Oh, What a World: Humans Doing Amazing Things Today

Anyone else feel like it’s been a long week, even though it’s only Wednesday?

I’ve been swamped in schoolwork, planning for my school’s Relay for Life in two weeks, commitments for both of my jobs, and being a functional adult who makes food and does laundry (…will do laundry…tonight…I swear…). Plus I realized that my window is narrowing rapidly to secure a job for after graduation, and that means that soon I’ll need to pack everything up and leave Chicago (officially less than two months until I graduate), and that’s around the time I start internally screaming.

So today, I wanted to take a minute to celebrate some fascinating things that people are accomplishing.

Stephen Hawking wants to get us to another solar system

With a board of directors comprised of Stephen Hawking, Mark Zuckerberg, and Yuri Milner, a new project is going to get a glimpse of planets orbiting Alpha Centauri, the closest star to Earth (besides our own sun). The goal of the project is to get images of planets that, like Earth, are close enough to their sun that they have more water than ice, but far enough that the water is not all evaporated (like Mars). Essentially, this could determine not only if there is life in the next solar system but if it could sustain human life.

Current technology would take two thousand years for our fastest spacecraft to reach this solar system, but the tech proposed in the project could cut that down to twenty.

Why is this cool? We could find aliens in our lifetimes!

Read more: http://www.scientificamerican.com/article/100-million-plan-will-send-probes-to-the-nearest-star1/

Puerto Rican Veterans of the World Wars and Korean War are being recognized with the Congressional Medal of Honor previously denied to them

Today, a segregated infantry regiment known as the Borinqueneers (based off of the word “boricua,” another word in Spanish for someone who is Puerto Rican) is being recognized by Congress for their bravery, decades after their white counterparts were recognized. All of the members of this group were volunteers. They defended the First Marine Infantry Division in a retreat in 1950 during the Korean War, and are finally being awarded for their contributions.

Why is this cool? Recognition of historical contributions of minorities breaks down biases in our history which contribute to racial prejudices today!

Read more: http://www.nydailynews.com/new-york/brooklyn/u-s-forgot-all-volunteer-puerto-rican-unit-borinqueneers-served-bravely-article-1.140594

Children smarter than all of us are exhibiting at the White House Science Fair

Children ranging from 11 to 18 are exhibiting their amazing work at the White House Science Fair today, with contributions ranging from astrophysics, environmental science, engineering, coding, and more.

Why is this cool? These kids are working on issues of sustainability, medical treatments, disability assistance, technological security, and more. Plus, it’s exciting to see how many girls and minorities are exhibiting, encouraging more equality in the sciences!

Read more: https://www.whitehouse.gov/Science-Fair

 

I know I’ll never send people to other solar systems, so I’m grateful for the people doing these amazing things today. Have a great day!

Things I Am Into #6

Not everything needs a lot of commentary; Things I Am Into is a place to dump media that inspires me today.

nine year old reporter Hilde Kate Lysiak

9-Year Old Reporter Breaks Crime News, Posts Videos, Fires Back at Critics by Tom Jackman

“I just like letting people know all the information,” Hilde said Monday. It’s also what she sees as her career, no matter what stupid adults might say about the future of journalism. “It’s just what I really want to do. And crime is definitely my favorite.”

You may have already come across this story on your Facebook newsfeed, but I really just wanted to highlight this young woman, Hilde Kate Lysiak, for working hard at what she wants (even in the face of haters!). At only nine years old, she has a dream and is unafraid of the amount of work involved to get what she wants.

Here’s what Hilda had to say about the backlash about her age and the material she covers: And for those of you who think I need to mind my place, I’ll make you a deal. You get off your computer and do something to stop all the crime going on in my town and I’ll stop reporting on it.

Bam!

What is your dream? What can you do to work towards it, even when people say you’re crazy?

Where to End Our Favorite Story…

Like many, many people my age, I am a devout Potterhead. The books  (and movies) were an integral part of my childhood. I happened to rest right in the sweet spot in which I was never “too old” for a new release, and Harry’s story got longer and more complex as I grew into a reader capable of handling such material.

My fellow blogger over at Introverted Playground made a really interesting post on her school’s site about the continuation of the Potter world through The Cursed Child and Fantastic Beasts. I’m not sure I entirely agree with her, but I think her point is well argued and valid. While I soak up every new tidbit of Potter lore that JK Rowling tosses us, I can’t help but wonder at what point it will end. Books live forever in the hearts of their readers and the pages upon which they’re printed, and Rowling built a lovingly complex and detailed one…but will the back cover ever really close?

If it doesn’t, if Rowling keeps adding forever, are readers (and/or the Potter legacy?) even benefiting?

See the full post below:

Check out my thoughts on Harry Potter and the Cursed Child and Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them: http://web.emerson.edu/undergrad-students-publishing/2016/03/25/alumni-author-spotlight-frank-gao-2/

via Potterheads Rejoice! (But Maybe Not so Much) — Introvert Playground

Things I Am Into #5

Not everything needs a lot of commentary; Things I Am Into is a place to dump media that inspires me today.

Marketing is not just a career interest of mine but a personal one as well. Clever ideas and stories are a way to connect people, not just make money—even if you have NO professional interest in advertising, take a look at this short video about a Coca-Cola campaign.

Lots of people in marketing talk about omnichannel marketing (AKA integrating digital and real-life experiences when interacting with a brand through ads, shopping, etc.) as what everyone should be doing right now…but so few people have really gotten it “right.” This Coke Zero campaign shows that when you do get it right, it’s like magic.

No Place Like Home(s)

Sometimes, I realize that I have gone my entire life thinking that something is solid, immutable, incontrovertible.

Then I get proven wrong.

As a kid it was little things. It turned out, I liked spaghetti sauce. And teachers exist outside of school. And the tooth fairy was not the one swapping my tiny teeth for money.

Part of growing up accepting that things are less fixed than they may seem. As a college student who attends school far away from where I grew up, a big part of this fixed/not fixed problem is the idea of “home.” How do you decide when one place starts becoming your home and another place stops?

Continue reading “No Place Like Home(s)”

Things I Am Into #4

Not everything needs a lot of commentary; Things I Am Into is a place to dump media that inspires me today.

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Today I’m loving my Rosie the Riveter socks! I got these at No Bare Feet in San Diego, just before I ran a 15k race this past weekend.

Rosie reminds me to get up and do something larger than myself. Today I:

  • Am spending time with my family before heading back to school
  • Made a donation to the Steppenwolf Theater’s program for high school students to see shows for free, improving access to the arts around the city of Chicago

What are you contributing to today?

Book Review: The Girl on the Train by Paula Hawkins

The Girl on the Train by Paula Hawkins was a literary smash hit this past summer—I finally got around to reading it this week over spring break and can’t decide whether or not I’m surprised by the amount of success it got.

A thriller set in 2012-2013, The Girl on the Train weaves the perspectives of three women and their husbands in an intriguing knot of murder and domestic problems. Rachel, Anna, and Megan live three very different lives (unemployed alcoholic, new mother, and depressive with a dark past, respectively) though their situations begin to get more similar by the end.

original_the_girl_on_the_trainHawkins’ use of details and the complexity of the characters made this a solid read. I had read that this was a book that couldn’t be put down, but didn’t find this completely true for me until the mid-200’s (and with only 323 pages, that’s a bit late in the game). This was most likely a trade-off for the amount of detail Hawkins used in constructing the narrative and exploring her characters’ flaws: with so much interesting material crammed in, it’s hard to build up a fast pace.

Blakeley from Blake’s Little Library seemed to have similar feelings about this book: check out her review here. Maybe I don’t read enough thrillers, but I didn’t find the ending quite as predictable as she did; however, I did find the ending to be cliche, and some character motivations were unclear to me. Without giving too much away, the culprit gave the stereotypical “this is what happened and this is why I did it” speech, which felt unnecessary after we got to see the full event from the victim’s perspective. Additionally, Anna’s motivations in the last few scenes were intentionally unclear for suspense, but felt too muddy even in the sections told from her perspective. This was rare for Hawkins, who otherwise painted such vivid and realistic images of her characters.

Overall

The writing was very good, though lacked subtlety often (a pretty big contrast to my last great read, Celeste Ng’s Everything I Never Told You, which you can read my review of here). On the one hand, the slower pace and cliched ending structure are the source of my surprise that this book took off like it did. On the other, the same can be said of immensely popular generic thrillers’ like James Pattersons’ (though Hawkins’ quality of writing is significantly better).

Would recommend to readers of popular contemporary fiction, a fun read for vacation.

Rating: 3.5 / 5