In preparing for this missive, Jungle has steeped herself in an ocean of bliss (non-synthetic). Hence, the usual vitriolic tone might be distant and this drivel may end up being a bore. Apologies in advance. Anger, greed, and lust you see are the three enemies of the mind. But you troglodytes wouldn’t know anything about that, save @diddy who practices vipassana on the regular. Diddy might have in fact reached a state of liberation, having ceased participation in the hallowed halls of late. Opting in its stead for a life of quietude, contemplation and focused attention. Hat tip, dear sir. Eventually, Jungle will follow. Or she will cross 47.5 – at which age subs are requested to graciously retire. At that time, you fuckers will be bored, longing for the days Jungle roamed. For now, her unbridled ego keeps her loquacious — enjoy it while it lasts.
Now, let us move on to the Orwellian matter at hand, Palantir. We will invoke this topic with a advertisement from our nown and loved Apple Computer, circa 1984. A very important year for a plethora of reasons, which we will cover during this session.
PALANTIR. INCOMPETENT BIG BROTHER.
Named after the “Seeing Stones” in The Lord of the Rings, Palantir is designed to ingest the mountains of data collected by soldiers and spies and police — fingerprints, signals intelligence, bank records, tips from confidential informants — and enable users to spot hidden relationships, uncover criminal and terrorist networks, and even anticipate future attacks.
When Palantir descended upon Palo Alto many moons ago, it was shrouded in mystery. Like locusts, employees of the growing concern roamed around town in customary ‘patagonia-vest-uniform’ emblazoned with cryptic insignia. No one really knew “what they did” while skeptical regulars at Rose & Crown whispered, “it’s a cult”.
Let us examine perspectives from around the ol’ web, regarding said concern’s chicanery, shall we?
Palantir works to reanimate its clients. Its merchandise are not enterprise apps, rather modus operandi and culture. In many ways it is unique — a new type of company. It is an ideological company, a psychologist, a rabbi or a priest to the rulers of the world. Palantir’s software is the flesh that embodies that ideology.
We live in the Shire and we call ourselves hobbits. Wearing identical t-shirts provided to us by the company we surrender our individuality to embrace the collective. A lot of us date and get married to our peers in the commune. To many Palantir is a tribe, family and home after years of adversity and insecurity experienced growing up middle-class but finding it hard to fit into the fabric of society. We gladly accept lower salary in exchange for the sense of purpose and common mission. At the local canteen daily we enjoy organic food while sharing stories of our victories against our common enemy: chaotic, uncertain, anxious and unimaginative present. We helped find Osama bin Laden!
Incidentally, in the early naughts, one of Jungle’s acquaintances who was a recent computer science graduate from The Farm, took up employment with said concern. In short order, this mild-mannered chap abandoned steady pay, stating that he fundamentally disagreed with practices of said cult — thus, inspired by degeneracy of the highest order, he was off to law school. Chuckle. Quietly, Jungle made a note to self.
Days turned into months, turned into years, turned into decades, and here we are at the tail end of 3Q2020 with Palantir making its grande debut on our (supposedly) liquid public markets. That said, Jungle rings the virtual opening bell, a sacred invocation — and welcomes Palantir to the circus. A “darling” of the US Intelligence community, and a concern that has enraptured the minds of pikers and Mungerian-Tea-Baggers alike.
And what wares does this diseased rort exactly sell? — essentially a system to organize unstructured data (often classified) and access to a trove of databases generally inaccessible to public eyes. Supposedly searches by race, gender, gang membership, tattoos, scars, friends, or family — all game! Some have called it a “pro-military” arm of SV. Hackers call it “a massive excel plugin” are candidly, unimpressed.
… Palantir applies Silicon Valley’s playbook to domestic law enforcement. New users are welcomed with discounted hardware and federal grants, sharing their own data in return for access to others’. When enough jurisdictions join Palantir’s interconnected web of police departments, government agencies, and databases, the resulting data trove resembles a pay-to-access social network—a Facebook of crime that’s both invisible and largely unaccountable to the citizens whose behavior it tracks.
Per the S-1’s opening manifesto, Alex Karp (founder) declares:
Our software is used to target terrorists and to keep soldiers safe. If we are going to ask someone to put themselves in harm’s way, we believe that we have a duty to give them what they need to do their job. We have chosen sides, and we know that our partners value our commitment. We stand by them when it is convenient, and when it is not.The ability of our most vital institutions to protect and provide for the public requires the right technology. And we believe that as a result, over the long term, the strength and survival of democratic forms of government do as well.
A fear-mongering dandy, full-of-shit individual, with a Ph.D. in neoclassical social theory, to boot. So sweet of him, no?
With Karp, as with Palantir, it’s often hard to know what is real and what is mythmaking. It’s often repeated in articles, for example, that Karp studied in Germany under Jürgen Habermas, perhaps the most influential living philosopher. “The most important thing I learned from him is I couldn’t be him, and I didn’t want to be him,” Karp confided on a recent podcast with a sort of knowing intimacy. In fact, as Moira Weigel, a historian of media technologies, has pointed out, Karp not only didn’t do his dissertation under Habermas, he didn’t even study in the same department
When he grows excited about an idea, say current and former employees, he balls his fists and taps employees rapid-fire in the solar plexus.
Getting back to business:
Palantir’s software can ingest and sift through millions of digital records across multiple jurisdictions, spotting links and sharing data to make or break cases.
The scale of Palantir’s implementation, the type, quantity and persistence of the data it processes, and the unprecedented access that many thousands of people have to that data all raise significant concerns about privacy, equity, racial justice, and civil rights. But until now, we haven’t known very much about how the system works, who is using it, and what their problems are. And neither Palantir nor many of the police departments that use it are willing to talk about it.
Moving on, commentary from the astute Mr. Kellog:
At the big picture level, Palantir reminded me of MicroStrategy: big claims and hype, DC-centricity, elite school hiring focus, youth focus, a large field technical team, and a work hard / party hard ethos.
For you n00bs who are kicked about Microstategy’s latest hail mary — as of September 15, 2020 the company has purchased a total of 38,250 bitcoins at an aggregate purchase price of $425 million — just remember said concern was once dubbed “MicroTragedy” on The Walled Street.
At this point I should admit to having some scars from having run marketing at Business Objects during MicroStrategy’s rise. Let demonstrate what a day in life looked like:
Dave, MicroStrategy says their mission is to “purge ignorance from the planet.” How come we can’t say anything visionary like that in our mission?
Dave, Michael Saylor says he’s going to build a modern-day Versailles just outside of DC. How come our CEO never says stuff like that?
Dave, MicroStrategy says they’re building a service where people will wear tiny microphones in their ears and it will notify them if their house catches fire. How come we don’t have product vision like that?
Dave, MicroStrategy just did a $52.5M deal in an industry where average sales prices are $250K and a big deal is a few million. Why can’t we do huge deals like that?
Dave, Michael Saylor says that there will be riots if his software doesn’t work and that this year people will die — literally — because they didn’t buy his software. How come we’re not mission-critical like that?
To which for several years I had to say “it’s all bullshit, it’s all bullshit, it’s a barter transaction and they’re double counting, and it’s all bullshit.”
Nothing changes on the Walled Street dear penii. Palantir is simply an avatar of many a rort that came before it. Same playbook, different decade. 16 years in business and still losing money.
Mr. Karp characterizes those struggles as part of a creative process now yielding results. “This is not a science,” he says. “We are a colony of artists. You cannot go to Basquiat or Monet and say, ‘Well, that painting didn’t capture the time.’ ”
As a sidenote for you illiterates, an “avatar” is not that stupid pic that you spend half your day changing daily — and for fucks sake, its not “avitar” — do you even know what the word means? No, you don’t. Give your self lesson in etymology, because we have lots to cover and Jungle can not do everything around here.
Back to business.
On the Wall
Who is the Top Dog
Of them All?
Well, probably the GP/LP who wants to GTFO.
“Here is the problem with no IPO,” said Robert Ackerman, a venture-capital investor with $30 million in Palantir shares. “Palantir has a lot of investment funds with limited lives.”
Venture-capital funds typically have a 10-year lifespan before their limited partners must be repaid. Some investment funds already have sold Palantir shares, partly because demand in the secondary market is high.
GSV Capital Corp. sold $7.8 million in Palantir stock in the second half of 2014, said Michael Moe, the Woodside, Calif., firm’s chairman, chief executive and chief investment officer. At the end of this year’s third quarter, GSV still held Palantir shares valued at $54.6 million, securities filings show.
“Given the fact that there’s an active private market, we’ll continue to look for opportunities to sell when appropriate,” said Mr. Moe.
Mutual funds have written down their investments in the company. Bailie Gifford, the Scottish fund manager, disclosed that its stake in Palantir had made annual returns of -3.5 per cent from 2014 through March this year, according to its annual report.
Net net, we know Orwell and Huxley called it — some souls have made hay, and some have not. Palantir is squarely in the latter category and we need not waste any more time on said concern. Been going at it for 16 years, lost 580 mil in 2018, and 580 mil in 2019. For 1H20, loss of 164,729. Average client yields $5mi — this after almost two decades of aggresive marketing. Trash heap extraoridnaire, ’nuff said.
Now, let us move on from the Orwellian concern, to Orwell and his contemporaries. A beautiful worlds awaits.
Orwell and Huxley. Huxley and Orwell. Incidentally, these gents have been mentioned in the hallowed halls as of late. Le Wasp (nee Le Fly) has been mentioning Brave New World, a show based on Huxley’s classic novel. Furthermore, as if a sign from above to get this fcking post out, Jungle was recently walking around the hood, and noticed a small memento on the neighbor’s fence:
George Orwell, born Eric Arthur Blair in Motihari — modern day Bihar, India, 1903. Supposedly, tutored in French by Huxley; famous for the dystopian novel 1984, in which the term BIG BROTHER was coined. His contemporary, Aldous Huxley, born in Surrey, England, 1894. Some call him the Godfather of Psychadelics. Both gents Etonians, of the same “caste”, if you will.
While we mainly know Huxley for Brave New World, he was quite prolific. From 1937 until his death (the same day as JFK) he resided in the United States, mainly in Southern California. What we hear less about is Huxley’s book, Island. @peterbebergal does a fine job of reviewing Huxley’s time in SoCal, so Jungle will not bother reinventing the wheel — but below, do note whilst using the language “material and spiritual crisis” which is eventually approached with a “faster and less strenuous” methodology — Huxley was not trying to sell anything (maybe a book). These days peddlers have coined “spiritual capitalism” as the sales pitch for the next drug company. Silicon Valley is having a crisis of consciosness. Cloying to say the least.
Between his 1932 vision of a sterile dystopia in Brave New World and the 1962 novel Island about a spiritual utopia, the author Aldous Huxley experienced two things; the Hindu religious philosophy known as Vedanta and psychedelic drugs. In Brave New World, people are addicted to Soma, a hallucinogenic that artificially simulates a kind of dull transcendent state, and so makes religion irrelevant. In Island, the Palanese (residents of Pala where the book takes place) ritually use the drug moksha for spiritual and mystical insights. It wasn’t that by the time he was writing Island Huxley no longer believed that civilization was potentially doomed to a homogenized over-indulgent consumer culture, but rather that there was another possibility for human destiny. Soon after writing Brave New World Huxley saw this other opportunity but believed it would take work, a disciplined and rigorous adherence to a spiritual ideal. By the time he got around to writing Island he was convinced there was a faster, less strenuous way to find the higher purpose of human consciousness: mescaline.
HUXLEY IN SOUTHERN CALIFORNIA
In 1937 Huxley moved to California and within a few years was introduced to the Vedanta Society of Southern California by his friend, the writer and scholar Gerald Heard. Huxley had been developing his perennial philosophy, the idea that religious traditions are historically and culturally relative but that they each validate, in their own way, that human beings are divine and that the purpose of our lives is to come into a relationship with the numinous behind the phenomenal world. Huxley believed the realization of our latent divinity to be a possible remedy to what he perceived as a Western material and spiritual crisis. Vedanta was the method Huxley had been looking for.
Vedanta is the philosophical underpinning of Hinduism, itself a dreamscape of multiple deities and stories of epic battles. Vedanta distills all of the multi-armed, elephant-headed, sword-wielding gods into one simple idea. The most important of the Vedic literature, The Upanishads, teaches that brahman, the supreme reality of all things, and atman, the manifestation of the divine in the human soul, are one and the same, a pure and perfect whole. Our purpose during our gross bodily manifestation is to recognize the divinity within all things. When we come to this, Vendata tells us, we will also see that every religion is merely a different way of expressing the same principle, the same overarching truth that there is no separation between the soul and God.
Huxley wrote for the Society’s journal and took up the cause of teaching one of Vedanta’s essential ideas; do not mistake the quick and often dramatic effects of meditation for actual spiritual truths. In one journal article, “The Magical and the Spiritual,” Huxley wrote, “At present there is a lamentable tendency to confound the psychic with the spiritual, to regard every supernormal phenomenon, every unusual mental state as coming from God.”
Swami P and Huxley disagreed on the topic of “fastrackery” — with Swami vehemently opposed to the use of psychadelics. Nothin’ wrong with “installing a little software”, says Jungle — with all due respect to the monk.
The most famous account of mescaline remains Aldous Huxley’s The Doors of Perception, the first book to evangelise about the possibilities of psychedelics to mainstream audiences, especially in the US. Huxley took mescaline in May 1953, at his home in the Hollywood Hills; he was approaching his fiftieth birthday and at a low point in his life. It seemed to lift him out of a depression and he wrote The Doors of Perception with an epiphanic zeal that today reads as both naive and not (our culture holds two ideas of psychedelics at once, that they can be both serious and life-changing, or something you do on a Friday night to get goofy with your friends). Huxley’s famous description of the folds of his grey flannel trousers was an embellishment, Jay informs us (he was actually wearing jeans), and his hope that mescaline would be a cure for schizophrenia turned out to be misplaced. But Huxley did help to normalise the psychedelic experience. He was, Jay writes, ‘an adept of spiritual self-discovery, but also a stand-in for a sober general public to whom, until the arrival of mescaline, all mind-altering drugs had been “dope”, of interest only to bohemians, foreigners and criminals’ – the Michael Pollan of his time.
Which brings us to dear ol’ Michael Pollan (aka DAD, aka THE MIDWIFE, aka THE CHOSEN ONE). Pollan unlike Huxley doesn’t want you getting there too fast either:
I look forward to the day when psychedelic medicines like psilocybin, having proven their safety and efficacy in F.D.A.-approved trials, will take their legal place in society, not only in mental health care but in the lives of people dealing with garden-variety unhappiness or interested in spiritual exploration and personal growth.
My worry is that ballot initiatives may not be the smartest way to get there. We still have a lot to learn about the immense power and potential risk of these molecules, not to mention the consequences of unrestricted use. It would be a shame if the public is pushed to make premature decisions about psychedelics before the researchers have completed their work. There is, too, the risk of inciting the sort of political backlash that, in the late 1960s, set back research into psychedelics for decades. Think of what we might know now, and the suffering that might have been alleviated, had that research been allowed to continue.
When psychedelics like psilocybin and LSD burst upon the scene in the 1950s and 1960s, they arrived without an instruction manual. Half a century later we’re still struggling to learn how best to harness their spooky power. One source of wisdom on that question is other cultures with much longer experience using these medicines. (Just this week, archaeologists reported finding a 1,000-year-old set of tools in Bolivia bearing trace amounts of ayahuasca and other psychoactive chemicals.)
For whatever reason Michael Pollan has been ordained THE MIDWIFE. The midwife that births America’s Upper Middle Class Consciouness into accepting weed, plant-based diets, and now psychadelic medicine as reasonable “lifestyle” choices, with “transformational potential”. He roams around and blabs on podcasts, on campus, and widely accepted purveyor of culture, The New York Times — wherever the “right” demographic will tune in. Recall, it was almost 20 years ago that he cited GW Pharma (ticker: GWPH) at a talk titled Cannabis, Forgetting, and the The Botany of Desire at the University of California. Now he’s a “thought leader” on psychadelics. Jungle believes this go round of widespread acceptance/adoption will be expedited, not only due to the proliferation of information, but by groundwork done by the gateway drug, marijuana. Old world institutions still roaming aroung with their nose up in the air, while tech bros are coming to the rescue.
per Doblin, founder of MAPS.ORG :
So we have tried the traditional sources of funding and that has not worked.
There are over a million veterans that are receiving disability payments from the Veterans Administration for PTSD and it costs the Veterans Administration somewhere in the neighborhood of 15 to $20 billion a year on these disability payments. They pay multiple billions of dollars every year on SSRIs and other things to treat people with PTSD and yet we’ve not been able to get a penny from the VA.
So we’ve tried the VA, The Department of Defense, The National Institute of Mental Health, a lot of the major foundations. The Wellcome Trust is the largest foundation in England, started by Burroughs Wellcome stock, by pharmaceutical stock. They’re focused on neuroscience and psychology and they said, “Go away. It’s a reputational risk for us.” I said, “It’s a reputational opportunity.” But that didn’t work.
THIEL, SUGARDADDY OF TECH BROS INVESTS IN COMPASS
Backed by Theil, Compass is a UK based operation that went public recently. Co-founders Ekaterina Malievskaia and George Goldsmith “involuntarily” founded the company as their son became “unrecognizable” — the mother had sleepless nights and stayed up at night reading literature and discovered papers on psilocybin — a drug that was synthesized in 1958 by Sandoz Pharmaceuticals by a gent named Albert Hofmann. Sidenote: Sandoz produced 2 mg pink psilocybin pills under the trade name Indocybin that was marketed for psychotherapeutic uses in the 1960s. Sandoz is now a division of Novartis. Point is, this is not an entirely new endeavor but was severely hampered by The Controlled Substances Act of 1970.
The company has a great backstory, with roots in the serendipitous invention of lysergic acid diethylamide by the Swiss chemist Albert Hofmann at Sandoz in 1938 through to Timothy Leary’s Harvard Psilocybin Project in the early 1960s. Leary, whom Richard Nixon deemed the “most dangerous man in America”, upended proper studies of the potential benefits of psychedelics after he was thrown out of Harvard for his unorthodox – some might say hedonistic – approach to research. The classification of LSD and its trippy cousins as Schedule 1 substances in 1970 relegated them to recreational use.
per Goldsmith, co-founder CMPS:
“Our goal is to develop psilocybin therapy—the preparation, the support for the actual dosing, the medicine, and the follow-up,” said Goldsmith, a lanky, bespectacled sixtysomething former executive coach. “And then other clinics and so forth will buy and deliver that.”
the product, the service:
Compass has developed a crystalline formulation of psilocybin called COMP360, which could lead to “rapid reductions in depression symptoms and effects lasting up to six months, after administration of a single high dose,” it says. COMP360 forms part of an overall treatment, including a six-to-eight-hour session under its influence, with support from specially trained therapists.
COMPASS PATHWAYS 424B4 FILING EXCERPT
The potential of psilocybin therapy in mental health conditions has been demonstrated in a number of academic-sponsored studies over the last decade. In these early studies, it was observed that psilocybin therapy provided rapid reductions in depression symptoms after a single high dose, with antidepressant effects lasting for up to at least six months for a number of patients. These studies assessed symptoms related to depression and anxiety through a number of widely used and validated scales. The data generated by these studies suggest that psilocybin is generally well-tolerated and has the potential to treat depression when administered with psychological support.
COMP360 is our proprietary psilocybin formulation that includes our pharmaceutical-grade polymorphic crystalline psilocybin, optimized for stability and purity. Our investigational COMP360 psilocybin therapy comprises administration of our COMP360 with psychological support from specially trained therapists with specific professional and educational qualifications. We believe this support, or therapy, is as important to the psilocybin therapy as the psilocybin itself. The psilocybin administration session lasts approximately six to eight hours, with patients supported by therapists in a non-directive manner. Psilocybin administration sessions are preceded by preparation sessions, in which patients are given a thorough orientation, and followed by integration sessions to help patients process the range of emotional and physical experiences facilitated by COMP360 administration.
In 2019, we completed a Phase I trial in 89 healthy volunteers, the largest controlled trial of psilocybin to date, with our investigational COMP360 psilocybin therapy. In this trial, we observed that COMP360 was generally well-tolerated and supported continued progression of Phase IIb studies. The trial also showed the feasibility of simultaneous administration of COMP360 to up to six people in the same facility, with 1:1 therapist support, which we believe will accelerate future clinical trials and commercial scale-up upon potential regulatory approval. In August 2020, the FDA approved our request for a 1:1 model of therapist support and we intend to use this model in future clinical trials. We previously conducted a series of in vitro and in vivo toxicology studies, including tests for genotoxicity and cardiotoxicity. We are now undertaking an additional series of safety pharmacology and toxicity studies, to be completed prior to commencement of our anticipated Phase III program.
We are currently conducting a randomized controlled Phase IIb clinical trial in 216 patients suffering with TRD, in 20 sites across North America and Europe. This dose-finding trial is investigating the safety and efficacy of COMP360 combined with psychological support, for the treatment of TRD, and aims to determine the optimal dose of COMP360, with three doses (1mg, 10mg, 25mg) being explored. The primary endpoint of this clinical trial is to evaluate the efficacy of COMP360, as assessed by the change in the Montgomery-Åsberg depression rating scale, or MADRS, a widely accepted scale for depression that has been used as a primary endpoint in pivotal trials of other depression treatments. This trial has been designed to capture a statistically significant reduction in MADRS. We plan to report data from this trial in late 2021. We are using digital technology in this trial, including an online portal to help patients prepare for their psilocybin experience, and a web-based “shared knowledge” interactive platform to complement therapist training. We are also collecting digital phenotyping information through the measurement of human-smartphone interactions. After the trial, these data will be compared with information collected from validated psychiatric scales, such as MADRS, to develop potential digital applications to help anticipate relapse of depression. In the future we plan to expand our research into additional digital technologies to complement and augment our therapies.
The need for innovation in mental health care is significant, given that the current paradigm is ineffective for millions of people. Our vision is a world of mental wellbeing – a world in which mental health isn’t simply the absence of mental illness, but the ability to flourish. We want to help reduce the stigma surrounding mental health, to acknowledge that “everyone has a story,” and to create a system of care for all who are not helped by the existing system and existing therapies.
ACADEMIC CABAL, CHECK
Small, but symbolic:
With $1.25 million in seed funding from an anonymous donor, the new UC Berkeley Center for the Science of Psychedelics will conduct research using psychedelics to investigate cognition, perception and emotion and their biological bases in the human brain.
MAPS.ORG + MDMA
Money making endeavors aside. Rick Doblin PhD is the founder of MAPS.org, a non-profit organization. He wrote his dissertation on the regulation of psychadelics and marijuana. MAPS was started in 1986. He and Pollan are making the rounds on panels along with boffins looking at brainwaves — the pioneer and the midwife, if you will. One can’t help but admire his relentless pursuit to prove that MDMA indeed has therapeutic value. For more on Doblin’s journey, give this a listen, or a read. Doblin cites an MDMA Assisted Psychotherapy trial in which n = 107 and after a 2 month followup 56% of particpants no longer qualified and after 12 months 68% non longer qualified. Net net : EFFECT SIZE HUGE. MDMA is important because it reduces the fear response (which psilocybin does not do) and thus in combination, could be the “killer app” — kapish?
As a sidenote, isn’t it amusing that “coiner” Michael Novogratz is on the bandwagon as well?
I think one of the things we need to do as a society is to allow that people have mental health issues, that depression is real, and that people have shit to work through, and that we should help them work through that. And both psilocybin and ayahuasca are, I just think, two things in that tool kit, powerful things in that tool kit of how one can process trauma, one can learn about themselves, one can dig into places that they haven’t understood before. And it’s funny, once you see it, you can’t unsee it.
Jungle unequivocally agrees, Install the Software! Updates are few and far between.