Weekend Thoughts - 10.14.17

Image by suc, courtesy of Creative Commons licensing.

Image by suc, courtesy of Creative Commons licensing.

Happy Saturday y'all! Below, I have rounded up some things for you to think about this weekend:

1. The scientists who have been studying the Yellowstone supervolcano have reported that it may erupt sooner than they originally thought, potentially wiping out all life on the planet. In fact, the conditions needed for it to spew lava may come together within the next few decades. This is contrary to the previously-accepted narrative, which estimated that it would take centuries for the volcano to erupt. However, it seems like we don't need to worry for the immediate future because Yellowstone is one of the best monitored volcanoes in the world. Still, it’s nice to know that our scientists are assessing this potentially-apocalyptic situation well ahead of time.

2. The California Department of Motor Vehicles released its revised regulations for the rollout of autonomous vehicles on the state's roads, and it turns out that self-driving cars will be allowed on California roads starting next year. This will mark the first time that vehicles without steering wheels, foot pedals, mirrors, and human drivers will be approved for testing on public roads. However, the state is not changing its position on self-driving trucks at this time—any vehicle over 10,000 pounds will need to go through a separate rule-making process. At any rate, this is exciting news in the autonomous vehicle area!

3. With the rise of drone technology comes the rise of drone crime. These unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) have been used for smuggling, spying, countering police surveillance, and intimidating the public, and the rate of surreptitious drone usage for nefarious purposes has been increasing year over year. In response, police departments all across the globe have been ramping up to combat this trend. UAVs are just like any other technology—they can be used for good or evil, but it's easy to see how the scale could tip in the wrong way, leading to a Black Mirror-esque world.

That's all for this week's edition of Weekend Thoughts. Until next week, keep thinking wilder.

This Week in Psychedelics - 10.13.17

Image by Dahtamnay, courtesy of Creative Commons licensing.

Image by Dahtamnay, courtesy of Creative Commons licensing.

Cannabis

  • DEA Report: Marijuana Seizures Increased By 20 Percent In 2016 (NORML)
  • VA Secretary Shulkin Still Hasn't Responded to The American Legion's Call for Marijuana Research (NORML)
  • Al Sharpton defends pot at cannabis business expo (Wicked Local Framingham)
  • Data Dive: Alaska Cannabis Sales Continue to Rise (Leafly)
  • Is CBD Similar To Kratom And Opiates? (Kratom Guides)
  • Cannabis intoxication may be stopped with anti-obesity drug (Medical News Today)
  • Meet the People Who Sent Cannabis Into Space (Leafly)
  • Eric Holder: Attorney General Sessions "Almost Obsessed With Marijuana" (NORML)
  • Cannabis in a Distinct Society: Quebec's Idiosyncratic Grapple With Legalization (Leafly)
  • Greg Barns: South Australia should become the first state in Australia to legalise recreational cannabis (The Advertiser)
  • MPs join medical marijuana protest outside Parliament, with activists smoking joints and demanding legalisation (The Independent)
  • Canadian Firm Invests in Massive Australian Cannabis Venture (Leafly)
  • NORML Founder Keith Stroup to Speak at First Annual Cannabis Fund Gala & Awards (NORML)
  • How Spain Influenced the America's With Cannabis (WeedReader)
  • Testimony Submitted By MassCann/NORML In Massachusetts To Cannabis Control Commission (NORML)
  • 'Worst year on record' for cannabis harvests amid widespread California wildfires (SFGate)
  • Can You Get Evicted for Legally Using Cannabis? (Leafly)
  • With cannabis legalization around the corner, Los Angeles contemplates another dumb move (Los Angeles Times)
  • Canada's Largest Cannabis Producer Is Doubling in Size (Leafly)
  • Los Angeles County Issues Its First Cannabis License (Forbes)
  • Cannabis consumption increases violent behavior in young people in psychiatric care (Science Daily)
  • Successful People That Smoke Marijuana (ATTN:)
  • Group rallies for legalization of medical cannabis (Terre Haute Tribune Star)
  • Personality Quiz: How Open Are Cannabis Consumers? (Leafly)
  • Bob Dunning: No Cannabis Outlet Store? The killjoys... (The Davis Enterprise)
  • Cannabis Crunch – Gorilla Glue Sues, MMJ Pitfalls In NY, and FDA Looking Into Cannabis Claims (Psychedelic Times)
  • Legal pot opponents urge Cannabis Commission to 'protect the people' (Wicked Local Maynard)

Psilocybin/Magic Mushrooms

  • Psilocybin-occasioned mystical-type experience in combination with meditation and other spiritual practices produces enduring positive changes in psychological functioning and in trait measures of prosocial attitudes and behaviors (Journal of Psychopharmacology)

LSD

  • LSD's Health Benefits Convince Norway to Relax Punishment For Possession (Tonic)
  • Only A Handful Of People In History Have Ever Overdosed On LSD. This Is What Happened To Them (IFLScience)
  • Watch: Mormon Missionaries Try LSD For The First Time (High Times)
  • Disneyland on LSD With A Giant Dog (The Austin Chronicle)

MDMA/Ecstasy

Peyote/San Pedro/Mescaline

  • 50 Years Ago: Debate over peyote in passage of bill of rights (Navajo Times)

Dissociatives

  • If You Thought Ketamine Was Only About Rave Parties, Think Again (The Quint)
  • One Doctor's Ketamine Concern (Medscape)
  • Pharmacies selling ketamine get warning (The Times of India)
  • PD: Man naked, high on PCP fatally shot in Bridgeport (WTNH)

Opiates/Opioids

  • Pennsylvania man's drug rehab center was really a hub for heroin and fentanyl, feds say (The Washington Post)
  • How a generation of young athletes became addicted to heroin (New York Post)
  • Pennsylvania offering $5 million in naloxone kits to first responders (Philly Voice)
  • Bad Opioid Policy Is Killing So Many People That New Hampshire's Medical Examiner Is Quitting His Job (Reason)
  • Experts say Naloxone without prescription is helping save lives (WKRN)
  • 14 People Overdose on Fentanyl-Laced Heroin in Camden in Four Hours: Officials (NBC 10 Philadelphia)
  • Intranasal naloxone and related strategies for opioid overdose intervention by nonmedical personnel: a review (Dove Medical Press)

Kratom

Kava

Khat

Miscellaneous Psychedelics/Psychoactives/Drug Policy

  • Scientists Grow Human Mini-Brains in Lab Then Dose Them With Psychedelic Drugs (Newsweek)
  • Psychedelic Drug Doses: From Mega to Micro (Rick Strassman MD)
  • The psychedelic renaissance is here. Will it last this time? (Massive)
  • Researching psychedelics (Dakota Student)
  • Club drugs are getting more powerful - so do police and the industry need to do more to prevent deaths? (Manchester Evening News)
  • Getting high to get happy? (Independent Online)
  • Woman jumps into fire after taking hallucinogenic drugs at music festival (Townsville Bulletin)

Disclaimer: "This Week in Psychedelics" does not censor or analyze the news links presented here. The purpose of this column is solely to catalogue how psychedelics are presented by the mass media, which includes everything from the latest scientific research to misinformation.

Weekend Thoughts - 10.7.17

Image by mikegi, courtesy of Creative Commons licensing.

Image by mikegi, courtesy of Creative Commons licensing.

Happy Saturday y'all! Below, I have rounded up some things for you to think about this weekend:

1. I love books and lend some credit for that all the way back to going to the book fairs at my elementary school. It turns out that I'm not entirely alone on this—apparently plenty of other people have fond memories of the Scholastic Book Fair from their childhoods as well. The linked article takes a look at what caused us to get nostalgic about the book fair. It turns out that one of the keys to our enjoyment in the fairs was that they marked the first times we were presented with choice about what we would like to read, upgrading the experience of reading from a forced homework assignment into a pleasurable recreational experience. I can still remember perusing the books in my elementary school library and wanting to read them all! Alas, I'm sure I (well, my parents really—thanks Mom and Dad!) only bought a few dozen of them, but the Scholastic Book Fair certainly played a role in my reading education and helped me form a lifelong reading habit.

2. Nowadays it seems like there's yet another online security breach every day. This time it's a bit different though—Yahoo is revising its statement from last year when it admitted that it had been hacked in 2013 and estimated that 500 million user accounts had been affected. Now they've revised that statement to say that all 3 billion Yahoo user accounts were compromised in 2013, which is huge news. If you had ever had a Yahoo account, it would be wise to change your password as soon as possible. But probably even more important than that—if any other user accounts used the same password, you'll want to change those passwords too. This is a great example of why it's important to have a different password for each service that you use, because your Yahoo password is now up for grabs by people with malicious intent, and could be used on any other services that used the same password. Your email account or bank account, for example. Make sure you make password management a priority!

3. Drone deliveries seem to be just around the corner, and a new app called DelivAir is shifting the focus to have drones deliver directly to a person instead of a location. With this technology, users can request a delivery from the app, a delivery drone identifies their location via GPS, and once it arrives the user points their phone at the drone to deliver a coded blinking pattern via the camera flash to verify that the drone is delivering to the correct person. The drone then hovers near the person and lowers the package into their hands before returning to its base. There are plenty of scenarios that this delivery method would be useful for, like delivering essential supplies to stranded people or during disaster relief efforts, or delivering medical equipment directly to those in need. One downside of this technology might be that our skies may eventually be filled with buzzing drones, but that may be a trade-off that our society is willing to make for the sake of convenience.

4. I wasn't anticipating this final bit of news anytime soon, but McDonald's has launched it's McVegan burger—a fully vegan burger that is only available for a limited time in Finland while McDonald's performs a test run. The burger is made out of a soy patty and comes complete with fully-vegan chips (known as "French Fries" in America). This is great news because it means that veganism is becoming more accepted (apparently 6% of Americans self-identify as vegan now as opposed to 1% in 2014). Although I'm not a fan of McDonald's, I would probably still stop in on a road trip to try out a McVegan if it was available.

That's all for this week's edition of Weekend Thoughts. Until next week, keep thinking wilder.

This Week in Psychedelics - 10.6.17

Image by Dahtamnay, courtesy of Creative Commons licensing.

Image by Dahtamnay, courtesy of Creative Commons licensing.

Cannabis

  • Marijuana Prohibition Turns 80 (NORML)
  • Pot, Paranoia, and Buddhist Wisdom: A Conversation with Stephen Gray (Psychedelic Times)
  • Atlanta Decriminalizes Possession of Small Amounts of Marijuana (Reason)
  • Tom Petty, Musician, Cannabis Advocate and Humanitarian, Dies at 66 (High Times)
  • Holy Smokes: Cannabis as a Catalyst for Spiritual Growth (High Times)
  • 'Dabbing' cannabis may release cancerous toxins (Medical News Today)
  • How a Blue Butterfly Stamp Brought Down One of the Dark Web's Biggest Marijuana Vendors (Reason)
  • Study Finds Top 5 Causes of Cannabis-Related Emergency Visits (Leafly)
  • Cannabis Industry Struggles With Hiring People With Past Pot Convictions (Forbes)
  • Watch This: The 'Sinister' Reason Cannabis Is Illegal (Leafly)
  • Canadian Cannabis Confabs in Countdown to Legalization (High Times)
  • Investing in Cannabis? Consider Going Global With Canadian Companies (Leafly)
  • Voters decisively reject cannabis industry bans in local Alaska elections (Alaska Dispatch News)
  • Will 'Microbusiness' Licenses Let Craft Cannabis Flourish in California? (Leafly)
  • Celebrity Cannabis (SF Weekly)
  • A Pro Chef Envisions the Future of Brick and Mortar Cannabis Restaurants (Leafly)
  • BREAKING: Malta's First Official Cannabis Legalisation Movement Takes Root (Lovin Malta)
  • Cannabis oil relieves chronic seizures suffered by six-year-old niece of Aston Villa star Gabby Agbonlahor (The Independent)
  • Iowa Man Faces Deportation for a Single Gram of Cannabis (Leafly)
  • NORML Weighs In For Personal Cultivation Rights In Washington State (NORML)
  • What Is a Feed Chart and How Can It Improve Your Cannabis Garden? (Leafly)
  • California's Cannabis Priestess Arrested on Felony Charge (Leafly)
  • Cannabis Crunch – Toxins In Dabs, FBI Pot Arrest Stats And Snoop Dogg's Marijuana Tech Company (Psychedelic Times)
  • 8 Common Household Ingredients That Contain Cannabinoids (The Fresh Toast)

LSD

  • A Fateful Hunt for a Buried Stash of the Greatest LSD Ever Made (VICE)
  • American Adults See Occasional LSD Use As Riskier Than Regular Binge Drinking (Reason)
  • Silicon Valley's LSD habit is exploding, and now a 27-year old is offering how-to tutorials over Skype (Business Insider)
  • A$AP Rocky Details His Love for LSD and Confirms Skepta Will Feature on Latest Studio Album (Highsnobiety)

Psilocybin/Magic Mushrooms

MDMA/Ecstasy

Ayahuasca/DMT

  • Ayahuasca: Hallucinogenic drug used by indigenous Amazon tribes could help treat eating disorders, study finds (The Independent)
  • This Guy Makes Bootleg Ayahuasca from Traditional Japanese Herbs (VICE)
  • Memories Of Ayahuasca (Adventures Through The Mind)
  • Veterans Are Turning to Ayahuasca for PTSD Relief (Motherboard)

Iboga/Ibogaine

Synthetic Cannabinoids/Psychoactive Research Chemicals

Dissociatives

  • A new study shows how the powerful drug ketamine could help fight severe depression (Mic)
  • Ketamine clinic opens in Aspen with aim to fight severe depression (The Aspen Times)

Opiates/Opioids

  • How FIU hopes to pinpoint where heroin comes from and help stop the opioid crisis (Miami Herald)
  • Heroin crisis: New drug addiction treatment could be 'game changer' that saves lives (The Courier-Journal)
  • Nova Scotia pharmacies now offering free naloxone kits for opioid overdoses (The Chronicle Herald)
  • Toronto bars begin carrying naloxone to help combat opioid crisis (CBC)
  • 'The greatest drug fiends in the world': An American opioid crisis – in 1908 (The Washington Post)
  • MetroHealth received $1.9M grant to increase naloxone distribution by law enforcement (Cleveland.com)
  • Mattis: Trump Afghan Strategy to Combat Opium Trade (Breitbart)
  • The harrowing rise of heroin, in one chart (Vox)
  • Protecting Heroin Clinics From Prosecution (The Atlantic)
  • The Tale of North Indian Opium Cultivators (BW Business World)

Kratom

  • Kratom Overdose -– Risk Factors And How To Avoid It? (Kratom Guides)
  • Which Are The Most Strongest Kratom Alkaloids? (Kratom Guides)
  • Ketum, There's More To This Controversial Plant Than Meets The Eye (Malaysian Direct)
  • Herbal supplement Kratom linked to death in Florida (KSGF)
  • Upstate NY officer's death intensifies scrutiny of herbal supplement kratom (NewYorkUpstate.com)

Khat

  • Somalia Bakool region bans khat for negative effect on al-Shabaab combat (AfricaNews)

Miscellaneous Psychedelics/Psychoactives/Drug Policy

  • Entheogens And The Mind Of Society (Adventures Through The Mind)
  • Psychedelic Renaissance (HuffPost)
  • Sitting, Not Guiding: The Power of Non-Directive Support (Psychedelic Frontier)
  • Study Proves Psychedelics Are Super-Drugs That Can Treat Mental Illness (Outlook India)
  • The Political Correction of Psychedelics. Part 4. Manageable Doses (Rick Strassman MD)
  • DEA Agents Sold Opioids, Stole Cash, and Falsely Identified Drug Suspects, Say Feds (Reason)
  • Healing With Tobacco: Rapé Tribal Snuff (Psychedelic Times)
  • What's so controversial about microdosing? (Psymposia)
  • Bruce Parry on returning to the jungle, hallucinogenic drugs, and why he wants to start a tribe of his own (The Telegraph)
  • I was in the MAPS MDMA for PTSD study. It freed me from a childhood of abuse. (Psymposia)
  • Magic mushrooms and ketamine: The controversial ways we might treat depression in future (Netdoctor)
  • Italy recalls frozen spinach feared to contain hallucinogenic mandrake (The Local Italy)
  • George Mason University student dies after taking hallucinogenic drug, falling from window (The Washington Post)

Disclaimer: "This Week in Psychedelics" does not censor or analyze the news links presented here. The purpose of this column is solely to catalogue how psychedelics are presented by the mass media, which includes everything from the latest scientific research to misinformation.

Book Review - On Cats

OnCats.jpg

On Cats is a collection of short stories and poems written by German-American author Charles Bukowski, all of which have something to do with cats. Although Bukowski is often regarded as tough and gnarly, he considered cats to be special creatures—something that I can certainly relate to as well.

The cats featured in this book are amusing, touching, resilient, and much more. As Bukowski puts it, "The cat is the beautiful devil." He pays tribute to their abilities as predatory hunters, street-smart scrappers, and resourceful survivors, as well as their positive qualities like providing affection and care for their owners. However, this is not exclusively a cutesy book about cats. The cats featured in this book are shown sneakily stalking their prey, stabbing their claws into Bukowski's typewritten pages as they walk across his work, and defending themselves viciously against the other neighborhood cats.

This was the first book that I've read of Bukowski's, and I very much enjoyed it. It's a quick read (it only took me a few days to complete) and it's about my favorite domestic animal. I especially appreciated how similar his cats were to his own personality, almost as if they had attracted each other with a strong magnet. If you appreciate cats (or even if you don't—Bukowski's cats run the full gamut of lovable all the way to loathsome) then you should check this one out.

4/5 stars. 128 pages.

Weekend Thoughts - 9.30.17

Image by Frank Lindecke, courtesy of Creative Commons licensing.

Image by Frank Lindecke, courtesy of Creative Commons licensing.

Happy Saturday y'all! Below, I have rounded up some things for you to think about this weekend:

1. Moscow's local authorities are upgrading the city's massive CCTV network of security cameras with facial recognition technology to assist police with identifying criminal activity on the streets. A collection of 170,000 security cameras have already been monitoring the city and recording millions of hours of video since 2012. During a six-month test run of the new system, the cops were reportedly able to catch six suspects that would've presumably evaded capture without the assistance of the new technology. There are privacy concerns with facial recognition technology—just think about what would happen if the system is infiltrated by third-parties who use the information to know where Moscow's citizens live, work, and the specific routes that they normally take. And it's worth mentioning that the city cannot afford to upgrade all of its security cameras at this time—the plan is to upgrade the ones that are located in areas that have the greatest need. It would be wise to anticipate the eventual spread of facial recognition technology to other locations in the future.

2. I'm a pretty big fan of efficient, inexpensive public transportation, which is why I enjoyed this analysis of why public transportation sucks in the United States. Strap in for a short history of the streetcar, bus, and personal automobile.

3. Here's an entertaining video clip of Robert Anton Wilson calling Donald Trump "fucking crazy" from back in the day.

That's all for this week's edition of Weekend Thoughts. Until next week, keep thinking wilder.

This Week in Psychedelics - 9.29.17

Image by Dahtamnay, courtesy of Creative Commons licensing.

Image by Dahtamnay, courtesy of Creative Commons licensing.

Cannabis

  • More people were arrested last year over pot than for murder, rape, aggravated assault and robbery – combined (The Washington Post)
  • Trump Extends Cannabis Protections 'Til December As Plans For Study, States Remain Hazy (Forbes)
  • Marijuana Arrest Data Absent From Latest FBI Uniform Crime Report (NORML)
  • Massachusetts High Court: Field Sobriety Tests Are Not Valid Measures For Determining Marijuana-Induced Impairment (NORML)
  • Cannabis as a Spiritual Tool: Interview with Author Stephen Gray (Psychedelic Times)
  • Pot Busts Rose Last Year After Hitting a Two-Decade Low in 2015 (Reason)
  • College Medical Marijuana Policy Leaves Many Students Unable to Legally Consume (NORML)
  • People Are Successfully Replacing Vicodin, Xanax and Ambien With Marijuana (ATTN:)
  • Jeff Sessions Just Made the Head of the DEA Look Like a Pot Head's Hero (Reason)
  • Washington State Releases Update On Legalization Findings—High Hopes Are Rewarded (NORML)
  • 'Hello! Thanks for Visiting Maine. May I Take Your Cannabis Order?' (Leafly)
  • Cannabis-infused drama 'Woodshock' mired in moody death spiral (Los Angeles Times)
  • Bogus Stoned Driving Arrests Highlight Dubious Methods of 'Drug Recognition Experts' (Reason)
  • Cannabis smokers 'incapable of walking' rescued from England's highest mountain (The Telegraph)
  • Philippines Health Committee Passes Medical Cannabis Bill (Leafly)
  • Muchas Gracias: How Spain Brought Cannabis to the Americas and influenced Hispanic Culture (Leafly)
  • Snoop Dogg's venture capital firm is leading an investment in a cannabis tech company (Business Insider)
  • California Cannabis Retail Market Revealed: Big Data Tells All (Forbes)
  • The Wellness Soldier: How War and Cannabis Created a Canadian Force for Good (Leafly)
  • Cannabis dealers in the UK are 'prescribing' weed to treat illnesses (Metro)
  • City Council Considers Cutting Off LA's Cannabis Supply Chain (Leafly)
  • Getting Too Drunk Vs. Getting Too High (ATTN:)
  • Study: McDonald's Is A Big Hit With Cannabis Smokers (Forbes)
  • Wanna Grow Your Own Cannabis? Start With Tin House's New Cannabis Grow Guide (The Potlander)
  • San Jacinto agrees to grant up to 10 more pot business licenses (The Press-Enterprise)
  • By Excluding LGBTQ People, the Growing Cannabis Industry Is Betraying Its Roots (Slate)
  • Cannabis Crunch – Universities Waffle on Marijuana Research; Iceland, Peru Look To Legalize (Psychedelic Times)
  • Stanislaus County could limit marijuana outlets. 'Green fees' also proposed. (The Modesto Bee)

LSD

  • Can an LSD Overdose Kill You? (Big Think)
  • 'Suicide headaches' drive patients to try LSD and magic mushrooms to stop the pain (International Business Times)
  • Coroner no longer naming LSD as only cause of Lightning in a Bottle death (Paso Robles Daily News)
  • How The Natural Hallucinatory Effects of Ergotism Influenced Renaissance Artists Like Hieronymus Bosch (Inquisitr)
  • Hilarious footage captures the antics of Royal Marine commandos who were secretly given LSD and then fell about in fits of laughter when they were given orders (Daily Mail)

Psilocybin/Magic Mushrooms

  • Hallucinogenic mushrooms found a new use (The Siver Times)
  • From "Shrooms" to CalExit: California Could Have a Wild 2018 Ballot (IVN News)
  • Berkeley police seize $1 million worth of 'magic' mushrooms (San Mateo Daily Journal)
  • Heidi Klum's Ex Busted for Shrooms at Burning Man (Yes, That's Illegal There) (TMZ)

MDMA/Ecstasy

  • Santa Cruz-based MDMA therapy for PTSD reaches final testing phase (Santa Cruz Sentinel)
  • The Killers talk doing MDMA at a Deadmau5 show (NME)
  • Mystery Artist Chemical X & An "Unnamed Supermodel" Unveil Ecstasy-Filled Artwork (Highsnobiety)
  • Deaths related to cocaine and MDMA more than doubles in Ireland over a five-year period (The Irish Sun)
  • Parents alerted over batch of ecstasy circulating among school kids in Fife as cops detain man (The Scottish Sun)

Ayahuasca/DMT

  • Psychedelic brew called ayahuasca shows promise in the treatment of eating disorders (PsyPost)
  • Could psychedelic drug ayahuasca have health benefits? (BBC)

Peyote/San Pedro/Mescaline

Dissociatives

  • Ketamine-Induced Glutamatergic Mechanisms of Sleep and Wakefulness (Springer)
  • Efficacy of intravenous tramadol and low-dose ketamine in the prevention of post-spinal anesthesia shivering following cesarean section: a double-blinded, randomized control trial (Dove Medical Press)
  • Man with 'I love ketamine' bumper sticker is pulled over... and busted for ketamine (Metro)

Opiates/Opioids

  • This App Tracks Opioid Overdoses in Real-Time All Over the US (Futurism)
  • No, Simply Touching Fentanyl Can't Kill You (Reason)
  • How British scientists are fighting the US heroin crisis (The Times)
  • Vancouver overdoses taking longer, more naloxone to reverse (News1130)
  • A Chinese Lesbian Warlord Used CIA Funding to Traffic Opium in Myanmar (War Is Boring)
  • Mugshots reveal staggering transformation of heroin addict's face in the space of just two years (Mirror)
  • U of S security officers add naloxone kits to tool belts (CBC News)
  • To prevent OD deaths, Philly to give out naloxone as people leave jail (Newsworks)

Absinthe

  • WATCH: Irish people taste testing absinthe for the first time will make you laugh (Irish Mirror)

Kratom

  • Using Kratom And Other Healing Herbs To Beat Insomnia (Kratom Guides)
  • Exclusive: Hillsborough confirms first ever death by herbal supplement Kratom in the county (WFTS)

Kava

  • We tried kava – the national drink of Fiji that gets people high (Business Insider)

Khat

  • Man arrested at Zurich Airport with two suitcases of East African drug (The Local)

Miscellaneous Psychedelics/Psychoactives/Drug Policy

  • Dismayed by Trump, Head of Drug Enforcement Administration to Leave (The New York Times)
  • When Drugs Fuck You Up Forever (VICE)
  • How to Win a War on Drugs (The New York Times)
  • Psychedelic Podcasts That Will Stimulate Your Ears and Your Brain (Psychedelic Times)
  • Quantifying Drug Use With Sewage and Cell Phones (Discover Magazine)
  • The Political Correction of Psychedelics. Part 3. Psychedelics as Super-Placebos (RickStrassman.com)
  • 'Robust public funding' needed for psychedelic drug research say researchers (CBC News)
  • What the Scientologists can teach us about drug reform (Psymposia)
  • The visionary conference that is about to happen in Prague (Political Critique)
  • Breathe. Breathe. Breathe. An Interview with Iker Puente on Holotropic Breathwork (Psymposia)
  • Will Psychedelic Therapy Transform Mental Health Care? (NBC News)
  • Jhené Aiko Narrates Her Psychedelic 'Trip' Through Death, Love And Reawakening (NPR)
  • Can Hallucinogens Have You Seeing Dollar Signs? Attend 'The Psychedelics of Money' to Find Out (Bedford + Bowery)
  • Psychedelic Drugs in Biomedicine (Cell Press)
  • Meth-Laced 7Up Reportedly Found in Mexico (Snopes)

Disclaimer: "This Week in Psychedelics" does not censor or analyze the news links presented here. The purpose of this column is solely to catalogue how psychedelics are presented by the mass media, which includes everything from the latest scientific research to misinformation.

Book Review - Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep?

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You may know of this book because of its popular 1982 film adaptation, Blade Runner. However, if you're unfamiliar with it then you should know that Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep? is the most well-known and critically-acclaimed of Philip K. Dick's novels. It's a classic science fiction piece that was first published in 1968. Set in post-apocalyptic San Francisco, lifeforms on Earth have been severely impacted by a global nuclear conflict, dubbed "World War Terminus". Unfortunately, most animal species are either endangered or completely extinct due to ongoing radiation poisoning from the fallout of the war. Therefore, owning an animal has become a status symbol that indicates one's position in life as well as a signaling to others of one's empathy toward animals, which is highly revered by the remaining human population. Only the wealthy can afford real animals—the poor have to resort to purchasing artificial (yet realistic-looking) electric animals.

The main plot follows our protagonist Rick Deckard, a bounty hunter who is tasked with killing ("retiring") six androids who have escaped from Mars. These fugitive androids are the brand-new Nexus-6 model, which were recently made illegal on Earth because they went violently rogue while off-world. A subplot follows John Isidore, who possesses a low IQ and is therefore sentenced to live the rest of his lonely life on Earth while more intelligent people are allowed to emigrate to the off-world colonies. Isidore finds a much-needed sense of community with the androids and decides to help them evade their pending retirement. The novel explores the concept of what it is to be human, contrasting that experience with androids who are unable to feel empathy toward others.

The overall story is captivating and entertaining, the characters are fully-baked with believable personalities, and the overall atmosphere is tinged with just the right amount of darkness, paranoia, and confusion. Absent from this book—yet common in PKD's novels—is the use of psychoactive drugs. However, a device called the "Penfield mood organ" is capable of inducing any feeling or emotion in the user such as "a fresh attitude towards one's job", "the desire to watch television, no matter what is on" or "self-accusatory depression". This device is only mentioned in the beginning of the book, but it serves as a worthy replacement for the psychoactive drugs that normally accompany a PKD story.

This was my second reading of this book; I listened to the audiobook version this time around. And I also watched the film Blade Runner recently, so that was fresh in my mind during this reading. The first time I read this book (which was more than ten years ago), I was impressed but admittedly a bit lost and confused. Even though I didn't fully "get it" at the time, I knew that it was considered to be one of PKD's finest books so I ended up rating it with 4/5 stars at that time. However, having a better understanding of the plot this time, I feel that it is worth the full 5 stars. Not only that—I can tell that I'll be re-reading this book over and over again for the rest of my life. That's because even after this most recent reading, I know that I glossed over a fair amount of the story—leaving plenty more in store for when I return. I'd definitely recommend this book to science fiction fans and general fiction fans alike. If you're first getting into PKD, you can't go wrong with this book. And if you're looking for more after you finish this one, you should check out The Man in the High Castle, A Scanner DarklyUbik, and my personal favorite—The Three Stigmata of Palmer Eldritch. Bon voyage, my friends.

5/5 stars. 244 pages.

Book Review - The Art of Happiness

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Having been a student of Mahayana Buddhism for the past couple years, I had been meaning to read a book by the fourteenth Dalai Lama, and was overjoyed to purchase this one after being alerted that the Kindle edition had gone on sale by the excellent ebook deal-alerting service Bookbub. Since it was the first book by the current Dalai Lama that I ever read, I wasn't sure what to expect but I did expect it to be of high quality—especially since it is his most well-known book. Fortunately, it did not disappoint me in the slightest!

The Art of Happiness: A Handbook for Living was co-authored by psychiatrist Howard Cutler, who posed questions to the Dalai Lama over the series of many interviews. Cutler provides the setting and context for their meetings and also incorporates his own reflections on the issues raised in their discussions. In addition, transcriptions from several of the Dalai Lama's teachings are scattered throughout the book. It was first published in 1998, and I read the ten-year anniversary edition that was published in 2008 which includes a new preface and introduction.

The book delves into the concept of using various techniques to train the mind in order to achieve true happiness. In the preface, His Holiness the Dalai Lama states, "If you want others to be happy practice compassion; and if you want yourself to be happy practice compassion." This focus on developing compassion is consistent throughout the book and is a main focus in many of the answers that the Dalai Lama gives to Cutler's questions. It seems that this is a sort of prerequisite for cultivating happiness, a foundation upon which all of the other advice is based upon.

Another point that is made time and time again is that happiness comes down to one's state of mind more than by external events. There are a plethora of examples provided in the book, such as how lottery winners do not sustain their initial delight over a longterm period and instead return to the level of moment-to-moment happiness they were accustomed to prior to winning the lottery. Or how studies have shown that people who are struck by tragic events like cancer and blindness typically recover to their normal level of happiness after a reasonable adjustment period. Psychologists label this process "adaptation", which simply refers to the tendency of one's overall level of happiness to migrate back to a certain baseline.

From a Buddhist perspective, the root causes of all suffering are ignorance, craving, and hatred. The book fleshes out this idea and suggests methods for one to overcome them. For example, the Dalai Lama advises, "We cannot overcome anger and hatred simply by suppressing them. We need to actively cultivate the antidotes to hatred: patience and tolerance."

Overall, I was very impressed by this book. When I first started reading it I wished that the Dalai Lama had been the sole author, however I eventually grew to appreciate Cutler's additions. That's mainly because I did not realize that the book was co-authored until after I started reading it, so I had unknowingly and unintentionally set an improper expectation for myself. However, by the end of the book I had overlooked the co-authoring aspect entirely and focused more on the book's content, which is excellent. I would advise this book to anyone who is interested in the Dalai Lama, Buddhism, mindfulness, or becoming truly happy.

Namaste.

5/5 stars. 348 pages.

Weekend Thoughts - 9.23.17

Image by VasenkaPhotography, courtesy of Creative Commons licensing.

Image by VasenkaPhotography, courtesy of Creative Commons licensing.

Happy Saturday y'all! Below, I have rounded up some things for you to think about this weekend:

1. Public urination is an annoying problem that plagues some cities across the world. But the Dutch developed a creative solution to this problem—placing public urinals in high-traffic areas. These are at least ten years old, because I remember using them when I travelled to Amsterdam in 2006. However, I still haven't seen anything like this in the United States and figured it would be good to share with the Think Wilder audience.

That's all for this week's edition of Weekend Thoughts. Until next week, keep thinking wilder.