Posted in Uncategorized, tagged baan mankong community upgrading, brazil, cooper-hewitt, economic development, fvela, kenya, low-income, Michael Kimmelman, Nairobi, poor, poverty, slum, thailand, third world, uganda on November 2, 2011 |
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A new exhibit organized by the Cooper-Hewitt National Design Museum in New York demonstrates the power of design to make life better for disadvantaged people.
“This is a design show about remaking the world … And that’s thrilling,” writes Michael Kimmelman, “whether it’s happening in Cupertino, Calif., or Uganda, where H.I.V. infects hundreds of people a day, and the latest news cellphone-wise has been the design and distribution of a text-messaging system that spreads health care information.
“In Kibera, an area of Nairobi, Kenya, and one of the densest slums in Africa, the challenge was different. Traditional wood and charcoal fires cause rampant respiratory disease there. Refuse fills the streets. So a Nairobian architect designed a community cooker, fueled by refuse residents collect in return for time using the ovens.
“From cellphones and cookers to cities: in Thailand, a public program called Baan Mankong Community Upgrading has, for the last eight years, been improving conditions in hundreds of that country’s 5,500 slums, bringing residents together with government and nongovernment agencies to design safer, cleaner places to live.”
Read more in the NY Times.
You will also enjoy reading about slum (favela) painting in Brazil and what a new coat of paint can do for building residents’ skills while lifting their spirits.
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Posted in Uncategorized, tagged amy smith, blood test, cancer, cervical cancer, cervix, charcoal project, diagnostics for all, electrolytes, george whitesides, harvard, innovation, john adams, liver, medicine, mit, norbert hirschhorn, nurse, paul nagel, technology, thailand, vinegar on October 5, 2011 |
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Some years ago, the John Adams family biographer Paul Nagel introduced me to physician/poet Norbert Hirschhorn. Paul told me that Bert was on the team that helped save thousands of lives in Third World countries simply by distributing water to which sugar and electrolytes had been added. (A National Institutes of Health paper references Bert’s 1973 research on “oral glucose electrolyte solution for all children with acute gastroenteritis” here.)
A special NY Times science supplement on Sept. 27, 2011, “Small Fixes,” reminded me of Bert and the notion that small innovations can have a huge impact.
Among the great stories in the supplement. is this one about Thailand’s success fighting cervical cancer with vinegar.
It turns out that precancerous spots on the cervix turn white when brushed with vinegar. “They can then be immediately frozen off with a metal probe cooled by a tank of carbon dioxide, available from any Coca-Cola bottling plant.” The complete procedure, which can be handled by a nurse in one visit, has been used widely in Thailand, where there are a lot of nurses in rural areas.
In Brighton, Massachusetts, Harvard’s George Whitesides founded Diagnositcs for All to commercialize his inventions, including a tiny piece of paper that substitutes for a traditional blood test for liver damage. Costing less than a penny, “it requires a single drop of blood, takes 15 minutes and can be read by an untrained eye: If a round spot the size of a sesame seed on the paper changes to pink from purple, the patient is probably in danger.” Read the Times article.
Amy Smith at MIT is another one who thinks big by thinking small. Read about her Charcoal Project, which saves trees in poor countries by using vegetable waste to make briquettes for fuel.
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Posted in Uncategorized, tagged buddhism, china trade, colin cotterill, coroner's lunch, corpse in the koryo, eliot pattison, james church, laos, lydia chin, north korea, Qiu Xiaolong, s.j. rozan, skull mantra, thailand, tibet on August 3, 2011 |
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We read a lot of mysteries in our house. We especially like stories set in places we don’t know much about, although my husband enjoyed the Qiu Xiaolong books because he had lived in Shanghai himself.
I just finished a mystery by James Church (pseudonym for an author who is a “former Western intelligence officer”). He writes about North Korea. Since hardly anyone ever goes there, I tend to accept Church’s descriptions as better informed than your average Joe’s. And I find that whenever there’s a news story about that isolated country, it seems to mesh with the murder mysteries. The series starts with The Corpse in the Koryo.
Eliot Pattison’s Tibetan series, starting with The Skull Mantra, was a great hit with me — son John, too, until he got tired of exotic locales and started reading business books (snore). Pattison now alternates writing Tibetan mysteries with writing mysteries about pre-Revolution America and Indians. I heard him say at a book reading in Porter Square that he finds similarities in the spiritual beliefs and practices of Tibetan Buddhists and American Indians.
The wacky Colin Cotterill writes a series set in Laos, stating with The Coroner’s Lunch. We love his style and his unique characters. I’m just starting his new series, set in Thailand and featuring a malapropism of George W. Bush at the start of each chapter.
S.J. Rozan’s detective Lydia Chin operates mostly in New York’s Chinatown, but she does get to Hong Kong, and you can pick up a lot of Chinese culture from her. That series starts with China Trade.
Good novelists do a lot of research. You can get the flavor of a culture without going anywhere.
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