Call off the Pap Rally?

After years of needlessly conducting countless Pap tests and subsequent follow-up exams on low-risk women, North American health organizations are finally moving to replace antiquated cervical cancer screening policies.

Wait a minute…what? Antiquated? You mean women don’t have to make annual appointments for those awkward and uncomfortable tests? Can we get a cheer going?

Don’t gimme a P! (P)
Don’t gimme an A! (A)
Don’t gimme a P! (P)

(Well, not as often anyway.)

According to an article in today’s Globe and Mail– “Cancer experts call for reduction in Pap tests” –Carly Weeks puts forth the notion that we may be booking more paps than we actually need.

North American women are often advised to get their first screening at the age of 18, and to do a test every year after that. But apparently, more screenings don’t necessarily result in lower disease rates.

Even though Weeks highlighted some guidelines for screening, her article made it apparent that there are still some inconsistencies that may confuse women. Check ‘um out:

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Tibetan monks build a sand mandala at the MOA

Technophiles miss out on the message of a transient, ancient art
Originally published in The Ubyssey & on Nov. 19, 2009 || Culture

Tsengdok Rinpoche braves the cold ocean to complete Tibetan ritual

Listen to the audio version of this story

For seven days, Tibetan monks hunched over a circular outline at the Museum of Anthropology at UBC. Using cone-like metal tools called chak-pur, they crafted an elaborate design using millions of grains of coloured sand.

On Sunday Tsengdok Rinpoche, from Vancouver’s Tsengdok Monastery, stood over the finished product: an intricate work of art known as a sand mandala.

Using a brush, he began to sweep it into a blur.

But the destruction of the design is part of the traditional Tibetan ritual.

“The meaning of the mandala is to remind people that nothing in life is permanent,” said Rinpoche through a translator. “Don’t get too attached, even to the most beautiful things.”

From November 8 to 15, five visiting monks from the Gaden Jangtse Monastery in India created and displayed the mandala in the Great Hall of the museum. Two Vancouver-based monks, including Rinpoche, hosted the quintet as part of their 2009 Sacred Art Tour.

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Guidance from the Garbage Girl: Destination Hopenhagen


I first saw Lindsey Hoshaw (aka the “garbage girl”) on a big screen in a dimly-lit dining room. Before an audience of scientists and journalists, Erika Check Hayden played Hoshaw’s video as an example of the kind of entrepreneurial spirit that new journalists are going to need in order to survive the shock-waves currently going through the industry–and then somehow tell the stories that need to be told.

Despite the rough audio and the simplicity of the video, I found myself drawn to the sincerity in Hoshaw’s eyes. She looked like she really wanted to spend her summer sorting through floating debris and somehow convince the average person to think about their role in producing it.

So, she cast her pitch into the vast expanses of the internet–and people bought it.
Literally. Continue reading

Step aside, Alpha Male


Image by Flickr user Bob.Fornal

I want to try and draw some parallels, but before this is possible we need a common text.

This fascinating podcast is about a community of baboons that Robert Sapolsky, biologist and neurologist, studied in eastern Africa. (It’s not long, and well worth a listen.)

Here’s a very basic summary:
  • The podcast opens with the increased percentage of people who don’t believe human beings will ever stop waging war because “it’s in our nature.” Just one of those sad but inevitable things we can’t change.
  • We then meet Sapolsky’s study subjects, a community of “textbook” baboons. The group is highly-aggressive, hierarchical and dominated by alpha males.
  • A tourist lodge opens up nearby and a different group of baboons stops foraging and starts feasting on cakes, hamburgers, etc, everyday.
  • Sapolsky’s group discovers the dumping ground and wants in on the free-for-all. The tougher males fight their way into the food dump every day, for years.
  • One day, some of the baboons start getting really sick. Turns out they’ve consumed contaminated meat and contracted tuberculosis. The disease  kills off most of the aggressive alpha males.
  • Sapolsky is devastated by the deaths of his alphas. He also starts to observe changes in the clan. The beta males start doing things the alphas never did, like grooming the females and even other males. He figures the study group has been scientifically compromised by a freak event and moves on to a different clan.
  • Six years later, Sapolsky visits his old group. To his amazement, the less violent culture remains! This despite the fact that the community is full of new males that grew up under the “old world order.”
  • Surprisingly, the new males adapted to the relatively peaceful culture of the group instead of trying to become the new alphas.
  • Lots of theories are thrown around, but the idea of hard-wired and inevitable aggression is called into question, especially because this more peaceful baboon behaviour has now lasted 20 years.
  • Many behaviours thought to be hard-wired changed, and very quickly!
  • The podcast ends with a question: can this scenario teach us something about the human potential for change?
Now, my own anecdote comes in.

Students chase sustainability: Commerce committee pushes for a greener curriculum at UBC

Trevor Wheatley, external director, steps up to the podium to moderate the industry panel

Trevor Wheatley, external director, steps up the podium to moderate the industry panel


This article was originally published in The Ubyssey

When Jennifer Matchett says things need to change, she means business.

Matchett is the co-director of the Commerce Undergraduate Society’s committee on sustainability. She is one of several students at the Sauder School of Business who want their curriculum to include more dialogue about environmental sustainability.

“We feel that the major players in any environmental movement are corporations,” said Matchett. “If they don’t change, nothing’s really going to change.”

Business students gathered on November 6 at the Liu Institute for Global Issues for the second annual Chasing Sustainability Conference. Along with guest speakers, they discussed strategies for going beyond “green-washing” and striving toward ecologically responsible businesses practices.

Brian Grant, an attendee and fourth-year accounting student, said he started thinking about ethical business practices after watching a hard-hitting documentary called The Corporation, which compares corporations to psychopaths.

“Nowadays, people are reacting to the fact that businesses have a bad rap,” said Grant.

Despite the crisp collars, neat ties and professional footwear, the event did not look like a usual conference.

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