E-Waste: Where does it go?

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                  Getty Images: Thomas Imo

The evolution of technology in the past two decades has transformed our way of life. Technology is integrated in our day to day lives and has become a central part of our culture and we are constantly seeking new and improved versions of electronics we already own.

However,what happens to our old unwanted electronics after they are tossed away? Where are those millions of indestructible Nokia phones we once owned? Where did the old dinosaur computers we once played with go?

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                   Getty Images: Thomas Imo

In our absorption of our own day today lives we have become oblivious to some of the harsh realities our consumer behavior has on the environment and other people. However, it is dire to understand what is happening and who we are impacting every time we throw away our electronics.

The United States ships over a million tons of electronic waste to Ghana, Nigeria, Pakistan China and India and other underdeveloped countries every year. It shipped overseas because it is cheaper to recycle since the impoverished people will work for little pay. It is also beneficial to the U.S. because protective environmental laws are non-existent or not enforced in those countries which allows toxic waste to be disposed of freely without consequences for damages caused to the environment or the people.

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                     Getty Images: Bloomberg

It is a grim way of life for the people who live in the wreckage. Unimaginable. The people of the slums do what they can to survive, however, the waves of discarded rubble keep coming from across sea into their land. Wave upon wave. The pieces of electronics they cannot salvage are burned which release greenhouse gasses and toxic fumes which pollute the air around them. Items that can’t be burned are tossed off into the sea creating more pollution and making fishing nearly impossible. Exposure to lead, mercury, and carbon monoxide has poisoned the citizens of these countries making them prone to premature deaths, birth defects and cancer.

It is a different world. A world of waste where the piles of broken computers and machinery are the hills in which kids roam and scavenge through rubble for scraps of metal that might be traded in for half a cent to buy a morsel. Where the valley is black. Scorched and littered with metallic and plastic remnants from the bodies of what used to be functioning equipment that enriched the lives of many privileged Americans. Smoke and ashes rise from the heaps of garbage like specters hovering around the people foreshadowing their nearing fate.

In our hunger for more we have left these people with less. Let’s do our part and be conscientious people of the world by disposing our waste responsibly. Let’s want for more by wanting for nothing. If not for the people of Ghana or Pakistan or the children of India and China let’s do it for us and for the fate of our future. It is a dying world and it is our duty to preserve it.

Dr. Pimple Popper: Making Zits Cool

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                            Dermatologist Sandra Lee, aka “Dr. Pimple Popper.” Photo Credit: Getty Images, Barcroft Media

A deep blackhead at the base of an old man’s neck may seem uninteresting and maybe even a little gross; however, for many people it is a source of exhilarating entertainment.

Dermatologist Sandra Lee has provided eager viewers with hours of pimple-popping-cyst-extracting entertainment through her website Dr. Pimple Popper. While many people may say “EEW!” over two million viewers are saying “Bring out the popcorn!”

With every cyst removed and with every whitehead squirted more and more thumbs go up. She is a HIT.

Her pimple popping filming crusade began in 2015 – with the patients’ consent of course – to educate the public about dermatology and skin care. Dr. Lee has taught us that dermatology is more than just prescribing lotions and potions to self-conscious adolescences with pimply chins. In fact, most of her patients are elderly folks and older adults with cysts and lipomas which require a skilled surgeon’s hand to remove.

Many find seeing a white head squirt from pore or a fatty sack extracted from an incision absolutely satisfying. I say, “Cool, but nay.” However, if a ripe pimple is your forte, tune in to Dr. Pimple Popper for your guilty pleasure.

VIEWER DISCRETION ADVISED

Lobotomies:Strange Medical History


“Insert the spike in the eye and with two little hits the probe reaches the brain. Now swish. Give it a turn, pull out. Grab the gauze to stop the bleeding. Boom, the procedure is finished. The patient – cured.”

The doctor wipes the blood from his hands with a towel and like a magician gives it wave and bows to the astounded crowd. Another impressive show. The audience continues to clap, awed by the simplicity of the behavior correcting surgery that has revolutionized the nation. The lobotomy.

The nurses wheel the patient out of the room. The Doctor is left with his audience as they praise him as a godsend. A miracle worker!  They beg him to continue to cure. In the next room patient 1,659 begins to spasm. Blood begins too ooze from his eyes and from his nose. He jerks his head back forth then is still. A sigh escapes his cooling lips.

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Dr. Walter Freeman performing lobotomy. Photo Credit: Getty Images, Bettman

Dr. Walter Freeman was on a mission to cure those whose modern-day 1940’s medicine could not and operated over 2,900 patients in hopes to cure their mental illness. He is known by historians as: The Lobotomist.

The modern lobotomy began with Egas Moniz in 1930. In order to help patients of mental illness Moniz would make an incision to their frontal lobe and inject alcohol into their brain in order to dissolve the tissue that was believed to be the source of their illness. The procedure would alter the patient’s personality making them more docile. His work was so revolutionary that he was awarded a Nobel Prize.

Although Freeman was not a licensed surgeon he began to dabble in modifying Moniz’s procedure and simplified it in order to perform it himself without the added expense and limitations of an operating room. It was modified significantly – a long metal rod with a sharpened edge resembling an ice pick was inserted under the eyelid and hammered into the brain with a surgical mallet.

Much later in his career he faced some scrutiny from colleagues about his practice. In his attempt to defend his procedure he followed up on his patients to record their progress. What he discovered was tragic. Most of his patients did not benefit from the surgery. Many were left paralyzed and others were left at childlike state.

One shutters to think that such a practice existed not too long ago. That patients without families had their brains scraped from their scull with a rod without legal consent. Freeman’s last lobotomy was in 1967; 49 years ago. The progress we have made since then is surreal, however, it makes one wonder about the things happening today. What pills, injections, or operations are our modern day lobotomy? It makes one wonder about the ambitious Walter Freemans of today and the vegetative patients of tomorrow. What atrocities we will one day read about fifty years from now? What a side effects will we develop?

2016 Election: America Exposed

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Photo Credit: gettyimages

A dark shadow looms over many Americans today. Whether by name or by document, Americans face the grim reality that things are about to change. “Make America Great Again!” rings through some neighborhoods as a threatening reminder that racism, homophobia and misogyny are present, non-relenting, and now have power. It is surreal that a man with a pending child rape case and several allegations of sexual assault set against him has been elected a world leader by a country that is seen as a beacon of progress; a paragon of greater development where people are free. Is and was that all a happy illusion? Perhaps living here in California has sheltered us from the truth; the majority of Americans are threatened by and opposed to a country where the power does not rest in the hands of middle aged white men with century old biblical values. The truth that most of the U.S. does not believe in climate change or in a woman’s right to her own body. Today, I am not proud to be an American. It is clear now where America stands. We have been given a mirror and in it there is an ugly beast.

Photo Credit: Aaron Burden https://unsplash.com/@aaronburden

Corn: The Great Provider

“All around the happy village
Stood the maize-fields, green and shining,
Waved the green plumes of Mondamin,
Waved his soft and sunny tresses,
Filling all the land with plenty.”                                                                                                                    – Blessing the Cornfields, Henry Wadsworth Longfellow

Stalks of golden corn swaying gently in the wind, or a buttered cob on a plate on a hot summer day, may not seem to anyone anything of great significance. Just another vegetable. However, this impeccable earthly gift has more influence on human civilization than we – the common folk – can imagine. To start, corn is not a vegetable; corn is a true grass – a Poaceae. The stalks originated from Mexico and were once a short grass that held ears no bigger than our pinkies; however, through much genetic modification they have become the big juicy cobs they are today.

Our livestock – our bacon and ribs – would die off without corn. Our plastic, our oil, our antibiotics, our good ol’ Jack Daniel’s in our cupboards and so much more would cease to exist. Maize is so crucial to our existence that Controlled Pharming Ventures and the U.N. have an underground vault with various corn seeds to protect them in case of a catastrophic event – disease or nuclear war. So, next time you pass by some corn, thank it because it has been good to us. They truly are little miracles.

Zombie Ants: Brain Controlling Fungi

A stillness looms over the jungle. There is something out there. I can feel its presence, its power. It waits. It waits for us. I once again cast my eyes towards the wilderness. Little tingles begin to creep in the pit of my stomach, I forget to breathe.

One step, two step, three step. I continue to march. The usual heap of foliage from which we gather our supply lies close. One step, two step. Halt. I can see heads out of formation. They’ve lost the scent. We pause but the one behind me pushes past me and continues to march. What’s he up too? There is shuffling and murmurs as he falls out of formation. He staggers off the main road and begins to thrash his head violently as he lifts his arms up, wafting away frantically at the bare air above him, his shrieks causes many to leave formation and circle around his now convulsing body; another wail in the distance causes heads to turn and then another shrill scream emerges – this time from the circle. Within seconds shuttering bodies are writhing uncontrollably besides me, panic sends me sprinting away from the havoc and into the heart of the jungle. Faster and FASTER I run. Where am I to go?

I pick up a familiar scent and surge of hope overpowers me, the next colony is near. They can help. Climbing and crying for salvation I tumble down into a hole, delirious and weakened I try to stand but my legs have sunk into a pile moss. What is this? Where am I? I take a second to process my surroundings, to my horror thousands corpses lay still; mangled, corroding, frightening. Bodies pierced by thorns. Thin spiky strands protrude – no, grow – from the innards and orifices of the dead like hatching vipers. I try to escape

the gruesome crypt in which I am captive but my legs to my dismay are wedged not within moss but inside a putrid cadaver. As I struggle to be free, a little ball bursts from the tip of a nearby strand that sends a puff of smoke in my direction. I feel dizzy. I know I will die. I know I will be…another dead ant.

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Photo Credit: Flickr

It is hard to imagine that such a tale can be true, however, in the miniature world of ants and other arthropods, such a horror does exist. Cordyceps is a parasitic fungi that invades the central nervous system of insects making them lose control over their motor functions making them “zombies”. Eventually, the creatures are brought to a slow starvation allowing the fungus to continue to sprout from within the body of its host, sometimes killing entire colonies at a time. The fungi spreads by releasing spores – or puffs of itself– into the air. This strange phenomena has captured the sci-fi world and has even appeared on the popular television series “The X-Files”.

 

 

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