This story is amazing, really. Sick and amazing. I’d advise someone to use it as a plot element in a novel, except that the reader would say, “Nah, that’s just not believable.” Here’s the short version:
Nebraska needs execution drugs, but said drugs are no longer manufactured in the U.S.;
Nebraska contacts broker in India, who procures drugs from shady source and imports them using questionable means;
Because neither Nebraska nor the Indian company had the proper permits to import the drugs, a legal battle begins;
Drug broker procures new shipment from reputable international pharmaceutical company by lying about their intended use;
Drugs are shipped to broker who then ships drugs to Nebraska to be used to kill people rather than to Zambia where they could help people (as he claimed he would do);
International pharmaceutical company demands return of drugs from Nebraska.
Like I said, if this was in a novel, you’d never believe it. But it’s real life and it’s a great example of how wedded we are to our death penalty system in the United States. We are so desperate to kill people that state governments are working with international drug dealers who lie to companies in order to procure drugs that the companies wouldn’t ordinarily provide — because the companies don’t want their medicines being used to kill people.
Here’s the story itself:
The chief executive officer of Naari, the Swiss company that produced the sodium thiopental — which is now waiting to be used in Nebraska’s execution chamber — has asked the state to return the drug, saying it was obtained under false pretenses by a third-party broker. CEO Prithi Kochhar made the request in a Nov. 18 letter to Nebraska Supreme Court Chief Justice Michael Heavican.
The letter said the company gave 485 grams of the drug to a broker by the name of Chris Harris, who said he would use the samples to get the drug registered in Zambia. Harris promised that once the drug was approved by the African nation, he would order additional supplies for use as a medical anesthetic.
“I am shocked and appalled by this news,” Kochhar wrote. “Naari did not supply these medicines directly to the Nebraska Department of Correctional Services and is deeply opposed to the use of the medicines in executions.”
The arrangement appeared plausible because sodium thiopental is widely used as an anesthetic in the developing world, Kochhar wrote.
But Harris sold the drug to the Nebraska Department of Correctional Services, which requires sodium thiopental as the first of three drugs to carry out an execution by lethal injection.
Good writers write. They don’t always write well, but they must write!” I read that today while researching good writing habits on the Internet. There’re a gazillion essays, blog posts and books offering advice on how to be successful with your writing, but they all seem to say the same thing: You must write! Well, duh. If you’re a plumber you must plumb! A baker? He must bake! That’s a glaringly obvious fact, not a system of guidelines. The problem is, writers are cagey fuckers that guard their disciplines almost as jealously as they hide their ideas. If they know anything about writing, they know to keep their mouth shut. I know; I’m a writer. I write because I must. I’ve met with writers in the past, writers I read and respect, and no amount of groveling could squeeze even the smallest nugget of wisdom out of them. They just recommended that I write. So I did write, and now, with somewhere in the vicinity of 200 interviews and at least 5 actual published pieces of prose under my belt, I offer you, fledgling scribe, my top seven tips on how to write and write well. Let the pontification begin.
Tip 1. Don’t write unless you’re being paid to write.
Why would anyone sit down at their desk and bruise their fingertips for free? If you are going to write, make sure you are being paid to write. Don’t even write in a diary unless you’ve negotiated an equitable fee with yourself. I think we all did enough complimentary penmanship at school, don’t you? Are you still at school or are you a big grown up who writes for a job? Practice? Practice is for the ungifted. Don’t put down a single letter until you know you’ll be remunerated for your efforts. Writing is work, not charity.
Tip 2. Drink.
All the great writers drank like fish: Ernest Hemmingway, F. Scott Fitzgerald, Ethan Hawke, etc. There’s no point trying to write a single word sober, you’ll only disappoint yourself and your family. Start the workday with a six-pack, and then work your way up to a bottle of Johnny Walker Black; that’s when the magic happens. If anyone dare tell you that you drink to much and it’s effecting your output, man or woman, strike them down immediately.
Tip 3. Dispose of Sexual Tension.
Nothing slows down the creative process faster than built up sexual tension. The average male thinks about sex once every 15 seconds, so how is the Great American Novel going to flow through his finger tips when boobs and blowjobs are constantly swirling in his mind? I suggest that the novice writer masturbate before he even opens his first beer of the day. It’s the only way to ensure the single-mindedness needed to practice the great craft of writing. In fact, the more sexual tension you can rid your mind and body of the better. Stephen King himself recommends 5-6 wank breaks per day, and he wrote Pet Cemetery. PET CEMETARY!
Tip 4. Lie about your progress.
Always exaggerate when discussing your progress as a writer. If you have no projects on the go, say you had dinner with Graydon (Carter) at the Waverly last night to discuss future stories. Then say that none of his proposed ideas jumped out at you, so you’ll just wait and see what happens. Under no circumstances should a writer divulge the truth about his pathetic output, ennui, or suicidal thoughts- not even to other writers. Telling other writers about your troubles is like leaping into shark-infested waters wearing a suit made of ham. Don’t do it. They’ll only gossip about your shortcomings to make themselves look and feel better. Always, always, always lie about your progress. Even if you won a Pulitzer Prize, say you won three.
Tip 5. Read.
All good writers read because they know that reading will learn them new words and stuff. An osmotic process goes to work when you read: it’s called “learning”. The more you read, the more you learn, and not just about what the girl with dragon tattoo did after she kicked the hornet’s nest (spoiler: she defecated in the oatmeal), but about the function of sentence structure and rhythm and all that egg-headed horse shit. The second and most important reason you should read is so you can discover other writer’s mistakes and sneer at them. You can’t imagine the joy you’ll experience when you discover Steinbeck used “get” in the same saw-toothed sentence twice. What an idiot!
Tip 6. Don’t eat.
Eating, as we all now, is cheating. Don’t let yourself be distracted by nagging hunger: light a cigarette. Don’t smoke? Have a cigarette anyway. A) It’ll suppress your irksome craving for sustenance, and B) You’ll look cool as shit. Do a Google image search of Charles Bukowski; the guy may have looked like a fat piece of over-done bacon wearing a wig, but he was rarely seen without a cigarette: cool. Now look up Oprah: Pff. Gay.
Tip 7. Don’t bother with rewrites.
You’ve written it. It’s there on the page, see? Job done. Now why in the name of heck would you do it again? To make it better? Don’t be stupid. Ever heard of a little thing called, “First thought, best thought”? I think it was Kerouac who said that, and he knew that no one was going to re-skin his bongo drums for him while he “re-wrote” some shit he already wrote. Rewrite! Fucking hell! You may as well “re-read” something while you’re at it. Why not “re-eat” your lunch, too? Stupid. Just look at this thing you just read- I wrote it once and then walked away; I didn’t even read it! I just stood up, kicked my chair over, and walked away. Done.