Thursday, January 19, 2012

What Apple's education announcement means to you.

Hey again, I'd like to take a little time to weigh in on an important issue which has been really controversially received today, about Apple's update to iBooks as well as a standalone iTunes U app. For me personally, this is an incredible innovation, one which will certainly encourage me to even probably buy a textbook or two outside of academia, just for learning. The $15 cap on prices for these incredible, interactive experiences which major publishers have signed on to build is incredible, and means that you won't have to worry about waiting in line at the bookstore, lugging books around all semester, and then worrying about having to sell them back to bookstores or to friends. Also, when information changes in these textbooks, publishers can make updates to content which will be reflected instantly via update to anyone who bought the textbook. People who are just entering university will be able to purchase an entire semester of textbooks for 75$ at most (prices on textbooks for major publishers are capped by Apple at 14.99 apiece on an exclusivity contract). This means that for about $600 initial investment (more if you want more storage for music on the iPad) you can replace a stack of textbooks which can cost easily more than 100 each. This investment, in the vast majority of cases, will pay off within a year. The big thing is, though, that content in these interactive touch textbooks can include full-color, zooming photographs, text whose size can be changed, an internet-powered encyclopedic dictionary, highlighting, underlining, video clips, interactive hands-on applets built-in to enhance the experience even more. I'm really jealous of the generation just entering university, this is something that is going to change all schooling for the better. Down with paper!

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Washing your Hands is a Waste of Time.

Now, this article is going to get me into a lot of trouble, especially with females and people who are OCD about cleanliness and personal hygiene. But I have a point to make and while I'm certain that not everybody agrees with me in principle, logically my arguments are fairly solid.

The title of this post is a very general statement, and I don't actually espouse ideas that nobody should wash their hands ever. The point I am trying to make is that the idea that if you wash your hands after using the washroom, you really aren't any more well protected from "germs and bacteria" than you would be if you didn't. Assuming you are otherwise fairly clean in the genital region, if you are touching yourself there in the course of normal washroom behavior, you won't be suddenly exposing your hands to a plethora of microfaunae and florae which will wreak havoc on your immune system if you decide to eat an hour later.

I am not trying to make the argument that people should never wash their hands. If your hands are dirty or feel gross or smell horrible, by all means wash them until they are no longer that way. Go NUTS on your hands. But the idea that washing your hands more than a few times a day is going to make you a much healthier person is a little bit silly. Obviously, if you eat ribs or wings and your hands are all goopy, or you make a habit of pooping on yourself, it's probably a good idea to wash your hands after having done so. Otherwise, though, with the things our hands encounter on a given day, if you were really trying to protect yourself from this bacteria (which by the way, lives on our skin already and doesn't actually come off in the shower, no matter how much you soap up), you're just chewing up and drying out your hands.

When it comes to handwash stations with gel which kills viruses, this is pretty effective at killing whatever is actually growing on your hands at a given time (assuming it does work, which is a good, but not great, assumption).If you are trying to protect yourself from cold at all costs, feel free to carry a bottle of this disinfectant with you at all times, vigilantly applying and reapplying after contacting all manner of doorknobs, money, the cornucopia of different handles, pads, buttons and especially other people's hands and other similar such things. For the average person though, all of this just isn't realistic, and even at our best there will be times where "germs" will be transferred. If this happens on a regular basis through childhood up to adulthood, humans' immune systems will be hampered a little bit at first, eventually building up an immunity to these pathogens, or at least better equipping itself to handle them in the future.This is the kind of world that I want to live it.

Next time you're bored or want to do something that will ruin your day (until you decide to abandon logiclessness), try to count the number of times in a day you touch something that at least 10 people have also touched in the last half hour, or that more than 50 people have touched in a lifetime (such as money). Imagine what is now on you after touching these surfaces or objects, and you will hopefully start to realize that keeping yourself germ free, as much as it sounds awesome, is really not realistic, and your hands will be contaminated at least most of the time even if you are vigilant. There are far worse ways to attract disease than not washing your hands when it is socially acceptable to do so.

For the time being, I will continue to wash my hands when it is socially acceptable, but know that I don't agree with this practice, just based purely on logic, and that I am not worried in the slightest about getting sick from it, and neither should you be.

To your health!