Wandering Eye: India's 'sand mafia,' a medical report on marijuana edibles, and more

Wired has a gripping story about India's "sand mafia." The idea that there might be criminal syndicates concerned with the provision, theft, and control of, basically, dirt, might surprise. But there is a reason for everything, and this one begins with the world's almost-unbelievable overbuilding spree. China's newly built "ghost cities" are already the stuff of cliche, but add in Singapore, Dubai, Lagos, and—of course—India, and you have a sand-mining boom unprecedented in history. Desert sand is no good for construction; the grains are too round. So buildings come out of river beds and off beaches. "Sand mining has erased two dozen Indonesian islands since 2005," the article says. "Today criminal gangs in an estimated 70 countries, from Jamaica to Nigeria, dredge up tons of the stuff every year to sell on the black market." The piece looks at the Indian sand mafias, the police's nonresponse, and the violence that comes to those who appeal to the rule of law. Never before have we seen anyone trace back where all that towering concrete comes from, or how it gets there. Or who has to die to make it happen. (Edward Ericson Jr.)


The New England Journal of Medicine has an excellent article about "marijuana edibles," pinpointing issues that will likely be noticed by legislators in states looking to learn from the two states where full legalization has already occurred: Colorado and Washington. Many of the products look and taste like candy, prompting a rise in accidental ingestion by children. They also lead to accidental over-intoxication among adults, since assumptions about serving sizes—people often eat a whole candy bar or several hard candies in one sitting, for instance—don't apply to edible pot products in the same way. Also, the long lag time between ingestion and feeling the effects can easily cause one to get waaay too high. While regulations may be needed, the authors also predict that lawsuits will prompt manufacturers to self-correct. (Van Smith)


Sam Knight's story in this week's New Yorker harkens back to the glory days of that publication. "Follow the White Ball" is a profile of the greatest snooker player ever. "So fucking what?" you think, if you're like me and hate sports and don't even know what the hell snooker is. Then you read the long first paragraph and, miraculously, snooker—or at least this guy's ambivalence toward his talent at snooker—seems to be among the most important things ever. Here's that first graf: "Early on a Tuesday morning last fall, Ronnie O'Sullivan was running through the woods near his home, in Chigwell, Essex, northeast of London. It was damp and muddy, England in November. O'Sullivan, who is thirty-nine, loves the anonymity of running. About ten years ago, he discovered that it was one thing that truly takes him out of himself—more than the drink and the drugs and the antidepressants—and suspends the otherwise unavoidable fact that he is the most talented snooker player of all time. At the age of eleven, O'Sullivan was making good money in the sport, and in the past three decades he has won five World Championships and set a number of records while enduring a bewildering odyssey of breakdowns, addictions, and redemptions, largely precipitated by the imprisonment of his father, whom he loves, for murder. O'Sullivan is frequently described as a genius. But he does not see how this can be so. Most days, he feels like a fraud. His game comes only in fits and starts. He wins because the others lose. He has wondered for a long time whether he would be happier doing something else. He has moved nine times in the past ten years. 'I'm fucking, you know, searching,' he told me recently. 'I kind of know who I am but I don't like who I am, do you know what I mean? I wish I was a bit more fucking stable.'" (Baynard Woods)

Copyright © 2019, Baltimore City Paper, a Baltimore Sun Media Group publication | Privacy Policy