Monthly Archives: August 2015

Internet Findings of the Week for August 28, 2015

This week I became enlightened about how the media enjoys reporting about Donald Trump, and I read an ebook that was so compelling I just couldn’t put it down.

Video of the Week

Rachel Maddow Sums Up Trump’s Presidential Run

In this witty and hilarious interview the always-awesome Jimmy Fallon discusses motives, concerns and benefits of Donald Trump’s presidential campaign with MSNBC host Rachel Maddow. I have been bemused by Trump’s seemingly effective campaign antics over the last few weeks, and thought this video would be purely be making fun of Trump, as Fallon has done previously. But instead Maddow talked about how much she loves reporting about Trump, and how Trump has made the presidential race so much more interesting and amusing to report on than usual. They also talk about (which is something I’ve often wondered) whether or not Trump really seriously wants to be president, or whether he is just doing this to see how far he can get. Maddow also wonders how he is managing to keep his multitude of businesses running smoothly while working full time on his presidential campaign. I’ve only ever seen Maddow doing serious interviews and journalism, so it was refreshing and interesting to see her making funny yet insightful remarks (and sometimes swearing) about current affairs.

Ebook of the Week

The Light Between Oceans by M.L. Stedman

This deeply moving and sometimes painful-to-read novel was recommended to me by my great aunt. She has been my book guru since I was a child. She gave me the first Harry Potter book in 1997 when it had just been published, and I read it before all of my friends had heard of it. “The Light Between Oceans” is set just after the end of World War I and follows the difficult and at times wonderful post-war life of Tom Sherbourne as he makes a living as a lighthouse keeper with his wife on a beautiful, remote Australian island. When a healthy but tiny baby and a dead man in a dinghy wash up on the island, their lives become immediately more complicated, as they decide whether they should keep the baby as their own, or try and find her family. The novel explores that magical and almost frighteningly close bond between parents and children, and the ethical struggles parents go through to do the best thing for their children and for themselves. Right before I finished the book, I was excited to discover it is being made into a film starring Alicia Vikander, Michael Fassbender, and Rachel Weisz.

 

Internet Findings of the Week for August 21, 2015

This week I was captivated by art, history and science, and realized how much they are all actually interconnected.

Video of the Week

Dismaland: Inside Banksy’s Dystopian Playground

I am so intrigued by Banksy and his always unanticipated and startling artwork. I have never knowingly seen a Banksy artwork in the flesh, but I love hearing about his projects. Now he has created an astonishing “theme park” in the south of England, filled with his own and other artists’ imaginative installations. Annoyingly, I was just in London two weeks ago, too early for this exhibition which opens this weekend. Seeing images of this park totally struck a chord with me. I grew up with Disney movies, and loved the seemingly too-good-to-be-true storylines and overly-attractive characters. I’ve also been to Disneyland which I would describe as a dreamland, filled with fantasy, optimism and fun. Dismaland brings people back down to the unpleasant, dark realities of life. Cinderella’s crashed pumpkin carriage being photographed by paparazzi reminds us of what happened to a real princess – Princess Diana. The boats used in the remote controlled motorboats attraction are jam-packed with sculptures of refugees. A horsemeat-themed carousel appears to comment on the dichotomy between horse riding and horse eating. It may sound depressing, but all the points being made seem like important ones.

Article of the Week

Study of Holocaust Survivors Finds Trauma Passed onto Children’s Genes

Wikimedia Commons

I am fascinated by genetics, and recent findings on epigenetics are almost hard to believe. I find it bizarre and almost crazy to think that the genes of offspring could be affected by particular experiences their parents had. This study looked at holocaust survivors and their children, and found that their children had altered stress hormones compared with children whose parents were not affected by the holocaust. The scientists involved concluded that their study provided “potential insight into how severe psychological trauma can have intergenerational effects”. One of the lead scientists, Rachel Yehuda, posited that these changes were a mechanism to biologically prepare offspring to survive in the environment of their parents. If these findings are accurate, it opens up a whole lot of questions about how people’s lives, experiences, habits and behavior could affect their children’s biology.

Podcast of the Week

Nazi Summer Camp

Fort Polk POW camp, Louisiana. Photo by US Army via Wikimedia Commons

Fort Polk POW camp, Louisiana. Photo by US Army via Wikimedia Commons

This podcast shocked me. I had absolutely no idea there were huge prisoner of war camps for Nazi soldiers in the USA during World War II. This podcast tells the story of how more than 400,000 captured soldiers were shipped from Europe to the US to be held prisoner. But the US prison conditions sounded very different from the sorts of World War II POW camps I’d heard about in Europe and Asia, not to mention the death and torture at the concentration camps. The US was strictly following the 1929 Geneva Convention, and treating the Nazi soldiers the same way they would treat their own soldiers. Interviewers in this podcast talked to Nazi prisoners who described being given too much food, and having to hide it and bury it so they didn’t offend their hosts. The prisoners were allowed to take courses, play musical instruments and worked for pay at nearby farms. They also interacted with local Americans. One unbelievable part of the story was when Hitler allegedly donated thousands of dollars to the US Nazi camps so they could hold a festival. My main knowledge of POW camps comes from my great grandfather, who was held prisoner at a camp which was in now-Thailand, and was forced with thousands of others to build a railway and huge railway bridge. Around 13,000 POWs died building that railway.

Internet Findings of the Week for August 14, 2015

This week I was interested in the future of video-orientation, how hand-clapping games are still popular around the world, plus how fashion is becoming more accepting of all shapes, sizes, genders and beliefs.

Article of the Week

Are Vertical Videos the New Frontier of Small Screen Viewing?

Vertical video picture

It often frustrates me when I see people filming things with their smartphones in portrait. I want to say to them (and often do), “think about how that is going to play on your widescreen television”. Having worked in a newsroom where we were broadcasting to landscape-oriented televisions and computer screens around the country, it was always annoying when viewers sent in portrait-oriented videos of events they had witnessed. When they play on a landscape TV screen, you have to either have big black squares either side of the video, or weird echoed images from the video. Both look bad. But what if you were making videos for people who only wanted to watch the videos in portrait? This article points out that many smartphone users can’t be bothered turning their phone to landscape just to watch a video. It talks about how Snapchat videos are usually always filmed in vertical orientation. Perhaps people will one day start turning their TVs to vertical/portrait orientation so they can watch videos filmed in portrait?

Video of the Week

Let’s Get The Rhythm

I absolutely loved hand-clapping games as a child. “My boyfriend gave me an apple, my boyfriend gave me a pear, my boyfriend gave me a kiss on the lips…” are lyrics I clearly remember singing while clapping with a friend. Now a documentary has been made about how these hand-clapping games are still popular around the world, and strangely the same tunes are being sung in Ghana as they are in the USA. The documentary looks at the importance of music in bringing people together and bonding with peers. Hand-clapping games have been passed down through children for hundreds of years, and I hope they continue to be passed on, without being overtaken by smartphones or other technology.

Theme of the Week

Fashion Becoming More Versatile

I love how fashion is becoming more accepting of people of different, shapes, sizes, genders and religions. Mic.com has been covering some extremely interesting stories recently. Having lived in Dubai, I have often wondered about the fashion of Muslim women, and what clothes they are hiding under their long black abayas. Now slightly more liberal Muslim women are stepping into the fashion spotlight and wearing colorful and interesting, yet still long and modest, outfits, and posting pictures of themselves on Instagram (see  below). I think it’s brilliant that people can still express themselves through clothing, even with the restrictions of their religion. I also wrote about Hasidic fashion in a previous blog post. The other article I found compelling, is about how clothing is trending towards genderlessness. More and more clothing is being made that could be worn by a man or a woman, or a person who doesn’t want to define their gender. I’m seeing stores selling similar clothing in the mens and womens sections, and other stores which are not even defining their clothing by gender. My husband and I recently bought the exact same Nike trainers, mine in a women’s size and his in a men’s size. But they are exactly the same design. I like that people no longer have to be confined to the clothes society used to expect men and women to wear.