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Rod Liddle: The Top 10 Most Fatuous Phrases in the English Language

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Rod_Liddle-40x63Rod Liddle writes: Below are a bunch of the clichés, lies, evasions, obfuscations, PC euphemisms and disingenuous balls words and phrases which, in recent years, have annoyed me the most. There are countless others, but these are the ones which for one reason or other stick in my craw. And of course we begin with:

1. Battling my demons 

It was demons who held down that actress/pop singer/reality TV star and rammed four kilos of charlie up her left nostril leaving her with the IQ of an aspidistra and, alas, sans septum. It was demons who injected Philip Seymour Hoffman with skag. The same creatures regularly waylay the former footballer Paul Gascoigne and siphon several rosenbach-the-headache-george-cruikshank-detaillitres of vodka down his throat. And it was demons, a whole bunch of them, who grappled with Brooks Newmark’s penis and ensured it was transmitted digitally to the fictitious woman of his choice. This was my original Fatuous Phrase of the Week, an utterly ubiquitous cliché which serves only to absolve people from responsibility.

2. Vulnerable

It’s official — the most abused word in the English language these days. Today, as used by the whining liberal left, it means anyone who isn’t an able-bodied middle-aged white heterosexual male in full possession of his mental faculties. In other words, about 70 per cent of the population. It is frequently used as a euphemism for educationally retarded, or what we used to call ‘backward’; when you hear on the news that someone was ‘vulnerable’, you have to work out for yourself why. It’s not tyranny-clicheusually hard.

[You’re on the wrong side of history if you haven’t read Jonah Goldberg‘s book, “The Tyranny of Cliches, but you can order it from Amazon]

[The complete text of ‘s article is here, at The Spectator]

3. Diversity 

Something brilliant, to be championed. We all love diversity, don’t we? As used by the left it means ‘lots of ethnic angels-fighting-demons-paintings-wallpaper-pictures-of-angels-fighting-demons-wallpaper-hd-e1405873872626minorities’. Quite often it is deployed to mean precisely the opposite of its original meaning. As in ‘the area is very diverse’, referring to a place populated exclusively by Bangladeshis.

4. Denier

A horrible and recent confection of, again, the liberal left. You can be a ‘climate change denier’, which means you might doubt that global warming will cause quite the catastrophic circumstances — annihilation of all living creatures, earth burned to a crust, polar bears howling in agony — dreamed up by the maddest, gibbering eco-warriors. You can be a ‘sexual abuse denier’, which means you have one or two doubts about Operation Yewtree. The term was appropriated from the Holocaust, of course: the implication being that to deny that absolutely all 1970s celebrities were busy molesting kiddies is on a par with denying that Nazi Germany murdered six million Jewish people. Nice. Read the rest of this entry »

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Ruled Accidental: Hoffman Died From Toxic Overdose of Drugs, Medical Examiner Reports

hoffman-hatched-screenActor Philip Seymour Hoffman died from a toxic mix of drugs including heroin, cocaine, benzodiazepines and amphetamine, the medical examiner’s office has determined.

The medical examiner also ruled Hoffman’s death an accident.

[Alan Dershowitz: No, Philip Seymour Hoffman’s Dealer Isn’t a Murderer]

The 46-year-old Oscar-winning actor died Feb. 2 at his West Village home of an apparent heroin overdose.

[See also: Hoffman’s Deadly Brand of Heroin: ‘Ace of Spades’]

Hoffman was found with a syringe in his arm and dozens of packets of heroin in his apartment.

[See also: Glamour JunkiesThe Culture of Heroin Addiction by Kevin D. Williamson]

Hoffman spoke candidly over the years about past struggles with drug addiction. After 23 years sober, the versatile actor reportedly checked himself into rehab for 10 days last year after relapsing in 2012.

Phillip-Seymour-Hoffman-color

NBC New York

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Wicked, Wicked Heroin

heroin-wicked

Addiction is a matter of persistence, not fate

Theodore Dalrymple  writes:  For five centuries before the Enlightenment, animals were sometimes put on trial in Europe. Pigs were the most frequent defendants, followed by rats, but even insects were not immune. Edward Payson Evans’s classic The Criminal Prosecution and Capital Punishment of Animals, published in 1906, begins:

It is said that Bartholomew Chessenée, a distinguished French jurist of the sixteenth century (born at Issy-l’Evêque in 1480), made his reputation at the bar as counsel for some rats, which had been put on trial before the ecclesiastical court of Autun on the charge of feloniously having eaten up and wantonly destroyed the barley crop of that province.

But the prosecution of animals was rational compared with an article published on February 11 in the New York Times. At least animals are animate; and my dog had a lively sense of guilt.

“…of course, we are not told, though evidence suggests that the average heroin addict takes heroin intermittently rather than regularly for 18 months before becoming addicted…”

The American “newspaper of record,” however, apparently believes that inanimate substances have wills and even moral purposes of their own. Perhaps one day it will hold an auto-da-fe of the worst-offending substances.

[Order Theodore Dalrymple’s book “Our Culture, What’s Left Of It” from Amazon]

The article, by Deborah Sontag, told the story of a 21-year-old woman, Alysa Ivy, who died in the small town of Hudson, Wisconsin, from using heroin. In recent years, more and more people in America, mostly young and white, have been dying in this way—most recently, the acclaimed actor Philip Seymour Hoffman. Why? According to the Times, the cunning and charm of heroin is to blame.

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A Closer Look at Legalizing Heroin

hoffman-heroin-scene-2007.png?w=590

Addicts need medical support like heroin maintenance, which is illegal in the U.S. thanks to the war on drugs.

Valerie Vande Panne  writes;  A great entertainer overdosed on heroin two weeks ago. He was found dead, a needle hanging from his arm. Dozens of empty drug baggies were found strewn around his apartment.He was considered a fantastic actor. Influential. Powerful. Insightful. Potent. Everyone, by this time, knows this man’s name. It’s been plastered across the media landscape not just in the United States, but worldwide: Philip Seymour Hoffman.In the days since, there’s been all kinds of chatter about the evils of heroin or the need for better drug education. But there hasn’t been much talk about the painful, obvious, cold, hard truth: Heroin should be regulated—and not only because science says so, but because, (and again, let’s be honest) look around.

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Every Moment Was True

Over at City JournalMatthew Hennessey has a thoughtful essay

Philip Seymour Hoffman, R.I.P.

Philip Seymour Hoffmann as Robert Gelbart in A Late Quartet.

Philip Seymour Hoffmann as Robert Gelbart in A Late Quartet.

Matthew Hennessey  writes: Why is that when a talented and beloved actor dies, the tributes that pour forth always seem to make qualifying references to his or her “generation”? When news raced around the Internet yesterday that Oscar-winner Philip Seymour Hoffman had died of an apparent heroin-overdose at the age of 46, there it was again: He was one of the best actors . . . of his generation. It’s hardly fair to the artist—and nearly everyone seems to agree that Hoffman was an artist of rare ability—to imply that he was only one of the better ones to pop up in the last ten or 15 years. Hoffman was much better than that.

[See more of punditfromanotherplanet’s Philip Seymour Hoffman coverage here]

Philip Seymour Hoffman was orders of magnitude more talented than the other actors of his generation, who, like the well-known actors of most generations, tend to opt for the obvious over the obscure and a big paycheck over a big challenge. Most actors desire more than anything the respect that comes from making brave choices. But few have the horse sense to distinguish between a brave choice and a boring one. Fewer still have the commitment necessary to deliver on those choices. And almost none have the chops to pull off what Hoffman did in his too-short career. It’s no exaggeration to say that he was one of the greatest film actors of the last 50 years or more.

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Gillespie: Philip Seymour Hoffman’s Heroin Problem Does Not Constitute a Crisis

A copy of a New York Times Magazine with a photo of movie actor Philip Seymour Hoffman on the cover in a memorial in front of his apartment building in New York City, on Feb. 3, 2014. Carlo Allegri / Reuters

 Carlo Allegri / Reuters

Nick Gillespie  writes:  The death of actor Philip Seymour Hoffman has given rise to a massive outpouring of grief and sadness by his fans and admirers. It has also given rise to an equally massive outpouring of patently false and exaggerated stories about the increase in heroin use and the need to do something — anything! — about it. This is not just misguided but dangerous: High-profile drug deaths in the past have lead to major public policy mistakes — think mandatory-minimum sentencing guidelines — that can take decades to correct.

[See also Alan Dershowitz: No, Philip Seymour Hoffman’s Dealer Isn’t a Murderer]

Even before the inconclusive results of Hoffman’s autopsy were made public, news outlets such as MSNBC were already running stories about “America’s Heroin Problem,” “the rapidly growing crisis of heroin,” and quoting “law enforcementofficials [who] believe the spike in heroin use is driven by addicts becoming priced out of more expensive prescription opiate-based pain killers.”

Hoffman-Heroin-scene-2007

[See also VIDEO: Philip Seymour Hoffman’s (Extended) Drug Scene from Sidney Lumet’s “Before the Devil Knows You’re Dead”]

hoffman-streetsYet as my colleague at Reason, Jacob Sullum, was quick to document, the government statistics that track heroin use show absolutely no increase in regular use of the drug. According to the 2012 National Survey on Drug Use and Health (the latest available), 0.1 percent of Americans ages 12 and older reported using the drug in the past month. That’s exactly the same percentage that used in 2002 and there has been no significant fluctuation in the intervening decade. The Monitoring the Future Study, which tracks behavior of 8th, 10th, and 12th graders, shows annual use of heroin declining across the board from a decade ago.

[Philip Seymour Hoffman’s Deadly Brand of Heroin: ‘Ace of Spades’]

Much of the confusion stems from journalists and their sources using raw numbers without controlling for population growth or mistaking lifetime use for anything approaching a habit (both errors are on display in this “Journalist’s Resource” put out by Harvard’s Shorenstein Center on Media, Politics, and Public Policy).

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Alan Dershowitz: No, Philip Seymour Hoffman’s Dealer Isn’t a Murderer

1306017445490.cachedThose who sold heroin to Philip Seymour Hoffman are morally culpable for his death. But they shouldn’t be legally culpable

ace-of-spadesAlan M. Dershowitz  writes:  Whenever a celebrity dies of a self-administered drug, particularly heroin, efforts are made to locate and prosecute those who provided the drug.  As I wrote back in the 1980’s, following the overdose death of comedian John Belushi and the prosecution of Cathy Smith, the woman who provided him the drugs, “That issue [holding the supplier criminally responsible for the death] seems to capture public attention primarily when famous people overdose.  The tragic deaths of basketball player Len Bias and the late Robert Kennedy’s son David generated demands for prosecution of the suppliers.  The daily street deaths of dozens of faceless addicts rarely even provoke an investigation.”

 [Professor Dershowitz’s latest book: Taking the Stand:  My Life in the Law at Amazon]

Now the stakes have gotten higher as some states have applied the “felony-murder” law to such deaths, while others have enacted specific statues turning the criminal act of providing drugs into a homicide if death results.

“But there is no acceptable moral distinction between two dealers who sell the same product, in the same way, to the same people—and one of their customers, for reasons unrelated to anything the dealers did, happens to die”

It is easy to understand why the public demands homicide prosecutions against drug providers whose product caused the death of a beloved celebrity like Philip Seymour Hoffman.  A person lies dead; someone must bear responsibility for his death. It is easy to scapegoat the drug provider.  But is it fair to single out the provider whose heroin happened to have killed a celebrity (or anyone else)?

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[VIDEO] Philip Seymour Hoffman’s (Extended) Drug Scene from Sidney Lumet’s “Before the Devil Knows You’re Dead” (2007)

Long version, 6 ms 5s. This is the Philip Seymour Hoffman heroin scene from Sidney Lumet‘s “Before the Devil Knows You’re Dead” (2007) It featues Andy Hansen, an accountant, played by Hoffman, snorting coke at his desk at work between meetings. Next scene, making a drug buy in clandestine apartment in a Manhattan high rise…

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Then being injected, by the dealer, in a quiet bedroom. It’s an erie depiction of a sad, troubled character, retreating to an exclusive, private, white-collar drug den, high above the city, in the middle of the afternoon.

Hoffman-Heroin-scene-2007

Film story summary from Internet Movie Database:

When two brothers organize the robbery of their parents’ jewelry store the job goes horribly wrong, triggering a series of events that sends them, their father and one brother’s wife hurtling towards a shattering climax.

The short version — 2 ms 24s —  is here.

Pundit Planet Media – YouTube

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[VIDEO] Philip Seymour Hoffman’s Creepy Drug Scene from Sidney Lumet’s “Before the Devil Knows You’re Dead” (2007)

The film’s title is taken from an Irish blessing:

“…May your glass be ever full. May the roof over your head be always strong. And may you be in heaven half an hour before the devil knows you’re dead…”

Short version, 2 ms 24s. This is the Philip Seymour Hoffman heroin scene from Sidney Lumet‘s “Before the Devil Knows You’re Dead” (2007) It featues Andy Hansen, an accountant, played by Hoffman, making a drug buy in clandestine apartment in a Manhattan high rise. Then being injected, by the dealer, in a quiet bedroom. It’s an erie depiction of a troubled, defeated character, retreating to an exclusive, private, white-collar drug den, high above the city, in the middle of the afternoon…

Hoffman-Heroin-scene-2007

Film story summary from Internet Movie Database:

When two brothers organize the robbery of their parents’ jewelry store the job goes horribly wrong, triggering a series of events that sends them, their father and one brother’s wife hurtling towards a shattering climax.

The longer version — 6 ms 55 s —  is here.

Pundit Planet Media – YouTube

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’60 Minutes’ to Air 2006 Interview with Dead Celebrity Philip Seymour Hoffman

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The re-edited story will air on “60 Minutes” Feb. 9 on CBS

For VarietyFrancesca Bacardi  reports:  In the wake of Philip Seymour Hoffman’s death, “60 Minutes” will rebroadcast a 2006 interview conducted by Steve Kroft in which Hoffman discusses his problems with drug addiction. It will be re-edited to include previously un-broadcast material, including more from the actor about the rehabilitation he underwent as a young man that he credited with saving his life.

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New York’s Friendly Neighborhood Smack Vendors: Suspected Heroin Dealers Busted in Hoffman Death Probe

Max Rosenblum, 22, Juliana Luchkiw, 22, and Robert Aaron Vineberg (not pictured) were arrested during the investigation into actor Philip Seymour Hoffman’s death.

Max Rosenblum, 22, Juliana Luchkiw, 22, and Robert Aaron Vineberg (not pictured) were arrested during the investigation into actor Philip Seymour Hoffman’s death.

Seth Gottfried reports:  Cops raided a Manhattan drug den Tuesday night and arrested suspected dealers who may have been the ones who sold heroin to actor Philip Seymour Hoffman, sources said.

Authorities entered the Mott Street building and at around 7:30 p.m. and nabbed four people after getting a tip that the “Capote” star was sold heroin there a couple of months ago.

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The Culture of Heroin Addiction

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Over at NRO, reflecting on Philip Seymour Hoffman‘s deadly overdose, Kevin D. Williamson explores the shallow romanticism of opiate culture:

Glamour Junkies

… Every few years I read about how heroin is making a comeback or about how there’s a new surge of heroin addiction, but I am skeptical. Heroin never makes a comeback, because heroin never goes away…

“The belief that there exists some kind of deep and invisible connection between artistic creativity and addiction (or mental illness) is one of the most destructive and most stupid of our contemporary myths.”

hoff-narrow-drker...taking heroin is, at least in part, an act of cultural affiliation. Connoisseurs of the poppy will go on and on about Great Junkies in History — William S. Burroughs, Sid and Nancy, Billie Holiday — though all in all I’d say that heroin addicts are less tedious on the subject of heroin than potheads are on the subject of pot. They do seem to have a particular fascination with the jargon of heroin, as though every conversation is taking place in 1970…

[See also: 50 Bags of Heroin: More Details Emerge on Drug Death of Actor Philip Seymour Hoffman]

I always have a sneaking suspicioun that I could talk people out of deciding to become junkies if only I could get them to read a couple of good books composed with such literary skill as to illuminate the fact that Burroughs was a poseur and a hack. The belief that there exists some kind of deep and invisible connection between artistic creativity and addiction (or mental illness) is one of the most destructive and most stupid of our contemporary myths. I’d blame Thomas De Quincey, author of the 19th-century tell-all Confessions of an English Opium-Eater, if I thought anybody still read him.

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Tabloid: Did Philip Seymour Hoffman Buy Stash of Tainted Heroin?

Screen capture from CBS News

Screen capture from CBS News

Headline from Mail Online Philip Seymour Hoffman split from partner Mimi O’Donnell in troubled last months. The article includes this sidebar:

“…Oscar winner Philip Seymour Hoffman was discovered dead on the bathroom floor of his 4th floor apartment literally surrounded by heroin and its attached paraphernalia.

[See also: Philip Seymour Hoffman’s Deadly Brand of Heroin: ‘Ace of Spades’? punditfromanotherplanet.com]

hoffman-streetsSome of the empty heroin envelopes were branded with an Ace of Spades log – other with an Ace of Hearts.

The Ace of Spades heroin has been spreading across the country – on July 7, 2011 12 people in Wichita, Kansas, were indicted on heroin trafficking charges – that centered on selling the drugs into New York City.

The majority of the trafficking was to Brooklyn and Queens – from where it would be distributed to Manhattan and into Long Island.

Ace of Spades heroin reared its head again on January 16 when authorities arrested Kendall Sistrunk, 49, with transporting heroin from New York to Stamford, Connecticut. Read the rest of this entry »


50 Bags of Heroin: More Details Emerge on Drug Death of Actor Philip Seymour Hoffman

ace-of-spadesWashington Times‘ Jessica Chasmar  reports:  More details are surfacing about the apparent drug overdose of Academy Award-winning actor Philip Seymour Hoffman, who was found dead inside his New York City apartment on Sunday, police said.

[See also: Philip Seymour Hoffman’s Deadly Brand of Heroin: ‘Ace of Spades’]

Mr. Hoffman, a 46-year-old New York native, won an Oscar for best actor for his portrayal of American author Truman Capote in “Capote.” He starred in many other notable films, including “Charlie Wilson’s War,” “The Master,” and the “Hunger Games” franchise.

Investigators found more than 50 glassine-type bags containing what is believed to be heroin in his apartment, along with several bottles of prescription drugs and more than 20 used syringes in a plastic cup, sources told CNN.

Mr. Hoffman reportedly had suffered from drug addiction for years. After 23 years sober, he admitted in interviews that he relapsed and developed an addiction to heroin. He checked into a rehabilitation facility last year.

Law enforcement officials said the actor’s body was discovered in the bathroom of his Greenwich Village apartment by an assistant and a friend, who called 911. Mr. Hoffman’s family called his death “tragic and sudden.”

hofffman“We are devastated by the loss of our beloved Phil and appreciate the outpouring of love and support we have received from everyone,” his family said in a statement Sunday afternoon. “This is a tragic and sudden loss and we ask that you respect our privacy during this time of grieving. Please keep Phil in your thoughts and prayers.”

Mr. Hoffman was not blessed with matinee-idol looks but his meticulous craft made him one of Hollywood’s most respected actors, able to straddle both the multiplex and the film festival audiences. He won raves for both franchise tentpoles such as the third “Mission: Impossible” film and a career-long collaboration with director Paul Thomas Anderson in such films as “Magnolia” and “Boogie Nights.”

Philip Seymour Hoffman wasn’t just a great actor in great roles. He was a great actor in crap roles. He took dead material and gave it life. Probably the best example is his turn as the baddie in [Mission: Impossible III]. As written, it’s an utterly empty, generic villain character.

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Philip Seymour Hoffman’s Deadly Brand of Heroin: ‘Ace of Spades’

hoffman-drudge

Photo: Graham MacIndoe

Was this the brand? Photo: Graham MacIndoe

Emphasis mine…from New York Post:

…Cops found five empty glassine envelopes in a garbage can, two more under the bed and one on a table in the apartment, where Hoffman — who has repeatedly struggled with substance abuse — was living recently, sources said.

[See also: [VIDEO] Philip Seymour Hoffman’s Heroin-inecting Scene from “Before the Devil Knows You’re Dead” (2007)]

Cops also found a charred spoon in the kitchen sink, sources say.

“He was shooting up in the bathroom,” a law-enforcement source said.

The envelopes were marked “Ace of Spades,” which sources said is a brand of heroin that hasn’t been seen on the streets since around 2008 in Brooklyn.

 [See Glamour Junkies: The Culture of Heroin Addiction]

There was no note, and Hoffman’s death is believed to be accidental…

I’m pretty sure Ace of Spades HQ has no connection to the brand. But I had a mental image of an envelope with that logo on it (shown below) as the last thing the actor saw before he perished, of an overdose.

ace-banner

Speaking of Ace

Ace of Spades HQ has a discussion archived here.

Does the MacInoe photo, shown here represent the Brooklyn heroin baggie type similar to the one found in Hoffman’s Greenwich Village apartment? It’s unclear, but certainly possible. The photographer was also a consumer (addict) he has an interesting photo essay here:

“The images in this series are of heroin baggies collected years ago during a period of addiction. I became intrigued by the typography and design of the glassine envelopes used to package dope, stamped with references to popular culture like Twilight, Crooklyn and New Jack City. Dealers branded and marketed their product like entrepreneurs in any business, pairing names like Dead Medicine with a skull and crossbones to appeal to risk-takers, or an airplane labeled First Class to give the illusion of grandeur…

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