[percy-l] Lapsometric Research

Wade Riddick wriddick at usa.net
Sat May 2 16:38:09 EDT 2009

>Perhaps Lapsometric research is indeed making progress -- see:

I think you've got this problem turned on its head.  The "better living
through chemistry" crowd has screwed up matters not at the stage of lithium
but at the stage before lithium.

The list has been down this road before about ten years back when the
molecules du jour were the then novel SSRIs, which turn out to have not
only antidepressant qualities but also help the brain stave off the drop in
neurogeneration as it ages [PMID 12726822].  These are great drugs if you
need them (and respond) but a lot of people on the list pointed out that we
ought to ask if we could pursue alternatives that kept us from getting the
problems that need drugs in the first place.  This side of the debate was,
of course, talking about the moral dimension but I would point to still
other bad decisions about chemistry in addition to that.

I'm pretty sure lithium was the mood stabilizing wonder drug on which Percy
based his heavy sodium spoof.  There are other elemental wonder drugs.  The
Russians have done some interesting work on the life-extending properties
of 25Mg2+ [PMID 16049349, 16043694].  Strontium improves bone health.  Zinc
and magnesium both have anti-inflammatory properties and our modern diets
are pretty deficient in them, partly because of the way we strip fiber from
grains in food processing.

The reasons we use both lithium and fluoride are closely interrelated.  Our
teeth decay because we consume too little fiber and too much sugar.  This
is a consciously planned change in our diet brought about without any
debate by the modern food processing industry.  The solution for these
rotting teeth isn't to stop subsidizing bad food with our tax dollars or
use the tax system to properly price the cost to individuals for consuming
these foods.  We like these foods too much to give them up because chronic
consumption trips our adrenal stress response, floods our arteries with
insulin and glucose and releases dopamine on the same circuit stimulated by
smoking and cocaine, albeit at a more moderate pace.  No, we don't stop the
bad behavior.  Our solution for tooth decay is to chronically dose the
population with antibiotics (in this case fluoride) to the point our soils
are so contaminated we can't safely grow tea leaves in them.

Fluoride is a real health risk.  In addition to harming our bones over the
years, it also damages our gut flora - like any chronically consumed
antibiotic would.  You can't get the medical community to admit this yet.
You can get them to admit we take fluoride for its antibiotic properties.
You can get them to admit we need friendly gut bacteria for a well-balanced
immune system and you can even get them to admit that chronic antibiotic
use is a bad idea.  But you can't get them to go from point A to point C.
There's a ton of money sprinkled on politicians to prevent that from
occurring in public rhetoric.  Despite the potential for profound effects,
we have been experimenting on people's health with fluoride for more than
half a century with no scientific data justifying our actions.  Like
legalizing transfats and declaring them safer than regular fats, government
bodies just went out and did it - often to satisfy an unscrutinized
interest group lavishing campaign cash on politicians.

So we take fluoride unnecessarily to balance out other bad chemistry
decisions we don't want to talk about.  Lithium helps counterbalance
another end of the sugar problem.  Insulin resistance in neurons activates
GSK-3beta - which lithium downregulates [PMID 18322101].  GSK-3beta causes
chronic inflammation and contributes to epilepsy, Alzheimer's[1] and a
number of other neurodegenerative conditions associated with diabetes,
often increasing the risk for depression as the brain gets damaged and
neurogeneration fails to keep pace.  That leaves particularly vulnerable
individuals contemplating suicide.

In the case of lithium, adding it to the water supply at currently used
therapeutic doses would pose problems including kidney damage and tumor
formation.  But we don't have good data on Japanese suicide rates a century
ago so no one really notices what the modern diet has done.  We just notice
the lithium and we're surprised that such low amounts still have an effect.

Why don't we notice the dietary changes?  Aside from the data problem, we
have a system that rewards blindness.  Think about who funds most of this
medical and nutritional research - drug and food companies.  As Upton
Sinclair said, "[i]t is difficult to get a man to understand something when
his salary depends on his not understanding it."  Even Warren Buffet - who
understands the fraud in the banking system and has given Bill Gates tons
of money for a medical-related foundation - owns Coca-Cola stock and eats
fast food.

A year or two ago, some people openly speculated about putting statins in
the water supply.  Again, we can't challenge the lifestyle assumptions that
give us the cholesterol problem in the first place.  Instead we think about
putting people on dangerous drugs that can destroy our muscles and may
cause Parkinson's.

Guess what?  Our water is already medicated.  A certain amount of the drugs
we consume - whether pot or a prescription - never really metabolizes and
it washes back into the sewage for recycling.  Water treatment systems
aren't designed to process some of these molecules and the rest of us wind
up reconsuming them in the recycled water, albeit at much lower than
therapeutic doses exposing us to all sorts of poorly understood, complex,
subtle effects.

I'm knowledgeable on these subjects because I nearly succumbed to mercury
poisoning when an amalgam filling cracked.  I'm now severely autoimmune.
Amalgams are yet another modern "innovation" in health care that people are
simply exposed to with zero scientific data to validate their safety or
efficacy.  They were "grandfathered in" and it's widely acknowledged that
they could never pass the FDA's contemporary approval process because of
their toxicity risk.  Mercury is a potent neurotoxin and, surprise, causes
autoimmunity in lab animals.  (We can't study the dose I was exposed to in
people because that would be unethical...)

Of course when I started reading Walker Percy as a teenager, I didn't think
his themes about modern chemistry's abusive potential applied to me.  At
the time I didn't understand how I was sick or that I was at any risk.

Percy wrote of how the Nazi's reliance on modern economic production
methods represented a natural culmination of an evolving death culture.
When the Nazis dispensed with God, their compassion decayed into pity and a
search for salvation turned into a search for transcendence with the nation
and nationalism substituted as the new religion.  Their quest for
efficiency lead to modernizing the old pogrom with Henry Ford-style
assembly line death factories and Zyklon B to euthanize their scapegoats.
Jews, gypsies, Communists, homosexuals and other culpable suspects in
Germany's fall from grace were put out of their misery.  Nazis
bureaucratized it and applied modern institutions, thus showing that
element of the modern drive with a purity never before witnessed.  It was
the zenith of a death culture that tried to eradicate all excuses for
imperfection - essentially punishing man himself for the human condition.
Man busy at work trying to perfect mankind - and having to get rid of other
men to do it.

Percy liked to zero in on willful ignorance - alcohol, drugs, ideology.
Excuses provided irony and fodder for plot.  But of course to spot the
irony the reader must have at least a glimmer of self-awareness and thus a
chance at being touched by the ghost in the machine.  It was that
predicament that came from being both a thing, an animal and having a soul.
How do we live responsibly with our natural desires - our natural selves as
biological entities as well as creatures?  I never thought such questions
would so preoccupy me.  The things we will do to avoid acknowledging and
paying for our sins.  The bill does add up.

I will never have affordable health insurance.  My sin?  Being a casualty
of bad science.  Being an error in the equation.  Being an inconvenient
victim of a very profitable set of businesses with rhetorical chinks they
don't want exposed.  I think about the people who don't have the education
or the resources to survive what I did.  They don't have the same chance to
speak because they're largely crippled or dead.  In most cases, they never
get far enough to figure out want went wrong.  They don't die with any

I never thought growing up, watching my parents fight the remnants of
segregation in Baton Rouge I would find myself - white, well-educated and
upper middle class - so discriminated against for circumstances beyond my
control.  My situation is not as rare as you think.  I'm only rare in the
degree to which I understand my own situation and I've recovered enough to
be articulate about it.

There are a lot of chronically ill people in my situation.  Many of them
are innocent victims of disease or crime.  Many of the first responders on
9/11 had their lungs destroyed because the EPA lied about the air quality
at ground zero.  Then they got cut from their insurance because they
suddenly had a "pre-existing" condition.

Where is the compassion?

(Nobody seems to want to talk about Michael Moore's movie, _Sicko_, they
way they did Fahrenheit 911.)

What's worse is that estimates say in 2001 more than 100,000 hospital
patients alone died from avoidable medical errors.  This doesn't even begin
to tally up the deaths from outpatient treatment errors.  We had a war on
terror over 3000 deaths but never a war on error.  Detroit has better
methods for catching defective rivets than doctors do for catching their
errors - because car owners have more secure property rights than patients
do over our own bodies.  We have a medical industry that goes to great
lengths to avoid any responsibility for its actions.

We may not line up people we don't like into gas chambers anymore, but we
certainly have a very rational system that concentrates the victims of bad
medicine into their own homes or hospices waiting to die, locking them away
from public view while their family finances erode.  Just like the Jews who
got bussed out of sight, the chronically ill aren't out and about on the
talk show circuit; our participation in life is limited by circumstance
rather than by barbed wire and machine guns.

It's not Auschwitz but it does happen.  People get pumped full of
schizophrenia drugs all because they have an intolerance to gluten that
affects their mind and the doctor screwed up the diagnosis.  People die of
the flu because they get stuck in the hospital and become vitamin D
deficient when the dumb orderlies won't take them out to get a little
sunshine[2].  Patients recovering from open heart surgery can call down to
McDonald's and eat more of the same food that clogged their arteries in the
first place.  Several members of the American Heart Association who
advocated transfats as healthier went on to die of heart disease - in large
part because they ate too many foods like margarine and our bodies can't
process the artificial, hydrogenated oils the way we can saturated fat.

How's all that for irony?

But sprinkle some money on politicians and you can pretend it's not there.
Or you can pretend it's all "free choice."

(Don't even get me started on banking fraud; I tried to warn readers of
this list in 2000 that Bush was going to be a disaster for the financial

The guilty?

Well, there are no Nuremberg Trials - I live down the street from a fellow
who was an army typist at Nuremberg, by the way.  In an age where six sigma
supplies us with almost perfectly produced iPods, the guilty are stuck in
the same system of bad food, defective diagnostics and poor quality
treatments as the rest of us.  When they get sick, these medical providers
are so often in such deep denial they don't even know where to begin to
help themselves.  They can't believe that a chemical engineer has read the
chemotherapy literature more thoroughly than they have or that a guy like
me with an English degree understands autoimmunity and viruses better.
They aren't much different from that astronomer in _Lost in the Ruins_ who
knows what's going on 10 billion light years away but he doesn't know his
wife might leave him down the street.  They'd rather continue to live in
blissful ignorance thinking the ex-cheerleader turned drug company rep
would never slant the data to boost her sales.

The Nazis did what they did to avoid responsibility, to avoid staring in
the mirror and seeing their sins for what they were.  People can't help
making mistakes and you can't begin to have a chance of being saved until
you admit that.  The moral problems posed by existence never really go
away.  They just change form.  We have choices at the polls those living in
Nazi Germany didn't; then again - do we really?

So point your lapsometer in the other direction.  To paraphrase Bob Dylan,
it ain't lithium, babe.

1.  For those who haven't followed recent research, Alzheimer's appears to
be a latent herpes (HSV-1) infection reawakening in the brain as the immune
system ages.  The result is a kind of type III diabetes for neurons.

2.  Vitamin D levels are a greater predictor of susceptibility to the flu
and vitamin D shots can be better at protecting from the flu than specific
vaccinations [PMID 16959053].  Not that you'd know from any of the recent
coverage of the flu.  Vitamin D isn't a patented antiviral like Tamiflu and
it doesn't buy ads for itself on network TV.

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