Tuesday, May 15th, 2018


The Tripping Point

For years, researchers have been examining whether the benefit of hallucinogenic drugs extends beyond tripping out and into the realm of longterm mental health; treating such disorders as addiction, depression, anxiety, and PTSD. The movement is not new. As Michael Pollan explains, it's actually "a renaissance because much of the work represents a revival of research done in the 1950s and 1960s, when psychedelic drugs like LSD and psilocybin were closely studied and regarded by many in the mental health community as breakthroughs in psychopharmacology." The Sixties changed all that as psychedelics were entirely rebranded. But their potential therapeutic effects didn't go away. And a new rebranding effort is underway as the drugs are increasingly being used in clinical settings. A new book by Pollan will take psychedelics yet one more step along their long, strange trip into the mainstream. Here's an excerpt from the NYT Mag: My Adventures With The Trip Doctors. (You better turn on and tune in, or you might be left out...)

+ "Even as psychedelic therapies are being tested by modern science, the very strangeness of these molecules and their actions upon the mind is at the same time testing whether Western medicine can deal with the implicit challenges they pose." (One key factor will be the embrace of micro-dosing among the Silicon Valley elite, many of whom are pouring millions into health-related technologies.) More from Pollan: How Psilocybin Could Be Used In Mental Health Treatment.


The New Ice Age

"Even millennials, a generation known for its foodie tastes, are embracing frozen vegetables and meals, which are convenient and less expensive than takeout." Bloomberg: Frozen Food Is Making an Unlikely Comeback.


Picture Framed

In many ways, the situation couldn't be more complex. But what the world saw was a simple and stark contrast in images: The pomp and circumstance of a new US embassy in Jerusalem vs the devastation 60 miles away. Buzzfeed: These photos show the divide between shooting deaths in Gaza and the celebrations in Jerusalem.

+ "Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas described Monday's events as a 'massacre,' but Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said, 'every country has an obligation to defend its borders.'" At least 60 people were killed during protests on Monday.

+ Nikki Haley denies Gaza violence is related to new US Embassy in Jerusalem, saying, "the violence comes from those who reject the existence of the state of Israel in any location." (The violence on the border, while not getting much coverage before this week, has been going on for some time. So let's say Haley and the administration are right and that the protests were designed to create violence. I find it hard to believe that, after seventy years, Israel can't figure out a way to handle protestors without killing dozens of them in an afternoon.)

+ AP: US hits head of Iran's central bank with terror sanctions.


Rank and Phile

"Americans are inured to the personnel drama in the White House—the factions and flameouts and new blood and walking wounded. But the larger drama, Stier said, is unfolding 'below the waterline,' far from the cameras and the West Wing, among little-known deputies and officers in the working ranks of government. A senior Administration official called them the 'next-level-down guys.' These are the foot soldiers in the war over the 'deep state.' 'They're not talked about,' he said. 'But they're huge.'" The New Yorker's Evan Osnos: Trump vs. the Deep State.


Cesspool Party

"The deep irony underpinning the toxic relationship between the president and the White House press corp is that Trump has been an enormous financial boon for a beleaguered news industry — something reporters often joke about privately." This is something I (worryingly) talk about with reporters all the time. The Trump era has created a new breed of personal brands in journalism. Or to put it another way: It's A Good Time To Be A Reporter Covering Trump If You Like Money And Going On TV.

+ Another related worry of mine from WaPo: Michael Avenatti is using Trump tactics to battle Trump, a strategy that comes with risks. (The Trump backers have their aggressive narcissist, and the Trump haters have theirs. To me, that sounds like a net win for the Trumpian mode of public discourse.)


Noko Oh No

"North Korea says the US should carefully consider the fate of the North Korea-US summit, in view of what it calls 'provocative military disturbances with South Korea,' North Korea's state news agency reported early Wednesday local time." CNN: North Korea warns US as it suspends South Korea talks over military drills. (This could be a clue of what demands Kim Jong-Un plans to make now that he has the world's Un-divided attention...)


Bonfire of the Humanities

"He is probably the most skillful writer in America — I mean by that he can do more things with words than anyone else." That ironically choppy sentence is William F. Buckley Jr. on Tom Wolfe. The Pyrotechnic ‘New Journalist' and Novelist, Has Died at 88. "As an unabashed contrarian, he was almost as well known for his attire as his satire. He was instantly recognizable as he strolled down Madison Avenue — a tall, slender, blue-eyed, still boyish-looking man in his spotless three-piece vanilla bespoke suit, pinstriped silk shirt with a starched white high collar, bright handkerchief peeking from his breast pocket, watch on a fob, faux spats and white shoes. Once asked to describe his get-up, Mr. Wolfe replied brightly, 'Neo-pretentious.'"

+ Michael Lewis: How Tom Wolfe Became … Tom Wolfe.


See Less Evil

"Comments from users that have often been blocked, muted, or reported for abuse will be less visible throughout the service." In its latest bid to reduce abuse, Twitter will hide more bad tweets in conversations and searches. (Oh well, I still have NextDraft as a platform!)

+ How widespread is the abuse by fake accounts? Consider this: Facebook closed 583 million fake accounts in first three months of 2018.


The One Chic Sneak

"On a recent afternoon, for instance, a pair of white Nike Jordan 1's by the fashion designer Virgil Abloh (Off-White, Louis Vuitton) originally priced at $190, was selling for $2,750. (No wonder it was enclosed in a glass case.) Nearby was a rare pair of Adidas PW Human Race NMD TR, designed by the musician Pharrell Williams. Price tag: $12,350. This is clearly not Foot Locker." The NYT's Bee Shapiro on the shoe store that has established itself as the Tiffany's for sneakerheads.


Bottom of the News

"Because we go to exhaustive lengths to source flavors and ingredients, it's important to us that these are experienced in one bite. Chopping is a qualitative measure we take, and the salad tastes better for it." In the salad business, them's fighting words. And thinks could get rough(age). From Bloomberg: Salad Leaders Weigh In on Chopped Versus Not-Chopped Controversy.

+ NY Mag: Are We Ready for Robot Sex? "What you learn about human desire when you get intimate with a piece of talking silicone." (I'm guessing that the talking silicone will be more emotionally present and available than most of us are...)