Tuesday, November 18, 2008

It could be worse

There's a book up for auction this week. It was written in 1770 by Thomas Berdmore. Never heard of him? He was the dentist to King George III. This is likely the first ever English textbook on dentistry. Personally, I find Berdmore's insights to be priceless! Here's a few gems, from this article:

He writes of a 23-year-old woman left in a “terrible state” by a “barber dentist”.

“She went to a barber dentist to have the leftmolaris tooth of the upper jaw on the right side taken out,” he says.

“On second attempt he brought away the affected tooth together with a piece of jawbone as big as a walnut and three neighbouring molars.”

He says the “barber dentist” embarked on the ill-fated extraction because he was “uneasy at disappointment”.
Ha ha! I would also consider myself "uneasy at disappointment" but I'd like to think I'll stop before ripping out half of your maxilla!

Berdmore also possessed a rudimentary understanding of orthodontics, instructing fellow dentists (and barber-dentists) to "Pass gold wire from the neighbouring teeth on either side in such a manner as to press upon what stands out of the line." Either that, or you could try to “break the teeth into order by means of a strong pair of crooked pliers”.

He also observed that sugar and smoking were harmful, and that for this reason peasants suffered less dental disease than their noble counterparts.

Anyway, I just wanted to pass this along as a reminder that dentistry has come a long way and you really don't have a lot to be afraid of (relatively speaking).

Thursday, November 6, 2008

Cowboy, Ninja, Bear

Something's been on my mind the last couple of days. Amidst all the political change we've just experienced and in a week when I've had 4 mock board exams (and one more tomorrow) as well as a couple big school events in the evenings, you'd wouldn't expect me to be thinking about this - but I think Hemingway* said it best when he penned the words, "Eventually, everyone needs to write about ninjas." For me, this time is now.

You see, anyone who knows me well is probably aware of the fact that I'm obsessed with ninjas. The seeds were planted in my childhood when, like every other boy at the time, I was a huge TMNT fan. Years and years later as I was enjoying my last real summer (the one right before dental school) my roommates and I invested in some ninja suits and spent several evenings at the secret ninja training grounds perfecting our art.

Today I read about a promising children's book that is supposed to promote equality and diversity. As I recently discussed, there are good ways and there are bad ways to go about teaching diversity. This book, called "Ninja, Cowboy, Bear" seems like a good way. In addition to celebrating the differences between the three creatures, it teaches a new game - basically paper-rock-scissors but more intense. (If you've ever wanted to play paper-rock-scissors online, click here - hours of fun).

However, there is one key flaw in the game, and subsequently the book. See if you pick up on it:

Did you catch the mistake? Go check again if you missed it. Here it is - somebody accidentally wrote "Bear beats Ninja" - can you believe it? Don't they have editors there?

I mean lets think about it for a second. Ninjas can beat cowboys - Ok, I don't think anyone can argue this one. The only possible exception might be John Wayne vs. a half of a ninja and only in the daytime.

Cowboy vs. Bear? I think this one could go either way. It probably depends on the conditions, weapons, age of cowboy, etc. Incidentally, if you ever find yourself in the position of the cowboy facing a real bear and you happen to have access to the internet and need advice, click here.

Ninja vs. Bear. We shouldn't even be talking about this. First of all, how is a bear ever going to find the ninja? Can you find the ninjas?

Keep trying. So far I've only found 2 ninjas and what might be a ninja's foot. How is a bear supposed to find them? The only way a ninja and bear would ever square off is if the ninja wanted it to happen, and in that case he would stealthily make his kill and hide the carcass so nobody would ever know about it.

Lastly, I want to share a news story my brother shared with me last year. It's from the Onion News Network, which is a lot like CNN or MSNBC but they do a lot more fact-checking so their stories are more reliable.** This story takes place in Modesto, CA, which (in case you forgot) is also home to the Nuts.

Ninja Parade Slips Through Town Unnoticed Once Again

*Not Earnest Hemingway, but my imaginary friend, Dussa Hemingway.
**That's not true.