Shhhhh

Turn down the volume for increased well being
By Sherlina Nageer On July 24, 2015 In Daily,Features

One thing I noticed immediately when I first moved back to Guyana several years ago was how loud the place was. I’d lived in big cities for many years, but even so, I was not prepared for the sound of Guyana. From the booming minibuses, church halls, bars, clubs, rum shops, and neighbours-the level of noise in Guyana was astounding, and that wasn’t even taking into consideration the road traffic and industrial/construction noise.

In other places around the world, there is a zoning system which separates land into different usage areas such as residential, commercial, or recreational. Under such a system, churches, bars/clubs, industrial workshops, and other businesses are not located in the same areas where people live, in recognition by the authorities of the fact that people often want and deserve peace and quiet in their homes. Sadly however, this system is virtually nonexistent in Guyana.

While this can be remedied though, another thing that we’re lacking-which legislation cannot provide-is consideration for others. While bars/clubs/churches/ businesses eventually close, the noise coming from a neighbour can occur at any time. Too many Guyanese blast music from their homes and vehicles at ear splitting levels, without any concern for whether the people around them might want to sleep, study, be sick, or simply not be a fan of the same kind of music. Aside from being annoying, there is actual scientific evidence that too much sound, at too high a level, can be harmful to human health and well-being.

According to the World Health Organization, “Excessive noise seriously harms human health and interferes with people’s daily activities at school, at work, at home and during leisure time. It can disturb sleep, cause cardiovascular and psychophysiological effects, reduce performance and provoke annoyance responses and changes in social behaviour.” The fact is that noise pollution- as excessive noise is termed-has both temporary and longer-term negative effects on our well-being.

Hearing loss is the first and most obvious effect. This can occur with prolonged exposure to sound at 85 decibels or higher (for reference, the sound of a hairdryer is 90 dB and a motorcycle 95 dB). This is why protective gear is essential for workers at airports, factories and other noisy industries. However, the other effects of noise pollution are also serious.

Excessive noise triggers the nervous, hormonal, and immune systems and numerous studies have confirmed that noise pollution increases heart rate, blood pressure, and stress levels, while decreasing memory, productivity, reading comprehension, problem solving, and quality of life. Data actually links noise pollution to premature deaths from heart disease.

The fact that noise pollution increases stress level and reduces the quality of our sleep also has wide-ranging implications for our health. Sleeplessness and stress are contributing factors to numerous diseases, and also impact how well and quickly we recover from illness/injury. In addition, there is evidence that noise can increase aggression and reduce empathy. Let us remember as well that noise has been used as a tool of psychological torture.

Although people can become accustomed to regular noise, the body still registers these harmful effects. For instance, even when we’re asleep, our heart rate and blood pressure rises with passing airplanes. Lack of control over noise also worsens the effects. Children, the elderly, those with underlying depression and other chronic illnesses, are especially vulnerable as they may lack the necessary coping skills. (Animals are also negatively affected by noise pollution- something to consider when setting off fireworks etc).

It is of course impossible to control all noise. However, our environments today are filled with too much noise that, over time, adds up to seriously undermine our health and well-being. Something that many seem not to realize anymore is that silence, or just quietness, is in fact essential for our survival. Schools in America that implemented ‘Quiet Time’ programmes saw a decrease in violence among students as well as increased academic performance and graduation rates. Quiet downtime is necessary to recharge and de-stress, boosting our creativity, concentration, and problem-solving abilities. As such, we need to start taking noise pollution seriously and putting real thought into how to reduce it.

Implementing and enforcing zoning restrictions is one strategy, especially in communities that are still under development. Care should be taken when locating schools, childcare centres, and hospitals in particular, to make sure they are away from airports and other high traffic or industrial zones, and to keep the areas around them quiet. As such, planning authorities have a major role to play. Law enforcement is also key. Guyana does have laws against noise nuisance but these are often not properly enforced, with corruption and bribery of police officers by offending individuals often taking precedence over safeguarding the rights of victims. As citizens, we need to demand that our police and other public servants do their work properly and enforce the laws of the land.

We also need to encourage more empathy and consideration for others in Guyanese society today; we must build these skills in the youth especially. People must realize that it is not only their individual needs and desires that matter, but to be more mindful of their neighbors as well- those who live in bottom house apartments, those who may be nursing a migraine, hangover, sick child or elderly relative, or who may have an exam to study for, report or project to complete. We must realize that we are fully capable of enjoying ourselves without blasting the sound; in fact, we might even be able to hear what our friends and loved ones are saying, imagine that! Similarly, God does not measure our piety and devotion by how loud the sermon is. Lastly, as passengers in public minibuses, remember that the vehicle is not for the private pleasure of the driver and conductor and we are fully within our rights as paying passengers to request that too loud music be turned down, or to exit the bus if necessary. Shhh, for greater health and wellness.

Sherlina can be contacted at ssnageer@yahoo.com

URL to article: http://www.stabroeknews.com/2015/features/07/24/turn-down-the-volume-for-increased-well-being

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#IfIDieInPoliceCustody: Heartbreaking Hashtag Goes Viral After Sandra Bland’s Mysterious Death

#ifidieinpolicecustody it’s because they wanted me dead. don’t believe the lies. fight back any way possible.

HelloBeautiful

Protests in Baltimore After Funeral Held For Baltimore Man Who Died While In Police Custody Source: Drew Angerer/Stringer / Getty

One of the most heartbreaking hashtags to ever hit the internet went viral on social media recently: #IfIDieInPoliceCustody. When things go viral, this means they’re trending. In the wake of 28-year-old Sandra Bland’s untimely death while in police custody, people are demanding answers. She was pulled over for not using a turn signal, brutalized during her arrest (assault on a public servant) and was found dead in her jail cell three days later.

MUST READ: Sandra Bland Drove To Texas For New Job & Was Later Found Dead In A Jail Cell

Of course the authorities are claiming she hanged herself in that cell, but Bland’s family and friends maintain that she was happy and excited to start a new job at Prairie View A&M University.

Thankfully social media has banned together with Bland’s family to continue questioning her death. Her name became a trending…

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Food for the Poor Guyana does more harm than good

yep. organizations like this should be working themselves out of existence. anything else is being part of the problem.

mark jacobs lives!

President Granger at Food for the Poor office President Granger checking out junk stuff at Food for the Poor office

Saw this picture of President Granger touring the Food for the Poor place in South Ruimveldt and an old thought came back to mind.

I spent about half my life away from Guyana and I’d never heard of this food for the poor business. Initially I thought it was a Guyana charity and the name irked me. It would take a while for me to realize this Food for the Poor business is international.

after the 2010 tranbleman dtè I went to Haiti and there was food for the poor and in the Dominican republic too. back in Guyana I came back and saw food for the poor was celebrating it’s twenty odd year of operation.

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Debunking the Cannabis Myths: Understanding the Science

alien hemp

As noted previously, cannabis has been used worldwide as medicine for centuries; records documenting its use date back to as early as 2737 B.C. Those who have worked to discredit and demonize cannabis in recent decades however, have actively suppressed much of this historical data, and have even produced studies of their own citing all sorts of negative effects. However, the fact is that much of the research done by anti-cannabis individuals were manipulated in various ways to further their specific propaganda efforts. Media reports about cannabis have also been highly influenced by political, religious, and business concerns, with the issue becoming highly polarizing and controversial. My pro-cannabis stance developed from a critical analysis of the science around this topic, some of which I will attempt to articulate here.

The major problem with cannabis research in the Unites States is the fact that the U.S. Drug Enforcement Agency (D.E.A) classified marijuana- the dried leaves and flowers of the cannabis plant-as a Schedule 1 controlled substance, the most restricted category. This made it extremely difficult over the years, for scientists to get permission to conduct research with humans; most studies were done on animals only. This slowed the development of medical therapies as the necessary follow-up human studies remain lacking. (Of note is the fact that earlier this year, the influential American Academy of Pediatrics voted to recommend that the U.S. D.E.A reclassify and remove marijuana from this restricted position in order to allow more research into its therapeutic uses.)

When conducting or assessing the validity of scientific research, there are some key things to keep in mind. One is the sample size- the number of persons participating in the research. The results of studies on a small number of people cannot be applied to larger groups. Attention must also be paid to whether or not the research was conducted on animals or humans. Most research is first done on animals but results must be replicated in follow-up studies on humans in order to for it to be validated. Another thing to be aware of is the difference between correlation and causation. Correlation is when two or more things occur around the same time and may have an association with each other. However it does not automatically mean that there is a cause and effect relation. Often, there are many other factors that need to be accounted for/controlled before a scientifically valid link can be established between two things.

Many of the claims often made against cannabis fail to meet many of these necessary criteria for being scientifically valid. One common allegation is that cannabis is a ‘gateway’ drug, leading to the abuse of other controlled substances. Many of the studies associated with this claim were done on rats only and the findings are actually not unique to marijuana; similar behaviour was observed with alcohol and nicotine as well (1). Researchers also regularly failed to take into account other social and developmental factors that influence substance use such as peer pressure and the availability of other drugs.

Claims linking cannabis use to brain damage and lower IQ are also more fiction than fact. The IQ studies fail to take socioeconomic status into account (2) and while some studies have indeed shown some differences in brain images between cannabis users and non-users, these studies were usually small in sample size. Also, while differences were noted, it could not be determined whether those differences existed before or were caused cannabis use, nor did they appear to be linked to any actual negative effects on participants’ behaviour or mental processes (in other words- there is a correlation, but no direct causation).

Of course, this same critical lens must be used when evaluating the pro-cannabis research as well. It is undeniable that the leaves, seeds, and other parts of the cannabis plant do possess substances (delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol- THC, and other related compounds) that have the ability to alter perceptions, moods, memory, etc. However, so do many other common and legally available substances such as tobacco and alcohol. In fact, according to a recent study in the journal ‘Scientific Reports’, that assessed and compared the risks associated with various ‘recreational drugs’, cannabis was found to be the least risky while alcohol the deadliest (3).

A comprehensive report by the Institute of Medicine- “Marijuana and Medicine: Assessing the Science Base”(conducted in 1999 at the request of the White House, interestingly), found that few marijuana users develop dependence (although some do), and that marijuana dependence appears to be less severe than dependence on other drugs (4).

Although it has been challenging, scientifically valid studies of cannabis have been ongoing for years, in numerous countries. A meta-analysis is a statistical way of comparing and combining results from different studies in order to identify patterns, disagreements, or other interesting relationships among results. One such meta-analysis of numerous studies that investigated the long-term effect of cannabis use on brain functioning failed to find any substantial impact on persons’ memory, perception, judgement, and reasoning (5).

A 2009 review of clinical trials (research studies that explore whether a medical strategy, treatment, or device is safe and effective for humans) that were conducted over a 38-year period in the U.S found that nearly all of the 33 published studies showed significant and measurable benefits in subjects receiving cannabis treatment (6).

Overall, cannabis has been found to be effective in pain relief especially, as well as in stimulating the appetite, and reducing nausea and seizures (7). As such, cannabis promises relief from chemotherapy-induced nausea, AIDS-wasting, epilepsy, multiple sclerosis, arthritis, and other nerve and chronic pain conditions. Many of the conventional treatments for these illnesses have serious negative side-effects which cannabis can potentially help to counter, increasing the quality life of individuals.

While more research is always a good thing, let us remember that cannabis has been used medicinally for centuries. Let us also learn to separate media misinformation and myths from fact so we can assess the pros and cons of cannabis with a clear head.

(1) http://www.factcheck.org/2015/04/is-marijuana-really-a-gateway-drug/

(2) http://www.pnas.org/content/110/11/4251

(3) http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4311234/

(4) http://www.nap.edu/download.php?record_id=6376

(5) http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/22731735

(6) Aggrawal S et al. 2009. Medicinal use of cannabis in the United States: historical perspectives, current trends, and future directions. J Opioid Manag. May-Jun;5(3):153-68.

(7) http://www.safeaccessnow.org/medical_cannabis_research_what_does_the_evidence_say

Sherlina can be contacted at ssnageer@yahoo.com

http://www.stabroeknews.com/2015/features/07/03/cannabis-cures-part-2/