Final lecture, and still didn't make the lecturer cry. - Tactical Ninja
Mar. 26th, 2013
09:38 am - Final lecture, and still didn't make the lecturer cry.
I woke up this morning and realised that it's a short week this week. Thus ensued excited bouncing. I think four days off in a row warrants excited bouncing. I'm not sure my bedmate agrees. Woops.
I'm not into the God thing at all, but I reckon Jesus was a Dude (the good kind, the Dargaville definition of Dude), and frankly, I doubt he'd be into all the prostration and worship stuff but I bet he'd get a kick out of seeing how excited some of us *cough* get over having a few free days to engage in hedonistic pursuits, you know?
I also realised last night that Psychedelic Science is in less than a month. Cue minor freakout. It's not as if I'm not ready in practical terms - I have my plane ticket, hotel is booked, visa waiver thingy that the US now demands from us sorted, savings for cost of hotel and fripperies put aside - but it's been a while (7 years OMG) since I travelled to the US by myself, and this is a *shock horror* networking event. Which means I have to *gasp* network.
I'm not very good at networking. Contrary to popular opinion, I'm actually kind of shy in social situations, and unlike the vast majority of the population, I can't drug myself up on alcohol to make myself more sociable. I picture myself at this thing, sitting in a corner and being too afraid to talk to anyone. Fact is, I'd probably still get a lot out of it even if I didn't interact with another human being for the whole time, because the topics are awesome and the speakers are at the top of their field.
And then I tell myself to get over myself. This is why I signed up for a workshop on the first day. Workshops are inherently icebreakers, because they inevitably involve group discussion, and I'm ok with interacting with strangers when there's a shared purpose. The workshop will give me the opportunity to have already talked to people by the time the conference proper starts. Hopefully I'll have been interesting enough, and found other interesting enough people, that I can overcome the desire to run and hide because I genuinely want to talk to these people about their stuff, and we already have some known common ground.
This is my hope, anyway. I'm told that at conferences, the most important stuff happens between and after the talks - and that's the bit where I really don't shine. I would like to get more shiny at this, because I know that in future it's going to become more important.
But I'm just a little bit terrified. Partly because of my stupid inferiority complex and partly because OMG roomful of strangers in a foreign country who (in my mind) all know far more about everything than I do, and hey remember, I'm just a mongrel puppy that bounced in among the aristocratic greyhounds and started chewing on their tails. And I really don't want to be the social-skills equivalent of that.
But you know, I'm currently reading David Nutt's book Drugs Without the Hot Air, which was published in 2012. He's at the top of his field and will be speaking at the conference. I'm about half way through, and so far there's been nothing surprising in there. I am still learning, but there are no new concepts. This tells me that I am pretty well up with the play as far as drug policy related topics go, and that I'm not about to embarrass myself with ignorance among the greyhounds. But in my mind I am just a sheep shearer from Dargaville who read a few books and thought about it a lot, you know?
And again, I say "Get over yourself Tats." What I really need is the networking equivalent of PUA, I reckon. Anyone got a formula for this sort of thing? Preferably one that is actually respectful and useful, rather than delusional like a lot of the PUA stuff is? I'm serious. Good networkers must have techniques they use for getting started. Once I'm actually talking with people I'm ok, but I tend towards stumbling ineptitude when it comes to striking up conversations, and I really don't want to do that here.
Me: Hi, I'm Tats.
Important Drug Policy Person: Hi, I'm IDPP.
Me; That's a funny name, were your parents on drugs? BAHAHAAAA I AM SO FUNNY
Oh dear, call the waaahmbulance.
*cough* In other news, the lecture last night was better than expected. I pulled him up more than usual:
1. No, shock/horror advertising campaigns don't actually deter people from using drugs and in fact in some cases they have glamourised the use of particular substances (see also: heroin chic). This is well documented.
2. No, long-term drug use does not damage the frontal cortex. For a start, which drug do you mean? And secondly, the only illegal substance that's been shown to cause any form of brain damage is methamphetamine, and even that is reversed upon cessation.
3. Yes, the multicriteria decision analysis on drug-related harms that was led by David Nutt:
Did take into account the number of people who use alcohol.
Anyway, by the end of the class he was calling on me to fill in details of things like the effectiveness of the anti-smoking campaigns in New Zealand, the results of the decriminalisation of drug use in Portugal, and the drop in harms related to alcohol after the repeal of Prohibition in the US.
Unbeknown to me, one of the other class members was apparently a high-up in policy for the NZ Police. Heh. To me, that makes it more important to call out the misinformation aspects of the lecture - because the police tend to be just as misinformed as everyone else when it comes to drugs. I recall recently reading a news article (can't find it, sorry) in which an 'expert' had given a talk to police that included the debunked myth that ecstasy puts holes in your brain. If that's the quality of information the police are being given, me speaking up in class in front of these people is important. *sigh* I shouldn't have to, damnit.
I didn't know what to say about the guy's theory that transcendental meditation can cure everything from addiction to the desire to take drugs. I did point out that while yes, humans do have a long history of meditiation for the purpose of spiritual and personal development, we also have a long history of using substances to achieve an altered state, and that wanting to experience an altered state is not necessarily a sign that there's something wrong with you, because humans are curious and also because we enjoy things that are fun purely for their own sake. Witness kids spinning in circles till they fall down dizzy. But the transcendental meditation cure-all? Yeah, um. Nah. Dude's also big into abstinence-as-harm-reduction and there wasn't time to tackle that.
Instead, afterwards I approached him and suggested that he also read Nutt's book as it will strengthen his knowledge on the drug policy aspect of his topic. If he does read it, he might have some dawning realisations on the realities of the drug policy world rather than his somewhat sketchy current opinions. He took it pretty well, but I know I was going easy on him. I did mention how plagued my field is with misinformation and how I'd like to help it not be like that though. ;-)
I have the evaluation form for the course in my email inbox right now. Lalalla..
Meanwhile, I've printed out the test code for the LED strip, for the purpose of pulling it apart to see how it works, which will hopefully help me work out how to make it fit what I want to do.
Dr Wheel laughed at the thought of me walking around with my ream of paper that contains code. I think it's eminently sensible myself...