The Recurring Rove.

Sunday again, and wow, the last day of November. Christmas will be upon us before we know it. Thank goodness I found the advent calendars yesterday. I confess I didn’t win NaNoWriMo this year but I was still busy writing, so in that sense, it’s a win. The other win is some amazing gardening weather, so I’m heading out shortly to pick up some raspberry canes from an acquaintance. I’m so excited about growing my own raspberries!

Of course, the following links have nothing to do with raspberries, but I hope you enjoy them anyway.

How you would you feel if someone said that they could add something to the water which would reduce suicide and violent crimes in your community? Lithium occurs naturally in our drinking water, and some studies have shown that where it exists in higher concentrations, there appear to be fewer suicides. This is an interesting idea – especially as there is some evidence that lithium also appears to reduce the occurrence of dementia. I would argue that we need to have more research in this, and even then, I believe the idea would be hard to sell to the population at large. I’ll admit that my own gut reaction is that I’d rather not have my mood monitored through a mood stabliser which is administered by the government. Perhaps that’s folly – it could indeed improve our quality of life or even save lives, but what might happen in the case of overdose?

* * * * *

A voucher scheme linked to encouraging breastfeeding in parts of the UK is inspiring some debate about what factors are influential in women deciding to breast-or bottle-feed. One thing I thought the article pointed out very well (in addition to the pertinent comments about observational research) was that the reasons surrounding a mother’s choice to breastfeed are varied and complex – and it is a choice. But if we don’t address those issues which affect it – be they a lack of emotional support, or the need to return to work and the difficulty women have expressing milk, or the fact that we are still yet to get over women being able to feed their children with breasts which are otherwise seen as sexual objects – then giving women ‘free stuff’ is not going to change their minds about breastfeeding. It’s all wonderful to be able to get more groceries than you would otherwise be able to afford, but at 3 am when your baby won’t latch and you are in the lonely dark with a screaming child, having a well-stocked pantry is not an immediate comfort.

* * * * *

An interesting article about how one’s own historical background is so very important when researching the history of others. Wilkie discusses how one’s own sense of ‘local’ is something we bring with us when we study history. Where we grow up has a profound affect on how we see the world as adults, and also, how we see the past. I think this can be applied to everything we’re studying. We need to be at least aware of what we’re bringing to the table when we learn about others – it can’t be that we come as completely blank slates (nor should we want to) but we cannot afford to disregard our preconceptions, our prejudices, our expectations of events, whether in the past or in the present.

* * * * *

 Finally, light pollution is something we don’t often consider a major problem – probably because it doesn’t seem to affect our quality of life like the pollution of water or air. However, it’s not only a masive use of energy and a disturbance to our diurnal rhythm (and the nocturnal rhythm of other animals), but it also prevents us from seeing stars. Those in larger cities often miss out on seeing any but the brightest stars or planets. Thierry Cohen has worked some photographic magic to show what the starry skies above some of the biggest cities in the world look like. It’s beautiful.

5 thoughts on “The Recurring Rove.

  1. Pingback: The Recurring Rove. | ugiridharaprasad

  2. Another great Sunday post! Thank you: I could get used to this🙂

    Regarding adding something to the water, I think it’s a bad idea. Our society tends to focus on the patch, instead of solving the original problem. Looking at the cultural, societal and economic factors that contribute to high suicide rates would require making some less-than-convenient changes … it would be so much easier, so much more convenient, and so much more inexpensive to sprinkle some magic salt into the water and keep the people more passive and ‘happy.’ Psychiatrists seem sometimes to be really sold on the idea of lithium; yet they never seem to take it, themselves. I think this makes it easier to ignore the numbers of patients who do all in their power to get away from lithium. Where my own historical background enters into this: I lived in one of the high-lithium Texas counties, cited in the article you linked to, for 20 years. This county is now touted as being home of one of the safest large cities in the U.S.; but it certainly wasn’t so while I lived there. Drive-by shootings at the high schools during lunch, girls getting raped in vans parked in school parking lots, drugs like you wouldn’t believe (this was also the city that competed with Miami, Florida, as the number one point of entry into the U.S. for illegal narcotics … where there are drugs, there are also usually plenty of guns). Kids knew, if they shot someone, they just needed to make it across the border quickly enough to avoid the cops; then their gang members on the other side would gladly take them in. We were aware of this lithium study, and it was a common joke among us that it was a good thing we had so much lithium in our water, or else we’d raze the city to the ground.

    I think, where the water is naturally higher in lithium concentrations, it should be left as it is. Where it is lower, then it should also be left as it is. Trying to change nature gets us into trouble. I think we should focus more on changing the pro-suicidal and pro-homicidal effects we bring on our own selves; and less on a government-regulated mood state, brought about by adding something to the water.

    What you wrote about breast-feeding mothers, to me, evokes a similar response: when the actual problems faced by women who wish to breast-feed their babies are so complex, slapping a patch on the problem isn’t the solution.

    The pictures from Thierry Cohen are awesome! In the series linked to from the original article, I was particularly impressed with picture no. 15 … starlight reflecting from the water, what a wonderful sight that would be!

    • Yes, I think the idea of the lithium in the water is a bit of a bandaid solution to the other problems, as well. I would argue that there are always other factors at play, and it’s rarely the case that we can just give people a magic pill and hope all our problems will be solved. For one thing, what about the people who are already on lithium for medical reasons? Would this mean they could never drink tap water? What if the extra small amount in the water were, over time, to prove toxic to them?

      I loved the stars as well. Where I grew up, we could see so many stars in the sky, and I’d forgotten just how special that was until we moved from a big city to a much, much smaller one last year. Now, I can go outside at night and actually see the Milky Way. So incredible.

      • One other thing to keep in mind concerning the lithium in the water idea: from what I’ve encountered and read, psychiatrists are highly reluctant, once someone is on lithium, to bring someone off of lithium – it is not like some other psychiatric medications (like for depression, as an example), where it is normal practice to come off the medication in a controlled manner. Granted, part of this has to do with the main reason for prescribing the medication, the prolonged nature of the illness, and the dosage strength; but at the same time, I’m not able to find any real documentation on how to bring people off of lithium, at any dosage strength, without switching them over to something else. The reason I bring this up is that once the body becomes used to additional lithium being in the system, it tends to adapt itself to the presence of lithium. If you yank someone right off lithium (say, in the case of someone living in a place with lithium-treated water, who moves overseas); then that person’s system all of a sudden is missing a chemical in the mind that it has already adapted itself to make use of. This doesn’t sound like fun at all, from any angle.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s