Daily Archives: November 10, 2020

Pathologic 2 Is a Fascinating Experiment in Method Role-Playing – The Escapist

Posted: November 10, 2020 at 1:43 am

Pathologic 2 didnt get a lot of attention when it released last year. There were good reasons for that: It is a follow-up to a game that was notorious for its poor Russian-to-English localization, it ran badly, and it was exceptionally arguably unfairly difficult. It did have an excellent English localization this time around, and developer Ice-Pick Lodge introduced a slew of patches and difficulty sliders to tweak all aspects of the gameplay in the weeks following its release, but it was too late. The game had missed its opportunity to make a positive impression on the mainstream press, and it was relegated to cult status within just a few months of release.

Part of me thinks thats just fine, since Pathologic 2 is absolutely not for everyone, but I also believe it deserves much more recognition than it got. Because once you turn the difficulty down (I dont advise this often, but turn it all the way down.) and get over the uneven performance, you are left with a singularly fascinating experiment in what Im going to call method role-playing.

To understand what I mean here, consider a typical role-playing game like Baldurs Gate or The Witcher. In the former you build a character out of a set of variable characteristics and then pretend-play as that character for the rest of the game. In the latter you assume an existing, predetermined role and do the same. In both you make dialogue choices and decisions that affect the progress and usually the ending of the story, broken up by bits of gameplay that itself offers more or less player choice.

However, you do not need to pay a huge amount of attention to the story in either type of game. It is possible to ignore most cutscenes, or click through most dialogue options and decisions, and still make it through to the end.

That is not the case with Pathologic 2. Not every dialogue choice or decision will progress the story in a particular direction, and if you dawdle too long or make too many disparate and unconnected choices, you will eventually face the so-called Late Ending: an unsatisfying conclusion that effectively mocks you for not paying enough attention and not doing anything of real substance.

To get the intended experience from Pathologic 2, you have to go beyond the pretend play of traditional RPGs and learn the role you are given (something the game heavily implies with a meta-narrative set inside a theater). That means paying attention to every piece of information you are presented with every bit of the local dialect, history, customs, and opinions and internalizing it until you can speak, think, and apply it back to the game world to form your own view of that world. By analogy with method acting, Pathologic 2 requires you to method role-play: to inhabit the games protagonist and their environment.

This is not an easy thing to do. Pathologic 2 is set in The Town, a turn-of-the-20th-century province in an unnamed country that is a bizarre mix of architectural styles, technologies, customs, and characters. You play as Artemy Burakh, a Haruspex, a term that seems to be loosely borrowed from ancient Rome to describe a quasi-religious official who studies the interconnections between the physical and the spiritual. Artemy had left The Town to study medicine in a big city and is recalled years later by a letter from his father, a well-respected local physician. On arrival, Artemy finds himself a stranger in his birthplace, overshadowed by his fathers achievements, and expected to follow in his footsteps.

This is already a lot to take in, and while Pathologic 2 does give you a few hours to do that, eventually The Town becomes infected with a deadly plague, its citizens start falling ill and dying, and you have just 12 days (Each one takes about two real-life hours.) to understand what caused it and how to stop it.

It is impossible to heal or even visit and speak to everyone who falls ill in a given day. It is likewise impossible to pursue every story thread or bit of lore, especially since many characters give contradictory information, seem to outright lie, or may even be figments of Artemys imagination. For example, late in the game the plague begins manifesting itself to Artemy as a plague doctor.

You get thirsty, hungry, tired, and can become infected or injured in combat. You also need to monitor your immunity, inventory, and supplies. If you dont do this and push yourself to try to complete everything in a given day, you will wear yourself out and eventually die. Or you will run out of resources and get stuck in a loop of trial and failure thats difficult to solve by loading earlier saves, since many decisions dont have follow-on consequences until hours later.

There is no glossary or codex and no objective marker to keep you on track. Despite this, you need to learn your Shabnak-Adyr from your Bos Turokh, your Boddhos from your herd brides, Erdems from Bohirs, and many other pieces of lore and tradition, or you will say the wrong things to the wrong people and shut off possible avenues for progression. And if you do not decide which approach to the plague and to The Towns general future you agree with from the scientific rationalism of the big city to the mysticism of the local steppes tribes you will lose your thread on the main story entirely.

If you can internalize all that and make peace with it, then youll find you are method role-playing as Artemy. Youll realize its not possible for Artemy to complete every task, save everyone, or share his viewpoint with them, so equally its not possible for you. Youll embrace the fact that quests will go uncompleted, NPCs will go unspoken to, and large aspects of the story will remain unknown, and youll just play according to your chosen style and perspective on The Town.

I found it stressful at first completionist habits die hard but it makes room for the punishing systems, bleak story, strange setting, and rich lore to come together in one of the most unique, thematically ambitious, and rewarding narrative experiences in recent memory.

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Science-fiction master Ted Chiang explores the rights and wrongs of AI – GeekWire

Posted: at 1:43 am

The story of Ted Chiangs life includes stints as a technical writer in the Seattle area and worldwide acclaim as a science-fiction writer. (Alan Berner Photo via Knopf Doubleday Publicity)

What rights does a robot have? If our machines become intelligent in the science-fiction way, thats likely to become a complicated question and the humans who nurture those robots just might take their side.

Ted Chiang, a science-fiction author of growing renown with long-lasting connections to Seattles tech community, doesnt back away from such questions. They spark the thought experiments that generate award-winning novellas like The Lifecycle of Software Objects, and inspire Hollywood movies like Arrival.

Chiangs soulful short stories have earned him kudos from the likes of The New Yorker, which has called him one of the most influential science-fiction writers of his generation. During this years pandemic-plagued summer, he joined the Museum of Pop Cultures Science Fiction and Fantasy Hall of Fame. And this week, hes receiving an award from the Arthur C. Clarke Foundation for employing imagination in service to society.

Can science fiction have an impact in the real world, even at times when the world seems as if its in the midst of a slow-moving disaster movie?

Absolutely, Chiang says.

Art is one way to make sense of a world which, on its own, does not make sense, he says in the latest episode of the Fiction Science podcast, which focuses on the intersection between science and fiction. Art can impose a kind of order onto things. It doesnt offer a cure-all, because I dont think theres going to be any easy cure-all, but I think art helps us get by in these stressful times.

COVID-19 provides one illustration. Chiang would argue that our response to the coronavirus pandemic has been problematic in part because it doesnt match what weve seen in sci-fi movies.

The greatest conflict that we see generated is from people who dont believe in it vs. everyone else, he said. That might be the product of the fact that it is not as severe. If it looked like various movie pandemics, itd probably be hard for anyone to deny that it was happening.

This pandemic may well spark a new kind of sci-fi theme.

Its worth thinking about, that traditional depictions of pandemics dont spend much time on people coming together and trying to support each other, Chiang said. That is not typically a theme in stories about disaster or enormous crisis. I guess the narrative is usually, Its the end of civilization. And people have not turned on each other in that way.

Artificial intelligence is another field where science fiction often gives people the wrong idea. When we talk about AI in science fiction, were talking about something very different than what we mean when we say AI in the context of current technology, he said.

Chiang isnt speaking here merely as an author of short stories, but as someone who joined the Seattle tech community three decades ago to work at Microsoft as a technical writer. During his first days in Seattle, his participation in 1989s Clarion West Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers Workshop helped launch his second career as a fiction writer.

In our interview, Chiang didnt want to say much about the technical-writing side of his career, but his expertise showed through in our discussion about real vs. sci-fi AI. When people talk about AI in the real world theyre talking about a certain type of software that is usually like a superpowered version of applied statistics, he said.

Thats a far cry from the software-enhanced supervillains of movies like Terminator or The Matrix, or the somewhat more sympathetic characters in shows like Westworld and Humans.

In Chiangs view, most depictions of sci-fi AI fall short even by science-fiction standards. A lot of stories imagine something which is a product like a robot that comes in a box, and you flip it on, and suddenly you have a butler a perfectly competent and loyal and obedient butler, he noted. That, I think jumps over all these steps, because butlers dont just happen.

In The Lifecycle of Software Objects, Chiang imagines a world in which it takes just as long to raise a robot as it does to raise a child. That thought experiment sparks all kinds of interesting all-too-human questions: What if the people who raise such robots want them to be something more than butlers? Would they stand by and let their sci-fi robot progeny be treated like slaves, even like sex slaves?

Maybe they want that robot, or conscious software, to have some kind of autonomy, Chiang said. To have a good life.

Chiangs latest collection of short stories, Exhalation, extends those kinds of thought experiments to science-fiction standbys ranging from free will to the search for extraterrestrial intelligence.

Both those subjects come into play in whats certainly Chiangs best-known novella, Story of Your Life, which was first published in 1998 and adapted to produce the screenplay for Arrival in 2016. Like so many of Chiangs other stories, Story of Your Life takes an oft-used science-fiction trope in this case, first contact with intelligent aliens and adds an unexpected but insightful and heart-rending twist.

Chiang said that the success of the novella and the movie hasnt led to particularly dramatic changes in the story of his own life, but that it has broadened the audience for the kinds of stories he tells.

My work has been read by people who would not describe themselves as science-fiction readers, by people who dont usually read a lot of science fiction, and thats been amazing. Thats been really gratifying, he said. Its not something that I ever really expected.

Whats more, Chiangs work has been popping up in places where you wouldnt expect to see science fiction such as The New York Times, where he weighs in on the implications of human gene editing; or Buzzfeed News, where he reflects on the downside of Silicon Valleys world view; or the journal Nature, where you can find Chiangs thought experiments on free will and transhumanism; or Nautilus, where Chiang offers an unorthodox perspective on SETI.

During our podcast chat, Chiang indulged in yet another thought experiment: Could AI replace science-fiction writers?

Chiangs answer? It depends.

If we could get software-generated novels that were coherent, but not necessarily particularly good, I think there would be a market for them, he said.

But Chiang doesnt think that would doom human authors.

For an AI to generate a novel that you think of as really good, that you feel like, Oh, wow, this novel was both gripping and caused me to think about my life in a new way that, I think, is going to be very, very hard, he said.

Ted Chiang only makes it look easy.

Chiang and other Arthur C. Clarke Foundation awardees will take part in the 2020 Clarke Conversation on Imagination at 9 a.m. PT Nov. 12. Register via the foundations website and Eventbrite to get in on the interactive video event.

This is a version of an article first published on Cosmic Log. Check out the Cosmic Log posting for Ted Chiangs reading recommendations, which are this months selections for the Cosmic Log Used Book Club.

My co-host for the Fiction Science podcast is Dominica Phetteplace, an award-winning writerwho is a graduate of theClarion West Writers Workshopand currently lives in Berkeley, Calif. Shes among the science-fiction authors featured inThe Best Science Fiction of the Year. To learn more about Phetteplace, check out her website,DominicaPhetteplace.com.

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The great reset: new danger on the horizon – Amandala

Posted: at 1:43 am

Belize City, Nov. 2, 2020 Most people in Belize are either taken up these days with finding a job/income, with fears of COVID-19, or with anticipation of the General Elections of Nov. 11, 2020. But lurking in the shadows is a much more dangerous foe.

In the past it was called The New World Order, but that has been so discredited, that the wizard behind the curtain had to change the name to The Great Reset. What is this Great Reset?

The Great Reset is a new social contract that ties you to it through an electronic ID linked to your bank account and health records, and a social credit ID that will dictate every facet of your life. While the COVID-19 pandemic is being used as a justification for the Great Reset movement, the agenda has nothing to do with health and everything to do with a long-term plan to monitor and control the world through digital surveillance and artificial intelligence.

The Great Reset and the Fourth Industrial Revolution are rebranded terms for the old New World Order, melded with the trans-humanist movement. Technocracy (which is the new name for Fascism) is an economic system of resource allocation that revolves around computer technology in particular artificial intelligence, digital surveillance, and Big Data (5G) collection and the digitization of industry and government, which in turn allows for the automation of social engineering and social rule, thereby doing away with the need for democratically elected leadership.

While the real plan is to usher in a tech-driven dystopia free of democratic controls, the elites speak of this plan as a way to bring us back into harmony with nature the Green New Deal. Importantly, the pandemic is being used to destroy local economies around the world, which will then allow the World Economic Forum to come in through the IMF and rescue debt-ridden countries through facilitated financial bailouts.

However, the price for this salvation is your personal freedom and liberty. And, again, one of the aspects of the Fascist plan is to eliminate national borders and nationalism in general.

Who are the main actors behind the Great Reset?

Bill Gates and the World Economic Forum, along with the United Nations (which keeps a relatively low profile), appear to be at the heart of the big boys agenda. Gates is also the largest money-bag for the World Health Organization the medical branch of the U.N. Other key partners that play important roles in the implementation of the elites/globalists agenda include foundations such as the Rockefeller Foundation, the Rockefeller Brothers Fund, the Ford Foundation, Bloomberg Philanthropies, the UN Foundation, and George Soros Open Society Foundation; companies such as: Avanti Communications, a British provider of satellite technology with global connectivity, and 2030 Vision, a partnership of technology giants that is aimed at providing the infrastructure and technology solutions needed to realize the U.N.s 2030 Sustainable Development Goals. 2030 Vision is also partnered with Frontier 2030, which is a partnership of organizations under the helm of the World Economic Forum.

These organizations include the major Wall Street bankers/financiers; Google, the No. 1 Big Data collector in the world and a leader in AI services; MasterCard, which is leading the globalist charge to develop digital IDs and banking services, and Salesforce, a global leader in cloud computing, the internet of things and artificial intelligence.

Incidentally, Salesforce is led by Marc Benioff, who is also on the World Economic Forums board of directors, and Professor Klaus Schwab, chairman of the World Economic Forum.

Most Belizeans know little or nothing about the trans-humanist movement, or Human 2.0, which is geared at transcending biology through computer technology. Or, as Dr. Carrie Madej of USA explains in a blog, their goal is to meld human biology with computer technology and artificial intelligence. Two visible proponents of trans-humanism are Ray Kurzweil (director of engineering at Google since 2012) and Elon Musk (founder of SpaceX, Tesla and Neuralink). According to Dr. Madej, today we may be standing at the literal crossroads of trans-humanism, thanks to the fast approaching release of one or more mRNA COVID-19 vaccines.

Many of the COVID 19 vaccines https://articles.mercola.com/sites/articles/archive/2020/05/22/coronavirus-vaccine-timetable.aspx are not conventional vaccines. Their design is aimed at manipulating your very biology, and therefore have the potential to alter the biology of the entire human race. Conventional vaccines train your body to recognize and respond to the proteins of a particular virus by injecting a small amount of the actual viral protein into your body, thereby triggering an immune response from your body and the development of antibodies.This is not what happens with an mRNA vaccine. The theory behind these vaccines is that when you inject the mRNA into your cells, it will stimulate your cells to manufacture their own viral protein. The mRNA COVID-19 vaccine will be the first of its kind. No mRNA vaccine has ever been licensed before. And, to add insult to injury, theyre forgoing all animal safety testing.

Madej has reviewed the background of certain individuals participating in the race for a COVID-19 vaccine, which include Moderna co-founder Derrick Rossi, a Harvard researcher who successfully reprogrammed stem cells using modified RNA, thus changing the function of the stem cells. Moderna was founded on this concept of being able to modify human biological function through genetic engineering.

The mRNA vaccines are designed to instruct your cells to make the SARS-CoV-2 spike protein, the glycoprotein that attaches to the ACE2 receptor of the cell. The idea is that by creating the SARS-CoV-2 spike protein, your immune system will mount a response to it and begin producing antibodies to the virus.

However, as we now know, Moderna is having problems, because both the CEO and CFO have, according to the Wall Street Journal, dumped their shares and sold everything, making some $350 million + dollars.

But the biggest insult by the globalists to our intelligence is the censorship of the news about the research done by genetic analysis using the Oak Ridge National Lab supercomputer called the Summit which has revealed an interesting new hypothesis that helps explain the disease progression of COVID-19. A September 1, 2020 Medium article1 by Thomas Smith reviewed the findings of what is now referred to as the Bradykinin hypothesis.

As reported by Smith, the computer crunched data on more than 40,000 genes obtained from 17,000 genetic samples.

Summit is the second-fastest computer in the world, but the process which involved analysing 2.5 billion genetic combinations still took more than a week. When Summit was done, researchers analysed the results. It was, in the words of Dr. Daniel Jacobson, lead researcher and chief scientist for computational systems biology at Oak Ridge, a eureka moment.

Bradykinin is a chemical that helps regulate your blood pressure and is controlled by your renin-angiotensin system (RAS). As explained in the Academic Press book on vitamin D (which has a significant impact on the RAS):

The renin-angiotensin system (RAS) is a central regulator of renal and cardiovascular functions. Over-activation of the RAS leads to renal and cardiovascular disorders, such as hypertension and chronic kidney disease, the major risk factors for stroke, myocardial infarction, congestive heart failure, progressive atherosclerosis, and renal failure.

The Bradykinin hypothesis provides a model that helps explain some of the more unusual symptoms of COVID-19, including its bizarre effects on the cardiovascular system. It also strengthens the hypothesis that vitamin D plays a really important role in the disease.

Your ACE2 receptors are the primary gateways of the virus, as the virus spike protein binds to the ACE2 receptor. As explained2 by Smith:

COVID-19 infection generally begins when the virus enters the body through ACE2 receptors in the nose The virus then proceeds through the body, entering cells in other places where ACE2 is also present But once Covid-19 has established itself in the body, things start to get really interesting The data Summit analysed shows that COVID-19 isnt content to simply infect cells that already express lots of ACE2 receptors. Instead, it actively hijacks the bodys own systems, tricking it into up-regulating ACE2 receptors in places where theyre usually expressed at low or medium levels, including the lungs.

In this sense, COVID-19 is like a burglar who slips in your unlocked second-floor window and starts to ransack your house. Once inside, though, they dont just take your stuff they also throw open all your doors and windows so their accomplices can rush in and help pillage more efficiently.

The end result is a Bradykinin storm, and according to the researchers, this appears to be an important factor in many of COVID-19s lethal effects, even more so than the Cytokine storms associated with the disease. As Bradykinin accumulates, the more serious COVID-19 symptoms appear. Mounting clinical data suggest COVID-19 is actually primarily a vascular disease rather than a respiratory one, and runaway Bradykinin build-up help explain this.

The good news is that since Bradykinin storms are to blame, there are a number of already existing drugs (Icatibant, Danazol, Stanozolol) that can help prevent Bradykinin storms, and there are many other safe, inexpensive strategies like nebulized peroxide, ozone, molecular hydrogen, steroids, exogenous ketones, and Quercetin with zinc, vitamin D, and high-dose vitamin C.

And there are two reports by the American CDC. One says that 70.6% of COVID-19 patients always wore a mask3. The other says only 6% of all COVID-19 deaths were due ONLY to coronavirus4. And yet another said that the common seasonal flu caused more deaths than COVID-19.

So, if COVID-19 deaths are not what is being reported by the mass media, if the SAR CoV-2 virus is not as deadly to humans, then why the lockdowns, the face masks, the social distancing, the destruction of the way we live, of our economies? Why? Why?

But not all men are blind. On Oct 25, 2020, the Archbishop of Ulpiana, former Apostolic Nuncio to the United States of America, Carlo Maria Vigano, wrote an open letter (which over 100 million Americans have read) to President Donald Trump. The letter is long and is all over the internet. This is some of it:

at this hour in which the fate of the whole world is being threatened by a global conspiracy against God and humanityin the midst of the silence of both civil and religious authoritiesthis historical moment sees the forces of Evil aligned in a battle against the children of Lightwe see heads of nations and religious leaders pandering to this suicide of Western culture and its Christian soul, while the fundamental rights of citizens and believers are denied in the name of a health emergency that is revealing itself more and more fully as instrumental to the establishment of an inhuman faceless tyranny.

A global plan called the Great Reset is underway. Its architect is a global lite that wants to subdue all of humanity, imposing coercive measures with which to drastically limit individual freedoms and those of entire populations Behind the world leaders who are the accomplices and executors of this infernal project, there are unscrupulous characters who finance the World Economic Forum and Event 201, promoting their agenda.

The purpose of the Great Reset is the imposition of a health dictatorship aiming at the imposition of liberticidal measures, hidden behind tempting promises of ensuring a universal income and cancelling individual debt. The price of these concessions from the International Monetary Fund will be the renunciation of private property and adherence to a program of vaccination against Covid-19 and Covid-21 promoted by Bill Gates with the collaboration of the main pharmaceutical groups. Beyond the enormous economic interests that motivate the promoters of the Great Reset, the imposition of the vaccination will be accompanied by the requirement of a health passport and a digital ID, with the consequent contact tracing of the population of the entire world. Those who do not accept these measures will be confined in detention camps or placed under house arrest, and all their assets will be confiscated.

Mr President, I imagine that you are already aware that in some countries the Great Reset will be activated between the end of this year and the first trimester of 2021. For this purpose, further lockdowns are planned, which will be officially justified by a supposed second and third wave of the pandemic. But this world, Mr. President, includes people, affections, institutions, faith, culture, traditions, and ideals: people and values that do not act like automatons, who do not obey like machines, because they are endowed with a soul and a heart, because they are tied together by a spiritual bond that draws its strength from above, from that God that our adversaries want to challenge, just as Lucifer did at the beginning of time with his non serviam.

Until a few months ago, it was easy to smear as conspiracy theorists those who denounced these terrible plans, which we now see being carried out down to the smallest detail. No one, up until last February, would ever have thought that, in all of our cities, citizens would be arrested simply for wanting to walk down the street, to breathe, to want to keep their business open, to want to go to church on Sunday. Yet, now it is happening all over the world.

Mr. President, you have clearly stated that you want to defend the nation One Nation under God, fundamental liberties, and non-negotiable values that are denied and fought against today. It is you, dear President, who are the one who opposes the deep state, the final assault of the children of darkness.

For this reason, it is necessary that all people of goodwill be persuaded of the epochal importance of the imminent election Your adversary is also our adversary: it is the Enemy of the human race, He who is a murderer from the beginning (Jn 8:44).

And yet, in the midst of this bleak picture, this apparently unstoppable advance of the Invisible Enemy, an element of hope emerges. The adversary does not know how to love, and it does not understand that it is not enough to assure a universal income or to cancel mortgages in order to subjugate the masses and convince them to be branded like cattle. This people, which for too long has endured the abuses of a hateful and tyrannical power, is rediscovering that it has a soul; it is understanding that it is not willing to exchange its freedom for the homogenization and cancellation of its identity; it is beginning to understand the value of familial and social ties, of the bonds of faith and culture that unite honest people.

This Great Reset is destined to fail because those who planned it do not understand that there are still people ready to take to the streets to defend their rights, to protect their loved ones, to give a future to their children and grandchildren. The levelling inhumanity of the globalist project will shatter miserably in the face of the firm and courageous. To be an instrument of Divine Providence is a great responsibility, for which you will certainly receive all the graces of state that you need, since they are being fervently implored for you by the many people who support you with their prayers.

Meanwhile, here in Belize, we kill our so-called COVID-19 patients. Ventilators will kill you. Doctors of Belize, read the report of the US Oak Ridge National Lab on COVID-19. NO one needs to die anymore from COVID-19. US President Trump, who is 74 years old, was cured after 3 days of COVID-19.

And by the time you read this article, the world will know who won the elections in the United States.

Curfew on Nov. 11, election night in Belize, is part of the Globalist agenda. Let the people celebrate their victory. Open the churches, the schools, the bars; open the society. Send the globalist/elites back to Hell with Lucifer.


2ibid3https://www.cdc.gov/mmwr/volumes/69/wr/mm6936a5.htmRead the table at the end.4https://www.cdc.gov/nchs/nvss/vsrr/covid_weekly/index.html

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Nov. 4 Letters to the Editor: Our Readers’ Opinions – Lewiston Morning Tribune

Posted: at 1:43 am

COVID-19 cases reported do not reveal the true story. Most of these people have the common cold with symptoms of COVID-19.

Coronaviruses are a family of viruses that can cause illness, such as the severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS), a leading cause of death, Middle East syndrome (MERS), also the common cold.

The new virus, which originated in China, is being called SARS-CoV-2.

These numbers are being used by hospitals, Big Pharma, corporations, doctors and greedy politicians with big pockets for money that will come from the taxpayers of America.

When it comes to doctors, it depends on which doctor you talk to.

I just went to my heart doctor. He told me all they do to is ask the COVID questions for the hospital to get paid.

He also told me all disease centers are lying about numbers. Bigger numbers mean bigger pay.

So I guess it depends on which mathematician or doctor you want to believe. You get different numbers from all of them.

Amazingly, social media reports show influenza numbers are down 93 percent this year.

Its time for term limits to keep Congress honest.

I truly thought my subscription would end this month but you have continued to send them to me.

It is my sister who reads your paper in Prosser, Wash.

We confer daily on subjects in your paper. You cover the Pacific Northwest like no other. My own paper does local news very poorly, considering we are the state capital. The national news comes from USA Today, which is so slanted and incomplete.

All the fuss over Mike Luckovichs cartoon both my sister and I were digging around in our recycling garbage barrels to recover that cartoon to try and figure out what all the trouble it caused in peoples minds (some peoples.) Good grief.

We both cut out cartoons and articles from your paper and our own. This particular cartoon wasnt significant to us (Were both Democrats). We didnt save it. And we couldnt find it.

Mine has been carried away by the D and O Garbage Service. Oh well.

I hope our present storms end with a rainbow. This election will determine a lot. ...

Save America, stop socialism sounds great when you equate socialism with a nihilist totalitarianism that will disarm you and leave you defenseless, while your children are forcibly indoctrinated by pre-sexualizing trans-humanist advocates, while the nuclear family is dismantled, and thy religion becometh outlawed.

Very, but say socialism is defeated, Social Security is privatized and the stock market inevitably crashes. The entire working population is left in the lurch by international thieves and their congressional hench-persons, while glyphosate continues to cover our food. Tap water becomes undrinkable across the country, causing drinking water to become a precious commodity. And that gets bottled in petrochemical plastic, which disrupts the endocrine system. Friends and family lose their homes because they cant pay medical bills. And homeless armies roam the streets with chemically induced super powers.

Capitalism versus socialism? Why not both?

Then when I am protesting the last tree falling, I can get jailed for using the wrong gender pronoun.

As conceptual models, both isms have their value, obviously, but within a larger, richer narrative in which they are contextually applicable, not subtext for inhumane leverage nor pretext for the justification of that leverage.

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There’s No Good Evidence That Psychedelics Can Change Your Politics or Religion – Scientific American

Posted: at 1:43 am

Psychedelics are psychoactive substances that historically have attracted exaggerations of benefits as well as alarmism. As with most subjects that bring out extreme views, the scientific data provide a more grounded perspective. Sometimes, the scientific data require further clarification. We are responding to a thought-provoking opinion piece by Eddie Jacobs published on October 11, 2020 entitled What if a Pill Can Change Your Politics or Religious Beliefs? Some could mistakenly take away from the piece an unrealistic impression that is not supported by the scientific data. We worry that this may lead to alarmist reactions.

Jacobs piece raises ethical questions regarding emerging research suggesting psychedelics may be effective psychiatric treatments. Specifically, the concern is that psychedelic therapy could shift patients political beliefs in one direction along the political spectrum or change [their] religious beliefs. We agree that as with any emerging medical treatment, psychedelic therapy prompts important ethical considerations; however, we believe that the possibility implied in the headlinethat psychedelics prompt substantial change in political and religious beliefs or affiliationsis not supported by the current scientific data.

To be clear, Jacobs did not mention affiliations, but we believe readers might reasonably take away this interpretation. We suggest that there is no evidence that people change political or religious affiliations from psychedelic treatments, and current evidence for other kinds of belief changes is weak. Below, we address the three major studies mentioned in the original article.

The concern about political beliefs largely rests on evidence from a small pilot study of psilocybin for treating depression. The study showed an average reduction on a measure of authoritarianism from baseline to one week after psilocybin in seven people. Authoritarianism, as it is operationalized here using five questions that were reduced from the original version of the scale, likely does not fit neatly into a particular political party. Many people, for example, would likely disagree with the scale item The law should always be obeyed, even if a particular law is wrong, regardless of political affiliation.

It is also not clear that a reduction in authoritarianism (or increase in libertarianism or social/moral liberalism, the other end of the scale spectrum) holds a relation to present political affiliations. There are abundant historical examples of both left-wing and right-wing authoritarian governments (for example, communism and fascism, respectively). Moreover, in a country such as the United States, the major left-and right-leaning parties have generally had no universal leaning toward either individual freedom or state control. The position taken along this continuum is highly dependent on the subject (for example, business regulation, abortion, gun control, social constraints on sexual behavior). In fact, the developers of the scale in question preferred not to use the term liberal in reference to the scale because that term had a political meaning in the United States that went beyond what the scale measures.

Beyond the theoretical issues with mapping authoritarianism onto present political parties, there are also statistical concerns with this study. The finding about reduced authoritarianism barely met the threshold of significance and with a one-tailed t-test. A one-tailed test provides a lower standard for achieving significance compared to the much more common two-tailed test. It is unclear if the reduction would have been significant with a two-tailed test. In any case, the effect did not last. At the 712 month follow-up the decrease was not significant, even according to the lower standards of the one-tailed test.

Jacobs piece alluded to another study about political beliefs, a 1971 study exploring the association between LSD increased liberalism. This study compared three groups: 1) people who had taken LSD as a medical treatment, 2) people who had taken LSD on their own, and 3) people who had not used LSD. Only those who had taken LSD on their own indicated more support for policies like individual freedom and foreign policy liberalism compared to those who had not taken LSD.

It is possible that those who were willing to take LSD outside of medical treatment may have already been more influenced by the liberal hippie movement that encouraged these beliefs at that time (Jacobs notes that this is correlational and not causal data). Importantly, no differences were found in this study between the political beliefs of those who received LSD under medical treatment compared to those who did not take LSD. Therefore, this study actually suggests that medical psychedelic treatments do not alter political beliefs!

In terms of religious beliefs, Jacobs piece points to a concern about belief change on the basis of a survey study by our group at Johns Hopkins. This survey specifically recruited individuals who had a God encounter experience after taking a psychedelic outside of a research context. Before having such an experience during their psychedelic session, 21 percent retrospectively identified as atheist, whereas only 8 percent did after the experience. This decrease was accompanied by a decrease in identification with major religions, alongside increases in spiritual types of self-identification.

Crucially though, this study was in no way representative of the general public, as only people who reported encountering God or a similar phenomenon were included in the study. This was a very specific sample of people reporting a special kind of experience or interpretation of experience. The study cannot provide an estimate of population rates. Belief changes of a religious type would, of course, be massively inflated in this sample, and it is therefore not appropriate to draw generalized conclusions about belief change from psychedelic treatments based on these data.

Lastly, the piece cites the observation that under clinical conditions psychedelics increase, on average, a personality trait called openness to experience, a finding first reported by our group at Johns Hopkins and now replicated by others. Unlike the political and religious effects, this phenomenon appears more robust. However, while psychedelics might be unique in their ability to prompt a change in a personality trait with a short-term clinical procedure, they are not the only clinical intervention that can cause changes in personality traits. A large meta-analysis of over 200 published studies examining the effect of psychiatric treatments on personality traits found that personality was indeed changed.

Regardless of whether the intervention was a psychotherapy or a medication such as a traditional antidepressant drug, these changes reached a moderate effect size for increases in the trait of emotional stability, similar to the effect size observed for the increase in personality openness to experience from psilocybin. Lastly, the correlation between openness to experience and liberal political views is small, accounting for only around 2 percent of the relationship between the two variables. In other words, the pathway from psychedelics through openness to experience to political belief change is, for all practical purposes, negligible.

While data from studies are always paramount, we note that in the first authors experience interacting with hundreds of psilocybin study participants, he does not recall any spontaneous claims of changed political or religious affiliation in either direction.

Our primary point here is that that existing data do not suggest that meaningful changes in religious or political beliefs are likely from psychedelic therapyand certainly not changes in political or religious affiliation. There is some evidence that psychedelic therapy can prompt changes in ones sense of spirituality, but this term is so broadly and variously defined that it does not even necessarily relate to supernatural beliefs, and it can refer to things like ones values or sense of connection.

As with many interventions, there are cases in which individuals change in their values, attitudes and/or beliefs after a psychedelic experience. The frequency and magnitude of these occurrences are empirical questions for future research to address, but the current data simply do not support the idea that psychedelic treatments result in meaningful changes in political or religious beliefs or affiliation.

Psychedelic medicine, like any new treatment, no doubt raises important and challenging ethical issues. Consent procedures in psychedelic trials by our research group (and by other groups to our knowledge) already warn that personality and attitude changes are a possibility. Of course, this should also be done with patients if psychedelics are approved as medicine. Psychedelic experiences are sometimes held as among the most meaningful in ones life, and may be interpreted to have philosophical or spiritual import, likely depending on the orientation of the participant. Such effects present the opportunity for ethical pitfalls by clinicians.

These and other challenges will call for important contributions from ethicists. However, we must also be careful to keep any given concern in perspective and convey realistic risks to the public and patients. From this perspective, we believe, based on the data, that major shifts in political or religious orientation or beliefs are not among the likely risks associated with this treatment. As psychedelic researchers, we believe it is important to remain vigilant against excesses in enthusiasm as well as alarmism.

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Psychedelics Take a Trip to the Market. Its a Long Road. – Barron’s

Posted: at 1:43 am

A growing number of companies are asking investors to try psychedelic drugs. You may flash back to the 1960s, or to the cannabis stock bubble of 2018, but theres nothing recreational about the current interest in psychedelics, at least among psychiatrists and their most desperate patients.

I do believe that psychedelics hold significant promise as therapeutics, says Jordan Sloshower, a psychiatrist at Yale Medical School who is studying the mushroom ingredient psilocybin as a depression treatment. A number of psychiatric patients get no relief from existing drugs, and the industry has had little new to offer them. So some patients turned to the oldest psychoactive substances knownmagic mushrooms, ayahuasca, and ibogaine. Encouraging anecdotes inspired researchers like Sloshower to test the claims of these drugs, as well as newer ones like MDMA, the effective ingredient in the party drug Ecstasy. On Tuesday, voters in Oregon and the District of Columbia decriminalized adult use of psilocybin mushrooms.

Now, entrepreneurs are tapping public markets. In September, U.K.-based Compass Pathways (ticker: CMPS) debuted on the Nasdaq at $17 per depositary share. Its stock has since doubled to $36, for a market value of $1.2 billion. Compass is testing a proprietary formulation of psilocybin in patients whose depression wasnt helped by standard treatments.

Mind Medicine (MMED.Canada), or MindMed, went public in March on Canadas NEO exchange. At a recent price of 1.21 Canadian dollars, it has a market cap of C$340 million ($260 million) and plans to develop drugs derived from ibogaine and ayahuasca. Field Trip Health (FTRP.Canada) started trading in October on the Canadian Securities Exchange, where its stock now goes for C$2.90, valuing it at about C$150 million. Field Trip is setting up clinics to administer ketamine, a legal anesthetic that has antidepressant and psychedelic properties in low doses. Trials on safety and effectiveness have just begun.

It isnt yet clear whether businesses like Compass or Field Trip will be clinics or drugmakers. Asked about that, Compass chief executive George Goldsmith said the question was premature. Investing in these stocks is probably premature, too.

Mood disorders like depression affect more people than any other psychiatric illnesses. Most patients are helped by generic antidepressants and psychotherapy, but those treatments dont work for the several million Americans with treatment-resistant depression. Psychiatrists also struggle to help patients whose brain injuries have left them with post-traumatic stress disorder, or PTSD.

Research on psychedelics screeched to a halt after Congress banned the drugs in 1970. But stories circulated of patients who claimed long-lasting relief using psilocybin or LSD. In the past decade, psychiatrists at Johns Hopkins, UCLA, and New York University conducted small studies. The results were promising, so nonprofit groups got the governments blessing to sponsor larger trials.

Usona Institute, a nonprofit, is testing psilocybin for depression, while the Multidisciplinary Association for Psychedelic Studies, or MAPS, is in Phase 3 trials of MDMA for PTSD. The Food and Drug Administration designated both studies as Breakthrough Therapies.

Dozens of U.S. clinics are using ketamine therapy to treat depression. Conventional antidepressants take weeks to start working, but a ketamine infusion gives quick relief that lasts a few days or weeks. Higher doses have a psychedelic-like effect that can help patients achieve psychotherapeutic breakthroughs and long-lasting relief, says Veronika Gold, a co-founder of San Franciscos Polaris Insight Center.

Properly run psychedelic-assisted sessions are time consuming, Gold says, and therapists require training. Just being a regular doctor or therapist does not give you the knowledge to use these medicines, she warns.

Generic ketamine can be had for a few dollars a shot. But last year, Johnson & Johnson (JNJ) got FDA approval for Spravato, a kind of ketamine delivered as a nasal spray. It lists for $850 a dose. J&J has said Spravatos approval required eight years of clinical trials, but clinicians like Gold and Sloshower note that those trials didnt prove it was more effective than generic ketamine.

The psychedelic community has a collective ethos that honors open science and the native cultures that first used these drugs. It is wary of proprietary products like Spravato.

But investors have another reason to be wary: Its unclear how the newly public companies will make a profit.

Field Trip plans ketamine clinics, but executive chairman Ronan Levy has his hopes on a proprietary psychedelic he aims to have in Phase 1 trials by 2022. In its Canadian listing statement, Field Trip estimated it will need $12 million to get through the next year, which is a little less than what it had in its coffers. Levy tells Barrons Field Trip will be the Home Depot for mental health and personal growth.

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Like Field Trip, MindMed has no revenue. Through June, MindMed had a deficit of $14 million, but a stock offering last month left it with $38 million in cash to fund early studies of LSD, MDMA, and other psychedelics.

After its IPO, Compass has $175 million in cash. The FDA designated COMP360, its psilocybin product, a Breakthrough Therapy for treatment-resistant depression, and Compass is conducting a trial. But if COMP360 makes it to market, it could find itself competing with psilocybin from Usona. Such nonprofits may be willing to provide psilocybin-based products at cost or for free, undermining our potential market for COMP360, notes Compass prospectus.

Write to Bill Alpert at william.alpert@barrons.com

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Live results: Oregon Measure 109 and Washington DC Initiative 81 on psychedelic drugs – Vox.com

Posted: at 1:42 am

UPDATE: Both Oregon and DC voted to loosen restrictions on psychedelic drugs, as part of a major rejection of the war on drugs seen on Election Day.

The US has a near-total criminal prohibition of psychedelic drugs. In Oregon and Washington, DC, voters are being asked if theyd like to change that.

Oregons Measure 109 asks voters whether psilocybin mushrooms, also known as magic mushrooms, should be allowed for medical purposes.

In Washington, DC, voters are being presented with Initiative 81, which could decriminalize a range of psychedelic plants and fungi.

The measures are seen by many activists as the next stage in scaling back Americas war on drugs, now that marijuana legalization has already reached 11 states and could be legalized in four more in the November election.

Polls show strong support for marijuana legalization, but its unclear how much public backing there is for measures decriminalizing psychedelics or legalizing them for medicinal purposes. Denver became the first US city to vote to decriminalize psychedelic mushrooms in 2019, but no state has decriminalized or legalized psychedelic substances for medical use.

But activists may have an advantage in Oregon and Washington, DC both of which are very liberal, and were among the first jurisdictions to legalize cannabis for recreational use (although DC, due to a bill passed by Congress, still prohibits sales).

The Oregon and DC measures will likely set the stage for future drug policy reform efforts. If two progressive places move forward with their measures, that may signal a wider public appetite for expanding access to psychedelic drugs. If the measures fail especially in an election year that seems very favorable to more progressive causes drug policy reformers almost certainly have their work cut out for them.

A yes vote would effectively decriminalize the non-commercial cultivation, distribution, possession, and use of entheogenic plants and fungi, and ask prosecutors to drop cases related to these substances. Commercial sales wouldnt be allowed.

A no vote would mean DC would not deprioritize the enforcement of anti-psychedelic laws.

A yes on Measure 109 would allow patients 21 and older to buy, possess, and consume psychedelic drugs at psilocybin service centers, under the supervision of trained facilitators.

A no vote would mean patients would not have legal, supervised access to these drugs.

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News Roll Up: Election Nets Huge Wins For Cannabis, Psychedelics and Drug Reform | Cannabis News & Culture – Heady Vermont

Posted: at 1:42 am

While I may be the first woman in this office, I will not be the last.

Vice President-Elect Kamala Harris

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Victories Emerge For Psychedelics, Drug Decrim in DC and Oregon

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Vermont election results: Phil Scott wins re-election, Molly Gray wins lt. governor seat

#VTPOLI Special:

VT Business Owners REMINDER: Expanded Emergency Economic Recovery GrantDeadline is at 11:59 p.m. tonight

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News Roll Up: Election Nets Huge Wins For Cannabis, Psychedelics and Drug Reform | Cannabis News & Culture - Heady Vermont

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What a Biden Future Looks Like; Are Psychedelics the New Cannabis?: Fridays First Things First – Adweek

Posted: at 1:42 am

Welcome to First Things First, Adweeks daily resource for marketers. Well be publishing the content to First Things First on Adweek.com each morning (like this post), but if you prefer that it come straight to your inbox, you can sign up for the email here.

Were still awaiting final results from battleground states in the 2020 election, but Joe Bidens position is strengtheningwhich means its time for industries to start considering the implications of a Biden administration if they havent already. To lend a hand, Adweek developed a primer on what to expect from the most intensely debated tech policy issues of the moment. For instance, a Biden presidency likely wouldnt significantly change the trajectory of the Department of Justices antitrust lawsuit against Googleand antitrust efforts against the major players in Big Tech may continue to ramp up. On the social media front, legislative action around Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act may continue to be a factor under Biden.

Whats next? Learn how the potential Biden administration would approach net neutrality, privacy laws and Chinese tech.

The presidential campaigns are over, but the fundraising emails keep on comingwith new language asking people to donate in light of potentially long legal battles and vote recounts. The Trump campaign has maintained its high-frequency, high-aggression strategy with shock-value subject lines, while Biden was requesting donations to the Biden Fight Fund, which seeks to ensure that every vote is counted.

Will it work? We asked the experts about the strategiesand whether they think the new messaging will spur more donations.

Also in election updates for marketers:

Despite the massive impact the election is having on many facets of American life, it may not change brand strategy that much. After all, the marketing world has grown used to uncertainty amid the pandemic.

Get the insights and intelligence you need to succeed with an Adweek Pro Subscription, providing access to insider reporting, exclusive events and more.

Now that Oregon has become the first U.S. state to legalize psychedelics, many are considering whether hallucinogens could follow the same trajectory as cannabis has over the past few years. Shrooms are unlikely to be sold in dispensaries in the foreseeable future, but cannabis has forged a path for legal recreational drug use, and its certainly a cultural shift: Americans are more and more open to decriminalization and legalization across the board.

How brands and pop culture are leaning in: Dr. Bronners has famously supported drug legalization and decriminalization efforts.

An exclusive survey of 70 brand marketers conducted by Adweek Intelligence sought to get a reading on what brands think of their agencies performance during the pandemic and discover how that could impact 2021 budgets. Although agencies made extraordinary pivots to help clients overcome their challenges, the survey found that almost 40% of brands may be looking for a new agency in 2021. Of course, it may not be entirely due to agency performancein fact, brands described agencies in positive termsbut rather due to other factors in the relationship or the broader environment, which was exacerbated by the crisis.

More findings: These charts show how brands believe agencies have been performing, what brands want from agencies and more.

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What a Biden Future Looks Like; Are Psychedelics the New Cannabis?: Fridays First Things First - Adweek

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How psychedelic DMT promotes the production of new brain cells – New Atlas

Posted: at 1:42 am

Robust new research, published in the journal Translational Psychiatry, is reporting on several years of animal studies showing how a psychedelic drug called dimethyltryptamine (DMT) can promote brain plasticity and induce the formation of new neurons. The research presents evidence to suggest the hallucinogenic effects of the drug may be able to be separated from this neuron-generating mechanism.

Ayahuasca is a hallucinogenic preparation known to be consumed in shamanic and religious contexts by indigenous populations in South America. DMT is the main psychoactive compound in the psychedelic brew, and it has become the focus of a great deal of research due to its profoundly powerful, but short-acting, hallucinogenic qualities.

The recent renaissance in psychedelic science has found hallucinogenic drugs such as psilocybin can induce potent antidepressant effects. Preliminary studies investigating ayahuasca have seen similar antidepressant outcomes. It has been hypothesized that the positive mental health outcomes from these psychedelic compounds stems from their ability to stimulate new neuron production, a process referred to as neurogenesis.

This new research, led by a team of Spanish scientists, set out to understand by what mechanism DMT could induce neurogenesis. Across several mouse experiments the study first established DMT does indeed promote acute neurogenesis, and furthermore, these new neurons can be linked to detectable improvements in the animals memory and cognition.

these [new hippocampal neurons] have a functional impact since DMT treatment during 21 days clearly improved mouse performance in learning and memory tasks, in which the hippocampus is considered to play an essential role, the researchers write in the new study. These observations are in agreement with previous works showing that adult hippocampal neurogenesis plays an important role in these cognitive functions.

Perhaps the most compelling finding in the new research is the confirmation that this psychedelic-induced neurogenesis seems to be produced by a mechanism that is separate to that which generates the drugs hallucinogenic effect.

The hallucinogenic qualities of most psychedelics are commonly thought to be generated through the stimulation of 5-HT2A serotonin receptors in the brain but it is still up for debate whether neurogenesis induced by psychedelics is mediated through the same serotonin receptor activity.

This new research suggests neurogenesis may be mediated through sigma-1 receptors (S1R), which prior research has established are also influenced by DMT. The study reveals the neurogenic effect of DMT could be effectively blocked when mice were administered a S1R antagonist.

The results here obtained indicate that the observed effects of DMT are mediated by the activation of the S1R, the researchers write in the study. In this regard, it has been shown that the stimulation of the S1R by different agonists enhances neurogenesis in the hippocampus.

What all this ultimately means is that is seems possible the new-neuron-stimulating effect of DMT could be divorced from its hallucinogenic and psychoactive properties. Jos ngel Morales, an author on the new research, suggests this promisingly points to new research pathways investigating ways to harness the therapeutic potential of neurogenesis.

This capacity to modulate brain plasticity suggests that it has great therapeutic potential for a wide range of psychiatric and neurological disorders, including neurodegenerative diseases," says Morales.

This research is not the first to raise the possibility of divorcing the therapeutic potential of psychedelics from their hallucinatory effects. Both the US government and commercial pharmaceutical companies are investigating ways to either moderate, or eliminate altogether, the psychedelic effect of psychedelics. However, there is considerable debate within the psychedelic research community as to how fundamentally important the overwhelming psychoactive experience actually is to the drug's subsequent therapeutic benefits.

"The challenge is to activate our dormant capacity to form neurons and thus replace the neurons that die as a result of the disease, notes Morales. This study shows that DMT is capable of activating neural stem cells and forming new neurons.

The new study was published in the journal Translational Psychiatry.

Source: Complutense University of Madrid via MedicalXpress

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