January 2007

Via: The Library of Congress


1st Session

H. R. 393

To require all persons in the United States between the ages of 18 and 42 to perform national service, either as a member of the uniformed services or in civilian service in furtherance of the national defense and homeland security, to authorize the induction of persons in the uniformed services during wartime to meet end-strength requirements of the uniformed services, to amend the Internal Revenue Code of 1986 to make permanent the favorable treatment afforded combat pay under the earned income tax credit, and for other purposes.

Follow the link to read more details on the proposal.

From NPR Morning Edition, November 22, 2006

NPR’s series examines our perceptions of history, novelist Robert Harris speaks with Steve Inskeep about how the history of Rome is reflected in our modern-day world. Harris sees parallels between the time of Rome’s transition from republican to imperial rule and the challenges the U.S. faces now.

Click ‘Listen‘ to hear the seven minute commentary.

Related:  “How to Build a Universe That Doesn’t Fall Apart Two Days Later” an essay written in 1978 by Philip K. Dick in which he extrapolates how we may still be living in 50 AD.

“I must admit that the existence of Disneyland (which I know is real) proves that we are not living in Judaea in 50 AD. . . . Saint Paul would never go near Disneyland. Only children, tourists, and visiting Soviet high officials ever go to Disneyland. Saints do not.”

-Philip K. Dick

Best known as a club drug, ketamine seems somehow able to jolt people out of severe depression. New Scientist investigates in the following well-written article.

“FOR MANY, it was a huge, obvious effect,” says psychiatrist John Krystal. “One of the patients said, ‘Don’t give me those old medications, I want this again’.”

Krystal, a professor at Yale University, is talking about the time he gave seven severely depressed patients ketamine, a mind-blowing drug developed as an anaesthetic but better known as a club drug. It was a long shot, but the results were astonishing. Though most of the patients found the ketamine experience itself unpleasant, once it wore off they had a far better feeling: the disabling and suicidal depression they had lived with for years had vanished.

Krystal’s pioneering experiment happened in the late 1990s, but now researchers at the US National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH) in Bethesda, Maryland, have repeated the study and the results have got psychiatrists, neuroscientists and drug companies buzzing. An antidepressant that acts in hours rather than weeks …


That’s why the ketamine results are creating such a stir. “This is a hot topic and people are very interested in it,” says Lisa Monteggia, a neuroscientist specialising in depression at the University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center in Dallas. “The implications are huge.” “It’s very intriguing,” agrees Lee Schechter, director of preclinical depression and anxiety research at Wyeth Pharmaceuticals in Princeton, New Jersey. Research on rapid antidepressants is now “an area of focus within the industry,” he says.

Via New Scientist
Previously posts on Animam Recro:
Ketamine: Possibly fastest-acting antidepressant ever tested
Another Ketamine Antidepressant Article

I watched the State of the Union Address yesterday and couldn’t stop staring at the screen. It wasn’t President Bush who captivated me but the speaker of the house Nancy Pelosi, who managed to blink at least once per second for an entire hour. She also seemed to be clenching her jaw a whole lot. Her eye blinking was so drastic that I couldn’t help but look at her whenever there was a shot of Bush, who she stood behind. I’m no psychiatrist so I can’t say what’s going on with her, but it certainly doesn’t seem normal.


Video: Entire President Bush Delivers State of the Union Address

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Psychologists and anthropologists have typically turned to faith healers, tribal cultures or New Age spiritualists to study the underpinnings of belief in superstition or magical powers. Yet they could just as well have examined their own neighbors, lab assistants or even some fellow scientists. New research demonstrates that habits of so-called magical thinking — the belief, for instance, that wishing harm on a loathed colleague or relative might make him sick — are far more common than people acknowledge.

These habits have little to do with religious faith, which is much more complex because it involves large questions of morality, community and history. But magical thinking underlies a vast, often unseen universe of small rituals that accompany people through every waking hour of a day.

The appetite for such beliefs appears to be rooted in the circuitry of the brain, and for good reason. The sense of having special powers buoys people in threatening situations, and helps soothe everyday fears and ward off mental distress. In excess, it can lead to compulsive or delusional behavior. This emerging portrait of magical thinking helps explain why people who fashion themselves skeptics cling to odd rituals that seem to make no sense, and how apparently harmless superstition may become disabling.


For people who are generally uncertain of their own abilities, or slow to act because of feelings of inadequacy, this kind of thinking can be an antidote, a needed activator, said Daniel M. Wegner, a professor of psychology at Harvard. (Dr. Wegner was a co-author of the voodoo study, with Kimberly McCarthy of Harvard and Sylvia Rodriguez of Princeton.)

“I deal with students like this all the time and I say, ‘Let’s get you overconfident,’ ” Dr. Wegner said. “This feeling that your thoughts can somehow control things can be a needed feeling” — the polar opposite of the helplessness, he added, that so often accompanies depression.


Only in extreme doses can magical thinking increase the likelihood of mental distress, studies suggest. People with obsessive-compulsive disorder are often nearly paralyzed by the convictions that they must perform elaborate rituals, like hand washing or special prayers, to ward off contamination or disaster. The superstitions, perhaps harmless at the outset, can grow into disabling defense mechanisms.

Via The New York Times

Five Storytellers Bring The Amazon Jungle To NYC With Their Experiences Of Healed Illness, Mystical Insight and Spirit Guides Through The Brew Called Ayahuasca.

While shamans in the Amazon have accessed Ayahuasca’s gifts for centuries, only recently have spiritual seekers in the U.S. become aware of this sacred drink. Hear the stories of five Westerners who encountered miracles both thrilling and terrifying through Ayahuasca. How can cosmopolitan urbanites cope with this destabilizing concoction?


* Daniel Pinchbeck – author of Breaking Open The Head: Psychedelics and Contemporary Shamanism and 2012: The Return of Quetzalcoatl

* Jamye Waxman – sexplorer, Playgirl advice columnist, “Sex and Spirit” podcaster

* Nat Bletter – ethnobotanist, explorer, herbal healer, author of Chocolate in Mesoamerica: A Cultural History of Cacao, on the psychoactive effects of chocolate

* Bill Kennedy – actor/storyteller and ayahuasca guardian

* Jonathan Phillips – founder of the NYC Gnostics, executive editor of Souldish.com

Admission is $10.00. Refreshments will be served. Q&A To Follow The Speakers

The Ayahuasca Monologues will convene in the cutting edge, tech-and-cultural venue EYEBEAM, located at 540 W. 21st St. between 10th & 11th Avenues in New York City.

“Ayahuasca is a visionary potion used by hundreds of tribes from Brazil to Ecuador that is reaching out to the modern world in a time of ecological crisis,” declares Daniel Pinchbeck. “It’s time to come out and get shamanized.”

For more information email michael@souldish.com or check out http://souldish.com/monologues. Via Disinfo

Major plug for one of my favorite new blogs: Drugs and Poisons. The site features short introductions to a multitude of pharmaceuticals. Good information to have in this day and age.

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