Last week, my dad and I had yet another conversation about privacy. It makes him nervous to consider what gets broadcast where and stored away by whom on the World Wide Web. Chances are, your parents feel similarly about the explosion of tell-all networking sites and one-click shopping pages that save your credit card info and life history details. Meanwhile, many of us don’t bat an eye when asked to supply birth dates and cell phone numbers, while a string of relationship dramas play out across our Facebook walls.
Ladies and Gentlemen, add British Petroleum to your list of gas stations to avoid. While “Beyond Petroleum” had some success with a massive rebranding campaign that briefly convinced the public that the petrochemical giant was greener than Greenpeace (see a troubling 2008 UK study), the ongoing Gulf of Mexico spill will surely smear its green, floral logo.
Rewind forty years and a few days to the very first Earth Day in 1970. One topic was on everybody’s mind: the growing human population. Scientists and environmentalists, eyeing exponentially increasing numbers, made dire predictions about mass famine and warfare as humanity outstripped the planet’s ability to provide space and resources.
It’s 6 a.m. when your gasoline-powered alarm clock chatters to life, rousing you in time to make a few last changes to your term paper before rushing off to class. You slap it before glancing across your room as your “air purifier,” which is actually a feather-duster taped to a space heater, hums to life.
VANCOUVER, B.C. — Seahorses. The last thing I expected to have on my mind in the city that just hosted the Winter Olympics, complete with a fuzzy Sasquatch mascot that couldn’t be more unlike the sleek sea creatures. But there is no more appropriate place to talk about the seahorse than the University of British Columbia, where scientist Amanda Vincent leads Project Seahorse, a team of researchers who use the iconic fish to spearhead marine conservation efforts worldwide.
I think my favorite childhood computer game — after the MS-DOS days of dinosaur building and Tetris — was SimCity. I spent hours staring down at my two-dimensional landscape, laying out residential, commercial, and industrial zones, and power lines and roadways to connect it all. I battled crime with police stations and natural disasters with exorbitant reconstruction. And while I never did scrape up the allowance money to upgrade to the three-dimensional version of the game, SimCity Classic (which you can now play for free online) kept me blissfully entertained through my middle-school years.
When Captain N.C. Middlebrooks claimed the Brook Islands for the United States in 1859, he had no idea they would later be known as Midway Atoll, site of a World War II turning point more than eighty years later. The island cluster was coveted for a humbler reason: guano.
“Dad, look, it’s a bald eagle!” I exclaimed, pointing up through the car window to track the enormous bird in flight. My father, who has a sad history of disregarding his daughter’s birding prowess (“Holly, there’s no way you saw a hummingbird in New Jersey” and “That can’t be a kingfisher”), was at least curious enough to turn the car around, if only to prove me wrong.
I grew up in a post-racial society. Okay, maybe that’s not quite possible. But it sure felt that way for the first fifteen years of my life in a generic East Coast suburb. Looking back, my youthful obliviousness to skin color was probably largely a product of how I was raised. My dad is German, my mom Filipino. Both are “American” in their values and viewpoints: freedom and equality, responsible voting, and pizza for dinner.
On Monday night, Kresge Auditorium was filled with good-natured banter, verbal pats on the back, smiles, and even a hug. It was hardly the atmosphere I’d expected from two senior advisors to the presidential campaigns (R. James Woolsey on behalf of Senator McCain and Jason Grumet for Senator Obama) debating energy policy in front of a collegiate audience. Instead of outlining realistic policies and challenging the opposing viewpoint, both speakers steered the debate along a bland, albeit cheerful, tack.
While problem sets and exams pile up mid-semester, most of us are shuttling between class and computer, losing sight of the bigger picture while trying to put out academic fires in our own lives. This week, however, MIT’s Global Poverty Initiative invites us to take a step back and remember those less fortunate than ourselves.
I woke up in the wee hours of last Sunday morning to the sound of Tropical Storm Hanna tearing at my open window. Groggily, I stood up to admire the force of the storm and found I could barely make out the typically brilliant lights of downtown Boston through the driving rain. The juxtaposition of the raw power of storm winds with the awe-inspiring expanse of city lights reminded me of plans to help replace energy needs with wind power. Too tired to dwell on the matter, I climbed back in bed and let the storm’s unlikely lullaby return me to sleep.