Heart Happy (cathy_edgett) wrote,
Heart Happy


I just read a fascinating book, Skeletons on the Zahara, by Dean King.   The author has written from the true accounts of two men who survived a shipwreck off the coast of Africa in 1815.  They actually each wrote a book of their harrowing experience.  Abraham Lincoln was enthralled with the account by Captain James Riley.   While enduring incredible suffering, Riley had a dream that he would survive and see his family.  He even saw his rescuer.   That hope carried him through, and came to be true.  The book shows how much we can survive, and is a wonderful tribute to compassion and trust.  It also gives a much-needed look into the Arab world, one that we each need to better understand. 

Here is an interesting tid-bit on camels.

    "The unusual ability of the camel to endure thirst would not be accurately explained by scientists until the twentieth century.  When dehydrating, camels sustain their plasma volume, losing tissue fluid first and maintaining good circulation.  Even as a camel's blood thickens, its small red blood cells circulate efficiently.   When water becomes available, camels can drink great volumes because the liquid is absorbed very gradually from their stomachs and intestines, preventing osmotic distress, and, whereas the red blood cells of other species can swell with water to only 150 percent of their normal size, a camel's can grow to 240 percent."

Where did the camel originate?  Here, in North America, and then, they crossed over on the Bering Strait.   I like imaging them wandering around here.  Also, the Sahara Desert was not always a desert.  I knew that, but, not how recently that is so.  "From 5500 to 2500 B.C., it was relatively fertile, wet, and inviting.  Up until Roman times, antelope, elephants, rhinoceroses, and giraffes roamed a savanna densely studded with acacia, while crocodiles and hippopotamuses wallowed in lush rivers."

The article in Ode magazine on using video games for education is fascinating.   Here is an excerpt from Steven Johnson's book Everything Bad Is Good for You: How Popular Culture Is Making Us Smarter.

    The header is "If video games had come before books ....  this is what critics would say."

             "Reading books chronically understimulates the senses. Unlike the long-standing tradition of game playing - which engages the child in a vivid, three-dimensional world filled with moving images and musical soundscapes, navigated and controlled with complex muscular movements - books are simply a barren string of words on the page."

             "Books are also tragically isolating.  While games have for many years engaged the young in complex social relationships with their peers, building and exploring worlds together, books force the child to sequester him-or herself in a quiet space, shut off from interaction with other children.  These new "libraries" that have arisen in recent years to facilitate reading activities are a frightening sight: dozens of young children, normally so vivacious and socially interactive, sitting alone in cubicles, reading silently, oblivious to their peers."

             "But perhaps the most dangerous property of these books is the fact that they follow a fixed linear path.  You can't control their narratives in any fashion - you simply sit back and have the story dictated to you.  This risks instilling a general passivity in our children, making them feel as though they're powerless to change their circumstances. Reading is not an active, participatory process: it's a submissive one.  The book readers of the younger generation are learning to "follow the plot" instead of learning how to lead."

    Well, there is a different interpretation of books.  Wow!    The article lists education computer and video games.  One called Re-Mission is made for children with cancer.  "Roxxi the mini-robot helps you destroy cancer cells on your way to better health."  It actually is helping the kids to take their medicine on time and believe they have their condition under control.  It is a modern world.  Hooray!

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