Two Ominous Side Effects Of Cannabis Legalization

By Terry Gotham

A caveat: things are heading in the right direction in places where cannabis has been legalized for recreational use for adults. We can all agree that Colorado, Washington, Alaska & the District of Columbia didn’t become the pot-drenched “Beyond Thunderdome” dystopias that pearl clutchers & puritans envisioned. My aim is not to deride legalization efforts, nor question the dedication or motives of anyone associated with the fight to get America’s head out of its ass. Because Burning Man can be seen as a laboratory for progressive thinking & ways of living, and because a lot of Burners live in states that are currently grappling with the “how” instead of the “if” of legalization, medicalization or decrmininalization, I felt compelled to mention them. We’re legalizing in uneven steps across the country, which has brought us into unknown economic, cultural & law enforcement territory and produced some worrying side effects. Continue reading

Art, Burning Man, and the Maker Movement

Shipwreck by Georgia Rose Collard-Watson

Shipwreck by Georgia Rose Collard-Watson

There’s a new story over at Boing Boing from NK Guy, Burning Man: The Art of Maker Culture .

nk guy art of burning manNK recently published “The Art of Burning Man”, (adding to the library of books such as The Tribes of Burning Man, the Jewelry of Burning Man, and of course This Is Burning Man).

This year’s Turning Man theme, Da Vinci’s Workshop, seems perfectly geared to tap into this rising new Silicon Valley meme/industry. It’s a movement? So are we! Oh, you make shit! So do we! Please donate now.

NK says:

Burning Man’s chief cultural legacy may be inadvertently helping to stoke the fires of the modern “maker” movement. A loose and freewheeling reaction to the corporate universe of sealed iPhones and locked-down operating systems, makers are keen on wresting mass-market technology out of the grasp of large companies, and building homegrown micro-utopias of 3D printing, cheap CPUs and open source code. Countless fascinating projects have had their origins in a Burning Man-hosted idea. The event has become a place for social networking, for beta testing new projects in a very unforgiving environment, for technofetishists to bond while partying in the desert. Just as importantly, the “how did they do that?” sentiment changes quickly to an inspired “I can do that too!”

But just as the rise of tech firms, and the increased flow of highly selective rivers of cash, have split and divided the Bay Area, so funding of Burning Man projects is a key area of contention. Playa projects have ballooned in scale and ambition, and so have the costs. A single big project such as a Temple can easily costs hundreds of thousands of dollars. These costs aren’t easily covered by a casual passing of the hat, or even a Kickstarter or Indiegogo begathon.

Burning Man itself will contribute partial budgets to certain projects each year, following a grant process, but will almost never cover the entirety of a work: the organization has expenditures to cover elsewhere. Accordingly, though Burning Man prohibits the overt display of corporate logos, many projects have been quietly funded by wealthy benefactors; individual and corporate. While the results are undeniably awesome, they do also represent a step away from the proudly amateur and naive roots of the event, just as personal computers of today barely resemble their garage-built ancestors. And these controversies also have hit the builders of the stage upon which the artists perform – the Burning Man org itself.

Read the whole story here. There are some great examples of the Maker Movement intersecting with Burner art.

Dance Dance Immolation by Interpretive Arson

Dance Dance Immolation by Interpretive Arson

henry chang MisterFusion

Mister Fusion by Henry Chang

CS Tere by Captain Andy

Clock Ship Tere by Captain Andy


Not all of the wealthy benefactor corporate sponsorship is so quiet – or, perhaps, YMMV on the definition of “quiet”…

Doodle, by ABC.XYZ

Doodle, by ABC.XYZ

tesla prototype 2007

Roadster, by Tesla

Magic Foam Experience, by Dr Bronner’s

petit ermitage

Pop-up Hotel, by Petit Ermitage

SiMan, by Intel

SiMan, by Intel


Bank of (un)America, by (Burn) Wall Street

chip fest 300 hqdefault (1)

Festival site, by Burning Man Project Director


Best-selling book, by Burning Man Project Director

spark movie background_47371

Movie and iTunes soundtrack, by Burning Man Project Director

Merry Christmas, Burners! Have a wonderful holiday and perhaps we will see you at New Years

Microdosing: Rebellious in a Conformist, Privileged Sort of Way.

by Terry Gotham

Unless you’ve been under a sober rock, it’s been impossible to miss the recent barrage news/sites reporting on “microdosing.” The practice was mentioned in Rolling Stone & since then it’s appeared in dozens of media outlets. VICE actually did some interviews, while Alternet actually researched it and provided info & a lecture about it in 2011. But from what I can tell, the majority of coverage seems to just summarize and link back to the same 6 paragraph Rolling Stone piece. RS spoke to “Ken,” a month later, Breitbart is telling flyover country USA that Silicon Valley “executives” are taking LSD every day. Breitbart also used the opportunity to shit-talk Burning Man.

There are a couple of things that haven’t been mentioned about the practice that I’d like to (be the only person) to mention. Firstly, the reports concerning microdosing are anecdotal. All of them. These individual reports suffer from not only confirmation & survivorship bias, but useless in extrapolating the viability of the practice on a larger scale. It’s an interesting premise, but we need to be careful because doing this isn’t as simple as deciding to take Omega-3 supplements. It requires a decently sized cache of drugs, which, as I’ve mentioned before, may not be entirely pure.

Microdosing requires steady/uninterrupted access to quality/pure LSD, something an overwhelming majority of Americans do not have. I don’t care how “good” your guy is, most people don’t test their drugs, and even fewer regularly test their drugs from their usual dealers. If you’re not testing your stuff each time, there’s no reason to believe this kind of unsupervised experiment can’t go terribly wrong. If you suddenly get a bit of 2cb, 2ci or psilocybin instead, that will probably just remain non-psychoactive and your day will be fine. But if you get NBOMe or a 2nd/3rd generation bath salt instead of LSD, who knows where your day will take you. Also, you have to have enough disposable income to purchase two tiers of productivity enhancing drugs. The first being your Starbucks/e-cig/adderall/cocaine and your second tier being your LSD/psilocybin. That leads to a healthy budget being spent on psychoactive chemicals. Most urban office workers can’t even afford Starbucks every day, truth be told. Though with some Silicon Valley employees, money isn’t a problem of course.

This leads me to my final point. Only certain industries have workplace culture that would allow people to get the dose right. Story after story mention that sometimes microdosers get the dose wrong and end up in a vaguely floaty, but not quite tripping state. If this happens to you and you’re a Google engineer, you can just relax in the ball pit or take an extended lunch to smooth yourself out. I can think of a dozen industries (healthcare, law & construction come to mind first) where making that mistake would not only be grounds for dismissal, but a healthy lawsuit. I think we need to temper our enthusiasm with this practice with a reminder that only the most privileged can do it.

Of course, this doesn’t mean the individuals reporting positive experiences are lying/wrong/don’t know what’s good for them. If people are able to microdose in a way that doesn’t disrupt their professional life and benefits them day-to-day, I’m 100% in support of them doing this, without being harassed by their friends or Johnny Law. If you know someone who gets their drugs off the Silk Road, tests them, and has kept a journal documenting the effects of microdosing, more power to them & I’d love to talk to them about their experiences. And give them a high five because they’re living in the future and it sounds like a great time.

But microdosing to enhance corporate productivity, as opposed to doing so to create a better mind/life for oneself, does seem to me a little counter-intuitive. To put a finer point on it, Silicon Valley has a halo around itself, but these companies aren’t exactly charitable organizations. The idea that Uber brogrammers are microdosing with LSD to figure out how to more smoothly & effectively obliterate the taxi industry seems like it would give Timothy Leary the willies. The fact that the strongest advocacy I saw for microdosing research came from Forbes makes alarm bells go off in my head. If you’re really interested in doing this, some info on how has been provided here and to VICE here. Good luck, but be honest as to why you’re doing this.