Category Archives: Internet Findings

Internet Findings of the Week for November 1, 2015

This week I have become addicted to an awesome newsletter, I was inspired by a child with a rare condition, and I have been trying to live like an astronaut on earth.

Newsletter of the Week

Lenny

Image via Lennyletter.com

Image via Lennyletter.com

Lenny is my new favorite email newsletter.

It is the newsletter of Lena Dunham and “Girls” producer Jenni Konner. I have only read three issues of it so far, but with each issue I am excited, and overwhelmed at how perfectly they select exactly the sort of topics I want to read about right now. The articles range from outrageously funny, to serious and important women’s issues. I was totally fascinated by an article about selling human eggs, and amused, yet a little put off by the vajacial article. They also have articles about the most inspirational women like Dr. Jill McCabe and Jennifer Lawrence. Writing for this newsletter is my new dream job.

I’ve really caught on to the American obsession with email newsletters. At first I thought it would be annoying having newsletters clogging up my email account. But living in NYC where there is no cell coverage in the subway, it is a blessing to have something already downloaded that I can read offline. Other good newsletters include theSkimm and The Lightning Notes.

Story of the Week

The Girl With Her Heart Outside Her Chest

This is a moving story about a little girl who is living and loving her life, despite having her heart sticking out of her chest. It is visually shocking to watch, but so uplifting to see the little girl’s attitude and positivity towards her situation. She and her mother moved to the US from Russia last year so she could get treatment. Her condition is called the Pentalogy of Cantrell and means she has no diaphragm and no abdominal muscles. She has kidney and bladder problems, and is susceptible to illness in cold weather – part of the reason she and her mother are currently living in Florida. A crowdfunding page is raising money for her treatment.

eBook of the Week

An Astronaut’s Guide to Life on Earth by Chris Hadfield

Who would have guessed how much you can learn from an astronaut? I have been fascinated by the ISS since astronaut Chris Hadfield first started tweeting from there in late 2012. He also made brilliant YouTube videos about his experience. Since he returned to Earth in 2013, I’ve been following his progress and was so eager to read his book when it came out. It really is a brilliant book, full of hilarious anecdotes and easy-to-understand science. I am absolutely amazed at the enormous amount of preparation that goes into a space flight. I mean, I assumed there would be a huge amount to learn, but I didn’t realize the astronauts and their coworkers would actually physically act out every possible thing that could go wrong before their trip to the ISS. One of the biggest takeaways from the book is that you can never be too prepared for something. And the more prepared you are, the less fear you have. Chris talks about how people often ask him if he is scared about going into space. But he says not really, because he is prepared for a myriad of possible things that could go wrong and trusts that he and his fellow astronauts and cosmonauts will be able to respond accordingly.

Internet Findings of the Week for September 25, 2015

This week I was confused about rhino hunting, in awe of a clever medical invention,  and overly entertained by lip-syncing celebrities.

Podcast of the Week

The Rhino Hunter

A Black Rhino. Photo via Wikimedia Commons.

The hunting of exotic wild animals is a very polarizing topic. When Cecil the lion was killed a few months ago, there was an outcry. Last year a hunting expert won an auction to kill an endangered black rhino in Namibia, news which also faced public criticism. In this podcast, the RadioLab team interviews hunter Corey Knowlton about winning the auction for $350,000, and follows him on his recent rhino hunting trip to Namibia. Knowlton says he would never kill an endangered animal if he didn’t think there was a good reason for it. He says the hunt is justified because the auction money goes directly towards conservation in Namibia, and only very aggressive, old male rhinos who have killed other, younger rhinos are allowed to be hunted. Knowlton believes he is actually saving the rhinos as a species, by hunting one.

Science of the Week

Brooklyn Startup Uses Algae to Heal Wounds

Algae. Photo by Josef Reischig via Wikimedia commons

This Brooklyn-based lab has invented a way to stop bleeding that could completely change the way doctors deal with wounds. Vetigel is a gel made mainly of algae, which forms a mesh that clots blood and can stop bleeding in around 10 seconds, including arterial bleeding. So far it is only approved for use on internal bleeding in animals, but the inventor hopes it can be used for humans within two years.

Video of the Week

Lip Sync Battle With Ellen DeGeneres

Ellen De Generes chooses some hilarious songs to sing in her lip sync battle with Jimmy Fallon. Fallon often outdoes his guests in these battles, but this battle was extremely evenly matched. Fallon first does a very true and passionate rendition of “Mr Brightside” by The Killers, and DeGeneres performs a bizarrely sweet enaction of Diana Ross’s Do You Know Where You’re Going To”. Then the competition seriously heats up and Fallon busts out current hipster dancefloor anthem “Watch Me (Whip/NaeNae)” by Silento, complete with true-to-viral-video dance moves. DeGeneres then blows everyone away with her fantastic gangster performance of Rihanna’s “B***h Better Have My Money”. Watch this right now.

Internet Findings of the Week for September 18, 2015

This week I was moved by the plight of refugees, I was shocked by revelations that Volkswagen may no longer be a trusted car manufacturer, and I learnt about the history of autism research.

Video of the week

Help Is Coming

This is a moving and compelling video about the struggles of the 19.5 million refugees around the world. It shows the real terror that those people are leaving behind, and really helps you understand why these people are absolutely desperate. The video starts with a very apt poem read by actor Benedict Cumberbatch which ends with the chilling line “no one puts children in a boat unless the water is safer than the land”. Then you see clips of children talking about their lives as refugees, and see real footage of the war in Syria and other countries. The soundtrack to the video is a song called “Help Is Coming”; a hopeful message to both reassure those in need, and encourage others to provide that help.

Article of the Week

EPA Says Volkswagen Software Circumvented Car Emissions Testing

A 2011 VW Jetta. Photo via Wikimedia Commons

I was shocked to read the news that Volkswagen apparently installed software in their diesel cars to cheat emissions testing from 2009 to 2015. An independent clean-air testing group recently did some in-depth testing of two diesel VW cars, and found the nitrous oxide emissions were five to 35 times the standard allowed by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. VW has been claiming for years that these diesel cars are “powerful, clean and efficient”, but now it seems like this could be a lie. My first car was a Volkswagen Golf, and my sister has a diesel Golf. I thought VW was a company with high moral standards which I could trust.

Podcast of the Week

The History and Myths of the Autism Spectrum

I had no idea that important autism research was stalled by the Nazis at the start of the second world war. This podcast starts in 1938 when an Austrian pediatric doctor named Hans Asperger was starting to realize the size of the autism spectrum and how people with autism often had unusual and interesting talents and abilities that should be valued in society. But his research was cut short when the Nazis targeted his clinic in Vienna, because the Nazis wanted to do horrifying testing on children with disabilities. Asperger’s vital research was lost for many years, at a time when autistic children around the world were often being shunned. The podcast then follows the progression of research in other countries, until Asperger’s research resurfaced in the 80s and helped form today’s understanding of autism.

Internet Findings of the Week for September 11, 2015

This week I was intrigued by the CIA interacting with filmmakers, learning more about elements, hearing how ebola survivors are coping, and seeing a poignant reminder of 9/11.

Article of the Week

How the CIA Helped Produce ‘Zero Dark Thirty’ Film

When I saw the film “Zero Dark Thirty” about the killing of Osama bin Laden at the cinema in early 2013, I found it immensely interesting and enlightening about how US forces operate in the Middle East. However I also questioned how much of it was true, and how much was artistic licence. Some of it seemed unlikely, and the torture scenes were very difficult to watch. It also came across as unusually detailed for a film about covert operations (although this could be hindsight). Before I saw the movie I had also read a Vanity Fair article about the killing of Bin Laden, which was told from the president’s perspective, rather than the agents on the ground. I was intrigued to find out that the CIA was actually involved in giving the filmmakers access to restricted information they needed for the movie, plus helping with the script. According to Vice News, one of the reasons the CIA helped the filmmakers, may have been so the film would portray torture as useful and effective.

Podcast of the Week

Elements

Picture by Armtuk via Wikimedia Commons

I enjoyed science at high school, and learning about the periodic table. But I never found it THIS enthralling or personalized. This podcast tells three very different stories about human interactions with elements. First, we hear about a woman who struggled with strange episodes where she wasn’t herself, and found a simple elemental salt could completely cure her. Second we hear about how elements are formed inside stars and during supernovas, told in a very dramatic way. Third we hear about how the dropping of atomic bombs has surprisingly helped scientists work out the age of individual cells in human bodies. But for a more comical take on the elements and how they interact, watch this hilarious video.

Video of the Week

Erison and the Ebola Survivors

We haven’t been hearing much about the ebola outbreak in recent months, but in Sierra Leone people are still suffering the consequences. There are are orphaned children and people who have lost their whole families. And though many people had ebola and made a full recovery, those people are now being shunned by society, as others are scared they could catch it from them. But it is heartwarming to hear in this NY TImes documentary that many of these ebola survivors are coming together to show everyone that they are normal and should be treated as such.

Photos of the Week

Rainbow Begins at World Trade Center Day Before 9/11

Living in New York, the lasting effects of September 11, 2001 are obviously more real and saddening than anywhere else. I’ve visited the memorial a number of times, and it is always very moving and intense being there and thinking of the death and destruction that happened there. So a beautiful natural phenomenon like a rainbow is just a lovely and perfect way to remember all the beautiful souls who perished that day, and to believe that the forces of nature are also paying tribute. Photos taken by Ben Sturner.

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.

Internet Findings of the Week for July 17, 2015

This has been a very entertaining week, both comedy-wise and science/technology-wise.

Web series of the week

One Year in Space

I’m intrigued by anything to do with the International Space Station (ISS), and now a new webseries on Time.com is following an astronaut who is spending a whole year on the ISS. I first became interested in the ISS because of astronaut Chris Hadfield. He took beautiful photos of the earth, and made awesome short videos about life in space. Now astronaut Scott Kelly is going to be the first person to spend a whole year in space. The documentary will follow his flight, plus his relationships with family on earth.

YouTube Channel of the Week

The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon

I absolutely love the Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon, he is always hilarious and always has brilliant guests. But this past week it was better than ever! After two weeks off because he somehow severed his finger with his wedding ring, Jimmy came back with a roar and the best guests ever! I was almost falling off my chair with laughter watching his interview with Amy Schumer. She is usually funny, but paired with Jimmy, wow! But how could this get much better? Well then he has my other two favorite comedians on TOGETHER – Tina Fey and Amy Poehler! Comedy overload is an understatement. Then he has the wonderful Ian McKellen come on! He is one of my favorite actors. And there were plenty of other awesome guests this week including the cute, charismatic and enviably talented Cara Delevigne, and the always charming and comical Paul Rudd. Please subscribe to this channel and watch the above videos! (No I don’t work for NBC.)

Article of the week

A Robot Has Passed the Self-Awareness Test

Gif by MG via Wikimedia Commons

Reading this headline, you’re probably thinking, is this the beginning of the robo-apocalypse? I am so interested in artificial intelligence, partly because it’s exciting, and partly because I’m extremely worried that robots are going to take over. I saw the fantastic and chilling movie Ex Machina a few months ago and that got me thinking about how quickly artificial intelligence is developing. This article highlights how robots can now be aware of themselves, which is one of the first steps towards being artificially intelligent. But in a (most likely) illogical way after watching Ex Machina, I can’t help thinking that once robots are self-aware, they could become self-absorbed and selfish. I’m sure (and I hope that) in the onward development of AI, scientists will make sure they can safely guide AI so that it develops in a way favorable to human life.

Internet Findings of the Week for July 10, 2015

This week I’m celebrating communities coming together to help out others, historical technology, bridging the gender-pay gap and NYC subway trains!

Video of the week

3D Printed Arms Changing Kids’ Lives

I love it when technology, ingenuity and generosity come together to help people. A global community is making awesome 3D-printed prosthetic hands for a fraction of the price of traditional prosthetics, and distributing them to children around the world. Anyone who has a 3D printer can get involved by visiting e-Nable and signing up to become a hand builder. And anyone who needs a hand can apply to get one custom made. The hands come in cool colors and kind of look like Lego!

Photos of the week

An Abandoned Soviet Space Shuttle

A Russian space shuttle. Photo by Dave Casey via Wikimedia Commons

It’s hard to believe that such high-tech, and historical machinery like a space shuttle could be left to decay for 20 years, instead of being preserved or put into a museum. An inquisitive photographer found exactly that in an abandoned hangar at a Russian space launch base in Kazakhstan. He took some amazing photos of this state-of-the-art facility, and even got inside the old space shuttle to find that much of the expensive equipment is still there. (Disclaimer: I have no way of verifying how or when these photos were taken, but they are interesting nonetheless.)

Initiative of the week

NY Bar Tackles Gender Pay Gap

This Brooklyn bar (not far from our place) had an awesome idea to help make it up to women for the gender pay inequality. Since women on average make only 77% of what men make, the owners of this bar decided that on July 7 (7/7) women only had to pay 77% of the drinks prices. I’ve heard this place also has good live music so I’m definitely going to check it out soon!

 

App of the week

Subway Cars Field Guide

I use the subway almost every day and often notice subtle differences between the trains. They have different seating layouts, different carriage/car widths, and different color schemes. But I had no idea about the different ages of all the subway trains. Who knew some of them are more than 50 years old! And that’s why some of them are more likely to have the heating or AC break down. Try this awesome guide from WNYC for yourself to find out how old your usual subway trains are.

Internet Findings of the Week for July 3, 2015

This week I was surprised to be convinced by a new anti-aging serum, I became concerned about the treatment of transgender people in our society, and I enjoyed reading a comedian’s autobiography.

Article of the Week

Kiwi-developed “breakthrough” anti-ageing serum

Copper peptides structure via Wikimedia Commons.

I always hear about the latest “anti-wrinkle” or “anti-aging” creams and ointments that are out there. I usually ignore them and think they must be some sort of placebo effect, or just very luxurious moisturizers. But this anti-ageing product was researched and produced over four years by scientists at the University of Auckland’s School of Pharmacy (the university I went to). And it’s not just for anti-aging, they also hope to use the same technology as a new way to deliver vaccinations without needles. The product uses nanotechnology to deliver drugs (copper peptides) through the skin, into the body’s cells. So for the first time I’m wondering if it could actually be the real thing. I (hope I) don’t need anti-wrinkle cream just yet, but it is pretty convincing to hear a rigorous study of this product in Germany “found that in wrinkle volume reduction the serum performed at levels 31.6 percent above Strivectin, a recognised market leader in the anti-ageing skincare category in the United States”.

Videos of the week

John Oliver on Transgender Rights

This is a very topical subject, as marriage equality became legal across the whole USA last week. I went to the fantastic NYC Pride Parade last Sunday, and felt the excitement the LGBTQ community is feeling about finally being accepted in society. But John Oliver points out that the way society treats transgender people is still not acceptable. I agree with him that it is inappropriate to ask someone you don’t know very well (he shows the example of TV interviewers and interviewees) about what their genitals look like. He also highlights the issue of transgender people being restricted from using the public bathroom they feel most comfortable using. It is also interesting, and sort of sad, to hear about a transgender person who feels more comfortable and accepted as a man with his army deployment in Afghanistan, than he does back home with his family and friends.

Rebirth of a Transgender Teen

Keeping with the theme, this is a New York Times Documentary about a teenager who recently had gender-reassignment surgery. For anyone who wants to better understand how transgender people feel about being the wrong gender, this is a great video to watch. Kat explains how paralysing it felt being a boy, and how liberated she feels now she is a girl.

Ebook of the Week

Yes Please by Amy Poehler

www.amysaysyesplease.com

This is the autobiography of comedian and actress Amy Poehler, which I’m 72% through on my iPad. I wanted to read it because I recently did an improv class, and she started the improv theater UCB in NYC. It is laugh-out-loud funny, and very inspiring to hear about her slightly disorganised and hurdled path to success. She has been on Saturday Night Live (which I love) and Parks and Recreation (which I badly want to watch), so it’s intriguing to hear an insider’s behind-the-scenes account of what it’s like to work in that world. But she also candidly and refreshingly discusses her personal life, such as her divorce, and having children. And there are photos! I love it when autobiographies have photos!