The Gain from Pain Mainly Explained

SECOND IN A SERIES

By DrKSSMDPhD, September 7, 2014

[Ed. Note: Dr. KSS writes about medical topics and biotech stocks for the Irregulars. He choses his own topics, and his words and opinions are his own. Part one of this series is here if you missed it. Enjoy!]

“The heat was hot and the ground was dry

but the air was full of sound.

I’ve been through the desert on a horse with no name…”

Even on a February morning, and at a latitude quite north of boiling Bangkok, as I emerged into a clearing and settlement in Burma (Myanmar), sweat already drenched my shirt. The air smelled of sandalwood infused with cheroot. Bicycles, mopeds and rickshaw-like contraptions highly outnumbered cars and busses, most of which were distinctly box-shaped and painted in strangely chosen once-vivid colors (green, orange, purple) now faded. A river of time was flowing back into the jungle whence it came, and the year could have been 1950. Mature women stayed fastidiously in the shade, while the faces of girls were smeared with thanaka paste. The set-piece of images rendered in words from Andrew Marshall’s hypnotic book The Trouser People were coming to life, now writ large. Soonton, the Thai friend who’d ferried me to the border, seemed to have found a prime spot from which to emerge on the Burmese side. Alleys and paths were punctuated with patches of blood-red spittle from those chewing betel nuts all day.

I was in the Shan State of eastern Burma, in the mysterious, fabled Golden Triangle of almost borderless confluence where Burma, Laos and Thailand commingle. I’d come to have an adventure. The region was controlled by poppy-growing warlord Khun Sa, a man with his own army and who instilled fear in the hardline generals of the State Law and Order Restoration Council (SLORC). SLORC ruled from Rangoon with an iron fist more frightening than Shah Reza Pahlavi’s SAVAK in Iran had established, and was keeping Aung San Suu Kyi under house arrest. But SLORC dared not taunt Khun Sa, who never spoke openly of operating a drug-financed regime. “I simply grow vegetables to feed the unfortunate people of Burma,” he said. In Apocalypse Now, Captain Willard seeks to get to Colonel Kurtz. I had no delusions about encountering Khun Sa, as hidden and protected as Osama bin Laden. Even so, for many heroin is a worshipped god…which made Khun Sa ...

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