Feeling down

I finished reading The Ascent of Money yesterday, and immediately started on The Bitcoin Standard, by Saifedean Ammous. The book has been touted on perhaps the best book on bitcoin economics, but Ammous remains a bit of a firebrand to me. I follow him on Twitter, and he’s a bit of a Coronavirus skeptic. Not necessarily from the disease itself, but from the shutdowns and economic effects that they’ve had.

He’s very vocal, say the least, and a bit arrogant. He was actually just on Laura Shin’s Unchained, and she asked him about his response to something Yuval Noah Harari said in Sapiens about debt, and Ammous said something to the effect that “I have no interest in what a Marxist anthropologist has to say on economics,” before going off for several minutes on the subject. That’s not to say that the man isn’t brilliant or hasn’t written a great book, but he comes off as a bit insufferable. I should have known when I saw the introduction was written by Nassim Nicholas Taleb.

I spent way too much time today on Zero Hedge, questioning everything. Now I’m ready to short hotel chains with put options, hoard my cash and set tight stops on all my equities positions. Apparently Europe is about to institute martial law or something and go back into lockdown, and we’re about to have a huge market correction. I don’t know. I went down the rabbit hole a bit today and looked at a blog focused on economic collapse. I haven’t felt this paranoid since I was into 9/11 trutherism and peak oil. The proximity to the election is a bit a unnerving.

My Amazon position stopped out this week, closing a position I’ve held for over ten years. Now my portfolio is a quarter cash, another quarter $GBTC, and the rest is split between three dozen or so equities, with $NFLX and $ATVI being the largest of those.

I have added Compass Pathways ($CMPS) to my watch list. They have a synthetic version of psilocybin that they currently have in phase three trials for treatment resistant depression. It’s something I’ve been interested in for a while. MAPS co-founder Rick Doblin made the rounds on Tim Ferriss and Peter Attia‘s podcasts last year, and it amazing to think that they may actually get this approved in the United States.

Other than that, I haven’t been too active today, just taking it easy with the family.

A path for legal psychedelics?

We’ve explored the use of psychedelic drugs here previously, and have mentioned MAPS (Multidisciplinary Association for Psychedelic Studies) before, and there’s been a few developments recently that warrant further exploration.

I’ve been a big Tim Ferriss fan for years, I’ve got a copy of The Four-Hour Workweek on my shelf and have been listening to his podcast regularly for some time. He’s talked often about his mental health issues that he’s had in the past, namely his struggles with depression and how he came close to attempting suicide. There’s obviously some trauma or abuse in his childhood; he hasn’t gone into details, but has made it clear on numerous occasions, and even talked about it at TED. Over the past few years, Tim seems to have been dealing with these problems in a healthy way, apparently relying on MDMA and other psychoactive substances to help him confront this abuse and deal with the trauma. The effects were so profound that he even decided to stop his venture investing and dedicate large sums of money to the research and development of MDMA as a therapeutic treatment.

Michael Pollan’s latest book, How To Change Your Mind, does what Pollan does best, bringing his journalists eye and voice to the story of psychedelics, past and present. It mixes the history of the LSD and the backlash, with Pollan’s explorations as he tries psilocybin and other mind-altering substances for the first time. It also looks at much of the recent work being done, both underground and within the confines of FDA-approved research. Here’s Pollan on Ferriss’s show.

A recent podcast by Peter Attia, featuring MAPS founder Rick Doblin, really shows how far things have come. Doblin, who has spent the last thirty years and has made it his life’s mission to make these substances available for therapeutic use, believes that we are within one to two years of MDMA being rescheduled to a therapeutic treatment. Through MAPS, he’s been able to get the MDMA treatment for PTSD to a Phase 3 clinical trial, meaning that it’s possible for people with treatment-resistant PTSD to seek this therapy now.

What’s unique about this trial is the way it blends the pharmacological substance with a therapy protocol. This isn’t a treatment where patients will just get a couple of tabs of MDMA and go home to trip, patients will have two trained guides with them while they’re under the influence, and will spend the night at the treatment center before undergoing additional time to integrate what they experienced. Most of the studies that were performed as part of this trial indicate that one or two sessions with MDMA in this manner have a profound and long lasting effect on PTSD.

There are other signs that this class of substances can also help with the treatment of addiction and depression, and the protocol that has been worked out with the FDA for the MDMA trial is also being used for psilocybin. The hope is that it would quickly follow rescheduling. Eventually, Doblin says, this would eventually pave the way for treatment centers where people can experience psychedelic trips for these kinds of mental health treatments, couples counseling, or even what he terms “personal exploration”.

Hit me like a ton of bricks

I’m several weeks into an experiment, or promise to myself, to blog here every day. It’s part of a continuous improvement plan, if you will, that I made to help keep me motivated or something that I’ve been telling myself. Daily habits that have been piling on top of each other. First the intermittent fasting and meditation for 10 minutes. Then no alcohol for thirty days, — going on forty, now — meditation for an hour. Code. And so on it goes.

I’m not sure what I’m doing to myself, or my family. I can’t say I’ve been content for a while. “Happiness is not something you experience, it’s something you remember.” I’ve said it here before. I’m not sure if I’m engaging in a bit of self-sabotage, or trying to protect myself from it. I once heard a man at an Alcoholics Anonymous meeting — or read it someone — say that he was a dry drunk. That they were sober, but they were even worse of a person sober than they were when they were drinking. They were easier to be around when they were drinking. Since they were sober they were just a miserable sonofabitch to themselves and everyone around them. I wonder if that’s part of what’s happening to me now.

Maynard from Tool was on Joe Rogan a few weeks ago. Joe was talking about rock stars that have these weird demands for their interviews and Maynard said something like “they want to have control over everything in their life now cause they felt like they didn’t have any control over things when they were younger.” BAM. Hit me like a ton of bricks. I felt like I grew up in an authoritarian household, under my dad, and I rebelled against it with every fucking fiber in my being. Now, I’m the dad, and I’m exercising my authority in the worst way. My wife calls me a ‘bully’. I tell myself otherwise, but usually I’m yelling or barking orders at the kids, or making them do stuff they don’t want to do, eat stuff they don’t want to eat. I think I’m toughening them up, to make them less spoiled, but I feel like an asshole half the time lately. I snap at them when they interrupt me mornings when I’m trying to meditate, –ironic, huh? — in the evening when they’re watching TV when I think they should be outside, or whenever they say ‘no’ to something I’ve asked them to do. I worry about it all the time, but I don’t know how else to act.

But that’s a lie. Number one thing that seniors would tell their younger selves? Don’t be so hard on yourself. Just let shit go, don’t try to control everything. My wife likes to let the kids watch TV a lot more than I would like them to, garbage shows for hours on end. “My mom let me do that when I was younger, and I came out fine.” Like hell we did, I think. Like we haven’t figured out what all that advertising did to our young minds. Like they haven’t refined that model, crafted those shows to be even more potent and damaging than they were 30 years ago? At least with the streaming services we don’t have to watch the breaks. God help me we turn on Disney in a hotel room and be subjected to six minutes of marketing for the most useless, unnecessary garbage made for kids.

Douglas Rushkoff pointed out that marketing is designed to make people feel inadequate, that happy people don’t need to buy crap to make themselves feel better, to feel more desirable. I bought a bottle of wine today, along with rib-eye and crab cakes for some dinner guests tonight. I even told myself that 40 days was a good round number and that it was time to open that bottle of scotch I was gifted. I don’t mind having a drink; I just don’t want to make drinking a habit. I used to tell myself that I didn’t want to give up drinking, cause I like to drink. I just didn’t want to drink too much, or spend so much every week, stopping at the 7-11 every night on the way home. Well, I stay home a lot now. In fact, I don’t go anywhere. I’ve been to dinner or lunch several times now, and only water in my glass. I took the kids to a birthday party today and the adults were drinking. I turned down beer and margaritas. I was a miserable bastard that didn’t look or talk to anyone more than absolutely necessary. I was a hard-ass to my kids.

I spent a hundred dollars at the grocery store, and spent two hours making that rib eye sous vide with the crab cakes and vegetables. I asked if anyone wanted wine with dinner, looking for an excuse to open that bottle. I had fantasised that I wasn’t going to give myself a glass, or that I would pour myself one and not touch it to my lips. But no one wanted wine. After the table was cleared I put out that bottle of scotch, to talk about the gift and the circumstances which I acquired it. I thought about getting the glass, and the whiskey stones.

I didn’t. I put that bottle back on the shelf, thanked my guests for coming over. And as soon as the kids were upstairs for bath I went out and ate two ice cream bars out of the freezer. And a cup of Ben and Jerry’s after the were asleep.

On a dry July

Today marks 27 days without alcohol. I decided to abstain for the month of July, following a bit of a public bender at the end of last month. The last time I went more than a day or two without drinking was January of last year, following a pretty late New Years Eve/Day drinking session. I’ve got a pretty complicated history with alcohol, as I’m sure some do, and I’m addiction-prone as well, but I’m not sure how unusual that is, when it comes down to it.

One of these days I’ll probably come round to a full accounting of all the crazy, fucked-up shit that I’ve done over the years, but for now I’ll just stick to the last few months. I’m not sure how much of a memoir I want this blog to become, or whether I want to de-anonymize it at some point in time. Suffice to say, I love the drink, I love(d) to smoke, I love whatever it is that I like to do and I will do it as much as I possibly can. Let’s just say for now, that about a year ago, I came to the conclusion that my alcohol consumption was a problem. Not that I hit rock-bottom or anything like that — that happened years ago — but it was just the ramifications of my daily consumption, on both my health and my wallet. I actually had my doctor prescribe me naltrexone to help me cut down. I didn’t want to quit. I like drinking, I didn’t want to cut alcohol out of my life completely, I just didn’t want to get to a place where I get hammered out of my mind and blackout or worse. I’ve been lucky not to kill myself or someone else, but I recognized that it was probably just a matter of time before I did.

It’s such a shitty thing to say that the main reason I cut it out was that it was costing me too much. I’ve acquired a taste for IPAs over the past few years, and the prices have been creeping up to around twelve dollars a six pack. It got expensive, and I was stopping by the store on the way home pretty much every day. The cost was getting out of hand. Trying to limit myself to three a night or whatever rationalizing I was telling myself just wasn’t cutting it. And when I gave myself permission to let loose — I let it go.

So when I told myself eighteen months ago that I was going to do a Dry-ruary or whatever they call it, I did it, no problem. I’m sure my wife was as shocked as me that I didn’t got into the DTs, or have any withdrawal symptoms, but no. The only real negative from the whole experience was trouble falling asleep. I do recall that I couldn’t wait for the month to be over, and I celebrated the day with a cold one out with my wife for one of our semi-regular Friday happy-hours before picking up the kids.

This time, I don’t feel that same way. Someone actually gifted me a bottle of scotch last week — not knowing — and I don’t even really look forward to drinking it. I may just keep going, and see how long I can go. It’s possible that I just traded one habit for another, gave up a vice for a virtue. Who knows what will happen.

Ecstasy-assisted psychotherapy shows promising results for PTSD | The Raw Story

Ecstasy-assisted psychotherapy shows promising results for PTSD | The Raw Story.

The latest research from the Journal of Psychopharmacologyshows that MDMA helps with post traumatic stress disorder when coupled with psychotherapy. This follow-up study by Dr. Michael C. Mithoefer shows that 17 of 19 study subjects showed long term improvement after 3 and a half years of the initial treatement.