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Mark and Steve talk about sitting in the dentists chair and recent events in Iran.
Steve: Hi Mark.
Mark: Hi Steve.
Steve: Well, here we are; another podcast discussion.
You look happy.
Why are you happy?
Mark: I’m not particularly happy.
I’m not unhappy, I just…maybe it’s my brilliant smile, white smile.
Steve: I was going to say, what just happened to you? Tell us.
Mark: I was just…I just had my teeth cleaned at the dentist.
So, I don’t know what the regular dental cleaning schedule is in other countries, but here it seems like every six months you get a call from the dentist to schedule a new cleaning appointment and that was what happened to me today, so I went in.
Cleaning and then the dentist takes a look, inspects your teeth; it takes about an hour.
The dentist scrapes the hard to reach places with whatever the tool is called that she uses.
Not the dentist, I guess she’s a dental hygienist.
Steve: She’s not even a hygienist, I think…or maybe she is.
Mark: Yes, she is.
Steve: Yes, she is. Right you are, yeah.
Mark: Yeah, she’s a dental hygienist.
Steve: Because the dental assistant is someone else.
Mark: Okay, that’s right, who helps with the…
Steve: Hands him his tools.
Mark: Hands him his tools and whatever needs to be done, if he’s actually doing dental work, but the hygienist…
Steve: When he says “7EX” or something and she takes notes.
Mark: That’s right, that’s right.
Steve: Right, yeah.
Mark: Whereas, the hygienist just basically cleans teeth, I guess.
Mark: So, yeah…
Steve: Then she asks you questions and then you struggle (gur-gur-gur).
Mark: Well that’s the thing.
You’re there and she’s talking away and you have her tool in your mouth.
Steve: And you have water up to your…
Mark: I know.
“So, are you going anywhere this summer?” (blak-kah-kah) You know?
Anyway, I guess it’s something to do.
Steve: They want to keep things cheerful.
Mark: I mean it helps the time go by if the hygienist is lively.
Steve: How would you like to spend all day with your fingers in lots of different people’s mouths?
Mark: I know…and cleaning; some not as pleasant to clean as others.
Steve: But it’s good, you know?
I think all this dental hygiene and flossing and stuff is good for people’s teeth; whereas, it used to be you went to the dentist every three years and got drilled.
Mark: Oh, absolutely. I mean they clean…I guess it’s called scaling.
Mark: They scrape, whatever it is, the plaque off, they polish them, they brush, they floss them, they give you a fluoride treatment…
Steve: Terrible tasting stuff.
Mark: …which is supposed to…I don’t know exactly, make your teeth stronger.
Steve: I guess.
Mark: And then the dentist does a quick check.
Yeah, everything’s okay.
I guess it’s not always okay.
If they find a cavity then they’ll schedule you for an appointment.
But I wanted to talk about…like we have a new dentist.
Mark: We both have been going to the same dentist and he, unfortunately, had a heart attack I guess a couple of years ago now.
Mark: But the new dentist…I find that when I’m in there they’re always trying to sell you something.
Mark: Like they can’t just clean your teeth.
Have you noticed that?
Steve: Well, not really. Except he’s got just so much more fancy equipment than they used to have, so he’s got to pay it off.
Mark: Well that’s for sure.
The old dentist was kind of more old school, but the new guy…like this time I sat down and the hygienist is doing her thing and then she says, “Oh and we’ve got this new machine that we’ve invested in.
It helps us spot things that I can’t spot on your tongue.”
Steve: On your tongue?
Mark: Yeah, she looked at my tongue.
That was the first time that’s ever happened to me in a dentist’s office.
And then she volunteered that they had this new piece of equipment and for $30 they could do this check on me, so they can spot any like mouth cancer.
Which, I mean, I don’t know.
Just, well, no, just clean my teeth, I’m not that concerned about that.
But it just felt like…
They’re always talking about, oh, would you like your teeth white and would you like this procedure?
Whereas, the old guy wasn’t like that, he looked at your teeth and if you needed something he’d do it or volunteer it.
But they seem to be trying to…whether it’s teeth whitening or whatever things they offer.
Steve: I don’t need the teeth whitening.
Mark: Oh, yeah? I don’t know.
Steve: I may be past the target age demographic.
Mark: I don’t know.
Steve: But that reminds me, you know, I was once in Ottawa and I had nothing better to do.
Steve: I’m just talking about teeth whitening…
Steve: …we can get back to the dentist overselling.
But I went to the University of Ottawa or Carlton University in the Student Union Building and I was just talking to people about language learning because I had some time to kill and you know me, right?
Well there were people there selling…like the big thing they were selling was teeth whitening toothpaste or something.
It was all about teeth whitening.
Mark: Oh, okay.
Steve: Like all these young people who, supposedly, are all upset about I don’t know what, the third world or the ecology and they supposed to be all this, you know, altruistic or whatever and their big thing is teeth whitening.
Steve: Come on.
Your teeth, just brush them.
Teeth whitening for gosh sakes.
Mark: Well, I know.
And a lot of the toothpaste that you get now is teeth whitening toothpaste.
Mark: I find it tastes terrible.
I try to discourage my wife from buying it.
Steve: I don’t use it.
Mark: I mean she buys whatever comes in the family pack at Costco, you know?
Although, one thing I did find, I had some work done on my teeth and I had a sensitive area and it wouldn’t go away.
The dentist said “get Sensodyne” and that solved the problem.
Mark: Actually, Sensodyne is good.
Kindrey, my wife, had the same issue.
She had some sensitive teeth and we’ve been using Sensodyne lately and it’s made a big difference for her, so, yeah.
Steve: Anyways… I mean the things that we worry about in this country.
Well, I guess everywhere in the world they have dentists and they worry about these things.
But, just looking at world events, of course, the dramatic…I mean there are a number of dramatic events.
Obviously we had that terrible subway crash in Washington, D.C., which is scary.
I mean I’ve been in a lot of subways and you are kind of way down there.
You hope that they don’t have three trains scheduled to fight for the same space at the same time.
Mark: Presumably they…
Steve: There must have been a mistake.
I haven’t been following it.
Mark: I haven’t either. Actually, I don’t know that I’ve even heard of it.
Steve: Oh, yeah, it was in the paper.
Steve: Yesterday. I don’t like to follow disasters like that.
I don’t follow the Air France disaster.
I mean what can…I feel sorry for those people.
Mark: I know.
Steve: I hope I’m not in a plane that crashes.
I don’t need the details.
Mark: Well, that’s right.
Whereas, CNN will be filming hour after hour of the ocean, you know?
Steve: I know.
Mark: We haven’t seen any debris, yet, but we’re here 24 hours.
Steve: But, no, the situation in Iran I think is extremely interesting, it’s one that I am following for many, many different reasons.
But, yeah, we don’t know very much about what goes on in that country.
Mark: No, that’s for sure, that’s for sure.
And they’re doing their best to make sure that we don’t find out what goes on, what’s going on right now anyway.
I mean, obviously, foreign news organizations are prevented from getting out and talking to people, I understand, and certainly trying to get their message out.
Steve: But some of the interesting things about Iran that I’ve come to know over the last few days because I Google — you know now you can Google different things — first of all, anyone running for parliament there has to be vetted by this committee.
Mark: The religious guys.
Steve: The religious guys.
Steve: So you don’t have anybody who they don’t like running for parliament, that’s number one.
Steve: Number two, this Mousavi, who’s the figure that everyone is rallying behind, is one of the founders of the Islamic Revolution.
Steve: And he’s…
Mark: Like the ’79, like overthrowing the Shah, yeah.
Steve: That’s right. He’s one of the originals and he’s also a supporter of Hezbollah.
Mark: Oh, yeah?
Steve: So I don’t see, at least on certain issues, how big an alternative is he and then to hear that the mullahs, or, these religious people, control all the wealth in the country.
And many of them actually keep it in their own pockets, like this guy Rafsanjani, who’s apparently the richest guy in the country and that there’s billions of dollars invested outside Iran, regularly.
So that they take this oil wealth and they distribute it to the rural communities or whatever they do with it.
There’s no work in the country.
Like 40% unemployed, some tremendous number.
They are, on average, poorer than they were in ’79, but a certain number of people are quite well off.
Mark: Which is probably not much different than the situation in ’79, you had your…
Steve: It’s just a different group of people; although, there seems to be an affluent group in Tehran who are anti the régime.
Steve: Because when you see the pictures of the demonstrators these are somewhat affluent-looking people.
Mark: Right, a lot of university students and so forth.
Steve: That’s right.
So it doesn’t sort of quite fit with the average income level in that country.
Mark: And so for, obviously, a segment of these approved representatives to be causing this much of a fuss suggests that perhaps there’s something really unfair happening there.
Steve: Well it suggests to me that people were looking for some cause to sort of build their expression of dissatisfaction around, it just happened to be Mousavi, I don’t know.
And it seems the more evidence, the more that you see, it seems that the… It might well have been that Ahmadinejad (whatever his name is) won, but he could not possibly have won…
Mark: …by the margin that he won by.
Steve: …by the margin that he indicated.
And he wouldn’t have had the results so quickly.
Like it was an hour after the polls closed and he won by this tremendous margin.
Steve: And polls that historically had 50-60% turnout all of a sudden 125 or 90% turnout.
Steve: I mean there’s ample, ample cause to suspect that the whole thing was rigged.
Mark: For sure.
And, apparently, for him to get the numbers that he got, large numbers of voters who voted the other way at the previous election would have had to swing his way, which is…these are people who have traditionally voted the other way.
Mark: So it’s possible.
And I guess, probably, it’s possible we’ll never know; probable we’ll never know.
Steve: Well, that’s right.
Mark: Because they seem to be clamping down fairly strongly there, but I guess if…
Steve: I mean Iran is a religious state.
It’s a Shiite state, that’s what it is.
So, yeah, you kind of tow the line.
I was listening, again, to my Russian, my Ekho Moskvy radio station, and they interviewed some Russian fellow who represented the Iranian Cultural Center in Russia.
Of course he explained that, in fact, there wasn’t very much happening, it’s just the Western media that are exaggerating this.
They photographed a small group of people in Tehran and, of course, if you go around everywhere else there are much larger demonstrations in favor of Ahmadinejad.
Steve: I mean he just went on and on and on.
Mark: For sure.
Steve: It’s unbelievable.
Mark: That’s like the guy when the Americans went into Iraq, the guy who kept saying…
Steve: Chemical alley?
Mark: Remember his Minister of…whatever he was…
Steve: …Information or something.
Mark: “The Americans are not here.
We will drown them in their own blood”, whatever he said.
Anyway… But what was interesting, too, with Iran is because the news organizations were limited in their access, apparently a lot of the news, especially earlier on, was coming out through Twitter.
Mark: Twitter, which you often pooh-pooh and which we both pooh-pooh, actually.
But, apparently, there were days, early on in the conflict, where that was the best source of information of what was going on.
In fact, Twitter had an update scheduled, which they postponed.
I think the Government asked them to postpone — the U.S.
Government – in order for them to continue to follow events through Twitter, which is kind of interesting.
Steve: I mean I think that’s a very good use of Twitter.
People have their little cell phones, they can send out short messages.
And so you get like hundreds or maybe thousands of people sending in these little 140 character messages about what’s happening, that’s very useful.
Mark: And pictures and videos.
Steve: And pictures and videos.
Mark: Links to videos and pictures, yeah.
Steve: But every time I sort of say, okay, I’m going to try and make sense of Twitter and I go on there and I’ve got X number of people following me.
So I go, okay, I’m going to follow them.
So I follow all these people and I get these people telling me, “I had a cup of coffee.
Check this out.
Do that.” I mean there’s nothing there.
How can I possibly spend time following all that stuff?
Mark: No. I mean the idea is to follow something that’s useful to you; that provides information.
Steve: Can you go and say I only want information on this?
Mark: You know what, I don’t use it much either, but that is an example.
Mark: You know if you found….I mean I think that it is a source of news for some people.
Steve: Yeah, I think that’s a good use for it.
Mark: Yeah, but you have to, I guess, understand it and follow the right people.
And then people say, “Oh, did you see this posted over here?”
Mark: And so that the word kind of spreads.
Steve: I guess you have to invest the time in it.
And I also don’t really see it in a major way for language learning.
Steve: Because, again, I believe that it’s more input-based than scribbling little notes like that.
But, at any rate, it certainly has been quite instrumental in following the events in Iran.
Mark: Yeah, which is quite interesting.
And, obviously, the more the Web spreads and the capabilities of the Web and the things you’re able to do on it spreads the more difficult it will become for some of these regimes to keep their people bottled up and kept down, you know, whether it’s in Iran or in China.
Maybe the Tiananmen Square situation might not be repeatable now in this current age.
Steve: Well, I think the government would…I think they’re still going to suppress.
Steve: But they don’t care if people find out.
Mark: That’s true.
Steve: They’re going to kill off enough of them, so.
But what’s interesting is, again, I always refer to Ekho Moskvy because I listen to it all the time, but they were interviewing this fellow and the discussion was will the new media replace traditional media or can traditional media survive and stuff like that.
He made the point that in the olden days before we had newspapers, news traveled by word of mouth.
You met someone in the market and rumors spread, just by people talking to people.
And then we ended up with newspapers and the mass media where, in a sense, the mass media controlled what people knew because they had tremendous influence, the newspapers, the television stations and the radio stations.
And now with the Facebooks and Twitters and all these different things — and we’re only seeing the beginning of it — we’re going back to a situation where it’s people meeting in the marketplace, except that the marketplace is not a little marketplace in this village, it’s a global marketplace.
Steve: And so that the established media can no longer control opinion.
I mean we’ve got blogs, we’ve got podcasts and there are so many different… So the professional journalist who went to journalism school and whatever he learnt there, he’s no longer in the position of power that he once was.
Mark: Right, yeah.
Mark: Yeah, I mean which is a good thing.
Steve: In the end I’d like to see how that plays out.
And, of course, we’re interested in how that affects language learning, which is what we’re interested in.
Mark: Well, I mean I think the major media outlets seem to be on the downswing.
I mean newspapers are going under, going bankrupt.
I think…it is…Canwest is in financial trouble, which is probably the biggest…
Steve: In Canada, yeah.
Mark: …private media network in Canada.
Steve: Yeah. And it should be in trouble, it has too big a position.
Mark: Way too big.
Steve: Way too big.
Steve: I think this is a great thing.
People don’t necessarily rely on the opinions of this or that newspaper now, they have their favorite blogs.
Mark: And I guess the danger is that you find the blogs and people that agree with you and that’s all you read and you never see the opposing point of view, I guess, but…
Steve: Newspapers tend to be somewhat oriented one way or another.
Steve: And this way at least you have the choice.
Steve: You can choose to subscribe to this blog or that.
You know a mixture of different opinions and different subjects and so forth and so on.
No, I think it’s a better way.
Mark: Oh, absolutely.
And the more different opinions that are out there the people, then, can form their own decisions.
I remember when we first started with LingQ we approached the newspaper here if we could use their content for language learning and they sort of said, no, our major asset is our content.
Well, today your content is worth nothing.
Steve: Because either I access theirs for free or I go somewhere else and access this explosion of content that’s out there.
Mark: I know, exactly.
Steve: So, it’s a changing world.
Steve: And our teeth are being better looked after, so.
Mark: That’s right.
Steve: I think we’ve had our usual.
Mark: Yes, we did.
Steve: Alright. Thank you, Mark.
I hope this is beneficial and we would like to get some feedback.
Steve: What do you want us to talk about?
Are there words and phrases you want to hear about?
Are there subjects you want to hear about?
Do you want us to argue more?
What would you like to have?
Okay, bye for now.