How do We Counteract the Marketing of Fear?

Don’t buy it. When someone tells you to worry about something, ask if it requires that you subscribe to something that will reduce your paycheck on a monthly basis. I’m not saying that all fears one hears about are unjustified. Clearly, the environment is fucked, global warming is real, and the fascists are out to get us. but these fears are absolutely free of charge. These are, in fact, fears that require you stop buying something. Avoid all fears that include the necessity that you purchase a book, or attend a paid seminar, or send money to an organization that will promptly spend your money on spreading more fear. I will not name these organizations. Some of them are good. Some of them are bad. Some of them do good in the world. Some of them do good only for themselves. That is not my point, to demonize those who move money for their own purposes. What I want to call into question instead is the american fear industry. I believe what is called for is a general strike and boycott by american fear consumers. I suggest that we organize and take to the streets and declare a moratorium on the endless fear broadcasts that are designed to make us buy into their lifestyle of more, and more, and more fear. It’s like heroin, this fear. It stops us dead in our tracks, makes us surrender to authority, keep our head down, not want to cause any trouble. The american way used to be making trouble. The founding fathers, god rest and damn those bourgeois white slave-owning indian killers, were right about one thing: the tree of liberty was never watered by the piss of fear.

The Canadian Press

A Montreal pooch is about to return home from a shocking, unscheduled, 4,500 kilometre journey that over the last year allowed her to see more of Canada than most Canadians do. In the days and weeks following Pollux’s disappearance, Robitaille said she looked everywhere for the dog and routinely heard of sightings but no firm information. On the day she disappeared from the family backyard, it had been raining. Robitaille suspects she might have hopped into a freight train to get out of the rain. But she said it’s also possible she was picked up by a trucker or a family heading west. Robitaille gave up hope. The mother even went as far as getting a new dog, assuming her three kids would never see Pollux again as the months dragged on. Fast-forward to Canada Day and a shocking phone call from the SPCA branch in Kamloops: a dog with a microchip implanted in her skin and containing Robitaille’s contact information was found in B.C. “I said, ‘Send me pictures,’ because I didn’t believe it,” Robitaille said. “And they sent me a picture and it was her.” Pollux was alive and well, although a bit leaner than before, but otherwise in good health. The Labrador retriever had been named Suki by her saviours in the southern interior city of Kamloops, B.C. She has lived there at least a month after being found about 65 kilometres outside the city, in a rural area. 

Sarah Gerow of the SPCA in Kamloops said Pollux was no worse for wear after a year on the road. “She’s in good health, good body condition so she’s obviously had help along the way,” Gerow said. “It’s amazing, this dog has probably seen more (of Canada) than the average person has.” Pets from out of province are a rarity at the shelter. “We’ve had cases of animals going missing across town, but not across the country,” Gerow said. Without the chip, Gerow and Robitaille agree a reunion would not have been possible. The procedure is simple and can save time in tracking down a pet owner. “Without it there’s no way we would have found Isabelle, given the distance and time that’s passed,” Gerow said in a phone interview. “It’s smaller than a grain of rice and implanted just underneath the skin.” In fact, Robitaille was so sold on the chip that her husband immediately had the family’s new dog, Candy, fitted with a chip, too. “It took a long time for the kids to accept Candy, but they are now so excited to have Pollux back. They’re very, very excited,” Robitaille said. Getting home won’t be nearly as big an ordeal: Pollux will be flying home courtesy SPCA International, who’ll foot the bill. Pollux is expected home late Thursday, or early Friday. “She’s going to be 9 this summer so she’s going to be home for her birthday,” Robitaille said.

Twitter, What a Tweet!

I had heard of Twitter before from various people and institutions exclaming, "Follow me / us on Twitter!". I knew the general concept of Twitter, but I never really understood what all the fuss was about. I signed up for an account after attending a workshop (titled The workshop, which FYI was wonderful, informative, and interesting, so I would recommend going if they put one on like it again). One of the speakers at The workshop talked about Twitter and she seemed to be able to pull so much knowledge from it and connect with so many people. I tried to get the hang of it, but I never really understood how to use Twitter to find what I wanted. Maybe because I never thought I was doing anything interesting enough to tweet, or maybe because I did not have anyone following me to care (how sad!). What I did not realize is that twitter can be a way to reach out to fellow educators from around the globe and share information, thoughts, web links, etc. I love that Twitter is a huge social network that we can use to make connections with other people and potentially learn from them. I think that my biggest challenge will be learning how to develop a PLN on Twitter and use it to gain knowledge and information with others. I will continue reading tips about Twitter (I wonder if they have a "Twitter for Dummies" tutorial or book?). Thanks to Sue from NBCC for sending me some links to help me get started. Although I can not claim to be a Twitter expert (not even close, actually) I am going to keep trying and hope to get the hang of it!

Web 2.0 Assignments

It is hard to believe that we are wrapping up the Web 2.0 assignments. I have had a great experience learning how to use new tools for teaching and beyond! I may not use all of the web 2.0 tools on a regular basis, but most of them I have found quite useful and will use them frequently. I love photo editing. Photoshop is my favorite program, and I can spend hours editing photos. I chose to explore Flickr toys and had fun with a few photos. I think this would be a great tool for students who need to use images for an assignment. It is quick and easy to alter photos and would allow students to add some creativity to their project. I had a bit of an issue with Google Doc's. I have used the program to open and edit existing documents in the past, but this is the first time I attempted to create one. Creating a document in Google Doc's did not go so well for me. I had my entire blog composed and I was unable to save the document or copy the text to paste it into blogger. I had written a few witty comments and good points in the post that I just can not seem to remember when I typed this post. Oh well, maybe I will give Google Docs another go sometime (although I was quite frustrated at the time).

So Delicious!

After watching tutorials and some good old fashioned trial and error, I am beginning to get a grasp on social bookmarking. After searching a couple different topics using Delicious or Google search, I am on the fence regarding which I prefer. I found searching on Google more useful for topics that may lack popularity (I searched Nuclear Physics in both, and found Google produced the most applicable results). However, when I searched a more popular topic (such as chemotherapy) I found delicious provided a set of more applicable websites like the American Cancer Society than searching on Google. Something I find a bit annoying is that when you click on a link in delicious, that link opens in the current window instead of opening in a new window. So, if you are like me and close the window, you have to open delicious and start your search again. Although this can be fixed by holding the "control" button when clicking the link, I would like if it opened a new window just by clicking. I have found delicious to be very useful, and I like that the sites can be sorted according to tags to help find sites on specific topics. In my opinion, a site like delicious is much more practical than the traditional method of adding favorites on a computer. Having the ability to access your bookmarks from another computer and accessing other peoples lists is a very useful feature. 

You Tube

I love YouTube. You can find a video on any topic on YouTube. From cooking videos and movie clips to reliving a golden moment, you tube has something to offer everyone. I explored the educational uses of YouTube this past week and discovered a world of possibilities. A video can be so helpful when trying to teach something. Health Science students have to learn many clinical skills and obtaining those skills can be an intimidating experience for new students. Venipuncture is an essential skill that some students struggle with, and I found the following video on You Tube that explains the process in a clear and concise manner. I think that videos like this one could help students build up more confidence in their skills even before practicing on an actual patient. The commenting process on YouTube is brilliant. It benefits the viewer to comment because you may encourage the person who broadcast the video to share other useful videos. I find the "Search options" helpful as you can sort videos based on view count, date added, rating, etc, to help sort through the videos and turn up an optimal search result. I always knew that YouTube had great entertainment value, but I am impressed with the vast amount of educational videos that can also be found. I think that videos (if used correctly) can be invaluable in education to help teach a skill or idea, or to help students refocus in the middle of a long lecture. I will definitely keep exploring YouTube searching for videos that could be useful in clinical teaching. I will leave you with a video that delivers a powerful (and cute) message that is always important to remember in our wonderfully diverse world, we can always find a way to see past our differences and get along!

Wiki Wiki Wild

It was an interesting week exploring wikis. I must admit that I am still getting the hang of using a wiki site, especially the formatting and linking tools, but I am learning. The video, Wikis in plain english, was very helpful for me in grasping the concept. What makes a wiki unique is that other people can alter the information you have submitted (where a blog is a place for you to record information and thoughts). Although people can comment on your blog, they cannot change the information you have entered. I think a wiki would be useful for an assignment or topic of discussion that involves several people and a blog would be more useful when you want to share information. I think that I would allow students to cite a wiki as a source of academic research as long as the wiki had references listed (such as Wikipedia). I may be a bit skeptical if a student obtained certain information from a personal wiki site that was not backed up by another reference. Having said that, I think some wiki sites (again, such as wikipedia) are quite reliable as many people have an interest in maintaining the validity of the site. 

Out of curiosity, I have entered information that I know to be incorrect on wikipedia, and it was changed back within minutes. I also like the idea of students using wikipedia because it is a good source for information that tends to change. Text books are a great source of information, and can remain valid for years in certain subjects (such as history), however in areas such as patient care a text book can become dated soon after it is released. A site like wikipedia could prove to be a good source of newly changed information. It may be difficult for wikis to enforce policies that prove the validity of the information to the public. It is good to have a reference cited at the end of the wiki so that if a reader is skeptical about any information, they can go to the source and research the subject further. Using a wiki in healthcare education may be quite useful, especially in the diagnostic imaging field. It would be a good place to share images with students and recieve their input on the image. Aside from the use of wiki's in education, I could definitely see myself using a wiki to plan a group vacation or potluck!