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Working with the Multidisciplinary Association for Psychedelic Studies (MAPS) for the past four years as their guest editor has been an extremely exciting and tremendously fruitful endeavor for me. It’s a great joy to see how MDMA can help people suffering from posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD), how LSD can help advanced-stage cancer patients come to peace with the dying process, and how ibogaine can help opiate addicts overcome their addiction. There appears to be enormous potential for the development of psychedelic drugs into effective treatments for a whole range of difficult-to-treat psychiatric disorders.
However, as thrilled as I am by all the new clinical studies exploring the medical potential of psychedelic drugs, I still long for the day when our best minds and resources can be applied to the study of these extraordinary substances with an eye that looks beyond their medical applications, toward their ability to enhance human potential and explore new realities.
Tag Archives | Maps
Is our reliance on GPS and mobile devices maps making us increasingly disoriented and oblivious? To me, the relevant aspect of this story is not that Apple’s map app is flawed, but that numerous people would drive to a remote, dangerous desert just because their smartphone told them to. Via Newser:
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Apple’s much-maligned mapping system is so flawed that motorists who rely on it run the risk of ending up dead in the wilderness, Australia police warn. Over the last few weeks, six motorists have become stranded in Victoria state’s Murray Sunset National Park when following the map app’s directions to a city more than 40 miles away, CNET reports. Some iPhone users were stranded in the park for two hours without enough food and water.
Police in the area have urged drivers to rely on other forms of mapping. “Police are extremely concerned as there is no water supply within the park,” they said in a statement, warning that temperatures in the park could reach 115 degrees Fahrenheit, making the map problem “a potentially life-threatening issue.” Apple has yet to comment on the issue.
Rick Doblin has been one of the few medical doctors in the United States, or actually make that more or less anywhere in the developed world, willing to stick his neck out and conduct clinical trials of psychedelic drugs.
His work has been variously profiled by the alternative press (including, of course, Under The Influence: The Disinformation Guide to Drugs), but it seems that his time may finally have come for some mainstream acceptance. Benedict Carey profiles the work of Doblin’s Multidisciplinary Association for Psychedelic Studies (MAPS) organization for the New York Times:
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Hundreds of Iraq and Afghanistan veterans with post-traumatic stress have recently contacted a husband-and-wife team who work in suburban South Carolina to seek help. Many are desperate, pleading for treatment and willing to travel to get it.
The soldiers have no interest in traditional talking cures or prescription drugs that have given them little relief. They are lining up to try an alternative: MDMA, better known as Ecstasy, a party drug that surfaced in the 1980s and ’90s that can induce pulses of euphoria and a radiating affection.
The Vancouver Public Space Network mapped CCTV locations in the metropolitan core, revealing the geography of surveillance:
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The preliminary map that we created indicates the places where surveillance cameras could be found prior to the installation of extra cameras for the Olympics. We are particularly concerned about the surveillance legacy that the Olympics may leave behind, and will be monitoring the city government to make sure that this network is removed once the party is over. In all, the map represents the locations of 1500 of the 2000 cameras we found.
Public spaces are inherently places in which we can be observed by other people, and where we can observe others. However, the VPSN is concerned about the way that intense video surveillance, particularly networked, centrally monitored systems, might negatively affect the way that people enjoy public spaces. In the United Kingdom, which has intensive public video surveillance, security cameras have been used by security officers to harass people and to profile individuals based on race and socio-economic status.
Via the Guardian, Oliver Burkeman on Google and Apple’s quests to map the world in ever greater detail, and how our maps’ creators shape how we engage with the world:
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[Almost a decade ago], Google co-founders Larry Page and Sergey Brin had been fascinated by the zooming satellite imagery used by US news networks to report on bombing raids in Iraq. Those terrain graphics were provided by Keyhole, Inc, a software company that the CIA had helped to fund. Unlike the rest of us, Page and Brin had the wherewithal to act upon their fascination: they bought Keyhole, repackaging and releasing the firm’s software as Google Earth in 2005.
“They say they bought it because it looked cool,” says Brotton. “But my view is that they absolutely knew what they were buying. They marketed it in this touchy-feely way, as an environmental thing, and they called it ‘Earth’ – ‘Google World’ would have sounded imperialist.
A fascinating example of how racism was officially inscribed earlier in U.S. history — a map created by the city government of Durham in which all geography and locations are racialized. Imagine needing such a map for the purpose of decoding what locations could be accessed by whom. Via Sociological Images:
Trudi Abel, who directs the Digital Durham Project at Duke University, sent [this] in. Created by the Department of Public works in Durham, NC, in 1937, the map illustrates the legal and taken-for-granted racial segregation of the time. The map indicates which parks and residential areas were for Whites and which for African Americans.
We might say with only slight exaggeration that the United States exists in its current state of economic and military well-being due to a peripheral constellation of sites found all over the world. These far-flung locations—such as rare-earth mines, telecommunications hubs and vaccine suppliers—are like geopolitical buttresses, as important for the internal operations of the United States as its own homeland security. However, this overseas network is neither seamless nor even necessarily identifiable as such. Rather, it is aggressively and deliberately discontiguous, and rarely acknowledged in any detail. That is what made the controversial release by WikiLeaks, in December 2010, of a long list of key infrastructural sites deemed vital to the national security of the United States so interesting...
If the virtual world is increasingly competing with the physical one in importance, shouldn’t our maps include both? Refractal on this question, including a prescient 1945 map depicting the earth based around deep-sea cable connections:
In 2001, Martin Dodge and Rob Kitchin published An Atlas of Cyberspace. The atlas locates cyberspace along many dimensions: geographic maps of core fiber optic back bones, social maps showing the relationships between individual users in virtual worlds, hierarchy trees of web page design, etc.
“Great Circle” map designed as a bit of marketing ephemera for the Cable and Wireless Company, showing the global connectivity of its telecommunications network, with Britain centered representing its position as “hub of the world”, 1945.
Suzanne Collins’ The Hunger Games is the latest megaselling book to get the Hollywood treatment, ensuring that there will be few people who are unaware of the future nation of Panem. It is a nation located in a post-Apocalypse North America, leading to much speculation as to the exact location of the thirteen districts described in the book. The aimmyarrowshigh blog has developed a map using the phi spiral based on the sacred geometrical golden ratio.
It’s a bit of fun based on YA fiction, no need to pick it apart unduly, but if you have other ideas…
The geography-as-person trope goes back a long time, and remains haunting — are cities sentient beings? As we traverse streets and subway systems, are we merely red blood cells coursing through a giant body? And when a place’s key locations and arterials seem to mimic the human form, is it just our imagination? This idea is illustrated beautifully in a 1912 map, via Big Think:
The map, designed by Polly Hill, was part of a promotional brochure extolling the beauties, joys and pleasures to be sampled in Santa Cruz and environs — centred on the Casa del Rey Hotel, and the adjacent Casino.
More than a cartographic gimmick, the hand shape is also a clever way of representing the local geography, with the two outer fingers representing the coastal corridor and the three middle ones some of the valleys radiating northward through mountainous terrain.