Thursday, August 16, 2007

How to poison a child.

Our children have now to live in terror of the despicable Foreign Toymaker, who is coating all toys with lead and magnets.

I have no idea why magnets are now dangerous. I had several as a child, most from toy sets. Now I have some from defunct hard disks which are powerful enough to not only stop a pacemaker, but to rip it from the victim's chest. There must be some reason why we are suddenly terrified of magnetism. Does anyone know?

Lead has long been known to be toxic, which is why I recall a childhood incident where all the water pipes in my parent's house had to be replaced with copper ones. The latest pipes, in an extension I had built a few years ago, are plastic. This means I can't find them with a pipe detector, but that's progress for you.

We had lead water pipes. Their removal was a good idea. Green paint in very old houses is coloured with arsenic. It's best not to scrape that off - just paint or paper over it. It's safe until you turn it into airborne dust. Asbestos roofs still exist. If you want to remove one, it's a specialist job. It was probably put up as a DIY job, but now it's deadly.

The world is full of dangerous things. There are, however, degrees of danger.

I had lead toy soldiers as a boy. Pity I didn't keep them, they're worth money now. I had (still have) soldering equipment and dabbled (still dabble) with electronics. Lead-free solder is now available but when I was a child, a whiff of solder vapour was considered trivial. Dripping it onto your hand wasn't. I learned, very quickly, to treat hot solder with respect.

School physics lessons included the art of soldering, the construction of a mercury thermometer and other things that make the bubble-wrap brigade tremble with fear. I'm not even going to start on chemistry lessons. Let's just say the school had a small stock of pure sodium and pure potassium for class purposes. Physics and chemistry were fun subjects, as was biology which involved dead rats and scalpels. Nowadays, children aren't interested in those subjects and the Institute of Incompetence, previously known as the Government, wonders why.

It's because they took all the fun out. For children, things that go bang, things that burn, things that smell, are the stuff of dreams. Dusty textbooks and long equations are not. We learned the equations only because they showed us how to make things like nitrogen triiodide and weedkiller bombs. Without the class demonstrations of those things (and some self-imposed homework) those equations would have held no interest at all. Before you ask, the particular weedkiller required is no longer on sale.

Children don't want to spend time in a class of clean white lab coats and clear solutions. They want lab coats with stains, and with holes from 'accidental' alkali spillage. They want to have to leave the room teary-eyed because someone's experiment 'accidentally' produced sulphur dioxide. They want something to go bang, something to stink, something gory and something poisonous. They want the dangerous stuff.

Lead soldiers were never dangerous unless you bit chunks off them. If you're the sort of person who finds lead tasty, then natural selection will deal with you. Lead in paint on children's toys is less dangerous than those soldiers. It's at a much lower concentration and will only affect a child who's daft enough to eat it.

They say lead makes you stupid. I say if you're actively eating these things, you can't get any more stupid.

Lead is bad for you, there's no doubt about that. It's the same lead that's in vehicle exhaust emissions. That's bad for you too. If you have fillings, the amalgam used by dentists contains mercury. In the UK, we are at low risk from this because it's impossible to register with a dentist. Even so, having your teeth filled with mercury without being told makes no news. A little lead-based paint causes utter terror. What a world.

It's not the metals in our household products that's responsible for rising levels of illiteracy among university students. Lead doesn't cause chavs or any of the other congregations of brainlessness that litter our streets at dusk. Children are not unruly and idiotic because of the traces of mildly harmful things the twee little ladies of Political Correctness haven't mopped up yet.

They are unruly because the Politically Correct will not allow anyone, parent, teacher, police, courts, to discipline them.

They are stupid because the Bubble-Wrap Brigade won't let teachers teach them anything.

There is little need to be concerned about the physical poisoning a child might pick up from its toys. It can happen, but it's very unlikely in today's world.

There is every need to be concerned about the more insidious, mental and psychological poisoning of every child's thought processes by the madmen who currently run the country.

That's why I make no plans for the future. The human race will coddle itself to death in a couple of generations.


Southern Writer said...

Oh, I don't know, Rom ... I have a little sister who used her teeth to scrape all the lead-based paint off her babybed, and she's pretty stupid.

Personally, I don't trust anything that comes from China these days. They're counterfeiting drugs that I must take now, and those drugs are making it into our pharmacies. People are dying because they think they're getting their drugs, but what they're really getting are watered down versions of the liquids, or pills that are actually made from gypsum, powdered lead-based paint, or cement. I think we should halt all trade with China until every single package can be inspected.

Romulus Crowe said...

Counterfeit drugs are a big problem these days, and not just from China. There's a lot of money to be made and that attracts some pretty unsavoury characters.

We had an alert in the UK recently on counterfeit toothpaste that contained poison. It was packaged to look just like a well-known brand.

It's getting to the point where you have to grow your own food to be sure of safety, and brew your own beer too. Giving up on cleaning your teeth isn't an option though, since we already have far too few dentists.

I'm not on any medication, because I never visit doctors. They make a living from finding something wrong with their patients. As long as I don't go there, I can't be diagnosed with anything.

Besides, their waiting rooms are full of sick people.

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