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