firefly

Oxycontin Genocide

I picked up on an interesting article, originally published in the Guardian, via io9 this afternoon:

A pill to enhance moral behaviour, a treatment for racist thoughts, a therapy to increase your empathy for people in other countries – these may sound like the stuff of science fiction but with medicine getting closer to altering our moral state, society should be preparing for the consequences, according to a book that reviews scientific developments in the field.

Drugs such as Prozac that alter a patient’s mental state already have an impact on moral behaviour, but scientists predict that future medical advances may allow much more sophisticated manipulations.

My knee-jerk reaction was to check the date. Nope. Not the first. All good.

My next reaction was two-part, and it went something like this: “Wait… haven’t they heard of Pax?”… followed briskly by: “So, I should start brushing up on my gun kata then?”

While I’m fairly sure this is a highly selective & leading article, it did make me think. You probably heard it: that sound like a squid swallowing a rusty chicken? That was me.

This kind of research makes me deeply, deeply uncomfortable. I’ve always been very open about the fact that I’ve been on anti-depressants in the past, several times, and while I know they definitely did their job, I hated being on them with a passion.

Or, actually, with an absence of passion. Because I wasn’t chemically capable of feeling any kind of passion for anything. That’s how they work, after all. So I can tell you from personal experience that you won’t find me lining up to voluntarily take any kind of pill that messes with my brain which – and here’s the important bit – I do not need.

My moral compass generally points somewhere in the vague direction of north-ish, I’ve been known to give up my seat on the bus, and I’ve only bludgeoned irritating neighbours to death with a blunt instrument in my mind’s eye. So, in this instance, why would I agree to take medication for the sake of making me more moral(again, -ish) than I already am?

And that’s it, isn’t it? I wouldn’t. Not voluntarily.

Meulen also suggested that moral-enhancement drugs might be used in the criminal justice system. “These drugs will be more effective in prevention and cure than prison,” he said.

Now, you knew that was coming. We’d start by medicating the murderers…

Kahane does not advocate putting morality drugs in the water supply, but he suggests that if administered widely they might help humanity to tackle global issues.

“Relating to the plight of people on other side of the world or of future generations is not in our nature,” he said. “This new body of drugs could make possible feelings of global affiliation and of abstract empathy for future generations.”

… then we move to medicate the masses – because it’s all for the Greater Good.

Sure.

Thank you for the venom, right?

The full article is here.

If anyone wants to tell me that this is an April Fool, that’d be grand. And otherwise? I’ll get my (brown)coat and start stashing the art under the floorboards.

The Special Hell

Disclosure: as everyone on Twitter is doubtless sick of hearing, I’m watching Firefly for the first time. I love it. And, while (virtually) shouting very loudly last night that no-one had told me Jane Espenson had been a writer on the show, I got a tweet back from her. In response to which I dissolved, gibbered and wibbled in an appropriately fangirlish way.

The “Special Hell” is not just reserved for child molesters and people who talk at the theatre. Oh no. Chief among its inhabitants are the People Who Take A Packed Lunch Into Museum Cafes.

As someone who’s been spending a significant amount of time in museums the last week and a half– almost always with a small child whose chief utterances are: “I’m tired”, “I want to go home”, “I want something to eat” and the all-time classic: “I need to pee!”– I’ve developed a serious case of cafe rage. It began in the Natural History Museum with the father-and-son team taking up a large table as they chowed down on their Waitrose pre-prepared luncheon goods while I balanced a wriggling 3 year-old on a nine foot-high stool in the middle of a sea of broken glass.

That last bit might be an exaggeration. But only a little one.

And today? Today, at the British Museum, a young woman was nearly beaten to death by her own copy of Glamour. Christ alive, but if the editorial team have managed to dig out yet another “100 Sex Tips You Need to Know!” article (they’ve been doing this regularly since the magazine launched in 2001. What, do they have a team of gurus hanging out in the office?) then couldn’t you go and read it somewhere else? And as for the guy with the hiking boots, thermos flask and rugged stubble, trying to pick up French-student-with-long-hair-and-short-skirt by telling her that the walrus was extinct… don’t you have a mountain to climb? And, you know, jump off?

Sorry. It’s the cafe rage talking, not me.

What I was going to say was that I made it (with Small Boy, who was singularly unappreciative. This unfairness is compounded by the fact he got a scarab badge and I didn’t) to the British Museum’s “Book of the Dead” exhibition today, and it was stunning. Genuinely jaw-dropping. One of the exhibits is a still-rolled papyrus recovered from a sarcophagus; its wax seals still intact, its leather bindings complete… it’s never been opened. No-one knows exactly what’s in there, because whoever sealed it up died over 3,000 years ago. If that doesn’t mess with your head, nothing will.

I’m not saying that the ancient Egyptians pwn the Anglo-Saxons. Certainly not (and that’s only partly because I can’t speak ancient Egyptian) but boy, did they know how to do the afterlife. I think I must have been given a particularly grisly book on the Egyptians when I was little, as I distinctly remember having an imaginary pet Devourer around the age of 6 or 7.

Well, I would, wouldn’t I?

So go, if you have the chance. And then you, too, will know the joy of standing in front of a sarcophagus and desperately, desperately trying to stop yourself from saying in the quietest possible voice….

“Are you my mummy?”