Weekly Digest #32
Updated: Mar 23
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Bye Bye Misogyny… Hello Equality
By: Agastya Rao
Whenever someone says humanity is insanity and can’t be cured, we read some good news that gives us hope and dispels the pessimism. Even though misogyny and gender stereotypes exist everywhere, there are many strides being made to end misogyny. All of us have been appalled by a string of recent judicial pronouncements where the judges have made shocking comments on women victims, for instance, by the Madhya Pradesh High Court on how the perpetrator of a sexual assault should have a rakhi tied by his victim to secure bail. While such judgements received their fair due of criticism, the highest court of our land, the Honourable Supreme Court has, in a recent ruling (on the 18th of March), has brought some hope through their directions. In this article, I will briefly highlight their pronouncements on stereotypes, in continuation of my article in Weekly Digest #31, where I wrote about some common gender based stereotypes
1. What did the Supreme Court say?
While striking down the controversial MP High Court order, the Supreme court brought out a list of ‘directives/rules’ for judges when they are hearing cases of sexual assault against women. The Supreme Court issued directions for sensitisation of judges and lawyers and also ordered that in such cases, stereotypes must be avoided. The Court issued 7 guidelines, including not suggesting or entertaining any compromise such as the accused marrying his victim. It is shocking to know that such suggestions have actually been made.
On the issue of stereotypes, the Court said, “Bail conditions and orders should avoid reflecting stereotypical or patriarchal notions about women and their place in society, and must strictly be in accordance with the requirements of the Criminal Procedure Code. In other words, discussion about the dress, behavior, or past "conduct" or "morals" of the prosecutrix, should not enter the verdict granting bail.” This comes as a welcome ruling from the highest court of the land, and taking the lead from the Court’s mention of stereotypes, I would like to discuss some of these and how we can deal with them.
2. Common Stereotypes
While this may seem a lot for a young teenager to digest, let us acknowledge the fact that at an apparent and subconscious level, gender based stereotypes do exist. We hear people around us saying “pink is for girls, and blue is a colour for boys.” How many times have we visited a toy store to buy a birthday present for a friend and had the salesperson ask us, “Is it a boy’s birthday or a girl’s birthday” and then proceed to show us cars / trucks for boys and dolls / kitchen sets for girls? Have you ever been told “don’t cry like a girl”? Has a well meaning relative ever brushed aside a boy’s bad behaviour by saying “after all, boys will be boys”? How about your female classmates being called “mean” only because they happened to be assertive? We watch movies that show women characters as damsels in distress. We have often wondered why these stereotypes seem to have made a permanent hope in peoples’ minds, and how we can ensure they do not become a factor that passes to future generations, like genetics.
3.How can we get past these stereotypes?
At The Paperless Press, we have always tried to believe that we must be the change we want to see in the world. Scientists say that children are not born thinking one gender is better or more powerful than the other, but stereotypes that are built based on what they see and hear, start setting in quite early. Here are a few suggestions on how we can try and end these stereotypes:
(i) If you are an older teenager, you could talk to your younger siblings and friends about people who have gone against gender stereotypes - for example, men who are nurses or ballet dancers, and women who are fighter pilots. If your younger sibling / cousin wants to play with a toy that is deemed as a toy for a different gender, encourage them and tell them there is no such thing as a toy for boys or toy for girls.
(ii) In Weekly Digest #31, I wrote about the Bechdel Test, which measures whether women have been equally represented in fiction (movies, TV shows etc). It is quite eye-opening to learn about this. Maybe as older teenagers, we can talk to other members of our family about this. Any discussion on such topics will be helpful.
(iii) If you are a parent reading this article, you can find many books for young children these days that do not play up gender stereotypes. Perhaps I could write an article making a list of such books.
(iv) Help with chores in the house, whether you are a boy or a girl. Definitely help if you are a boy. In Weekly Digest #10, Abhimanyu wrote of certain life skills that every teenager must possess.
(v) Do not sit by when you see misogynistic behaviour around you. Not all of it may be intended to cause harm. As I wrote, a lot of stereotypes exist at a subconscious level. If your school has a circle time, you could discuss this topic with your teachers and peers.
(vi) If you are on social media, follow people who talk about smashing gender stereotypes.
These are just a few ideas I could think of. I am sure you, dear readers, would have many more ideas and suggestions. Please do share them with me*. Every little step that brings us closer to equality is welcome.
*Email us at- firstname.lastname@example.org
Floating Ships - Illusion, Science or an Unsolved Mystery?
By: Abhimanyu Rao
Ever since the beginning of time, nature has shown us the most wonderful things, from the first time we saw the glorious, vibrant fire dance around, to the time we saw the first ever picture of a black hole, nature never disappoints! Well sometimes, nature can confound us in ways we cannot seem to understand, many a times, in the form of naturally occurring optical illusions!
Consider the example of constellations in our night sky. While to us, it looks like a group of stars that have been lined up perfectly, they are all at different distances, and it is just our brain that perceives them as a lined up 2 dimensional shape! However, this article is not about the quirky relationship between constellations and our baffled brains! Instead, what I am talking about will Hook you in ways you never imagined (you shall understand the corny joke as you read ahead.). What I am going to be talking about is the legendary pirate ship (Get it? Hook?) … The Flying Dutchman!
The Flying Dutchman?
I’ll admit, the name sounds more like a Dutch Superman than a legendary pirate ship, but The Flying Dutchman has been immortalised through Arthurian legends, pirate lore, and of course, The Pirates of the Carribean! In the famous movie series, The ship belongs to Davy Jones, who is supposed to take souls lost at sea to the next world. However, the pirate lore side of this is slightly different. The Flying Dutchman is a Ghost Ship that is an omen of imminent disaster!
Some say that the legendary ship belongs to Captain Hendrick van der Decken (who was known as The Dutchman) was on a return journey from the East Indies to Amsterdam, a sudden storm blocked their path. However, the fearless (and possibly mad too!) Captain van der Decken went full speed ahead, straight into the deadly storm, and his poor ship sank! He was then cursed for entering the storm, and now roams the seas in his magical ship, never allowed to set foot on land. This legend was later told by Richard Wagner in his opera based on the story.
Others say it belongs to Captain Bernard Fokke, who supposedly managed to sail from Amsterdam to Indonesia in just three months! This led people to believe that he sold his soul to the Devil in order to get the speed he wanted, and now cannot return to land. This intriguing story was brought to the world at large by the book ‘Rime of the Ancient Mariner’ by Samuel Taylor Coleridge.
Either way, all people believe that this is an extremely fast ship that can levitate, and can instantly disappear. This is ALWAYS regarded and a sign of impending doom, and scares the living daylights out of the sailors who see it.
Sightings of ghost ships
Perhaps one of the most famous sightings of The Dutchman was the sighing by the erstwhile Prince George (He would go on to become King George V, the grandfather of Queen Elizabeth.). He was sailing near Australia with his older brother, and the crew saw a ship appear in a glow of red light. When they reached the spot they saw the ship in, there was no trace of the ship ever being there! To top it all off, the impending doom arrived not much later, when the eagle-eyed crew member who saw the mysterious ship fell off the topmast and died! As recently as this very month, many “floating” ships were sighted off the coast of the UK, sending newspapers into a tizzy.
Unravelling the mystery
“So what happened?”, you may be asking, and that is what comes next, dear reader. There are several theories as to what the sightings of the ship really are. Well, as it turns out, the most probable theory for the true nature of The Flying Dutchman is a mirage. This specific type of mirage is called Fata Morgana.
Fata morgana is a mirage named after Morgan le Fay, the notorious sister of King Arthur. Legend has it that she created these illusions to lure unsuspecting sailors to their doom, while it was actually just her trickery. Obviously, these mirages are not Morgan le Fay's trickery, so what are they?
As it turns out, a Fata Morgana is a mirage caused by the refraction of light in different temperatures. The ocean has a cooling effect on the air around it, and this cooling effect is the reason these mirages are so common out at sea. The cooler temperatures make the air slightly denser, which causes the light rays to bend. As we all know, light travels in a straight line, and our brain knows that too. Unable to make sense of the bent path of the light , our brain alters the image to better fit its logic, and we see a different image from a different place altogether. This makes ships from across the horizon appear as if they are floating near us, and brought forth the legend of The Flying Dutchman. This phenomenon has been at the root of many legends including phantom islands, UFOs, mysterious cities in the sky, and The Flying Dutchman as well.
Interestingly, British historian and author Tom Maltin believes that the concept of Fata Morgana could explain why the lookout sailors on the ill-fated Titanic did not see the iceberg until it was too late - the hedge-like elevation created an illusion that did not allow the sailors to spot the iceberg.
That brings us to the end of this article. This article has been an eventful one, but it just makes me wonder, if we ever see magic, is it just science we don’t understand yet?
The Next Generation - The Second side of the Argument
By: Mihir Rao
In my last article. I told you about the next generation, fuelled by genetic modification.. Since our world is quite far from perfect, we tend to have our ups and downs in this world. But, there is a solution that has emerged from the shadows: CRISPR.
Since I wrote about CRISPR in detail in Weekly Digest #31, I’ll tell you about CRISPR in a nutshell. It is
very important towards the evolution to our civilisation. Basically, it allows one to change the DNA of a specimen, and change it however you like! It’s almost like a character customizer in real life!!
But, with all good, comes bad. And with CRISPR, comes the essential question: Is it ethical? Well, Let’s go over two sides of the argument and see.
Firstly, CRISPR is incredible! It has the ability to ELIMINATE disease entirely! No more viruses, and we will be free! We can get rid of potential threats at PATIENT ZERO, and we can eliminate disease entirely! Cancer, rabies, and other incurable diseases can be prevented with this!
But, there is a downside to this method, also. We are still losing people, no matter how fast the cure. That one unlucky person who would get infected, for millions of unknowing people to be vaccinated because of their sacrifice. But, it isn’t just one unlucky person. It would be millions. With us exploring EVERY corner of this Earth, and millions and millions of new diseases are coming to light, an equal amount would have to get infected and potentially die for everyone else.
Secondly, You can have designer babies! Parents would be able to choose whatever qualities they want, and you could do anything! Read more in my previous article to know more about this.. Then again, there is a major flaw with this.
Since you can change your baby however you want, you can make it smart, handsome/beautiful, etc, extremely easily!
But then again, this brings up the question of ethics.
Finally, we have godly power in our hands, the power to shape our civilisation however we see it! We can create extremely intelligent children, who are going to be the scientists that evolve our civilization, we can create extremely talented people who are talented in everything, and more!
But, with great power comes great responsibility, And, if this power gets in the wrong hands, it could prove to be a massive problem, and a weapon of wars.. In all, there is only one question that we have to ask, which only you can answer:
Are we ready?
1. Scientists at Northwestern University have identified a compound that halts the
degeneration of upper motor neurons that become diseased and contribute to ALS
(amyotrophic lateral sclerosis), a fast-acting and fatal neurodegenerative disease.
2. 7-year-old Virat Chandra from Hyderabad has become the youngest person in the world to scale Mt Kilimanjaro. He is a true example of dedication, fitness and commitment.
3. The Indian Railways has reached a major milestone in the construction of what will be the world’s highest bridge over the Chenab river, by connecting two ends of the main arch of the bridge.
4. The town of Dauphin, Pennsylvania showed their gratitude to a UPS delivery driver Mr Chad Turns for his service during the pandemic by surprising him with a gift of $1000.
5. A non-profit organisation called Thinking Huts is in the process of fundraising to build the world’s first 3D-printed school buildings in modular, honeycomb shapes.The project will first be launched in Madagascar. This project aspires to bring hope to places where schools cannot be built due to exorbitant building costs. What is more, they plan to use locally sourced, green material to build these schools.
6. Following the Lights Out program, buildings in Texas and Philadelphia have agreed to dim or cut out outdoor building lights between April 1 and May 31, and from August 15 to November 15. This will be done to ensure migratory birds do not miss out on natural lights and cues in their migration route, which is a common problem faced by them due to extremely bright city lights all over the world. This is definitely a move than must be emulated everywhere.
7. Reddit’s WallStreetbets community has come together to spend a whopping 300,000 USD towards wildlife conservation following their recent gains in the stock market (to know more about this, read Abhimanyu’s 3 part article series called the GameStop Saga in Weekly Digest #29, Weekly Digest #30, Weekly Digest #31 )
By: Abhimanyu Rao
1. NASA has discovered four species of bacterial strains onboard the International Space Station that may help grow plants on Mars. One of the bacteria has been named after Indian biodiversity scientist Seyed Ajmal Khan. This may be the gentle help that is needed for plants to be grow in a tough environment like that on Mars.
2. A company named Heat Wavy has created the world’s first microwave-powered boiler that can provide zero-emission replacements for gas boilers. The UK, like many other countries, relies on gas boilers to heat up their homes and this heating produces 14% of the UK’s total carbon emissions. This microwave powered boiler uses electricity to heat water, which is then pumped through radiators in homes. The company is buildingprototypes and is targeting sales by 2024. A wonderful, green initiative indeed.
3. Archaeologists in Israel recently discovered dozens of new Dead Sea Scroll fragments bearing a Biblical text, understood to be hidden nearly 1900 years ago.
4. NASA’s Hubble Telescope recently spotted a second atmosphere forming on an Earth-like exoplanet (named GJ 1132 b) located 41 light years away from our earth. Theexoplanet gained this second atmosphere as a result of volcanic activity after it lost its original atmosphere.
5. A new study has found the reason why some plants can be hotter than stars. The study of an exoplanet named Kelt-9b has revealed the presence of molecules of metals that were not previously known to exist out there.
B. Disney + Hotstar
Falcon and the Winter Soldier
By: Mihir Rao
Tennis (Dubai Tennis Championship and the Mexican Open)
In the Dubai Tennis Championship on the 18th of March, Lloyd Harris won against Kei Nishikori with 14 aces and 78 points won.The next day, he won against Denis Shapovalov, with 12 aces, and 112 points won. He proceeded to go to the final and sadly lost against Aslan Karatsev.
On the 21st of March, the Atlanta Hawks won against the Los Angeles Lakers by 5 points. The Man of the Match was John Collins, with 16 rebounds and 27 points in total. On the 22nd, the Boston Celtics won against Orlando Magic by 16 points. The Man of the Match was Jaylen Brown, with 4 rebounds, 3 assists, and 34 points.
Cricket (India Vs England)
The upcoming match of India vs England has got us all excited, and waiting tirelessly for when it starts. The First ODI out of a series of 3, is about to start on the 23rd of March.
Visit these pages to see some of our other endeavours!
Visit A Dogs Daily Antics to laugh your heart out with crazy captioned dog photos!
Visit The Chinappa Channel to see some quirky but nice videos that will make you roll with laughter
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