Wednesday, November 10th, 2021


Psychotropic Thunder

Thanks for buying my book. I’ll be doing a Zoom on Friday with Peter Coyote and Phil Bronstein. Sign up here.

Shrooms. MDMA. Ketamine. They entered our consciousness as party drugs, but there's increasing evidence that they could be the end of the party for previously untreatable mental illnesses from depression to PTSD. In short, psychedelics have passed the acid test. The Guardian: Will the magic of psychedelics transform psychiatry? "There are now hopes that MDMA therapy could receive approval for certain treatments from US regulators by 2023, or perhaps even earlier – with psilocybin, the active ingredient of magic mushrooms, not far behind in the process. (A small study at Johns Hopkins University, published last year, suggested it could be four times more effective than traditional antidepressants.) You could say interest in psychedelics is mushrooming." As NextDraft's resident shrink Dr. Michael Levin explains: "The world's most successful retreat center would combine serious fitness, diet, great books, seminars, and psychedelics." (At least I think he said that, I might have been hallucinating.)

+ Stat: Largest psilocybin trial finds the psychedelic is effective in treating serious depression.


Newsletters Are Immortal

The Romans brought the newsletter into existence. Later, in the Middle Ages, newsletters became common forms of communication among extended families, traders, and those looking to share information in a format that eventually led to what we know (knew?) as the newspaper. After reviewing the history of this medium, of which I'm a frequent practitioner, I'm now convinced that when Caesar said "Et tu, Brute?" he was actually asking Brutus if he wanted to subscribe. Cut to 2020. Newsletters are more popular than ever. Extremely long story short: Rome fell. The newsletter didn't. Dave Pell in The Atlantic (on the one topic where he actually has some expertise): The Internet's Unkillable App. The noisier our digital lives get, the more popular the humble newsletter becomes.


Things Blowing Up

"We expected inflation would get worse before it got better, but not this much worse. Particularly painful is the increase in food prices as we approach the holidays, and the rise in energy prices as we plan to travel more to family get-togethers." Pandemic-related inflation is still expected to ease next year, but in the meantime, it's worse than experts predicted. Axios: Inflation at its highest in 30 years.

+ US food banks struggle to feed hungry amid surging prices.


Is Winter Coming, Again?

Prices aren't the only thing going up ahead of the holidays. Covid cases are following a similar path. After weeks of declines, U.S. Covid cases have stalled at a high level. Cases seem to be surging in places where it's already cold. But the spread is spreading. California's COVID fortunes reverse as cases begin to climb.

+ Cases are one thing. Deaths are another. NYT: The partisan gap in Covid's death toll has grown faster over the past month than at any previous point. (Living for politics is bad enough. Please don't die for them.)

+ Alexis Madrigal in The Atlantic: Getting Back to Normal Is Only Possible Until You Test Positive. I was ultracareful for 18 months. Then I got COVID.


For Peat’s Sake

WaPo: Serious about climate change? Get serious about peat. "These waterlogged, acidic, low-nutrient ecosystems are the most carbon-dense lands on Earth. You want to safely store carbon for a thousand years? Nothing beats peat. It's nature's vault."

+ Toodaloo Tuvalu? "We're looking at legal avenues where we can retain our ownership of our maritime zones, retain our recognition as a state under international law." Tuvalu looking at legal ways to be a state if it is submerged.


Aaron Judgement

"Instead of consulting immunologists, he consulted anti-vaxxer and podcast host Joe Rogan, who also contracted the virus. If he ever requires open-heart surgery will he hand the scalpel to romance writers because they know about matters of the heart?" Kareem Abdul-Jabbar: Aaron Rodgers Didn't Just Lie: His lies, his illogical defense, and his hubris damage all professional athletes. (Those he screwed over the most? The people in the huddle next to him.)

+ The NFL has fined Rodgers $15 grand. Well, that'll teach him.


Ted Lasso Meets Tonya Harding

"Kheira Hamraoui was attacked following a team get-together on the 4th of November. Diallo was driving some team-mates home after the meal, when two masked men approached and dragged Hamraoui from the car. The men attacked Hamraoui's legs with an iron bar before fleeing the scene." French Football Star Aminata Diallo Arrested After Teammate Dragged From a Car And Assaulted.


Inventing Reality

From Time: The Best Inventions of 2021. Necessity is the mother of invention. I guess that makes stock market valuation the father.


Lack of Brand Awareness

"If you're taking U.S. Route 95 north out of Las Vegas, turn left at the alien-themed brothel, drive 7 miles beyond the giant cow, over the California border into the low desert, and you'll find it. A tiny town with no stores, no bars, no restaurants, only two residents and a mysterious building that makes no sense at all." Inside Death Valley Junction, the forgotten California town with two residents and an opera house. Weird that a place named Death Valley Junction wouldn't be more popular. Maybe they should rename it Graveyard.


Bottom of the News

"Angelo Fregolent, now 94, parked his Lancia Fulvia 1962 outside the newsagent he ran with his wife, Bertilla Modolo, in Conegliano in 1974 - the couple then retired and left the car there." Mysterious car parked on same Italian street for 47 years becomes tourist attraction.

+ "I'm going to lean into it hard. I'm going to own this. I'm Getting Business Cards Made." Paul Rudd Is People's 2021 Sexiest Man Alive.

+ 105-Year-Old Julia 'Hurricane' Hawkins Just Set a New Track-and-Field Record.