drugs


supernatural

When I was reading Graham Hancock’s book, Supernatural: Meetings With the Ancient Teachers of Mankind, he talked about the hallucinogenic vine called ayahuasca. The name means “Vine of the Soul” or “Vine of the Dead,” and shamans in Amazonia have been using it since way the hell back in order to make contact with the ancestors. The drug derived from this plant is illegal in the U.S. and Britain, but in Amazonian countries it is protected under the laws of religious freedom as it is integral to the religious practice in many indigenous cultures.

Hallucinogenic plants are used for similar purposes in all cultures around the world, but what I found so fascinating about ayahuasca is that the leaves of the plant are rich in a chemical—Dimethyltryptamine (DMT)—that the human brain secretes naturally in minute quantities. Normally, substances which contain DMT are blocked from absorption into the body by a naturally-occurring enzyme in the human stomach. The vine part of the ayahuasca contains a chemical inhibitor for this enzyme, thus the shamans must cook both leaves and vine together in order for the hallucinogenic effect to happen. This is a fairly arduous process of cooking and layering and recooking that goes on for hours. Anthony Bourdain’s No Reservations episode on Peru features a segment on this process, if you happen to catch it some time. (Good episode—well, except for the guinea pig segment.)

I’m left wondering, first, how the shamans discovered the particular chemical interaction going on here; and, second—as I always wonder in the cases of non-technical societies discovering complex processes for making Thing A become Thing B—how the hell they figured it out in the first place. The shamans say that the plants themselves told them how to do this and what effects would happen. Similar explanations occur in other parts of the world: the gods told us how to do this; the plants did; the spirits whispered in our ear.

Take, for instance, the olive. It takes an ungodly amount of complex processing to take the hard, bitter, inedible nut of the olive tree and soften it so that it is not only deliciously digestible but, more importantly, pliable enough to crush and extract the olive oil. Greek legend maintains that Athena came down from Olympus to clue mortals into this process. Western scientists prefer to say that it must have come about through trial and error.

Even so, that’s pretty mind-boggling. Who was the first person who said, “Gee, I bet this thing that looks, feels, and tastes like a rock would yield a delicious condiment and extremely useful cooking oil if only we put it through a series of brine baths for days on end to soften it up”? Who was the first shaman who said, “Wow, I bet if we take this incredibly foul-tasting vine and pound it for hours until it’s fibrous, then boil it with its leaves and layers of other stuff for hours more that at the end we’ll get one of the foulest-tasting liquids known to human taste buds but a kickass vision of the Otherworld”?

The skeptics would say it occurred because of a series of accidents and was more cause-and-effect than messages from the spirit world. But human ingenuity is still a wondrous thing, is it not, whether or not you prefer the mundane explanation or the talking plant explanation?

Random quote of the day:

“Since theocracy is the rule of God or its priests, and democracy the rule of the people or the majority, pharmacracy is therefore the rule of medicine or of doctors.”

—Thomas Szasz, Ceremonial Chemistry

 pharma4WP@@@

Disclaimer: The views expressed in this random quote of the day do not necessarily reflect the views of the poster, her immediate family, Siegfried and Roy, Leonard Maltin, or the Mormon Tabernacle Choir. They do, however, sometimes reflect the views of the Cottingley Fairies.

 

14 Jul
Life: it’s kind of like being nibbled at by ants.

15 Jul
Huh. Because I’m a member of Amazon Prime I just received a tote of free samples from Amazon Fresh, including a one cup coffee maker.

16 Jul
I ain’t greedy. A half a mill would do me nicely.

17 Jul
I love you, Jennifer Crusie, with great heaping <3 <3 <3 ‘s: http://www.arghink.com/2013/07/17/carpe-sharknado/ …

22 Jul
I bet making love to the Geico Made of Money guy would be kind of scratchy.

23 Jul
Medicare is planning to cut coverage to dialysis patients. Help protect access to dialysis. Tell Congress to stop Medicare cuts before they start. We need your help: http://bit.ly/DaVitaAdvocacy 

This disproportionately affects poor, sick people. Through no fault of her own my mother has kidney failure. She did everything right: ate healthy, kept active, took all her BP meds, but they could never control her high BP and eventually it destroyed her kidneys. Diabetes can do it, a severe e-coli infection can do it, many diseases can do it. This is not about people abusing their bodies. This is often just about bad luck, and the cost of the treatment is staggeringly high.

August 1 Addendum: This is basically a dispute between the drug manufacturer who charges exorbitant rates for anti-anemia drugs, the dialysis centers who make money off of kidney patients, and Medicare.  My mother’s kidney doctor says she does not need the drug that they are fighting over at this point. So that’s good news for us personally, but still potentially devastating news for other old, poor sick people. It makes me ashamed to be an American, frankly.

25 Jul
Worry and guilt are useless emotions. You have to learn to let them go. Fear is sometimes a life saver, but you’ve got to let that go, too.

26 Jul
The world is an illusion that we have to take very, very seriously.

28 Jul
The kind of day where I’m too tired to even get up for aspirin for a headache. Mom, cat and I dozing in our chairs watching the Dodgers. Bottom of the 9th and a 0-0 score.

29 Jul
Whenever I run into a really fussy person I want to tell them, “You haven’t got time for that. Whatever you do, you’re still going to die.”

29 Jul
Middle Class Problems: I hate it when the foliage is at the apex of its summer glory and the gardener decides to trim it back to a stub.

29 Jul
The Universe is so strange. Help comes from the most unexpected places.

31 Jul
Protip: When someone is frustrated and angry, don’t laugh at them. You won’t josh them out of it you’ll just make them more pissed. My glasses are held together with a paper clip. Hilarious this morning. Last night at the end of a trying evening, not so much.

31 Jul
There seems to be an unpleasant theme in anagrams of my name from the anagram server: Aha Moments Plop, Shaman Melt Poop, Anal Moppet Mosh, Ample Phat Moons. Hmmm. I had to stop reading after awhile. Aha Moments Plop is a lot how my creative process happens, so I have a certain fondness for it. The anagram server found zero anagrams for PJ Thompson so I had to use my Real Girl Name.

1 Aug
Hilarious and horrifying—one star reviews on Amazon of classic novels: http://bit.ly/15yoRxn 

2 Aug
CBS and Time Warner are both corporate Aholes for holding their customers hostage in their negotiations. Get off the dime, jerks

4 Aug
Channel 9 carries some of the Dodger games here in L.A. They are owned by CBS. They are blacked out. You know what’s really fun? Explaining to a 92-year-old with short term memory problems why she can’t watch her Dodgers (ad nauseam).

6 Aug
The Onion: I’m Only Really Happy When I’m Writing… http://onion.com/1b9ruYs 

8 Aug
Who needs bifocals?

bifocals photo smallishbifocals_zpsdf01c6c8.jpg

14 Aug
My latest Etsy admired whimsy: http://www.etsy.com/shop/Mindielee 

16 Aug
It’s amazing how busy some peoples’ desks suddenly get when there’s shitwork to be done.

It is done, and I am not merely dead, but really most sincerely dead.

17 Aug
I just spent $180 at the pet store. Not all of it was bird seed but a big chunk was. This is part of my expensive trip to the pet store. http://twitpic.com/d8w98j 

In my defense, I waited until it was 20% off. Min had a great time with it and can once again look out a favored window.

19 Aug
I want a house the color of orange sherbet with white trim: a Creamsicle house. I’ve been obsessing about it for weeks now. A neighbor down the block has burnt orange with mustard trim. Not as horrible as you’d imagine. Alas, my dreams of color will not be realized soon. No money and a “roommate” who does not appreciate…beauty.

23 Aug
I’ve decided, all things considered, that I am not going to knuckle under to blackmail. Do your worst, sir. I will persevere. Ultimatums are really not a way to persuade anyone to do what you want them to.

23 Aug
Seems like morning show hosts are irritating nerds all around the world.

 The Russian Army Choir doing Adele’s “Skyfall” on a Moscow morning show: http://avc.lu/16WvFbm 

23 Aug
Middle Class Problems: The cleaning woman threw out a brand new unopened large container of cottage cheese with a pull date in October.

26 Aug
A nice summer evening gathering around the fire pit last night. We had enough food for 25 people. Five were in attendance. I wanted to be sure no one left hungry. They’ll probably be dining on the leftovers for days. I know we will.

28 Aug
The irritating neighbor just turned scary. If you don’t hear from me for a week, assume the worst. My mother did the one unforgivable thing, apparently. She told the truth as she sees it. He couldn’t handle the truth. Why is it that bigots never recognize that they are bigots? Or maybe they do, they just don’t want to be called out on it. I shall be providing my mother’s transportation to and from dialysis from now on.

29 Aug
omg I must still be a writer. I just got a gobsmacking idea for my next novel. That I have neither time nor energy to write. I guess I’ll let it simmer for an ice age or two. I’m wondering if you can still be a writer without a consistent or predictable time to do your writing.

30 Aug
I’ve got so much to do today: reading, sitting on my butt, dictating into the phone and seeing what VOS comes up with. Oh wait, I meant VRS. Or as VRS wrote, “to be our ass.” (Don’t ask me.)

30 Aug
Mom: “How do I tell if WiFi is on?”
Me: “I’ve told you 100 times.”
Mom: “But I can’t remember the other 99 times.”

30 Aug
Watching an H2 mockumentary on the zombie apocalypse and Mom is all “Wuh?”

31 Aug
It’s too hot for lap time so Min is making do with pillow and towel. http://twitpic.com/dbbhle   She has such a tough life.

31 Aug
Only 1.8 days left on my initial backup to a cloud service. Damn, I’ve got a lot of junk on my Mac. My internet service is decent most times but not for stuff like this—and there’s a lot of junk on my harddrive. This is a one time upload, though.

2 Sep
Backup complete at 78262 files, 21.6 GB.

2 Sep
Min had a pretty good day yesterday: people tuna for dinner, fresh catnip on her carpeted kitty stairs, steak for table scraps, lots of lap time…All in honor of her 12th birthday. Live long and prosper, baby girl.

All is right with the world. http://twitpic.com/dbonfg 

3 Sep
The news was not all bad at the doctor’s office. In fact, there’s a glimmer of hope. I may be able to have knee surgery after, all but there are too many variables yet to be determined.

6 Sep
My hair’s been on fire all week at work, and I’ve also been dealing with Los Angeles County Department of Social Services. OMG. So ready for the weekend.

But Putting It Out There works in mysterious and unexpected ways. I end the week in more hope then I began it. Praise the Universe!