Monthly Archives: June 2015

Internet Findings of the Week for June 26, 2015

I found an interesting mix of things this week, including film news, cultural discussions and scientific breakthroughs.

Video of the week

My Hijab has nothing to do with Oppression. It’s a feminist statement.

Twenty-two-year-old muslim student Hannah Yusuf wants the world to know why she wears a hijab or head-scarf. She says she chooses to wear it, and it is not a sign of oppression. She finds it liberating in that she is not judged by her looks and doesn’t have to conform to society’s requirements for women to look a certain way. She says it’s true that many women are forced to cover up and wear hijabs, but people shouldn’t assume that all women are forced to wear it. Many choose to wear it as a form of empowerment.

Excitement of the week

First Photos from New Ghostbusters Movie Set

The original Ghostbusters HQ in NYC. Photo by Rob Young via Wikimedia Commons

I only just found out this movie is being made here in NYC! And starring three amazing female comedians! The original Ghostbusters movie starred three male comedians, Bill Murray, Dan Akyroyd and Harold Ramis, and was awesome. I think this is a fantastic idea to remake it with women leads. I have been a big fan of Kristen Wiig for a while. She is a brilliant actress, a hilarious comedian, and talented writer (she wrote and produced the film “Bridesmaids”). I discovered the versatile Kate McKinnon watching Saturday Night Live – she is equally convincing playing both Justin Bieber and Hillary Clinton. And the third comedian Melissa McCarthy is one of those comical people who shows up in all sorts of interesting TV shows and films (like Gilmore Girls and The Hangover Part III). I am so excited to see the new Ghostbusters film!

Podcast of the week

Antibodies Part 1: CRISPR

E Coli bacteria. Photo by Mattosaurus via Wikimedia Commons

A type of common bacteria called E Coli has shown scientists that it is possible to easily edit DNA. This easy-to-understand and often funny podcast explains how it is now technically possible for scientists to add in or exchange genes in an organism’s DNA and easily change the characteristics of that organism. They can pinpoint the exact gene they want to edit, and replace it. I find it fascinating that this is possible. And scientists say it will have amazing implications for genetic medicine and curing cancer. But it could also be dangerous and negatively affect evolution if done incorrectly. This method of editing DNA is called CRISPR. I like the name as it sounds like my last name.

Worry of the week

Exposure to mixture of common chemicals may trigger cancer

This is scary because scientists are saying that chemicals humans are exposed to can mix together inside the body and cause diseases like cancer. But the scariest thing is that they don’t seem to know yet which chemicals are mixing and how we can avoid them. Scientists plan to start testing combinations of common chemicals soon.

 

Internet Findings of the Week for June 19, 2015

This week my findings, although varied, are all quite serious or thought-provoking issues.

Article of the week

Will Self-Driving Cars Be Programmed to Kill You?

Google_self-driving_car_in_Mountain_View

Photo by Mark Doliner via Wikimedia Commons

Google, Mercedes, Audi, Daimler and others are currently developing computer-driven cars. Now an ethical debate has arisen over how to program self-driving cars to react when a collision is unavoidable. What happens if the car has to decide between swerving into a bus of people or hitting a pedestrian? Will it use utilitarian ethics to cause the least harm to the most people, or will it be programmed to choose randomly in these situations to reduce any blame on the programmers? For me as a philosophy and ethics major, it is an interesting issue and one I am keen to follow to see what happens. Although apparently, driver error causes 94% of all crashes, so if all cars on the road at any time are computer driven then the collision rate should be statistically lower.

Podcast of the week

As Global Population Grows, Is The Earth Reaching The ‘End Of Plenty’?

Photo by Alosh Bennett via Wikimedia Commons

Photo by Alosh Bennett via Wikimedia Commons

This is a worrying topic – that food production can’t keep up with the pace of population growth. This podcast is about journalist Joel Bourne’s book “The End of Plenty” about exactly that. He talks about how growing animals for meat is not sustainable, because you have to grow the grain to feed them as well. Inefficient use of water is also a problem, especially in areas with droughts or water shortages. He also talks about new, possibly more efficient, ideas for producing protein such as deep-sea fish farms. But what he doesn’t talk about is the huge amount of food that is wasted every day. This is an issue that is very current right now, with a new documentary coming out called Just Eat It which claims that 50% of edible food is wasted every day. A new supermarket also opened recently which sells food that other supermarkets were going to throw out.

Issue of the week

Frozen Human Eggs

More and more women seem to be freezing their eggs for one reason or another. Some freeze them because they have an illness which could damage their ovaries and they want to be able to conceive after they get better. Others want to delay motherhood and focus on their careers, so they freeze their eggs while they are young to try and increase the likelihood of having a healthy baby at a less-than-optimum age for conceiving. There are new issues with these practices every day. A woman in the UK died of cancer, leaving behind unused frozen eggs, then this week her bereft mother tried unsuccessfully to get permission to use those eggs to give birth to her own grandchild. In May this year “Modern Family” actress Sofia Vergara and her ex-boyfriend had a dispute about whether to destroy fertilized eggs they had frozen before they broke up. But there are other issues as well about how reproduction is now going to be explained to children, when there is more than one way to conceive a child. Musical comedy duo Garfunkel and Oates give a very crude (and negative) but funny suggestion of what a parent might have to tell their clinically-conceived child:

Internet Findings of the Week for June 12, 2015

Here is a rather eclectic mix of things I’ve been watching/reading/clicking on this past week.

Videos of the week

Seth brings Jon Snow to a dinner party


For anyone who watches Game of Thrones and is becoming wearied of all the blood, gore and unjust death, this is the video to cheer you up. Late-night talk show host Seth Meyers some how managed to get the real Jon Snow to transcend time and reality to come to a dinner party in America. Unfortunately Jon’s knowledge of 21st-century small talk is non-existent and it makes for a hilarious and awkward situation.

NikkieTutorials – The power of makeup


I don’t usually watch makeup tutorials. I’m not the biggest fan of makeup because I hate taking it off at night, and if I wear it too much I get pimples/zits. I also think women shouldn’t be expected to wear makeup all the time, and society’s perception of what makes a woman pretty needs to change. But this video is very interesting because it shows how jaw-droppingly different you can look with and without makeup. When impressionable young people see celebrities looking flawless, and they feel unhappy because they themselves don’t look like that, I have two responses:

  1. These celebrities usually have amazing makeup artists who make them look that good. So people shouldn’t compare their natural-looking selves (or their peers) to these extremely made-up people, and realise that these people do not wake up looking like this.

  2. People should know that it is possible for anyone to get that “flawless celebrity look” if they have the right tools, makeup, tutorials and time to spend getting that look.

#Hashtag of the week

#distractinglysexy

This is a brilliant hashtag that female scientists are using to get back at Nobel prize winner Sir Tim Hunt for the sexist comments he made. He reportedly said: “Let me tell you about my trouble with girls. Three things happen when they are in the lab: you fall in love with them, they fall in love with you, and when you criticise them they cry.” Now hundreds of female scientists around the world are posting pictures of themselves working hard in labs to mock Hunt’s warped perception of working with women.

Article of the week

How corporate cult captures and destroys our best graduates

This article caught my eye because I saw many of my brightest and most interesting peers head into corporate jobs like accounting, finance and corporate law. Many of them displayed great creativity in the arts, or great scientific minds while at high school, but for some reason they felt their talents would be best used for corporate jobs and that’s how they chose what to study at university. Many of them were given scholarships to study accounting, finance or law, usually financed by a company that wanted to employ them. There seems to be a perception that these are the most prestigious jobs that anyone can have. But are they satisfying or fulfilling? The world needs more scientists, innovators and creative-thinkers. But it seems the monetary reward of these finance jobs are just too hard for people to resist.

Internet Findings of the Week for June 5, 2015

Here are the things I’ve been reading/watching/making this week from the internet!

Article of the week

New grocery store sells food discarded by supermarkets

Dumpster-non

Photo by Niteowlneils via Wikimedia Commons

This is the kind of thing all cities need. So much edible food is wasted every day, even though there are food shortages and hungry people all over the world. An ex-Trader Joe’s manager has started a new nonprofit grocery store in Boston which sells food close to its expiry date, that other grocery stores would have thrown away. I’ve read a lot about dumpster divers and freegans since I’ve been living in New York, but that can be illegal. This new grocery store is a way to save that food, and distribute it cheaply and legally to those who really need it.

Video of the week

Three “Potentially Habitable” Planets For When We Completely Destroy Earth

A very interesting look at which planets in the universe have the potential to be suitable for human life. It made me think of the Christopher Nolan film “Interstellar”. The film is set in a time when Earth is becoming increasingly unpleasant to live upon, so a group of astronauts venture into another galaxy to check out some planets which, from a distance, appear to be habitable. In real life, we have to hope that governments and corporations will actually reduce global warming before this happens, but it’s fascinating (not quite comforting) to think that there could be other places humans could go if Earth became unbearable.

Ebook of the week

Rebel With a Cause by Ray Avery

I’m about three quarters through this intriguing autobiography ebook about scientist, social entrepreneur and inventor Ray Avery. I interviewed this fascinating man a few years ago for a story about third world baby incubators, and was very impressed by how kind and intelligent he was. So I was shocked to read about his absolutely horrific childhood in England. At a young age he was taken away from his abusive parents, and shuffled between disgusting orphanages and foster homes, before he eventually used his naturally creative and entrepreneurial mind to find his own successful path in life. He has a wonderful writing style and way of phrasing things. It’s a compelling and inspiring read. Profits from the hard copy of the book go to Avery’s charity Medicine Mondiale.

Recipe of the week

Beginner Sourdough Sandwich Loaf

Sourdough loaf 2

My freshly baked bread

I baked my first sourdough loaf today and it was delicious. It was also my first time using our amazing KitchenAid mixer to make bread. I made the sourdough starter about two weeks ago, and since we have guests staying I decided it was time to try it out. The sourdough starter was easier to make than I expected, but I used it to make sourdough pancakes last weekend, which didn’t taste sour at all. I think waiting another week to make bread was a good idea because today’s loaf was a lovely texture and had just the right amount of sour taste. It was pretty quick and easy to make too! The dough took about 10 minutes to make, then I just left it to rise overnight. I popped it in the oven when I woke up in the morning so we could have warm bread for breakfast.