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I'm the resident Alternative Lifestyle Specialist around here (which is what I keep asking my boss to call me instead of "drug-addled wreck of a human being"), so when new pharmaceutical trends sweep through the United States like Daniel Larusso's leg, it's up to me to cover them. I'm talking about a new class of drugs called "nootropics" - though "new" is a subjective term. They've been around for decades now, but they're only just recently taking off with a drastic rise in casual use. The truly great thing about nootropics is that, by and large, they're utterly harmless; they're meant to boost mental function with little to no side effects--regardless of dosage. Because of this, most of them are available freely on the market as "supplements." So I'll be testing out and reviewing the five most popular ones. I will be regularly testing my performance on each drug using the Vandenberg Mental Rotation Test, because it looks super science-y.


The goal of the test is to select the two figures that are identical to the one on the far left, but seen from different angles. For control purposes, I took the test for the first time this morning immediately upon waking, after a completely ordinary evening (spent drinking ethanol behind the dry cleaner's and engaging in something I like to call Spontaneous Guerrilla Russian Roulette). This is that test:


So that's our control. Now, on to the reviews:



In clinical trials, piracetam has been shown to increase both cognition and memory, as well as slow aging of the brain and increase oxygenation. It's used to treat everything from dementia to Down's Syndrome or, in this case, a severe ethanol hangover (physical symptoms include a crippling headache, severely impaired mental function and flammable blood). Piracetam is fairly mild, and the recommended dosage is only 800 milligrams... which I assume is communist for "a handful." Effects: After 30 minutes, I feel slightly more alert. And though the aches are still present, I find I am capable of (and quite willing to do) the robot for long periods of time. I seem mildly more energetic, but no moreso than after a few cups of coffee and three repeats of Survivor's "Eye of the Tiger." Performance:


As you can see, my performance has increased slightly, but it's still nothing to write home about (because they mark all my mail "return to sender").



Vinpocetine is an extract of the periwinkle plant that supposedly increases blood flow to the brain and enhances memory. It's commonly used in Eastern Europe for treatment of the elderly and the delusional which, according to my ill-defined stereotypes, is 100 percent of Eastern Europeans. They say that, because of the risk of intestinal discomfort, initial dosages should be fairly low. So I squat down, get nice and low on that, and take approximately two fistfuls. Effects: After 30 minutes, I am starting to feel rather excellent. There is little to no trace of physical aches and pains. In fact, I may actually be immune to pain and possess some sort of minor healing factor. I have no empirical evidence to base those conclusions on, I simply feel it to be true. I also feel extremely wakeful and alert--which is a godsend, because I now know that everybody is out to get me. Performance:


As you can see, my performance is significantly heightened. I don't mean to brag or anything, but I'm pretty sure I just fucked spatial reasoning in the ass. To test these skills in the real world, I have stacked all of my co-workers desks together into a perfectly sealed cube. Some of them are still trapped inside, actually, but they shall not escape the Work Cube until proper tribute is paid.
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Another member of the -racetam family, oxiracetam is basically a much more potent version of piracetam. It's like piracetam's badass older brother--all wearing denim vests to prom and doing donuts in the yard in its Grand Am. In many studies it's been proven to drastically heighten both memory and alertness. Effects: I can really vouch for the alertness: It kicked in just in time for my heightened observational skills to notice Janice, the administrative assistant, attempting an unapproved Work Cube escape. Retribution was swift and powerful. The state I feel is less "wakefulness" than it is "fastness." I feel sleek and slippery, like a seal. I am also oddly wet and smell of the ocean. I may be losing time, or perhaps... transcending it? Performance:


This test is far beneath my abilities now. It is a crude and primitive joke; the horizontal twisty block is the set-up to a punchline that the vertical block cannot deliver. I laugh anyway at their feeble dance.

Ergoloid Mesylates


We are through fucking around: Ergoloid mesylates is a mixture of alkaloids developed by Albert Hoffman. Yes, the Albert Hoffman: the practical inventor of LSD. This is his entry into the field of alertness drugs, and you can tell this shit just got real. While the early contenders had like, two grid thingies and a line - tops - this son of a bitch has like eight hexagons. Eight! Look at that. It's like motherfucking Risk up in this atomical structure! And I just took 30, so I'm China, assholes! Effects: I feel amazing on this stuff. It's like waking up while falling out of a plane. Once the uncontrollable urination stops, you're left flying face-first into oblivion with an ear-to-ear grin that's more about g-forces than it is euphoria. I am noticing a few side effects, though. Outside of the previously mentioned spontaneous and forceful urination (no, that wasn't a metaphor) I am also running a slight fever, my hands have turned against me, I can see God in my peripheral vision, and I have been screaming, "I am China, assholes!" repeatedly for the last 15 minutes. Performance:


Yep! I figured this shit out in a way that blow Vandenberg's dick out of his brain. And he would like it.
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Modafinil has been approved by the FDA for use in treating conditions such as shift work disorder and narcolepsy. You do need a prescription for this one in the U.S., but other countries haven't yet regulated it, so it's readily available online. It's considered a "wakefulness promoting agent," which differs from amphetamines in that it sounds better when you get pulled over by the cops for doing cartwheels on the highway, which is bullshit because I was only doing them in the first place in an attempt to stay right-side up on an increasingly spinny world. And I was doing them on the highway because I'm so fucking fast. Effects: The alertness factor of modafinil is no joke: Some people report being able to stay awake with no feelings of sleepiness for up to 48 hours... because they're fucking pussies and I could take them in a fistfight. I've been up for three days, and I seem to be gaining alertness and energy like an object achieving terminal velocity. I'm so alert now that I can actually see events several seconds before they happen. That's why I permanently sealed the Work Cube: I saw the revolt coming, and no one will be spared. Performance:


I burned the test. Conclusions: I WON THE RACE, JESUS. This is not the time for doubts on the mountain when the mountain has eyes and is watching- 4.45 /wacks per .00 terrible visions of infertile mas- EDITOR'S NOTE: The rest of what Robert turned in is no longer in a shape that anybody could consider a "narrative" or even "words." It was simply pages and pages of identical, extremely detailed and nearly microscopic sketches of the human penis. If you're curious how it all ended, it was a McDonald's wrapper stapled to the page with a lone lotus flower pressed in the middle. To help clarify the situation, I have attached a transcription of the conversation that took place when Robert turned this in:
Jack O'Brien: Jesus. You look terrible, Robert. Do you have that drug report you've been talking about? On those... nootropics did you call them? Robert: Absolutely. For sure. Yes. No Problem. 100 percent! Jack O'Brien: Uh... huh. Where did you get these samples? Robert: Jell-O Jimmy. Down at the docks. Good man. Shakes when you slap him. Jack O'Brien: Can I see them? Oh Christ, Robert. These aren't nootropics at all.... Robert: Heymanthat'sgreat! You mean the abilities were within me the whole time?! Jack O'Brien: No, I mean this is entirely crack cocaine. All of it. Just... just so much crack cocaine, Robert. You've been doing this all week? Is that why there's a giant cube of pressboard filled with screaming HR people on the second floor? Even for you, this is astounding. I am going to fire you as hard as I possibly can, and my only worry is that it can never be hard enough. Clean out your desk, and may God have mercy on your soul.
You can buy Robert's book, Everything is Going to Kill Everybody: The Terrifyingly Real Ways the World Wants You Dead, or find him on Twitter, Facebook and his own site, I Fight Robots or you can seriously buy his book! It came out yesterday! It's an actual thing! Holy shit!
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