A Harvard Medical School study designed to address the shortcomings of earlier research was unable to detect any long term negative effects in MDMA users. The main difference in the new study was that both the control and user populations were all-night ravers — some straightedge, and some not, and the ones using, using only MDMA. The results suggest that previous studies were observing the negative effects of all-night dancing, dehydration and sleep deprivation… not MDMA! Full article hidden behind a paywall… until PubMed gets it in 6 months.
I’m an emphatically utilitarian cyclist. My bike is my only ride. It is my way of going. It is point A to point B with a pile of stuff. But that’s not all it is, and sometimes I forget.
I started biking 20 years ago when I was 14 and living in Japan as an exchange student. It was how everyone got to school. Every morning was a flood of blue wool uniforms on classic bikes going clickety-click and ding-ding. Baskets, fenders, and not much in the way of gears. So it was utilitarian there too, but I also used my bike as an anti-depressant. I didn’t speak Japanese when I got there. My family didn’t speak English. All the other students were always busy with homework. I was lonely to the point of tears. Sometimes I’d ride around after school until dark. Sometimes beyond dark, in the rain and the wind. I discovered fireflies in a peace park one night. I let a typhoon blow me across the plain. I climbed hills and had crashes. It was a kind of love affair, it was something I could feel unabashedly good about, even if my host family thought I was crazy for staying out and getting drenched. It was deep rhythmic breathing and endorphins. It was still lonely, but at least I was focused. I felt free. When I came back to the US, I traded the circuitous hour and a half long school bus ride for an additional seventy nine minutes of sleep and an eleven minute bike ride each morning.
I’ve been gone. Not just from Pasadena, but from the world at large, for at least six months. I can probably count the number of times I left Mike and Susan’s house in 3.5 months on two hands, or maybe three, but some of those were just hiking. I didn’t see much news. Thankfully I missed the entire healthcare debate. I didn’t spend time with other people. I was checked out. Now I’m starting to check back in, and of course things seem kind of surreal.
I went to a mall last Friday. The one by the Santa Anita racetrack. I went with Ian to see Avatar in IMAX-3D, and to get a little exercise. I’ve mostly been laying around trying to stop being sick for the past week. When we got there, the show had sold out, so we decided to walk around the mall — to literally circumambulate it, not walk around inside like shoppers — and decide whether we wanted to go to the next showing, and kill some time. It was bizarre. The whole place. I felt like an alien, first for having biked there (they have a giant valet-only parking lot), second for clearly not wearing culturally acceptable Friday-night-at-the-mall attire, and third for having a giant crazy-homeless-guy beard. The homogeneity of the people just seemed bizarre somehow. Lots of black and white clothing. Lots of text messaging. Lots of makeup and trying to look tough. The scene was so strange we decided to pee in the bushes in the parking lot rather than try and find a bathroom inside.
This animation was inspired by an anti-drug poster, which showed two brain scans and the text “Have you changed your mind?”. Since the target audience was obviously not neuroscientists or brain surgeons, the only way to interpret it was based on the context, in which the connotation was presumably that one of the scans is a “damaged” drug-user’s brain, and the other is a healthy D.A.R.E. graduate.
Ironically, in a different context, the image becomes pro-drug. The word “psychedelic” is from the Greek roots psyche (mind) and delos (to manifest or become). Psychedelic means “mind-making”, or even, quite literally, “mind changing”. To those who have had positive, responsible, drug experiences, the poster might as well be channeling Jimi Hendrix: Are you experienced?