It has been long enough since the last one that I won't feel (too) guilty about giving you Link Salad today.

1. The world's greatest pickpocket plying his skills on the Today Show. This is mind-blowing. He barely even touches these people.

2. Check out this small gallery of David Pelham's incredible cover art from Penguin Science Fiction books in the 1970s. If you like what you see and have more time to kill, here's over 200 covers from the entire series on the Penguin SF website.


3. Reefer Madness, eat your heart out. The US Navy has produced an instant classic of a video about the dangers of taking bath salts.

Try to count the levels on which this is amazing.

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20 Responses to “NPF: PICKPOCKETING”

  1. chautauqua Says:

    See: "Shark, Jumping the"

  2. Anonymouse Says:

    The drama where I live is not 'bath salts', but apparently 'spice', a synthetic marijuana. Some helicopter parent's idiot teen fried his brains with it and now Something Must Be Done and Won't Somebody Please Think of the CHEEELDRUN?!?!

  3. c u n d gulag Says:

    Maybe if we legalized drugs, and the government QC'd them, and then sold them like alcohol, with applicable age-limits, regulations, and taxes, not only would our CHEEEEELDRUN be safer (and adults, too), but we'd have a steady revenue stream via the sale of the taxed drugs.

    Drug and alcohol use, is not only very human, but also a relic of our animal past.
    There are countless video's of monkeys, birds, and other animals, getting "drunk" on over-ripe fruits and berries, and "high" on grains which have mildly hallucinogenic fungi on them.

    Prohibition of alcohol in America did little but create crime, since people were willing to pay a lot of money for illegal booze, and mobsters ran into the niche created by the prohibition.

    We apparently learned nothing from that, since, in our stupid "War on Drugs," our prohibition of drugs, even the mildest, like pot, have created a lot of crime, since people are willing to pay a lot of money for illegal drugs, and drug-dealing criminals and gangs have run into the niche created by that prohibition.

    You can't legislate away human/animal behavior.

    Sex is instinctual in all animals, including humans.
    And yet, instead of providing a safe sexual envrionment for sex workers and their clients, we try to legislate away sexual needs and urges. And we arrest the sex-workers and "johns' in most areas, instead of providing that safe sexual environment – leading to crime and disease.
    Maybe if we had legal brothels, like we did a long time ago in this country (and other countries), we'd cut down on crime and disease.

    For all of the "smarts" that we modern humans have, we're often very stupid. Particularly when we're facing the animal within all of us.

    Like that great musician, the late and great Peter Tosh sang, "Don't criticize it. Legalize it."

    I'm sorry I went sort of off-topic.

  4. yam Says:

    c u n d gulag — it's Jesus' fault.

  5. c u n d gulag Says:

    I try never to blame the Prophets.
    I blame the people who use the Prophets for profits.

  6. acer Says:

    It's not "Link Salad." It's "Curated Content."

  7. Anonymouse Says:

    C u n d, my apologies; I think we're talking about two separate things. My point (which I clearly didn't make well, sorry) was that one person fried their brains with artificial drugs, so therefore everyone has to suffer. I clearly wasn't caffeinated enough to get to my actual point: demonizing something just makes it more likely someone's going to go nuts and try to abuse it.

  8. Patrick M Says:

    What I don't like about this video (which is "amazing" as described) is that they do not try to explain what "bath salts" actually are.

    Then at the end there is a URL displayed which links to a page whose filename is "spice"… I can't be bothered to follow the link, but, what the kids call spice is totally different from what the kids call bath salts.

    The Navy doctor says that people turn to bath salts in response to stress. Maybe? I feel like that people "turn to" alcohol and marijuana because of stress, but the people that try bath salts do so because they like drugs and want to try something new.

    I also like how he emphasizes his navy and medical credentials then goes on to use the phrase "jack up" when describing what bath salts will do to a person.

  9. c u n d gulag Says:

    So, you're telling me I ranted for naught? :-)

  10. mothra Says:

    What I like about the "Gentleman Thief" segment is how VERY uncomfortable Matt Lauer is during the whole thing. You can tell that he thinks this performer is actually going to steal something from him and not just play. I read an article in the New Yorker about the Gentleman Thief. Very interesting piece–he seems like a nice fellow and nice to see that he is getting some exposure (he wants to turn his gig into a full-blown magic act). No, he never worked as a pickpocket professionally.

  11. Amused Says:

    My grandfather spent many years as a detective in a resort city on the Black Sea. He described pickpockets as the aristocracy of the criminal world. It was a gentlemen's club that functioned almost like a medieval trade guild — hereditary, insanely difficult to get into, and veteran pickpockets were extremely selective in taking on students. Pickpockets were also exclusive; engaging in any other type of criminal activity would get you expunged from the club immediately. They had a quaint culture, too, where they would make it a point to always dress well and adopt refined, gentlemanly ways in their everyday life.

    Part of their prestige (I think) was that the cops generally left them alone. It was very, very rare for a pickpocket to get pinched. They rarely served as traditional informants, but at the same time, they occupied the entryway into the criminal underworld, and could provide a lot of useful information to the police, that would enable the capture of more dangerous criminals. Pickpockets were only to happy to help the police with catching rapists and murderers, for example (because rapists and murderers are bad for the pickpocket business).

  12. tkno77 Says:

    Quick note as an analytical chemist – the only reason drugs like bath salts and spice exist is due to the drug prohibition laws. A slight change to the molecular structure is all it takes to make a banned drug into a drug that crime labs haven't seen before and aren't familiar with, in addition to there being no law banning that particular compound. New variants can be produced faster than laws can be put into place to stop them. Plus, these new drugs are not put through any kind of safety studies that drugs developed by pharmaceutical companies are put through, so it's easy to get horrible side effects. If drug laws did not ban the genuine (and likely safer) article, then there would be no impetus to create the new ones.

  13. Death Panel Truck Says:

    "our prohibition of drugs, even the mildest, like pot, have created a lot of crime"

    Where I live, the prohibition of marijuana is about to end. You can possess up to an ounce, and you can smoke it, but unless you're getting it for medical reasons it won't be legal to buy until December, when Washington will start selling it from stores just like liquor.

    I eagerly await the day. ;)

  14. Anonymouse Says:

    C U N D, feel free to rant away. :-)

  15. c u n d gulag Says:

    Death Panel Truck,
    Maybe you know, or someone else does – in states were pot is legal, are they prohibiting employers from testing for it, for potential, or existing, employees in drug screenings?

    Pot may be legal, but if they still check for it in drug tests, it can cost people their potential, or existing, jobs.

    Alcohol leaves a person's system at roughly an hour for every drink you had, coke (from what I remember) takes a few days, but pot stays in a person's system for weeks, or maybe even a month.

    And I remember back when I used to smoke pot (and inhaling it), the potency of the pot I bought varied, from 'Little better than oregano,' to 'Thank God that breathing is an involuntary f*cking reflex!'

    So, if they do test, and test for how much is still in your system, like with alcohol, which has a measurable rate of dissipation in your blood, how will they be able to tell whether you just smoked a bone of some pretty weak stuff at lunch, but probably shouldn't operate heavy machinery anyway, to you had some really strong sh*t last week?

    Legalizing pot is great, and should be done around the country, but if it can still cost people their jobs, that kind of takes most of the joy out of it, doesn't it?

    If I had a job, and they legalized pot in NY, and they still tested for it and I could lose my job over it, legal or not, I still wouldn't smoke or eat it.

    Does anyone know the answer?

  16. IanB Says:

    c u n d gulag: here in Colorado, the issue as to whether you can get fired after blood testing is being actively debated in the Legislature. The main arguments for employers are that they don't want people driving high to or from work or while on the job, and that they need to certify their workplaces as 'drug-free' for Federal contracts (whatever that means). Of course, they don't mention a third reason, that they want to be able to find a reason to fire an employee and not have to pay unemployment benefits.

    On the other hand, there is no science behind testing, in terms of how the level active THC in your system correlates to how impaired you are; also most tests are for inactive metabolites, which can remain in your body for months.

    Sadly, it's looking like the employers will have the votes on this issue.

    Ian in Colorado

  17. fcc Says:

    And no one has anything to say about the covers?

    I have several of these titles I bought in my childhood (dog eared beyond recognition and lovingly re-read to this day). Those books were hallucinations wrapped in glorious glossy cardboard. Acid had nothing on these stories (mushrooms maybe).

    Trust me, J.G. Ballard will alter you more than bath salts ever could, and the effects are permanent. I cannot think of Kornbluth's Marching morons without every moment of my upstate NY childhood flooding my brain.

    The greatest thing about these covers was the teetering between the cartoonish and the scholarly. A 11 year old could get away with reading adult literature because the garish fantastic art was dismissed as comic book, while the somber covers instantly bored. Never once did a adult with authority over me open one of them and read a word.
    I am forever grateful to Penquin books.

  18. c u n d gulag Says:

    Ian in CO – thanks for the info. That's what I was afraid of.

    Great point!
    The first sex scenes I ever read were in Sci-Fi books. And my late Father, a voracious reader, never picked up one of those books since he didn't think much of that genre.
    Oh, if they only knew what was in those books!!!

  19. don't ask me how I know Says:

    No, the reason people experiment with bath salts and IZMS isn't prohibition, it's human nature. No matter what was legal someone would always be trying to find the next "big" thing. Evolution is as evolution does. It never ceases to amaze me what people will dream up to ingest, inhale or inject. Which is not to say that prohibition isn't useless at best and detrimental at worst on soooo many levels. Who the hell cares about passing laws against them when variants appear far faster than toxicology labs can find them so an ER doc can treat them.
    As for whether test results could be used to keep people from some jobs even if a drug is legal, the answer is an unequivocal yes. Airline pilots and brain surgeons come to mind quickest, there are of course a plethora of others. It matters not if the test can determine a level of incapacity. Which is why they don't bother with blood/urine tests when detection really matters. Drugs and/or their psycho-inactive metabolites do not remain in body fluids for more than 3 or 4 days, with the exception of phenobarbs and benzodiazs whose retention depends on amount of consumtion over time. Hair, on the other hand, gives a nice profile for 3 or 4 months. And there's a good chance that even embalming won't remove it from your body tissues. Which gives the lawyers plenty to go on when the ER doc didn't have enough.
    But holy cat that pickpocket was an eye-opener! Amazing!

  20. qmmayer Says:

    I'm pretty fascinated by the pickpocket after the New Yorker piece. I thought his shtick was to rely entirely on his skills as a pickpocket in his act. But it seems like he must have preloaded some of the pen/money/wallet portion with Lauer. Having watched it twice now, he doesn't seem to get anywhere near Lauer after lifting the pen. Maybe I'm missing something.