Better living through chemistry – lithium, for a saner society

Paul Raven @ 04-05-2009

water tapsI like to think I’m mostly over my twenty-something’s obsession with conspiracy theories and government-as-competent-ubiquitous-control-system paranoia… but stories like this still hold the power to make me start thinking about where I left the tin-foil. You see, it turns out that populations who drink tap water that contains lithium are statistically less inclined to suicide; so, why don’t we engineer a happier society by giving everyone lithium?

High doses of lithium are already used to treat serious mood disorders.

But the team from the universities of Oita and Hiroshima found that even relatively low levels appeared to have a positive impact of suicide rates.

Levels ranged from 0.7 to 59 micrograms per litre. The researchers speculated that while these levels were low, there may be a cumulative protective effect on the brain from years of drinking this tap water.

At least one previous study has suggested an association between lithium in tap water and suicide. That research on data collected from the 1980s also found a significantly lower rate of suicide in areas with relatively high lithium levels.

A spokesperson from a mental health charity points out that:

“… lithium also has significant and an unpleasant side effects in higher doses, and can be toxic. Any suggestion that it should be added, even in tiny amounts, to drinking water should be treated with caution and researched very thoroughly.”

Or perhaps simply deployed on the quiet for the good of the nation; after all, if you wait until after the lithium has been soaking into the population to tell them about, they’re less likely to get upset about it. It’s all for their own good, poor lambs; best to shelter them from the miseries of reality as completely as possible. Think of it as a method of extending governance beyond its traditional border – the oh-so-intransigent skull.

Yeah, I know, there’s probably no Western government that could get away with it… but you can’t try to tell me there aren’t certain elements in the halls of power who’d find it a very appealing prospect nonetheless. [via Jamais Cascio on Twitter; image by koshyk]


NEW FICTION: UNDER AN ARCTIC SKY by Stephen Gaskell

Paul Raven @ 01-05-2009

We publish writers from all over the globe here at Futurismic, but this month I get to present a story by someone who lives damn near on my doorstep! Stephen Gaskell comes from Brighton here in the UK, but “Under an Arctic Sky” is as far from the faded Regency glamour of his seaside hometown as you could imagine. It’s a powerful story of dedication to a cause against the fiercest of oppression, and I hope you enjoy it as much as we did!

Under an Arctic Sky

by Stephen Gaskell

Slava ran.

Ran as fast as he could. His icy breath speared the air. His footfalls made slapping sounds against the packed snow. The temperature must have been minus forty, but he didn’t feel the cold.

He didn’t look back.

Didn’t want to see the oil well derricks. Didn’t want to see the scarred black tundra. Didn’t want to see the line of nodding donkeys and their belches of fire.

Most of all, he didn’t want to see how close the snowmobiles were, buzzing behind him like angry bees.

In his mind’s eye he streaked ahead to the northerly reaches of the Kanin peninsula. Past herds of caribou, past the last encampments of the Nenets, past the odd polar bear loping away on the horizon.

The back of his neck felt stiff, as though somebody had kicked him there with a steel-capped boot. He stretched a gloved hand over his head to rub at the aching spot.

And stopped dead.

There was something embedded in his neck. Continue reading “NEW FICTION: UNDER AN ARCTIC SKY by Stephen Gaskell”