Showing posts with label Technology. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Technology. Show all posts

Monday, 4 February 2013

Natural Living:5 Myths about nature vs technology

Technology has made us healthier in a lot of ways. It’s beaten back old threats from smallpox to stillbirth to scarlet fever. But many think the march of progress has gone too far, and we need to get back to nature. 
Author Nathanael Johnson says most of us are in the middle – suspicious of technology run amok, but unwilling to trade the condo for a mud hut. He investigates whether the natural approach is really better for us in his book,“All Natural.” 
Nathanael also laid out five common myths about nature versus technology. Get the gist below, or click below and listen to the full conversation:
1) Identical nutrition labels mean identical nutrition.
The Food and Drug Administration requires foodmakers to post the content of essential nutrients, calories and so on so we can compare how healthy one food is next to another. But Johnson says scientists now understand that the way a food delivers nutrients – how they’re structured inside a food – make a huge difference in how we process them (think Wonder Bread versus rustic bread). That means the numbers on those labels tell just part of the story, and maybe not a very important part at that.
2) Pale pork is healthy pork.
The “other white meat” probably shouldn’t be white. Johnson says white pig flesh is actually a symptom of a delicious-sounding condition called “pale, soft, exudative flesh,” or PSE. This is usually a result of the piggy being highly stressed prior to slaughter. Better off finding pork that is a deep red color, though not too brownish or purple.
3) Take an antibiotic, just to be on the safe side.
Many of us have been lectured that we shouldn’t overuse antibiotics because, on the whole, it gives rise to drug-resistant “superbugs.” But for any given individual with any given sinus infection, it’s tempting to think, “Might as well err on the side of caution … and who’s it really going to hurt?” Well, maybe you, says Johnson. Besides the bad germs, antibiotics wipe out billions of good bacteria in our bodies, many of them in our gut. That leaves us wide open to opportunistic germs that might not otherwise gain a toehold, such as the highly unpleasant and potentially deadly C. difficile, now at epidemic levels.
4) Vaccines may not cause autism, but dang it there’s something fishy there
The jury is in on the supposed vaccine-autism link: there isn’t one. But a host of other misgivings about vaccines persist. Johnson says some of these derive from the idea that vaccines are the height of medical hubris, that they are an unnatural intervention with unknown consequences. Even he thought that to some extent until he did his research. He came to believe that vaccines actually restore a natural balance we lost once we moved into cities and stopped getting so dirty all the time.
5) Getting screened for cancer couldn’t hurt, and might save your life
In any single case, that may be true. But on the whole, Johnson says screenings for prostate, breast of cervical cancer carry their own risk. They generate lots of false positives, which trigger more interventions – each of which has the potential to harm. It’s not just about saving money, Johnson says: On the whole, public health experts believe the population would be healthier if fewer of us got screened.

Sunday, 6 January 2013

Technology for the lessable

In the past few months my father has been diagnosed with brain cancer, had two brain surgeries to remove the tumors, undergone 6 weeks of radiation and chemotherapy and has been sleeping a lot. His life changed very quickly from being a very capable, active, adventurous motorcycle rider who travelled all over the world, watching his investments on the stock market and restoring and rebuilding motorcycles. He was also an avid and voracious reader.

He now has problems seeing properly as the tumors were in that part of the brain which controlled vision. He also cannot recognize words and has effectively become illiterate as he can no longer read or write. He is 71 years young. 

When visiting with him over the past holidays I noticed his frustration using an old style mobile phone (along with other frustrations). He couldn't see or recognise the numbers to call, had trouble discerning the button to press to answer the call, he had difficulties holding the phone and found it difficult to end the call as he was not able to see the finish button.

I bought him an iPhone 4 to help him reduce his frustration in communication. The ease of answering the calls by swiping the surface, the included voice commands and voice over to access the phone functions has ensured he now has some independence back. The access that Apple has inbuilt into the iphone has made communication much better for him and others like him who have permanent or temporary disabilities.

He is able to tell the phone who to call or text, he is able to 'read' texts and emails when they come in and the screen is able to be magnified further if he does need to see an app to open it.

We have also purchased for him a handset (see above) which he can hold with more ease and protect his brain from further damage. He will also be able to listen to audio books when he is able to. At the moment his brain can't keep up or process the words being read on the audio book. This apparently will settle down with time.

As educators we are always trying to help our students learn through different means and to support them in whatever way we can whether it be simplified text, audio books or different apps. I am glad I have had the experience with supporting learning with students so that I could help my parents through this difficult time.

Modern technology surely has its positives in situations like this..