From 'The Guardian': In 1930 a young journalist called Stella Gibbons started a new job on the Lady, "the magazine for gentlewomen", where she applied her versatility as a writer to every subject under the sun, bar cookery, which was the province of a certain Mrs Peel. Soon after her arrival, however, Gibbons also began work on another, more exciting project, a novel – her "masterpiece", she jokingly called it – which she planned to write in spare moments, in a little room at the end of a passage in the Lady's Covent Garden offices. The book was to be a take-off of the "loam and love child" novels then so popular: novels such as Mary Webb's Precious Bane and Sheila Kaye-Smith's Sussex Gorse, in which earthy and primitive types, gloomy happenings and archaic rural landscapes are depicted in prose so overwrought that to call it purple would be a wild understatement ("the kind of story in which peasants have babies in cowsheds and push each other down wells", as Punch put it). She intended to call it Cold Comfort Farm.
Gibbons believed she might have a hit on her hands early on: the girls who typed her manuscript laughed out loud at it, and when it was published in September 1932 so it proved. Everyone adored it, even if one critic was convinced that Stella Gibbons was a pseudonym for Evelyn Waugh. The following year the novel even won the Prix Étranger of the Prix Femina-Vie heureuse, a surprising literary award for a comic novel, and one that infuriated Virginia Woolf ("I was enraged to see they gave the £40 to Gibbons," Woolf wrote to Elizabeth Bowen. "Still, now you and Rosamond [Lehmann] can join in blaming her. Who is she? What is this book?").
From Bookforum: In 2009, David Nutt, a neuropsychopharmacologist who served as chair of Britain's Advisory Council on the Misuse of Drugs (ACMD), published a paper in a medical journal that offered a provocative thesis: horseback riding, he wrote, was more dangerous than taking ecstasy. Examining the two activities across a range of metrics, Nutt estimated that every 10,000th ecstasy pill leads to an "adverse event," while a rider is injured every 350th episode.
The story went viral and the details of Nutt's analysis were lost in the ensuing media tempest. His own organization tried to distance itself from him, saying that the article was part of his academic work. His governmental bosses were even more displeased: He was soon fired, earning the sobriquet "the scientist who was sacked."
The book doesn't offer a program to win over recalcitrant government officials, but it's loaded with studies and policy suggestions that, if properly applied, would certainly save money and lives. Decriminalization, needle-exchange programs, relaxing onerous restrictions surrounding medical research involving psychedelics and other illegal drugs, even allowing users to bring their drugs to hospitals to be tested (so that officials know what's out there and users know what they're taking)—Nutt's list is long, and his arguments convincing. But politicians, fearful of seeming soft, have shown little appetite for such thinking. For example, when ecstasy took off as a club drug, some venues started selling bottled water and providing "chill-out rooms" where patrons could cool off and hydrate. These measures caused authorities to accuse clubs of "catering to the needs of ecstasy users," and helped to inspire Congress in 2003 to pass the Illicit Drug Anti-Proliferation Act.