjoys freebies. The blond Bond caused a fuss at the Casino Royale premiere because only his goodie bag was missing a Blackberry phone.

Why didn’t Sony Ericsson have its products in the goodie bag instead?

Links for 2006-11-21 [My Web 2.0]

Yahoo Search Growing Faster than Google – SearchEngineJournal

11 Euphemisms for Cloaking

I Love Second Life – crackunit.com: Iain Tait puts some good advice over about SL and sings its praises without drinking the kool-aid

online lectures – Internet TV Search Engine swicki – powered by eurekster

Sweeney marketing

Gym Box recently did a tube station give-away, providing fitness fanatic masks, ideal for doing a payroll truck (now get your ‘ead down you slaaaag and ‘and over the money) .

Gym Box mask

Blogger Beta‘s flakiness on FireFox. I have managed to cure it by going to Camino instead. Weird city.

The wisdom of crowds


Thanks to BoingBoing to the link for the Flickr camera guide which provides statistics on what cameras are used on the website. It also links into Yahoo! Shopping reviews. Whilst I am happy with my trusty Konica Minolta Dimage X31, the site would make interesting reading for anybody in the market for a new camera.

The mix of consumer patterns, ‘speeds and feeds’ coupled with customer-created reviews is a winning formula.

Links for 2006-11-20 [My Web 2.0]

CNET Online Courses: Search Engine Marketing 101 » Lesson 2: SEO Best Practices.CNET Online Courses: Search Engine Marketing 101 » Lesson 3: Site Links.

Information Arbitrage: The Value of Eyeballs and Its Impact on Journalistic Motivation

WordPress Takes On SixApart With Enterprise Edition and WordPress.com

Schools ban wi-fi networks after safety fears

Will Blogs Replace White Papers

paidcontent: Pearson and major business schools pair up for WikiText experiment

Downloading TV Shows leads to more TV watching at Torrentfreak

Stussy World Tour trailer – freakin’ awesome

Some of the biggest names real art including Futura himself in a documentary. The world series refers to Stussy’s guest range of world series t-shirts, but the film is more than an advert; it captures the thoughts of dozens of artists and designers who’ve led the cutting edge in graphic and visual design for the past two decades.