RW123 - Pot Monster

This week, Dan and John talk about:

Bonus-content for Patreon supporters:

The show title refers to people speculating if a person who has been taking pot has turned into a pot monster.

John is very chill. He has been awake for 18 minutes and he was rubbing his eyes for 5 of those minutes and he was focusing on getting a cup of coffee for 3 of those minutes. John likes to cut things really close. He likes a close shave, but he doesn’t have another way of doing it, sadly. He wished that he could do something differently and set his alarm for 10:40, but if he had done that, he would just have hit the snooze bar.

Today Dan sent John a text with some things he wanted to talk about, which is very unusual. Dan likes it when John freestyles, but this episode could very easily be a current events podcast.

Sleep Hygiene (RW123)

The last time they talked about John’s sleep schedule, John said he only gets 4 hours of sleep every night, which is not sustainable. Last night John got 4,5 hours, so it is trending up. Sometimes he can get 5:45 hours of sleep if he doesn’t wake up in the middle of the night having to fight a dragon and screwing everything up, but 5:45 is not manageable either! John is not doing anything during that time but he is reading books and he is reading online. He got 5 half-finished books stacked on top of each other on his dresser, 15 half-finished crossword puzzles and 40 unfinished projects around the house.

John culling his shirts (RW123)

The other day John decided to get rid of every shirt that he couldn’t get buttoned around his neck. He has a large neck, not grotesquely large, but if he buys an off-the-rack XL collared shirt, he has to think about it because he is not guaranteed to be able to button it around the neck. This is an arbitrary standard, because he doesn’t wear a tie with 90% of the shirts he wears, but it is a small matter when he goes out and knows he cannot button the top-button of his shirt for whatever reason. It doesn’t plaque him throughout the day, but it makes the shirt incomplete. John put on every shirt he had and decided whether or not he could get the top-button buttoned. There was an entire class of shirt where he could almost get the top-button buttoned and although it will not look to the outside world like the neck of a shirt that is too tight, it is still uncomfortable.

John has some really nice shirts that he couldn’t get buttoned and if he would have gotten rid of those, he would have gotten rid of a lot of really nice shirts that he likes, but if he would only get rid of the ones that grossly don’t fit, this will not be a big prune. John doesn’t like to do things half-way and give away half of the shirts that almost fit. He either wants to get rid of the shirts that don’t fit, including the ones that almost fit, or he will have to move the line all the way back. If he can physically button it, no matter if it is comfortable or not, it has to qualify. This made John very confused because it was the middle of the night and there were all those shirts stacked in different piles on his bed, representing the degree to which they almost fit. He told himself that he was a crazy person and to put those back on the shirt rack and go to sleep!

John probably has 120 dress shirts. He got pale pink, orangy pink, a couple of different widths of stripes in candy-stripe pink, pure pink, dark pink, raspberry pink, pastel raspberry pink, and all of them are different shirts for different moods in different pinks. He also has that many shirts across all the different colors and there are plaid shirts in different colors and fabrics and styles, white shirts, and tuxedo shirts. John does have the space to store that many shirts because he is a bachelor who lives in a big house. If he had more physical space, he would start filling it up because it is there. Back when he had a normal-sized space it was full to bursting, but as he moved to a bigger space, full-to-bursting became a larger order.

John constantly at the limit of being in trouble (RW123)

John went to Gonzaga University for his first couple of years of college and during that time he was the Freshman and the Sophomore who got in the most trouble. It wasn’t only one kind of trouble, but he was in trouble with the school, with the baseball players, with the theater director, with a handful of different organizations and student life groups on campus, and even with the Knights & Spurs. Everything he did was troublesome.

John was a problem and he was a problem to his friends, but there was also a Murphy’s law aspect to it because he was in exactly the right amount of trouble with all of those things so that it was enough trouble, but not so much that he was just expelled or arrested. It never precipitated that many fist fights, but it was just the right amount of trouble to be always in hot water with everybody. In the end, John miscalculated it and did actually get removed from Gonzaga. He was shocked when it happened and he lobbied to get back in. They let him back in and John was in just the right amount of trouble again, but by the second time they removed him, they said that he should not try to get back in.

If John had been at the University of Washington that whole time, the standard for being in trouble would have been a lot higher. Gonzaga is a small Catholic school and they are watching you all the time: Everyone is monitoring everyone. At the University of Washington they are barely monitoring you because they have 50.000 other kids to watch and the threshold of being in trouble is way higher. John would still have found it because he always lived his life right at the border of the threshold where everybody is pissed and he was always failing to meet expectations, whatever those were, but just below the level where he could really be prosecuted. Frustration built up in people and they let it out on him. If John had started at the University of Washington as a Freshman, he would have been in exponentially more trouble because it was that much harder to find what the limits were.

This pattern got repeated throughout John's life. Recording this show was scheduled at 11am and his alarm was set to 10:50am, which is crazy! He should have set his alarm for 10:30am and most people would think that wasn’t even enough time to get up, splash water on your face and sit down to do an intelligible podcast. But John just can’t! Dan is not saying that the show doesn’t suffer, but people still enjoy it. Does it even suffer? Maybe people wouldn’t like John if he wasn’t half asleep? Half asleep is a nice in-between borderland state and by the end of the show John is always fully awake. At first it is ”I don’t know what I’m talking about” and by the end it is ”I know what I’m talking about!”

That is where we are today: John has got too many shirts, he doesn’t wake up in time, but police have not knocked on his door in many years. John does feel a general level of frustration among his friends, but a lot of that is just paranoia and fixation on himself. He wrote a text to a friend not long ago, asking ”Are you mad at me?” and they wrote back and said ”No!”, but because John had not heard from them in a long time, he automatically assumed that they were mad at him. Then this very nice friend would send him texts for a couple of months, confirming they are still not mad at John.

Patreon (RW123)

Dan promotes their Patreon. Their Bonus Content is not just more of this, it is not just another hour of the same thing, but during that the kimono is wide open. In previous episodes John has addressed his bisexuality, Dan has talked about the secret history of podcasting and they have helped a lot of people. John has always been ambivalent about crowdfunding across the board, but since they have done two After Darks, they have received a lot of very interesting listener mail, asking about stuff that they couldn’t do here. John never shies away from a topic, but he wants to talk about other people’s business and heavy questions about stuff, which wouldn’t be right to do it on this side of the bookcase. John does see the value of the After Darkness of it.

John has created names for the different tiers of support, like Flight Lieutenant, Squadron Leader, Wing Commander, Group Captain, Air Commodore, Air Marshall and Air Chief Marshall. They have one Air Chief Marshall who gives $100 or more per month and John wants that person to get a special coin.

They got feedback from talking about T-shirts and mugs, saying that they are both dumb because their audience wants challenge coins. Now Dan is looking into that, too. John wants to do something special for everybody who elects to be an Air Chief Marshall, maybe to get the chance to buy him dinner, because it is not going to be a dinner John is going to pay for.

Elon Musk taking a puff of cannabis on an interview (RW123)

Everybody wants a Tesla these days and the company can’t keep up with demand. They keep saying that they are going to make 3000 cars next month, but they fall short, or if they finally get it, it is revealed that everybody in the company is working around the clock and Elon Musk himself is sleeping in the factory. Some of the things he says in interviews are crazy and people are wondering if he is okay.

Elon Musk's interview on the Joe Rogan podcast

Elon Musk was recently on the Joe Rogan podcast who often has some really good guests and Dan likes to listen to it from time to time. Joe is a really big fan of cannabis and he was talking to Elon Musk about it. Elon has said publicly before that he had never tried it because you can’t be productive on it and it is for people who just sit around. Joe and Elon were drinking Whiskey together throughout most of the interview and at a certain point Joe decided it was time to light up.

Dan is not sure if it technically was a blunt or just a big joint, but Joe hands it to Elon who says ”It’s legal, right?” and then he takes a puff. Dan didn’t really see him inhaling the way Dan is familiar with people who are enjoying some good cannabis. You inhale, you hold it in for 3 seconds and you breathe it out. What Elon did was almost like bad TV smoking where he puffed it right out.

Reactions to Elon Musk smoking a joint

The Internet and the stock markets both lost it! Although the stock has returned to normal by now, it fell 9 points or something big and there were lots of articles from people who said ”OMG, how could he do that? Should a CEO of a company do this?" and the Air Force who works with him on Space X said that they are not sure what they are going to do now, maybe they can’t work with him anymore because he smoked some weed.

The director of Space X said that Elon is fine and it is okay, but other people said that he should never have done this and this was the worst thing. Elon was drinking Whiskey through the whole interview and then he took one half-assed puff of a blunt. Is there a difference between Whiskey and weed? Is one better than the other? Is it a big deal that he drank the Whiskey? Is it a big deal that he took a puff of the blunt?

John has not seen the video because he doesn’t typically live on the part of the Internet that is watching things in real-time, freaking out about them, posting over and over, reading other posts, developing really strong opinions about it, or where his heart would be beating in his throat about what he thinks about Joe Rogan giving Elon Musk a joint.

War on drugs

The drug hysteria of the 20th century has cost a lot of lives and a lot of treasure and it has destroyed families and wonderful cultural things. We have lost so much because of drug panic that John thinks it is one of the great crimes of the 20th century. It was not necessary! Everybody involved at one level or another knows that they are lying, certainly at a government level and certainly at any level where you spend any time really thinking about the effects of drugs. You know you are lying if you go to war against drugs in this way. Drugs are a thing and they do affect us, but alcohol is the most prevalent and the most common drug after caffeine and it is as poisonous a drug as you can take. It kills people all the time every day and, unlike most drugs, it results in a lot of killing of other people. No-one has ever committed murder or crashed their car into a family of 4 because they were stoned on pot.

Getting stopped by an Alaska State Trooper

At one time John and his friend David got stopped by an Alaska State Trooper on the highway to Girdwood. David was in the passenger seat with a 3 foot Graffix Bong between his legs and they were both taking straight-up bong-hits. Alaska State Troopers are a completely different breed. As he walked up, David just threw a jacket over it and John rolled down the window. There was pot smoke everywhere and this kid on the passenger seat had a giant tube under a coat between his legs. Of course the cop asked him to remove that coat and show him what is under it, because it looked like a mortar or a bazooka. A Graffix bong is a nice thing and it had been an investment on David’s part. As he took the coat off they both thought they were going to jail, but the trooper just says ”Aha, okay, there is a bong, let’s see the weed!” and David had a cigar box full of weed.

They handed the weed to the trooper and he says ”Look, we don’t mind if you smoke a little pot and drive. Studies have shown that it can focus your attention more on the road and you are a more cautious and attentive”, which acquitted with their sense of reality at the time. Once you are stoned you definitely have a tunnel vision on what you are doing, but not so much that you are not looking around. It is not like when drunk drivers are going 30 (50 km/h) in a 70 (110 km/h) either, you don’t loose touch with reality. You are stoned, but you are not fucked up. Of course there is an amount of stoned where it would be unsafe to drive and with all those legalization campaigns now there are billboards saying that you are not safe to drive if you are stoned, but you can be stoned and drive and John has driven thousands of miles baked out of his mind.

As the trooper was standing with them, he heard his radio go off back at his car because that was before the time when they had a radio on their shoulder. He said ”Today is your lucky day!”, he turned the box over, dumped the pot out on the ground, stepped on it once and ground his heal, went back to his car and off he went with his siren. As John is telling the story, he made a sound effect of a siren that he is very good at. He used to do it when he was riding in the car with 5 stoners and everybody would be scared, throw their joints out the window and lots of good fun! John opened the car door, grabbed all the weed that was full of gravel, threw it back in the cigar box and off they went. Weed had been legal in Alaska for a long time and the troopers had a very sanguine idea.

John visiting a lot of political meetings in his teens

While John was in his late teens, his dad was politically active in Alaska and they would go to Rotary club meetings together. He would take John to all these political events when Washington politicians were in town and John was just kind of soaking it up. He was contemptuous of that world because he was a young revolutionary, but he also liked going to the events because it was a peek behind the curtain. During this period, the predictable elements in Alaska politics were lobbying hard to make Marijuana illegal again. It wasn’t legal to grow, sell or transport, but you could have up to 3oz (85g) at your house. If you couldn’t grow, sell or transport it, some law had to be broken for that pot to get to your house, but that was one of those "Don’t ask! Don’t tell!" situations.

This was during the late Reagan, early Bush years and there was a group of conservative politicians, ministers, and law & order type cops who like authority and who like to be dicks. John remembers sitting in a couple of these meetings with all the movers and shakers and a couple of them would get up and give presentations of how pot was a gateway drug and how the Reagan administration wasn’t going to give Alaska money for roads if they didn’t make pot illegal. They succeeded in re-illegalized it.

The effects of drugs on your emotions

John was smoking a lot of pot then and he really sneered at them as they gave these speeches. He went to an event where G. Gordon Liddy debated Timothy Leary about drug laws and John stood up and asked a really snide question of G. Gordon Liddy whether or not he had ever smoked pot. He responded immediately that he hadn’t, but John was too stoned to put together a really smart retort and Liddy just looked at him with a look on his face like ”Exactly! You are an idiot!” while John just slunk back to his chair, feeling like he had failed to be properly sarcastic.

Being too baked to put a thought together is the worst thing that happens when you are high. You are also thinking that everybody in the room thinks that you are a dork when they are not, which is part of the paranoia you get when you are stoned. It is not the kind of paranoia that causes you to build a bunker under your house, but the fleeting paranoia that Black Sabbath talk about in Paranoid. We think of paranoid people of being these dangerous, gun-hoarding Internet tin-foil-hats, but throughout all the drug years, all the talk of paranoia was just talking about being stoned on pot. These are the bad effects, but they wear off. The effect of chronic pot smoking is that you don’t grow up, but this is true of any drug, including alcohol, but probably except nicotine and caffeine, but drugs that affect you emotionally. They intrude in between you and your emotional growth.

People talk about their emotional intelligence and drugs do affect your emotions, that is their primary world. It is like if you are trying to study math and as you were doing your homework and processing your lesson you took a sleeping pill and weren’t able to finish it. The drugs don’t put you to sleep, but they stimulate your emotions and direct your emotional work somewhere else. The emotions that you have when you are on drugs are not relevant to what is going on in your actual life and they intrude on processing your real emotions and real feelings about things.

Something happens, you feel something about it, and you tell yourself that you better smoke a joint or take a drink, because this emotional thing is so heightened. The drugs give you a facsimile of an emotion and you go over and experience that instead. Whether it distracts you, whether it heightens the experience or whether it completely mutes it doesn’t matter, because it intrudes. You can smoke pot for decades and say that it never affected you, but the fact is that you have never really worked through anything emotionally. You go to your job, you can’t find your wallet a lot of the time.

If you only smoke pot once a month, then 29.5 days of the month you are processing your emotions. If Elon Musk got stoned in that interview, he will be un-stoned again the next day and there is less lasting effect of having been stoned yesterday than having been drunk yesterday. You can have a pot hangover the next day if you get wasted baked, but if you eat 14 hot dogs you will have a sodium hangover, even if you eat 4 hot dogs. There is not a thing more benign than smoking pot once a month.

Smoking pot sometimes

It would be a gift if John could smoke pot once a month! Pot is great! It gives you little insights into things and you see through the fabric a little bit. You see through the matrix just a little, not like a red pill, but you see things differently. It is just a cliché that you would be ”Wow, have you ever looked at a garbage can before?”, but it is real, too! You look at a garbage can and you realize that you never noticed that they are built to be stacked or you see some aspect of them that you don’t normally notice because you look at them all the time. Pot causes you to notice those things.

John can’t smoke pot one time a month. If he started smoking pot again he would very quickly be smoking pot all the time. Chronic pot smokers are stoned every day and regard it as part of their life. They are not dangerous or violent, they are not hurting anybody except maybe their kids who don’t like that their dad is stoned all the time, but that doesn’t hurt them as bad as if their dad would beat them with a belt. You put an emotional distance between yourself, your kids, your lover and everybody.

You are too stoned for a lot of the things that are going down in your life and you are not 100% sharing the experience with other people. You are just in your stoned bubble. For John it is a no-brainer to pick between somebody who is in his stoned bubble and somebody who is drunk every day! He would rather deal with a stoner, both when they are stoned and when they are not stoned, than he would deal with a drunk when they are drunk or not drunk. Alcohol tells a lot more lies to you, it hurts you way worse and it is the worst emotional barrier. Alcohol is the date rape drug, the violence drug, the end-up-in-a-cop-car drug, it is all the bad things!

How crimes connect to drugs

Heroin is bad for you, but the crimes you commit on heroin are because you have burned every bridge and you don’t have any money, but you still need heroin. You commit crimes in order to get heroin, but if you gave heroin to junkies for free, they wouldn’t give a shit about committing crimes. Those drugs are associated with crimes, but the drug itself doesn’t cause crime. If you were really tweaked on meth, had been up for several days and all you were doing was meth, you would be firing on all cylinders so much that you were starting to short out and you can become violent and dangerous because you lose touch with reality.

Every once in a while you see somebody in the news who strips off all their clothes and runs down the middle of the street waving a sword. Most of the time those are people in a psychological crisis, but sometimes there is a major drug component to it and they have taken drugs to the point that it has broken them somehow and they get shot as often as not. There are quantities of certain drugs that make you violent and dangerous, but the number of people who are drunk and committing violent crime is an exponent of 1000 over the number of people who freak out on PCP once and decide that their banana is a gun.

The meaning of college today

Any handwringing about Elon Musk taking a puff of a joint is a component of an incredibly destructive and despicable cultural lie. A lot of collective lies are signals. Going to college is a collective lie that during the 20th century and into the 21st century went from being a thing that signaled that you were a member of a certain class to being a new collective lie that signaled that you are capable of following the rules for 4 years longer than what your average person is capable of doing, past the point where you are educated enough to use farm implements.

It is great that we are learning all these things, but a lot of what you do in High School and college is just about passing tests of obedience and not of intelligence. Are you obedient? Can you follow these not-difficult instructions? Can you do them over and over? Are you dependable? Then we will hire you. If you don’t and if you can’t, then we don’t know if you are dependable. College just proves that you can follow instruction and be obedient. That is why the military won’t promote you past a certain point if you are not married. You can be a young officer, but as you move up and become a Major you will find that you will be under a lot of pressure to get married. They don’t want a Colonel who isn’t married, because being married is a further way of convincing everybody that you are reliable and obedient. If you have a degree in sociology, you can get a job anywhere. The degree doesn't matter, but they will train you to do anything. People are looking for conformity.

When John was on the campaign trail, a sitting city council person took him aside and said that they don’t know how John is going to vote on things and nobody likes that. John said he is going to vote with his conscience, but that is wrong! No! That is not what they are asking! They want to know what John is going to do, because knowing how people are going to act in government is very important in terms of being able to count votes in advance and know where to direct resources to accomplish outcomes. Somebody who comes from outside and says they will do what seems right is the nightmare scenario. Politics is a machine, it is a set of organizations and it has a system. Whether you like it or not, the system works. Whether it is the best system is not a thing that we are adjudicating, but this is the system and we are sticking to it.

Elon Musk smoking put during an interview has nothing to do with pot, but the question is if he is obedient and reliable and if he is performing the rituals we all agreed are the ones where we sign off on calling this person a CEO or a captain of industry. John has met CEOs of companies that are not intellectually qualified to bag groceries. They are not leaders, they are not smart, they are not clever or proactive, and they don’t have strategic capacity, but they are just CEOs who found their way there because they performed their rituals at various spots along the way. Their companies don’t employ 10.000 people, but 300 people and they go to meetings and say ”I’m a CEO” and they will be the CEO forever. They got there, but not because they are great.

The reason why Elon Musk is hilarious is that he is one of these tech billionaires like Richard Branson who thinks they can reinvent the wheel. Richard Branson does it in a very rakish way. He surrounds himself with beautiful girls in skimpy uniforms, he owns an island somewhere and if there were pictures with Richard Branson surrounded by topless girls, people would titter, but all of that doesn't really violate the dude code of CEOing. It is just what they all aspire to, frankly!

Richard Branson does not get pictures taken of him smoking weed with Joe Rogan, because he recognizes that he is out there performing a role. He is not a Beatnik, but he is making deals, or whatever. That is why you get that reaction saying that this guy needs to be taught a lesson that he can only push us so far culturally from people who trade money and from people who determine at a larger level whether or not somebody is in or out. The punditry, the Hoi Polloi, are dummies and they are just following.

There is a headline everyday about how the real estate market in Seattle is cooling, but it is still the second hottest real estate market in the country. Reporters write about how it is cooling because they read some statistics and they are drumming up news and trying to find something to talk about that make everybody feel insecure, including people who hope that the real estate market crashes. It is like storm chasing hurricanes or like a car crash in slow motion: "I get to stand here and watch it!"

There are still states in America where you can get arrested, put in jail and have your kid taken from you for having a joint. They can still use it to ruin families like they have been doing it for decades. They can still use it to repossess your car. Being anti-drug is very profitable! Allowing marijuana to be freely traded is much more profitable from a GDP standpoint, but then the money would go somewhere else and not into buying cool cop cars or to the industrial paranoia, which is very different from the weed paranoia. Industrial paranoia likes to sell you bullet-proof vests.

Drugs as medical tools

John is excited about LSD being used therapeutically and he doesn’t believe that drug use is an issue that belongs to the law or the courts. Crimes and burglary belong to the police of course and if that burglar was on drugs or was burglarizing to do drugs, the real crime is the burglary and the police should be good at investigating burglaries. They are really bad at dealing with any of the consequences of drugs, at intercepting drug transport, or at busting drug dealers. They are super-bad at helping people on drugs in any way, shape or form.

John doesn’t believe that drugs are a cop problem, but in a way we are also a protestant nation and the protestantism is this vein throughout the country. As a founding tone it is judgmental and very concerned with what your neighbors are doing or with black and white morality. It is not a nuanced approach to the universe because it had to thread itself in there between Catholicism, Judaism and Islam as a different path. That different path required it to be stricter in some ways and less rooted in the natural world, but more rooted in the mind.

The United States will always have this element that is not "live and let live", or "laissez fare" about things. Some European countries are overly proud of themselves that they are more relaxed about areas of morality that have to do with personal choice. As long as you toe certain lines, nobody is monitoring your behavior in quite the same way. If you cross the street against the light in Bavaria, you are going to find that there are very strict cultural moires about breaking the law there. Normal people on the street are going to yell at you if you jaywalk, which doesn’t happen in the US, but there is something about protestantism that is like a terrier with a rat: It will never let go of the idea that your neighbors are up to something over there and you need to get involved somehow. They are folding their napkins wrong or they are touching each other’s buttholes or something that requires your involvement.

Like so many things, it is all going to work itself out, but it often means 50 years of grossly wasted effort and energy. If you took all the energy that we have spent thinking, talking, interdicting and prosecuting drugs, all the money, all the dark economy of drugs, all the energy and all the murder and just used it for something else, anything else, like guitar lessons for everybody! The war on drugs is as bad, wasteful and destructive as any war and probably more so! It happened right under our noses and we have all been complicit in it. When we hear that Jane’s son is getting arrested for pot, we are all just ”Ohhh… uhhhh, too bad!”, but nobody in the world gives a shit! Still, your little old ladies will wonder if the pot made him a monster?! A pot monster?

Dan's comment

(Dan:) Why is drinking whiskey no big deal, but taking a puff of a joint is such a big deal? In Dan's own personal experiences, alcohol has been proven to be much worse than weed ever has from a health standpoint, from the aftereffects standpoint, and from how he feels when he had some. Dan doesn’t drink because he doesn’t feel good when he drinks and he came to this conclusion after lots of testing. Dan would be way more upset at Elon Musk for drinking Whiskey than he would ever be for taking a puff of a joint. We know factually and scientifically, from anecdotal stories to research and beyond that alcohol is poisonous. We know that!

Because of all the anti-drug laws it has been very hard to research on cannabis and its effects, but the research we do have about products made from cannabis seems to find another kind of benefit every time they do another study. From veterans who are dealing with PTSD, to people with chronic pain, to people recovering from cancer to people who want to sleep better, to people with anxiety, you name it! We have found that it can actually help with that! The more research we do on alcohol, it will confirm that it is probably not so good for you.

You don’t even have to be high to get many of the benefits from cannabis-related products. A lot of them don’t require getting stoned, but just don’t have anxiety anymore. A lot of them are actually coming from hemp which is similar, but a different plant. Finally we can get this stuff researched. Taking a puff from a joint seems to be more educated and a smarter thing to do than drinking the Whiskey. Why is that such an issue for people?

Dan’s mom grew up during the Woodstock and hippie time-period. Dan’s dad got busted for pot in college. That was the culture that was going on back then. His mom said she didn’t really like how it made her feel and part of that was that she was super-paranoid about getting arrested. She smoked cigarettes for a good number of years and now she associates any kind of inhaling of smoke to be bad, even though the studies show that whatever smoking weed might do potentially is actually undone by the anti-inflammation capacity of the weed itself.

Dan's mom wouldn’t smoke anything, but in Florida they can now get the extract or the oil from weed and she has a friend, an older woman, who is taking it for medical reasons and it is really helping her. The more we learn about it, the better it seems to be for us. The more we learn about alcohol, the worse it seems to be for us, and yet alcohol is available pretty much everywhere and there is no stigma associated with buying it and drinking it, unless you are a hardcore religious type. We know it is poison! If you smoked as much weed as you could non-stop for weeks, you would not die or have any permanent damage, but if you didn’t stop drinking, you would die pretty quickly. Dan could probably kill himself right now with one bottle of Vodka. (/Dan)

Alcohol in society

None of these studies about pot and alcohol are really relevant in the big picture either. People are studying house paint and sunlight because graduate schools work the way they do and because scientific funding works the way it does. In a perfect world where you could study what you wanted to study as your job and not have to worry about getting paid, people would study different things than they do.

(Dan:) Why is the Whiskey okay and no-one even cares, notices it or says anything about it? It is not even a thing and if people even notice, they are probably thinking ”I wouldn’t mind a Whiskey right now!” (/Dan)

Alcohol and alcoholism is a major social and public health problem! If somebody showed up at John’s house with a bottle of wine and they open it and had a couple of glasses of wine, John would not be shocked and dismayed by it, but he would be watching it. John doesn’t drink wine and if they brought a bottle of wine into his house, it is because they want to drink it. The lie that drinking alcohol is social is a beautiful story and if everybody is drinking together, alcohol is a facilitator of a certain kind of lack of inhibition. If you have 5 people who are all inhibited, new to one another or otherwise uncomfortable for some reason, you can give them three drinks each and it will loosen them up.

What it really does is make the blood start pumping, they will all talk a bit louder and they will think that they are a little bit more interesting than they are. Alcohol is a social lubricant. But if you show up at somebody’s house who doesn’t drink with a bottle of wine to drink, it no longer about communing over it, but then you want to feel the effects of alcohol which is going to help you with this encounter. When that happens, John will note it as interesting for sure. If somebody drinks more than 4 or 5 drinks, John will call for the cheque, because he is no longer there and we are no longer on the same ride and it is diminishing returns for John real fast.

Maybe nobody challenged alcohol in 1950, but today it is challenged all the time all around us. We are watching alcohol super-hard because we see the damage it does. When John started drinking, a majority of people weren’t aware of alcoholism. John was sitting in one of those AA meetings where people would get called on and somebody said he didn’t even know why he was here, but the court had made him come because he got 5 DWIs. The room all started to laugh. What’s weird about that? He got caught 5 times doing something that everybody does and that shouldn’t even be illegal, what’s the big deal? To get 5 DWIs before you are 30 you have to be drunk constantly. He might not want to stop drinking and John doesn’t agree with being sent to AA by the court, but he should not have a driver’s license and he should be prohibited by law from driving a car.

You cannot grow up in America anymore without being aware of alcoholism and its signs. Dan’s kids know what it is! You can be in denial about it, but you can’t just be blind to it. We are talking about things being stimulants or depressants and that is a way too simplistic way of describing it, but alcohol is a suppressor. It elevates your performance, it briefly elevates your mood, but it is not enlightening. You never have an epiphany when you are drunk, unless it is a stupid epiphany.

The spirituality in alcohol is the community that happens among people who are using it as a communal drug. It creates a temporary, situational bonding in small groups and it is super-useful for that. John saw it a lot when he was walking across Europe. He would walk into these little village bars at the end of the night and be so fucking lonely. He would sit down at the bar and ”Hey, nice to meet you!” They didn’t speak the same language, but they would buy him a beer and they would be happy to meet him. If he had sat there drinking beer with them, he would be friends with them still.

There is no component to alcohol like ”Wait a minute! I have never really thought about property rights. Is my marriage working?” That just doesn’t happen and that is reliable. Alcohol is much more reliable. The ways in which it is unreliable is that a certain number of people black out and a certain number of people become angry or violent when they are drunk and their personality changes. Alcohol will affect a personality change. It is less common that it turns somebody who is really straight-laced into somebody who is super-affectionate and available, but it will turn a normal person into an angry asshole.

Those little personality shifts are manageable within the context of our culture, but we started to recognize drunkenness as the arena where most sexual violence happens. Until recently we considered that a manageable side-effect, because it was private business, stuff we didn’t talk about, or maybe she was asking for it, or whatever. It was a whole universe of stuff that we didn’t address or talk about, but it was manageable according to the way we socially govern one another.

Alcohol was much less threatening than the prospect that somebody would have an experience that they couldn’t account for, where something they had always accepted became something they were now questioning, which is the experience that you have on psychoactive drugs like pot, mushrooms or LSD. Those are terrifying! The idea that your daughter would go to college and wake up in some strange guy’s bed without her pants on and without knowing what happened was more acceptable to Mom & Dad USA than if she would go to a pot party and come back and say that she no longer believed in capitalism, Jesus or parental authority.

Pot and mushrooms

The original prohibition against pot was because the early adopters of it were blacks and jazz musicians and it represented a threat to authority in a way that alcohol actually kind of reinforces authority, but what we call authority and respect about authority is changing quickly. There are surely whole worlds of people listening to this show who feel like drunks are a lesser form of personhood and being high is a higher form of being an intoxicated person.

Drugs and alcohol are super-useful tools. If you are capable of managing and using those tools and thinking of them as tools then you are in a very lucky group of people. Most people are either not aware of the fact that they are tools, or they are not using them as tools or they find that those intoxicants make their lives less manageable, not more. For most of those people, not doing drugs is way better! Just feel your feelings, experience your experiences, and do the fucking hard work! If you are sad, be sad. If you come home from work and you are tired, be tired. You don’t need a drink! If you are using alcohol consciously and not as a medicine for your feelings, if you are saying that tonight you want to drink because you want the experience of feeling a false intimacy with with those business guys, that bonding is what alcohol is a good tool for.

If you are going out to the Oregon Coast this weekend doing mushrooms, smoking weed and looking out at the ocean thinking about some stuff, then fuck yeah! Do it! Just don’t come back and smoke weed at home. Come home and don’t think about it, because otherwise you are not processing, but you are burying your thoughts under a further layer of sand, and that is the diminishing returns problem of drugs: You have your peaks, but you can never recapture them. You know when they are and you carry those with you for the rest of your life. You can’t plan them either, it doesn’t work that way. People who already had the best drug experience they will ever have are hoping that they can get there again, but you can’t, because you can’t split your mind wide-open a second time.

The first time John was at a party and a guy came up behind him and was giving him a shoulder-rub and then reached up and started pulling on John’s ears and massaging John’s ears with a giant kind of sucking-sound was incredible, because he had freed John’s ear canals from the place they had been stuck for his whole life. John has never been able to do that again. It only happened once. It was a hippie party and everybody was touching each other and this was one of the things that happened. Dan is grossed out by this story. It was a completely stoned event, but John couldn’t get back there. He also couldn’t get back to the highest he has ever been and neither can you! Unless you are 18 years old and haven’t done drugs yet, you probably don’t have your most stoned experience waiting for you in the future.


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