Maltese cyclist handing in his car’s number plates

Joe, a 35-year-old native Maltese citizen is daring to give up his beloved car and make cycling his commuting medium of choice. After getting frustrated in the “back to school traffic” around two years ago, he rode his bike to work and never looked back since.

Joe ended up using his car perhaps twice a week on the weekends. During our interview, he told Word of Osiris that “the cost to keep [the car], compared to the benefits, did not justify keeping the car”. Many react in disbelief to his decision, but after some consideration, they see eye to eye on the matter. He definitely recommends cycling to work for anyone living within 6 to 10km from their workplace. Having shower facilities available would be the cherry on the cake. He added “it only takes me two minutes longer cycling than driving to work in normal traffic. In comparison then [sic], driving to work in the “back to school traffic” take me twice as long as it takes me when I cycle”.

Therefore, Joe is handing over the number plates to his personal car, only keeping a shared family car for errands.

Talking with Joe about cycling in Malta, he sincerely recommends staying sharp while cycling and “kind of expect the worst so you might be able to anticipate a situation before it is too late”. Having said that, he also acknowledges that there are hundreds of motorists who show cyclists respect. He continues by saying that many infrastructural initiatives are “impractical to say the least and at times down right [sic] dangerous”. Joe argues that cyclist safety is always a compromise and never a priority, and when cyclists choose not to use precarious infrastructure they are labeled as downright law-breakers, ending up giving “a wrong message to motorists”.

In a spree of sincerity, Joe told us that he doesn’t think Malta will become a bicycle haven anytime soon. He encourages the practice of teaching children the benefits of cycling and introducing government incentives for employers who install showering facilities in their workplace. With these initiatives we could hope for more bicycles on the road, and the dismantling of the ever-looming traffic gridlock.

As a friend of Joe once asked him “…why on a country so small we [sic] need to go everywhere by car when we are barely the size of a large city”. Cycling helped Joe lose weight, improved his metabolism, while also giving him a sense of accomplishment once he arrives at work.

For the European Mobility Week, try change your habits and explore other alternatives.

Grab your bicycle, and whizz off.


Big thanks goes to Joe for taking time to answer our questions. The whole interview can be viewed here


Featured Image: www.wikipedia.org

What are you willing to do to succeed?

In this day and age, we look at various go-getters and enterpreneurs reciting their stories on how they started with nothing turning into undoubted success. We’re bombarded with it people posting pictures of their lavished lifestyle or their incredible ventures.

It’s safe to say that most would give an arm and a leg for the fruits of success. The metaphor might sound outlandish but how far would you really go?

In 2011, the now infamous Lance Armstrong was being seriously investigated by the USADA, accusing him of doping and drug trafficking. The investigation started on the basis of blood samples results from previous years and the testimonies from witnesses such as former teammates. As all of them do, he denied the claims and kept on doing so until he was under oath. In his admission, he admited of being and I quote “a guy who expected to get whatever he wanted, and control every outcome”. For him, it felt like the right thing to do. He ensured that everyone on the team was on it and they all used he same dopants.

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He was a controlling success freak. Anything for that trophy. The actions of psychopath.

Psychopaths, and to a degree, sociopaths, show a lack of emotion, especially the social emotions, such as shame, guilt, and embarrassment.

Psychopathy could range from ready to kill to doing everything in your power to achieve success. Their cold-hearted attitude with respect to people and rules, would disgust many.

This case was definitely an extreme, but what are you ready to sacrifice for your goals? Are you ready to trade time with your kids to hit those work targets? Would you ever consider investing in your savings to start a business instead of having that dream holiday your partner always wanted?

Striking a balance is never easy, but should be easier when considering your true priorities. Make sure you don’t harm the people or things you take for granted while you’re tunnel-visioned on your so-called path to success.

Those were the days…

Just yesterday I was small talking with a colleague and she mentioned the good old days. The days when she was young. Days in which her young self would go buy items from the grocer’s alone. Nowadays, she exclaimed, it’s not safe. Too much harassment, too many cars, and a whole list of other reasons.

Talking about my 31-year-old myself, young me would bike at night, all the time, driving my mother dead worried. As a thirteen year old I also started catching the bus to go to my athletics sessions. All this unsupervised, free from watchfully eyes, on my own. I think the sense of liberty and responsibility did change my view on life, and is healthy for every kid.

nostalgia (noun):
a sentimental longing or wistful affection for a period in the past.

This longing nostalgic tone is ever-present in our day-to-day talk. Yet, we should thread carefully on these idealisations. We forget the limitations our previous generations had when growing up. The eldest of kids forced to take care of the younger ones, few job opportunities, little to nowhere to go or do in the weekends and the list can go on for ages. One can argue that it was a simpler life, but it was confined to our small island. Our kids will see horizons few of us had the pleasure to lay eye on.

I won’t even go into the thousands of social, medical and scientific advancements we take for granted.

In a way I do feel bad for children growing up today, but for different reasons. My kids will face more global warming and men’s greed side effects, probably have to rent house that they will never own and be void of many green spots in our little island.

With time everything changes, and there is no stopping it. Let’s only hope time changes things for the better.

Featured photo: Edson Chilundo

The Silent Killer – The Stephen Fry Story

Just yesterday I watched a video post that really shocked me on how silent disease can be.


I admit it. I’m a great Britophile and love everything quintessentially British. Apart from heaving a great admiration to the country itself, I love their way of living and watch one too many tv show of theirs.

Doing so, it made me familiar with the British celebrities, one of which I was fond of. A declared atheist, a lover of the classical and having a general knowledge as big as the Internet itself, Mr. Stephen Fry.

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This gentleman, starred in many movies and was for many years the host of the tv show QI. Recently he left Britain to live in the US of A, and there is where all this happened.

This year’s flu was predicted to pretty bad, so Stephen decided to take a flu shot as prevention. His trusty GP (General Practioner or Doctor) suggested a general checkup, and Stephen agreed. Blood, urine and stool samples were taken, and Mr. Fry left unconcerned.

After a couple of days his doctor phoned back, sharing his concerned about Steven’s PGA or Prostate Gland Antigen levels. It was slightly higher than normal and that is where it all began.

I won’t go onto details, he’s an amazing storyteller so I’ll leave it to him to tell you the rest…

 

Being a man of science himself, who believes in the medical system, a resounding message can be taken from all of this.

Take care of yourself and get a regular check-up

My perspective on Healthcare

Healthcare. A modern-day first world complaint?


Round the dinner table at christmas, we got through a lot of topics, but chatting with my relative made me realise something that I always thought was true.

“I still have an aching shoulder even though I visited several doctors. Some of them even have the audacity of saying that ‘it’s nothing’.”

People are losing trust in doctors and the whole system because in this day and age, a correct diagnosis either takes time or different doctors.

Even in the 21st century, a doctor’s job is pretty much guess-work. You tell your GP or specialist the symptoms you’re suffering from and the professional tries to piece it up into a diagnosis. He might refer you for addition scans or checks from where a better diagnosis can be resolved.

Nonetheless, scans and checks are only as good as the person interpreting them. Luckily in the age of AI, we can make that do it for us.

In China right now, doctors are using AI to interpret CT scans to look for possible signs of Cancer. This function called Computer Topography, not only is capable to perceive even the smallest of lesions but also does faster and is more accurate than any doctor. (Kite-Powell, J., 2017)

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Even ‘everyday’ influenza can be confused with a common cold were one is given the wrong treatment and recovers slower.

Another complaint of my relative was that the different doctors rarely read all the patient’s history and he ends up being given pills and remedies which either he had tried before or else doesn’t really address his concern.

In my opinion, this is where a trusted family GP comes in. He’s the middleman to all the stressed professionals that you have to visit and keeps everything in check.

In general, the healthcare system is not only expensive but rash and apathetic. Even though there are long queues and days ahead of our doctors/nurses, not all of them are like that. Sadly, there are a few who ruin the whole facade.

All the general public wants, is that their aches and worries are gone without any hassle.

In the growing age of technology, I think that we definitely should push towards a better and quicker diagnosis, and not only focus on new medicinal treatments.

I dream of a world, where a doctor relies on data and not recalled symptoms to make a diagnosis. My dream is to understand what is the problem first, before we treat/cure it.

 

References:


Kite-Powell, J. (May 16, 2017) See How Artificial Intelligence Can Improve Medical Diagnosis And Healthcare [Online]. Available at https://www.forbes.com/sites/jenniferhicks/2017/05/16/see-how-artificial-intelligence-can-improve-medical-diagnosis-and-healthcare/ (Accessed 27 December 2017).

 

Raw Water

Another product deemed to be natural, gives you what nature is all about in one cup.

TL;DR: There are no studies showing the health benefits of ‘raw water’. What we do have are studies the dangers of raw or untreated water.Background.For thousands of years, water was deemed a necessity for the human species. We build cities around it, used it for cooking and drank it.

Today we’re going back thousands of years and drinking ‘raw water’. What we really don’t understand is that at those times drinking water was deemed dangerous. That is why the inventions of beer and the production of wine was a crucial step for all of man-kind.

Raw water is water which is not pasteurised or filtered. 

Disease:Background

Water in itself is a harmless liquid. Found in nature, it can be riddled with heavy metals and in some cases parasites and diseases. I don’t know if water-borne diseases ring any bells to you, rings a couple for me:

Turning water in beer and wine made water safe for drinking. Now we think that untreated water is better for our health, but is it worth the risk? Click on the above links and judge for yourselves.

One might say that they are tested bacteriological. While companies claim as such, the process of treatment makes sure that all the water sold gets the scientifically proven treatment to be safe.

Testing is always done on a very small sample size and is only indicative of the whole batch. Treatment is there to ensure a quality product anytime and every time. In addition to that, testing on all known water-borne diseases should be carried out, which, is highly unlikely that this is happening.

Raw water doesn’t get boiled or treated with any chemicals which actually keep our water safe. Even nowadays beer is pasteurised to ensure nobody suffers any harm from water-borne diseases.

Heavy Metals:Background

Another problem with this craze is the possibility of water containing heavy metals which can seep in from industrial waste or leach naturally from minerals.

In my studies, I came across a case study of the problem India’s potable water supply
had. After turning  to tube wells due to their disease infested rivers, arsenic started leaching out of the rocks close to the aquifers.

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Arsenic poison killed thousands of people in India

Any contamination was denied by the government and millions of Indian people ended up suffering from the increasing levels of arsenic in their bodies.

The arsenic contamination was remedied only after government actions were put in place to regulate digging of wells, together with the installation of appropriate filters in village water pumps.

Found a recently published BBC article, that sadly confirms that the people of india are still suffering the consequences.

Final thoughts:Background

Many people live away from the above stories and disease. We are only shielded from them because we live in first world countries which have measures to ensure the safety of their people.

Trying to avoid these precautions, like pasteurisation and filtration, doesn’t make any sense. As I said in my ‘Shall we care for a bear?’ post, nature is anything but kind. If we’re thrown in the wilderness there are thousands of dangerous we would face, and our early demise is certain.

Claims that Fluoride is of any risk have been debunked in so many studies and yet, years old accusations still plague society. The latest reports of fluoride safety were made in Australia, read to believe. Here’s an excerpt from their final report:

The evidence shows that water fluoridation at current Australian levels reduces the occurrence and severity of tooth decay. Water fluoridation at current Australian levels is associated with dental fluorosis. In Australia, however, most dental fluorosis is very mild or mild, does not affect the function of teeth and is not of aesthetic concern to those who have it.

There is evidence that water fluoridation at current Australian levels is not associated with cognitive dysfunction, lowered IQ, cancer, hip fracture and Down syndrome. There is no reliable evidence (1) of an association between water fluoridation at current Australian levels and other human health outcomes.

(1) The phrase ‘there is no reliable evidence’ is deceitful.  Yet it is used since science is based on evidence searching studies. When no evidence is found, it means that any studies on fluoride showed that it is completely safe. Of course, science is always inquisitive and will keep an open mind towards any risks, and many studies keep trying to proof it is unsafe for the greater good. 

To conclude, we didn’t end up having a life expectancy of more than 60 years because we disregard scientifically proved practices. We’re here after thousands of people strived for a better and safer life to live. Don’t let them and yourself down.