Category Archives: altered states

drugs and math

A friend of mine forwarded me an interesting quote from Paul Hoffman’s biography on Paul Erdos: “The Man Who Loved Only Numbers: The Story of Paul Erdos and the Search for Mathematical Truth”

Like all of Erdos’s friends, Graham was concerned about his drug-taking. In 1979, Graham bet Erdos $500 that he couldn’t stop taking amphetamines for a month. Erdos accepted the challenge, and went cold turkey for thirty days. After Graham paid up–and wrote the $500 off as a business expense–Erdos said, “You’ve showed me I’m not an addict. But I didn’t get any work done. I’d get up in the morning and stare at a blank piece of paper. I’d have no ideas, just like an ordinary person. You’ve set mathematics back a month.” He promptly resumed taking pills, and mathematics was the better for it.

For those who are not familiar with Erds, he produced a wide variety of theories on mathematics (number theory, combinatorics, etc.). Of course, he’s also a pop culture reference for those interested in social networks. Erdos numbers are effectively the degree in which one is removed from collaborating with Erdos on papers. [Think Kevin Bacon game for mathematicians.]

RAVE Act Suppresses Speach

Everyone knows that the RAVE Act is going to be used to suppress liberal speech, particularly that which questions the government’s drug policies. Well, the DEA has started its attacks… As warped as this is, i’m actually *very* glad that the first big attack is against NORML which has unprecedented supports in the population at large and is heavily focused on marijuana-only reform (instead of drugs at large). Since NORML will have the political support to fight them, and something like 60% of the population believes that marijuana should be legal, the outcome could be quite interesting. It’s going to be a scary decade.

Altered States and the Spiritual Awakening

I realized that i did not announce that registration for Altered States and the Spiritual Awakening is now live.

For those who don’t know, i’ve been helping organize this conference. The idea is that most conferences that give people access to the psychological perspective on altered states and spirituality are obscenely expensive. Of course, putting on a conference is expensive, but still. Well, a friend of mine decided that he wanted to create a conference that was more accessible to young researchers, students and other poor, but motivated folks. When i first heard about the conference, i had to get involved.

At Brown, i was introduced to both psychedelics and Zen, all wrapped up together in a nice neat package. My early psychonautics helped structure who i am and how i perceive the world. As someone once said, psychedelics let you know that the top of the mountain exists, while Zen teaches you to climb it. After leaving Brown, i was stunned by how many Zen practicioners were both dismissive of and horrified by my experiences with psychedelics. This was tremendously disappointing and made me believe that i was not on the right path afterall. Over time, i found some of the older psychonauts and found that they were able to validate some of my experiences (partially wrapped into a book called Zig Zag Zen).

My interest has come to a head in the last year – how do i take it further so that it can be more personal and more meaningful? What can i learn about myself and about the world? How do i integrate my life experiences, ideas and values into a religious form?

Of course, these questions are far from answered, but the idea of meeting some legendaries in this quest is so exciting i can hardly wait!

Reefer Madness

Eric Schlosser (author of “Fast Food Nation”) just released a new book: “Reefer Madness: Sex, Drugs, and Cheap Labor in the American Black Market.” As i was absolutely in love with his critique of America through the perspective of migrant workers in the US food market, i’m very excited to hear about “Reefer Madness.” According to the book description:

In “Reefer Madness,” Schlosser investigates America’s black market and its far-reaching influence on our society through three of its mainstays — pot, porn, and illegal immigrants. The underground economy is vast; it comprises perhaps 10 percent — perhaps more — of America’s overall economy, and it’s on the rise. Eric Schlosser charts this growth, and finds its roots in the nexus of ingenuity, greed, idealism, and hypocrisy that is American culture. He reveals the fascinating workings of the shadow economy by focusing on marijuana, one of the nation’s largest cash crops; pornography, whose greatest beneficiaries include Fortune 100 companies; and illegal migrant workers, whose lot often resembles that of medieval serfs.

For those who have not read “Fast Food Nation,” do so immediately. Schlosser is one of the few contemporary authors who’ve convinced many people that i know to change their behaviors (surrounding food in this case). My excitement over his new book is that this may allow America to more deeply reflect upon and deal with its relationship with the “immoral vices” that it so loves and hates.

drug use mandatory in air force

Ah yes, another one of those articles that reminds me of how screwy the drug war is… It seems as though Air Force pilots are required to take speed when in a battle situation. And of course, i’m absolutely convinced that most truck drivers are on amphetamines when driving cross country (either illegal ones or those ones sold in every truck stop). It seems as though speed is required, condoned or at least tolerated for certain professions. And you wonder why we have a country who abuses amphetamines?

patrons of a disorderly house with controlled substances

Last week, a party in Washington was busted on the suspicion of drug use. Three people were arrested for posession and 445 were busted for being “patrons of a disorderly house with controlled substances.” How disturbing is it that one can be arrested for being in the same room with people who are doing drugs? Does this mean that if i’m chilling with an elected official who is doing coke in the back room that i can be arrested? Disturbing…

drunk driving

Drunk driving has always been one of those things that has peeved me, not because i’m annoyed at drunk drivers (which is an obvious given), but because i’m annoyed at those who have the power to stop it: the government. In Europe and most other places, drunk driving is barely a problem, simply because people have transportation options. Drinking? Cool.. i’ll take the subway/bus home! Here, that’s not an option, or at least not in Boston.. cabs cost a fortune and the T stops running, as if it were easily accessible to most places anyhow… So, all too often, i get to see folks drink & drive and pray that they’ll not hurt themselves or others.

I’m truly happy that the government is creating advertisements to persuade folks to not drink & drive, even if they’re disturbing as hell. But i really do wish that they would spend money providing alternatives, not just educating.. The former is definitely needed before the latter will be meaningful.

marijuana campaigners experience lack of freedom of press

We’re Jeff and Tracy
We’re Your Good Neighbors
We Smoke Pot

Not very different than the NORML campaign, these two took to the media to express that lots of average folks smoke dope without impeding on anyone else’s lives. Too bad that they couldn’t get their message out because all of the typical advertising venues refused on the grounds of their message. Freedom of press? I think not…