Clean: The New Science of Skin

29th July 2021

Cheery Friday Greetings to our Learning How to Learners!

Book of the Week

Clean: The New Science of Skin, by James Hamblin.  Clean begins with a startling claim: author James Hamblin, a medical doctor, had stopped showering for five years and had given up as well on shampoo, conditioner, or soap, except on his hands.  With this unusual introduction, Hamblin moves on to describe soap, skin, and the entire set of related industries.  The book is filled with interesting factoids, such as that the pharmaceutical industry is tightly regulated at great expense, but the cosmetics industry is basically the wild west—“there are currently no legal requirements for any cosmetic manufacturer marketing products to American consumers to test their products for safety.”  That, in a nutshell, is why you can find seemingly elegant $60 creams and lotions with the same basic ingredients as a $6 tube. 

Clean was named a Best Book of 2020 by NPR and Vanity Fair. This is an especially worthwhile book if you have skin issues, or have ever wondered why—and whether it’s reasonable—to spend so much on skin products. Clean is also a good book for audio.

Getting ahead of technology in education

Barb’s article in ELearning Inside that tells the inside story of making the Uncommon Sense Teaching MOOC.  Here’s an excerpt: “It wasn’t easy. Terry was at the Salk Institute in San Diego, which had its own studio setup. Beth flew out from Pennsylvania to film in my garage studio in South Dakota, where we were both able to film together. Thanks to the magic of the greenscreen, we all appeared together virtually seamlessly on screen. Each video was carefully scripted and imagery was prepared—a process that took many months. Surprises were in store—Beth, a serious senior educator, turned out to have a Jane Curtin-like SNL comedic flair; her turns as a good witch and inept yoga master helped bring the course to spirited life. The video editing team, led by Juan Aristizabal, pulled off a near-television-like set of animations that made complex neuroscientific findings seem as simple and easy-to-understand as listening to a choir (literally—a bizarre choir is one of the key metaphors used in the course).” 

Read the whole thing!

Plant, tree, bird, and you-name-it discovery apps

One of the blessings of our time is not only Shazam, the wondrous music app, but analogous apps to help us discover the names of plants (Picture This); types of rocks (Rock Identifier ); species of birds (Merlin, which uses both imagery and sound—here’s a nice New York Times write-up about the app); and the location of walking trails (AllTrails). Theodolite allows you to point your phone out onto the horizon and (with an additional in-app purchase), be able to tell the names of the hills and mountains in the vicinity (how did we live without it!)  And we can’t help but enjoy seeing what other people think of the wines we drink: Vivino. (Can you tell we’re morning larks rather than night owls with the lack of star constellation apps in our list?)  

These apps aren’t foolproof—the Rock Identifier app, for example, identified Barb’s big toe as a quartz crystal. But when these types of apps work properly, which is increasingly the case, they are awesome. If you’d like, head on over to the discussion forum to discuss some of your favorite apps to help you recognize objects or features. That way, we can all learn from each other as we enjoy!  

Changing your life

Here is an inspiring message from this week’s email stack: “My name is Alice and I live in the UK. I was an engineer for 6 years before the pandemic, when I was put on furlough (government support scheme for those whose work is not needed due to Covid). I thought I’d use my time productively and decided to take an online course or two, and I stumbled across your Mindshift MOOC. [Hyperlink added] I don’t think I’d be exaggerating when I say it changed my life. Before that I never considered that I could do anything but engineering, even though my career in it hadn’t been great. It really inspired me to take the leap and use my skills to retrain for a completely different career. I studied really hard and learnt to code, and now am loving my new job as a data analyst/developer! Not only is coding and IT skills in general pandemic-proof, but I am so much happier now than I was as an engineer. So now that all my retraining efforts have been so successful, I just wanted to reach out and say a big THANK YOU for inspiring me to do it, and how to go about it! Keep up the good work  – Alice”

That’s all for this week. Have a happy week in Learning How to Learn!

Barb, Terry, and the entire Learning How to Learn team

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