Friday, April 17, 2009

Honolulu sunset

We get a lot of these colorful displays at dusk. That and rainbows.

The truth is, I never tire of them, and I doubt I need chemical stimulation to appreciate them more.

Sent from my iPhone


  1. Upon further consideration, you are wise to refrain from toking up as you obviously lack sufficient brain cells to appreciate my original point. Wouldn't want you to waste what you already have!

  2. Scott, where's that mellow you potheads are always raving about? ;)

    Just kidding. You're a good sport about what was obviously a little dig at something you'd said.

    You're right, though: I probably shouldn't toke up, not because I lack gray matter to begin with but just because I wouldn't want to slip from the lofty position I already occupy. ;)

    Seriously, though, Scott, I actually support legalization and regulation in the US. If adults who aren't affecting anyone else want to do it in safe circumstances, I don't really have a problem with it.

    And, yes, I do appreciate that some people may go places creatively with a joint that they wouldn't otherwise. I do get that. At the same time, I've seen people go in the other direction. Things that might have seemed brilliant and/or funny when you were high, drunk, or sleep-deprived often are considerably less so when seen in the harsh light of the next day's sobriety.

    My only problem with the drug debate vis-à-vis Korea is that it would be a very different set of outcomes. The genie is NOT out of the bottle in Korea, where society is barely holding it together with addictions to alcohol and gambling, without adding another potential for substance abuse.

    But in the US, fine. In fact, I had been putting together a post on the recent murmurings in the American media about drug legalization as an issue. I'm intrigued by, among other things, the idea of using the economic crisis as a justification or pretext for the legalization and taxation of marijuana.

    Scott, where are you located right now? Just curious about comparing on-the-ground impressions of drug usage there versus, say, Honolulu or Orange County (or Seoul).

    While we're on the subject, do you think meth should be legalized? How about crack or other forms of cocaine? Heroin? Ecstasy? Am I missing any of the biggies?

  3. For someone not interested in recreational drugs, you're awfully interested in them, I must say. I suggest you discuss this issue with trusted friends and/or professionals.

  4. Scott wrote:
    For someone not interested in recreational drugs, you're awfully interested in them, I must say.

    Well, a lack of interest in taking drugs doesn't preclude someone from being interested in their social, economic, or biological effects. I'm an area specialist, journalist, and (increasingly) a health studies academic, so drug usage is well withing that sphere.

    The problems of drug usage (particularly drug abuse) are important areas, but so are the problems associated with drug prohibition, which in my opinion tends to exacerbate many of the problems traditionally associated with drugs.

    Were meth legal, would our neighbor's granddaughter and her boyfriend have set up a meth lab in the garage? Would they and their buddies have gotten involved with identity theft to pay for their habit?

    More importantly, if pot were legal but meth were not, would "substitution" come into play, with people smoking legal and safe pot instead of seeking out illegal (and more dangerous) meth?

    I suggest you discuss this issue with trusted friends and/or professionals.I have, but I like to get outside perspectives. You keep talking with people in the same sphere and you before you know it you've built an echo chamber.

    Anyway, I don't want you to divulge anything that even had the remotest possibility of getting you or someone you know into trouble, and if it's just something you don't feel like answering, that too is a good reason to just forget about it.

  5. I'm drug-free and have nothing to hide, but I'm bored of this whole legalization debate. Others can deal with it, and good luck to them.

    My main position is that certain "recreational drugs" are a wonderful tool that when used in the right way can be of great benefit to one's own personal development. In particular, I believe that everyone should try LSD at least once in their lives, as long as they do so among well-meaning "guides."

    The world would be a much better place if that happened. I honestly believe that.

  6. Scott, I think the non-politicized biomedical evidence points to too many health-related problems for that to be a recommendation.

    I'm sure that some people get a creative boost from the LSD experience. My own thoughts, though, are that the creative results are often not as coherent as the creator would like to think they are.

    More importantly, though, is that this is not a risk-free proposition. Among the people I know who have dabbled in LSD, there is a high rate of problems — some rather minor but some quite major.

    My roommate in college, "W," was a great guy — a smart guy and a really nice guy — but he'd just suddenly stop for no apparent reason, just stop talking and stare into space, like a computer being put into sleep mode. I recognized this before I ever knew he'd tried LSD (and to my knowledge, that was a one-time high school experimentation, with no other drug experience).

    More seriously was a former roommate in Korea, named "C," who had severe memory lapses and serious bouts of totally irrational thought. If you think of memories from the past as like a ribbon, it was as if someone had taken whole snippets of her memory and just cut them out with a scissors.

    One day she blew up at me for inviting people over to our house when she had been the one who invited them. She couldn't remember doing that. She also couldn't touch things with her fingers for too long, because the tingly sensation she would get became unbearable.

    One day she decided that her beloved cat had cancer — it didn't — and had it put to sleep. She got angry at me for not stopping her.

    While it's entirely possible that she was like that before she ever took LSD, her sister insists that her "strange" behavior started after she went away to college.

    The only reason I ended up allowing this person to stay in my apartment was that a mutual friend of ours thought she was "really cool" and would be a fun roommate. This was the beginning of my realization that this mutual friend was an extremely poor judge of character.

    I was about to give her one month's notice because she and her coworkers decided to smoke pot on our veranda (twenty meters from a police box even, but obscured by trees) which, were she caught, would have caused legal problems for me, and also because I'd planned to use the living room as a makeshift office space, but she decided to move out because I wouldn't dust the floor every day so her feet wouldn't feel tingly.

    Sure, this is anecdotal evidence, but it's by no means a conclusion I drew based on the knowledge of her past LSD consumption. I didn't know about that until after she'd moved out (we worked with many of the same people, so we maintained a polite relationship).

    While "W" really doesn't have too many problems (though I wouldn't trust him to drive on a road trip), "C" is so messed up she actually has trouble keeping jobs. She is well-educated and very smart, but her erratic rantings cause her to quit jobs or completely alienate her after just a few months. The longest job was the aforementioned one she had, in Korea, lasting 15 months.

    Using a different analogy, I know some people who think that driving a motorcycle is a great thrill and provides a great feeling of freedom. While I had a motor scooter back in college (yeah, I know that's not the same), I would be loath to drive a motorcycle through the streets of Seoul (or Honolulu for that matter). My apprehension is backed up by anecdotal experience: fully one-fourth of all the people I know who have owned motorcycles in Seoul have died in accidents.

    That's a tough potential outcome to weigh against the great freedom one would get. To me, it's not worth it. And I certainly wouldn't recommend it to everyone to try.

    You give these qualifications of "when used in the right way" or "as long as they do so among well-meaning 'guides,'" but that just makes it easier to brush aside the real danger that occurs from psychotropic drugs. If the brain's biology is such that, say, 10% end up getting really messed up because of the experience, it's easy to brush it off as, "well they didn't do it in the right way" or "they didn't have the right guide," when in fact the problem is the Russian roulette of brain chemistry that would occur no matter the conditions or the guide.

  7. "My own thoughts, though, are that the creative results are often not as coherent as the creator would like to think they are."

    In other words, since you've never tried it you have no idea what you're talking about. More to the point, my advocacy of LSD never stated that its primary benefit was as a creative crutch. Its main benefit is simply to open the mind, which may later on have such other benefits as enhancing creativity through expanded consciousness, and hence greater sensitivity to one's own mental processes.

    Your two anecdotes are nothing more than that and impute all sorts of causes and correlation that are merely speculation on your part. For every one of your anecdotes about LSD allegedly triggering deranged mental behavior, I can offer stories of hundreds of individuals who emerged perfectly unscathed after usage of LSD. I personally have used it hundreds of times and seem to be doing quite OK mentally. I would argue that mass usage of SSRI-type antidepressants have a far more deleterious effect on the collective mental health of modern-day society.

    In any case, a quick glance at studies of "LSD-triggered psychosis" prove that the results are inconclusive at best. Just because you have had some unpleasant personal experiences in the past is not sufficient reason to write off wholesale the benefits of an entheogen that has been of great value and utility for millions of individuals around the world.

  8. PS: I find it amazing that you presume to enter into a debate on the legalization of certain recreational drugs when you are so obviously uninformed and biased on the subject. Here are a few links to enhance your understanding:

    "That of which we cannot speak, we must pass over in silence."

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