You are currently browsing the tag archive for the ‘water’ tag.

… is a load of crap.

For those who don’t know, apparently people are actually taking this seriously and Queensland communities are starting to ban fluoridation in water. Here’s a picture I stole off a friend’s Facebook wall – one he took on a train:

Fluoride

I first heard of this on the Q&A episode where Lawrence Krauss appeared. He was awesome as usual but had a bit of difficulty trying not to offend people and trying to dumb down his scientific explanations (particularly in regards to nothingness, which I should make a separate post on). Anyway, one of the ministers of health was there too and she mentioned some politician in Queensland – a body builder – who claimed that he’d rather take banned substances for a year than drink fluoridated water. I find this hilarious because most body builders have some idea about nutrition and he obviously doesn’t.

For those of you even farther behind in the news, fluoride is added to tap water and was one of the biggest dental intervention movements in Australian history.

My first step in exposing the bullshit of all these fluoride conspirators should be the end game. Take a look at their credentials. I saw some anti-fluoride argument on a site called “Evolution-Kills” and smelled bullshit straight away. I also found some other dodgy sites with questionable sources. This reminds me of all the quack scientists that create their own publication labels to publish their “scientific” articles because no peer-reviewed article will accept them, and the ones who create their own universities to give themselves degrees. The more scientifically oblivious may have a difficult time sifting through all the bullshit so my first step is always to look at the source.

Here’s a few sources:

The National Academy of Science: http://www.cdc.gov/fluoridation/safety/nas.htm

This report identified fluoride as a mineral that can positively influence human health, and although earlier NRC reports were not conclusive in their opinions, this report concluded that fluoride was considered to be an element essential for human life based on its role in cellular functions involving metabolic or biochemical processes. The report further stated that fluoride in drinking water has two beneficial effects: preventing tooth decay (dental caries) and contributing to bone mineralization and bone matrix integrity.

World Health Organisation Report: http://www.who.int/water_sanitation_health/publications/fluoride_drinking_water_full.pdf

Fluoride has beneficial effects on teeth at low concentrations in drinking-water, but excessive exposure to fluoride in drinking-water, or in combination with exposure to fluoride from other sources, can give rise to a number of adverse effects. These range from mild dental fluorosis to crippling skeletal fluorosis as the level and period of exposure increases. Crippling skeletal fluorosis is a significant cause of morbidity in a number of regions of the world.

… The beneficial and the detrimental effects of fluoride naturally present in water were well established by the early 1940s. High levels of fluoride present in concentrations up to 10 mg l were associated with dental fluorosis (yellowish or brownish striations or mottling of the enamel) while low levels of fluoride, less than 0.1 mg/l, were associated with high levels of dental decay (Edmunds and Smedley, 1996), although poor nutritional status is also an important contributory factor.

Now these are balanced views. No real science is going to declare an absolute benefit with no side effects – and that’s something important to note. However, skeletal fluorosis doesn’t occur in areas where fluoride levels are within safe levels (Kaminsky et al, 1990). See what I did there? Provided a proper source.

In regards to the accusation of fluoride being a carcinogenic – that’s just another example of non-scientific people trying to make scientific claims. Here’s a quote:

Some fluoridation opponents have suggested that fluoride is carcinogenic; claims which have been criticized as being based on statistical bias and deliberate exaggeration. (Cook-Mozaffari 1996, Spencer 1998, Pollick 2006) A frequently cited study by fluoridation opponents is the US National Cancer Institutes Surveillance, Epidemiology and End Results (SEER) program which reported a higher in cadence of osteosarcoma (bone cancer) among young males in two fluoridated areas of the United States . (Hoover et al 1991a) Further analysis of the time trends by Hoover et al (1991b) however found that the increased prevalence of osteosarcoma was not related to the time of fluoridation. Moreover, a similar study by Mahoney et al (1991) found no difference in the prevalence of osteosarcoma among any age group between fluoridated and non fluoridated cities in New York State .

But most of all, fluoride is in toothpaste and mouthwash. If these people truly believe that it’s poison or whatever, why don’t they just stop brushing their teeth and see what happens? Problem solved.

Advertisements

We’ve all heard of electrolytes, especially since sports drinks tend to market themselves as “scientific” and throw around “scientific” words to make themselves sound more impressive. In reality, electrolytes are substances that become ions in the blood stream and the balance of electrolytes in our system is essential for the function of cells and organs. They are used to conduct electricity and carry electrical impulses such as nerve impulses and muscle contractions. The kidneys work to keep electrolyte levels in your blood constant. You lose electrolytes through sweat, which is why sports drinks emphasise that they replace electrolytes. Let’s take a look at some of the electrolytes in your body before we take a look at some sports drinks and what they actually contain.

The major electrolytes in your body are:

–          Sodium (Na+)

–          Chloride (Cl-)

–          Potassium (K+)

–          Calcium (Ca2+)

–          Magnesium (Mg2+)

–          Phosphate (PO42-)

–          Bicarbonate (HCO3-)

–          Sulfate (SO42-)

Sodium:

Sodium is one of the major positive ion (cation) in fluid outside of cells. Many of you are probably familiar with sodium chloride, which is the scientific name for table salt. Sodium regulates the water levels in the body, which is why those trying to lose weight should avoid salt as much as possible as it causes water retention (excess salt is a big dietary problem; salt deficiency is very uncommon). The brain, nervous system and muscles require electrical signals to communicate, thus a good sodium level is critical for proper function.

An increase in sodium, known as hypernatremia, occurs when there is excess sodium in relation to water (which is why everyone recommends drinking more water). By contrast, a decrease in sodium level is known as hyponatremia. The normal blood sodium level is 135 – 145 mmol/L (millimoles / Litre).

Potassium:

This is another major cation found in cells. It helps regulate heartbeat and muscle function. Abnormal changes in potassium levels can impact on the nervous system and cause irregular heartbeats (arrhythmias), which can be fatal.

An increase in potassium levels is known as hyperkalemia and a decrease is known as hypokalemia. Potassium is normally excreted by the kidneys, so diseases that affect the kidneys can cause either one of these. The normal blood potassium level is 3.5 – 5.0 mmol/L.

Chloride:

This is the major negatively charged ion (anion) found in the fluid outside of cells and in the blood. Sea water has almost the same concentration of chloride ions as human body fluids. An increase in chloride levels is known as hyperchloremia while a decrease is known as hypochloremia. The normal range for chloride is 98 – 108 mmol/L

Bicarbonate:

This ion acts as a buffer to maintain the pH level in blood and other bodily fluid. It acts to regulate acidity levels in the body and the normal range is 22 – 30 mmol/L.

 

Powerade and Conclusion:

I have a bottle of this with me right now, so let’s take a look at the ingredients. All sports drinks are roughly the same so I’ll just focus on Powerade since I have the bottle with me and since its nutritional table is more helpful than the Gatorade one. In terms of the electrolyte content, per serving there is 7.2mmol of sodium and 2.4mmol of potassium (where a serving size is 600mL). The ingredients list sodium chloride, which we all know is just salt, and to cover up the salty taste it lists sucrose, which is basically table sugar. Sucrose is a simple carbohydrate; I’ll leave it at that for now. The drink also contains high fructose corn syrup and sucrose syrup.

Essentially, the two drinks are meant to help maintain electrolyte and carbohydrate balance through salt and sugar. That’s also the problem. If you’ve heard anything about the state of the Western diet and its health problems, you’ll know that salt and sugar are the two worst things happening to people right now. This is compounded by the fact that to restore carbohydrates, these drinks use simple carbs.

Now if we keep in mind that this is sports drink, it’s not necessarily a bad thing. Athletes are less likely to have an excess of sodium chloride in their diets (as opposed to the rest of the world) and a quick hit of carbs during exercise can help prevent catabolism and facilitate refuelling. The only concern I would have in this regard is that despite marketing itself as an electrolyte replenisher, sports drinks only contain two of the most common electrolytes because they’re just using common salt.

The problem is that the drink is available to anybody. It sits in the drink section as if it were just another drink. A lot of drinks have sugar in it already, but sports drink also have salt, making things worse. The contents include sucrose syrup (liquefied table sugar) which is high in empty calories. Powerade actually has less sugar in it than Gatorade, but let’s take a look at Gatorade (because I have the numbers from a study here). Gatorade contains 14g of sugar per 100g, which is equivalent to about 3.3 teaspoons of sugar. The entire bottle (which is one serving) will give you 8 teaspoons of sugar. Additionally, the high fructose corn syrup content has been shown to significantly and independently increase risk of hypertension in people with no previous history of the disease (American Society of Nephrology, 2009). Imagine a regular person adding all this to their diet because they perceive the sports drink as being healthier than the soft drink.

In fact, even if you are an athlete and regularly exercise, I still would not recommend sports drinks at any time other than when you are actually in the middle of exercising. This is the only time where a sugar and salt hit will not necessarily be bad for you, but the other ingredients still make the benefits of the drink questionable. All in all, I would still go for just water and maybe a quick, bite sized snack like fruit or nuts. Personally, I carry a bag of almonds around and just pop a few in my mouth while I’m at the gym. The protein and calorie content of almonds are amazing for building muscle.

 

I’m going to file this under English and Random Facts, because it is a fact that the series was done badly and for reasons closely related to writing, and thus English.

One of the main problems here is the use of deus ex machina, which is technically from Greek tragedy, but as a literary/dramatic technique, I still consider this post relevant to the topic of English.

Ok, let’s get started. A lot of fans will remain close-minded and adamant that their favourite series is as perfect as the rainbow shooting out of a unicorn’s behind but hopefully some of this information will shed light on why the series was particularly bad. Don’t get me wrong, I enjoyed the Avatar series and look forward to the next season. I also hated Shyamalan’s movie, as anyone in their right mind would. However, of all the seasons, LoK was the worst by far.

This was mainly because of poor planning. The Avatar team had this whole “four books for the four elements” theme going. Season 1 was Book One: Water, then came Book Two: Earth, and the last season of The Last Airbender was Book Three: Fire. Then The Last Air Bender ended (by the way, I also had a problem with them calling it Sozen’s Comet when a comet is made of frozen gases, and it doesn’t make sense that ice should power up fire benders). So what now? Three seasons, one element missing. Let’s make a quick fourth one to finish off with. Enter Legend of Korra.

What I’m getting at here is LoK was meant to be a standalone. Unfortunately, they tried to do too much with it and eventually Nickelodeon ordered a second season of LoK which is under production. If anything, that is an admittance that they didn’t accomplish what they set out to achieve with LoK – a nice ending to the four part series – and don’t want to end the franchise with a terrible impression. There’s too much left unexplored so they need another season to explain it all. That’s fine with me, but they should have anticipated it in the first place. Instead, we have a horrible standalone. That doesn’t mean it’s not worth watching. The series was entertaining and if you watched The Last Airbender, chances are you’ll have enough back-story to make sense of LoK. However, LoK, from a writer’s perspective (and any other intellectual) is a poor text for the following reasons.

Introducing the new Avatar. As a baby she’s already busting through walls and bending three elements (can’t do air yet). Flash forward and she’s defeating skilled benders in duels and is known as being incredibly strong. First appearance in Republic City and she trashes three benders from a notorious gang. With no history of Pro-Bending (the sport) she carries her team to the finals. What am I getting at? She’s damn strong from the onset and displays no real character growth. Aang took seasons to learn one element at a time and grow stronger and wiser. Yes, I’m aware The Last Airbender had more time to develop the story – so that’s why I said it was poor planning. Regardless, there is very little character development at all in LoK. The viewer is thrown into a story and watches events unfold. There is no journey, no connection and no feeling of accomplishment because there is no character development. It’s a list of events occurring in a world that isn’t explained with characters that are set in stone. From a writing perspective, that’s bad.

More, Korra has the attention of the only two male leading characters her age. Why? I don’t know. She hasn’t done much to get their attention. Bolin likes her because he likes any female attention (he goes on about how she came to see him as a fan and is characterised as someone who enjoys the company of women). Somewhere during the series, that personality got erased and replaced with the sad little brother that couldn’t compete with his big brother for the girl he loves. Then Mako apparently loved Korra, which I’ll get into later.

What does this mean? Korra is a Sue. A Mary Sue is a character that violates the reality of the story by having everything. A Sue is too ideal to be plausible, and makes for a horrible character because an underdog achieves goals, a perfect character just exists and everything works out for them. There’s a lot more to a Sue but you’ll have to Google that yourself. Maybe I’ll post about them later.

Now, a lot of people have accused Asami of being a Sue, just because she’s the rich, pretty girl. I think this is mainly jealousy over the fact that she’s pretty and has Mako’s attention, and people somehow wanted Mako and Korra to be together. Well bad luck, because Korra is more of a Sue than Asami is. Asami is pretty, yes. But she lost her mother when she was young, she loses her wealth because her father betrayed her trust and turned out to be a psychopath, she’s only strong because she was constantly targeted as a child and needed to learn how to defend herself, and all of that aside, she lives in a world of bending and she’s not a bender. That’s a huge disadvantage. Add to that the fact that her love rival is the freaking Avatar.

How about Korra? Strong from the very moment we are introduced to her, has the only two male main characters in love with her, treated special because of her status as Avatar, can bend multiple elements, and manages to steal another girl’s man, as well as steal a kiss from him when she knew he was in a relationship, but not get in trouble for it. Everything just works out for Korra. She’s the freaking Avatar. She’s special. Her one flaw is that she can’t connect to her spiritual side, which is never a complication in the story, and eventually she does anyway so she can bring in a deus ex machina. So yeah, Korra is the Sue here.

Amon is another problem. There was so much potential in his character. He could have been the “immortal idea” like V (from V for Vendetta). He could have just been the heart-wrenching product of a firebender’s cruelty and a jaded view on the world after the death of his parents at the hands of a bender (as he claimed). Nope. He’s just a liar. Maybe this was a weak attempt to portray a Machiavellian antagonist, like Iago from Othello, but really, he was just a waterbender who lied so that he could seize power. How boring. In fact, his entire motive makes no sense. Apparently the villain of the entire series is explained in a one minute flashback by his brother (he doesn’t even have the grace to explain himself) in which Amon is first the caring, protective brother, then the cruel, animal-torturing brother, then the guy who wants to eliminate all benders because he believes in equality. What the f-? Great, at this point it feels like the entire conflict of the series was a sham and the story is just falling to pieces.

Now that we’ve talked about how shallow the characters are, let’s get on to inconsistency and unnecessary additions to the series. The love triangle was stupid, quite frankly. It was featured in so any episodes as a point of conflict but it was never established properly. When I was watching it, all of a sudden I was like “wait a freaking minute here, Mako likes Korra?”. Why did I have this reaction? Because it was never properly demonstrated that he liked her. Yes, he complimented her for her good performance in pro-bending (which is normal) and there was a scene where he was staring across the water at the air temple where she lived. For like three seconds. Sorry girls, I live in a real world where it takes more than a well-earned compliment and looking in the direction where someone lives to fall in love. Compare that to Mako first meeting Asami.

See? Now that’s love. He spontaneously generates love hearts which float around his head. That’s true love. Maybe he firebended those hearts, I have no freaking clue, but it’s inconsistent as heck with the rest of the story. I had no idea that Avatar was a show that portrayed visual representations of their character’s emotions. So why are there no light bulbs every time someone has an idea? Why no hash and exclamation marks when characters get angry? Because this scene was stupid (man I really want to use the f-word) and inconsistent with the rest of the story. And honestly, he blatantly expresses love at first sight for Asami (four goddamn hearts, count ’em!). At what point did he give a clear sign that he liked Korra? No point at freaking all. Yet somewhere, they decided to turn it into a love triangle that had absolutely nothing to do with the plot and was just a constant reminder of how poorly thought out the series was.

Finally, the deus ex machina. For those unfamiliar with the term, it means “god out of the machine” and was basically a feature in some ancient Greek tragedies (performed on stage) where a “god” would resolve the characters’ problems and basically fix everything. The deus ex machina was often an actor being lowered down on to the stage, symbolising the descent of a god to magically put everything right. Nowadays, it’s basically a feature that doesn’t gel in with the rest of the story and is introduced for the sole purpose of resolving an issue that has caused the story to get stuck. It’s bad because it undermines the integrity of the entire text and removes all feeling of conflict. It’s like, why should I care if someone’s just going to come and fix everything? There’s no suspense at all. There’s no consequences.

Aang is the deus ex machina. Korra loses her bending and everyone freaks out. For once, I feel as if something momentous is occurring in the plot. It’s like, wow, the Avatar has lost her powers! Holy monkeys, what do we do now? There’s some real emotion now – sadness, fear, uncertainty, and destitution. One minute later – wait, never mind, here’s Aang to fix everything. Yes, I get that Korra was sad, and yes, that tear that fell off the cliff was symbolic of her character’s “death” (an Avatar without bending is a dead character – it fails to serve its intended purpose) and possibly reflecting her morbid mindset in which she may have contemplated suicide. This has nothing to do with the fact that these badasses come in and remove all the emotion, suspense and integrity from the text.

There is no purpose to any of the conflict in the series when Korra can just be sad and Aang will come fix everything. That is why a deus ex machina sucks.

Why am I so frustrated? I think the series had so much potential. They could have made something amazing, but instead, it was a rushed, poorly planned, inconsistent, shallow show. Hopefully they take more time with the next season, although thanks to their little deus ex machina, there’s no conflict for a second season. Amon is dead (supposedly – we never see him actually die) and the Avatar has her bending back and the power to restore bending. So what now?

Seriously though, how could would it have been if the second season was Korra journeying with Beifong (and possibly others) to find a way to restore bending? That would have made for a good story.

Enter your email address to follow this blog and receive notifications of new posts by email.

Join 191 other followers

Blog Stats

  • 399,897 hits
Advertisements