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Weekly Digest #43

Updated: Jun 29

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Tongue Twisters: Is learning a language worth it?

By: Mihir Rao


Bonjour, Namaskar, and Hello! Learning a Language is one of the most exotic experiences one can get, and it is an experience that everyone should experience (ha ha!). Languages have varying levels of difficulty, but once you learn more than one language, you can understand how to learn more.


However, why do we have to learn more languages? Isn’t English all we need? If not, the language spoken in your own country? Well, there are many benefits to learning extra languages.

Here are some of them:


Firstly, culture plays a main part. Learning another language isn’t just learning another language - it is immersing yourself in the culture, and learning different things about where that language comes from. For example, different cultures have different customs, but similar languages!



Next comes food. Food is one of the most essential parts of each and every culture, and it shapes the language into what it is. Food like Pizza and Pasta are internationally known as Italian foods, because of how great they are. Another example is Sushi, which has probably come in at least one restaurant around the world.. As you can see, the food is another defining element.


Of course, we have the lifestyle. Different countries have different customs, and those customs define the language and culture as a whole!


Learning a language has many pros and cons, and here are some:


Firstly, you can talk to people who don’t speak the same language as you but speak a different one. Can you imagine a better ice breaker than greeting someone in their own language? You might get to know much more about a person if both speak a common language.


Next, there are many opportunities that you can pursue, opportunities that you might not be able to take up if you do not know the language that is needed for it.


You may think there are cons for learning a language, but there aren’t any! It may take some time to learn, but it is completely worth it.


Now, How can you learn languages in the lockdown? Of course, you can hire a tutor, but there are many other ways to learn languages which are much more cost-effective.



Firstly, you can use apps like Duolingo. These apps are probably one of the best ways to learn a language, since you are able to learn at your own pace, and you can get a lot of vocabulary from them. They also track your progress and how much you’ve been practising, and send you a message if you forgot to practise.


Next, you can use Youtube, but I wouldn’t recommend this. Since anyone can upload anything on sites like these, wrong information may be shared and then you might not be able to learn the language correctly.


But, how does one stay committed to learning? Well, you can set a reminder for learning the language, and that’ll help you a lot. One thing that I did once was only speaking in that language for a day or two, and it really, really helped. That method is a little extreme, but it’s different for different people. Another thing you could do is: If the language you are learning is similar to a language you know i.e: French, English, you can draw parallels between them, and that may make things easier to understand.


To conclude, learning a language is absolutely essential and is an amazing experience! Learning a language isn’t just learning how to speak in a different way, it’s learning the culture, learning the food, learning their lifestyle, and everyone should give it a try at least once in their life.



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Cover Story-


Holiday homework: Every student’s nightmare

By:Abhimanyu Rao


There are no two words that strike fear into the hearts of students more than ‘Holiday’ and ‘homework’ together. Students everywhere fear and despise holiday homework, but is this just an irrational fear of a perfectly rational concept, or is this widespread student reaction warranted? That is what I shall discuss today.


What is holiday homework?


Holiday homework is a collection of assignments given by schools to students to complete during their vacations. These can be anything from curricular assignments to extracurricular learning, and even an integration of art and academics! This is given to ensure that students do not forget everything they learned before the holidays, and to ensure that they do not lose the flow they picked up during the school, and to keep them in touch with learning.


The pros:


The benefits of giving students holiday homework are plenty and varied.


Firstly, it allows students to combine their hobbies with learning. This is because the constraints of a classroom do not always allow students to fully explore a topic, or be creative with it. However, using some time at home to further explore a topic and then merge it with a hobby is a great way to get your creative juices flowing. This way, it is easy to see that if implemented correctly, holiday homework can be a pleasant experience.


Secondly, it continues the flow that existed before the holidays, so that students return to school with some readiness to study, and are not still in a holiday mindset. This benefits both teachers and students, as it allows them to get back into learning quicker, and therefore, they will be able to cover more ground quickly. This will allow teachers to finish the syllabus quicker, and have time for revision, which is a win- win situation.



Lastly, it ensures that students remember what was done in their classes before the holidays. If the homework is based on revising what was done in class, it will be a mutually beneficial situation for students and teachers, and will give more revision time in the future.



The Cons:


Nothing is perfect, and neither is holiday homework. It has its own share of cons, and they display some pretty glaring gaps in this concept of holiday homework.


Firstly, holiday homework makes no sense in itself! Isn't the term an oxymoron? Holidays are meant to be a time to relax and unwind from the stress of school work. Holiday homework simply erases that. If you spend your entire holidays (that are supposed to be to a break from schoolwork) doing school-given holiday homework, then what is the point of holidays at all? Giving work during the holidays is making holidays a useless way of getting students to do extra work, which is both unnecessary, and borderline cruel!


Secondly, holidays, especially in the summers, are times when almost everyone in a family is free from work, and can spend time together. If the students in a family are busy doing holiday homework while everyone else in the family is free, they will not be able to spend time with anyone in their family, and it will crush them. This will lead to them harbouring negative feelings towards their schools, which will impact their schoolwork.


Thirdly, this concept of giving holiday homework is confining children to the notion that school is the only way to learn. They believe that school giving them holiday homework is an indication that school thinks that they are the only source of learning, which is absolutely untrue! Learning doesn’t stop at school, and while several institutions promote this statement, several of them end up going against this by giving holiday homework, indicating that school is required at all times to learn.



Fourthly, holiday homework detaches children from nature. My parents have told me about the time they spent running and playing during their holidays. Our cousins who study in the USA get three whole months of summer off from school, and zero homework. Calvin from ‘Calvin and Hobbes’ spends his summers running around and playing. He said that a day for him was incomplete if he didn’t have grass stains on his knees!


For the children of today, nature is so distant, and homework that makes you sit down in one place and work for days on end during the holidays when you are supposed to be free certainly doesn't help anyone! It is not as if places where no holiday homework is given are seeing a decline in standards of education. The Finnish education system, widely acknowledged as the best system in the world, gives the least amount of homework in the world.


Lastly, students don’t enjoy doing holiday homework, as they feel like it is stealing the time they have to relax, and therefore, they don’t do it with the will to learn, but with the mindset of trying to get it over with. This prevents them from really learning anything from it, which makes the homework pointless! Furthermore, they will (once more) associate the school with negativity and negative emotions, which will decrease their performance significantly.



The Conclusion


There is a simple way to reach a verdict- just weigh the pros and the cons. As you can see, there are almost twice as many cons as pros, which means, holiday homework is bad, doesn’t it? Not exactly. Holiday homework is like socialism in Russia in the early 1900s - a good idea, but terribly implemented! If holiday homework is correctly implemented, and given in limited amounts, it can be a successful method of helping students worldwide!

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Green Friends from space, UFOs and More! (Part 2)


By: Agastya Rao



Welcome back to part two of Green Friends from space, UFOs and More! In Part 1 I wrote about the history of UFOs and Aliens, Alien Abductions and about Area 51 and how the Cold War led to the popularity of UFOs. (Read Part 1 in Weekly Digest #41). In Part two I shall write about…


1.The Pentagon Investigation


I remember the headline as clear as day, “ Pentagon to investigate UFO sightings”. At that very moment, my jaw dropped (I am pretty sure I lost a couple of teeth as well) . A country as secretive as the United States of America was going to investigate UFO sightings! The USA had been the centre of Conspiracy theories and sightings for an eternity now. It took them 50 years to acknowledge the existence of Area 51. 10 years after they acknowledged its existence, one fine day they decided to investigate practically all the millions of claims they have denied for over a 100 years!


Well, that’s exactly what they are doing. There are two ways of looking at this investigation-


  1. The US government is finally being transparent and is showing the public the truth about UFOs.

  2. The US government is going to conduct an investigation to shut conspiracy theorists up once and for all by proving them wrong.


I am leaning towards the latter one where the government plans to prove conspiracy theorists wrong, but the declassified UFO video taken by Navy pilots suggests otherwise (more on this later).


The government report on UFOs couldn’t find any evidence proving that the UFOs (in the Navy video- more on this very soon) was ExtraTerrestrial or Alien. One (frather expected) answer in the report was that it could have been built by Russia or China which are testing Hyper-Sonic technology.


Once again the truth has been hidden behind the Government Red Tape. I know I may sound like some mad conspiracy nut here, but blaming governments which have been testing certain technology and who are ‘not on great terms’ with the good ol’ US of A seems like the easiest way out of a conspiracy. An administrator at NASA, Bill Nelson has said that NASA is investigating UFOs.


So why is the Pentagon investigating these sightings now?



2. It's a bird, no it's a plane, it's NOT superman- Why investigate now?


It all started when a squad of US Navy Pilots were on a mission and they spotted something on their radar. An object that resembled a tic tac but was supersonic and zipping rapidly from one place to another. A total of 3 videos taken by US Navy Pilots of Unidentified Flying Objects or as the government calls them Unidentified “Aerial Phenomenon” also known as UAPs were seen and taken.


Video of the UAP taken by US Navy Pilots

(Source and Credit- Department of Defense Via NBC News)


The videos were declassified by the Pentagon and released for the public. The first video was taken way back in 2004, which was around 17 years ago and the 2 other videos were taken fairly recently 6 years ago in 2015.


These three sightings (and possibly many more hidden from public view) took the naval pilots by surprise. In a nutshell, most of the sightings were of fast flying objects shaped like a tic tac or round-ish in shape moving faster than a fighter jet. The video taken in 2004 didn’t show only one UAP or Tic-Tac as the pilot who shot the video called it, but a whole swarming squadron of them. So why is the Pentagon investigating these sightings now, after hiding them away for more than 15 years?


Before we get on to that, there was in fact an investigation by US Senators which used 22 Million Dollars of the Department of Defense fund called the ‘Advanced Aerospace Threat Identification Program’, created by Sen. Harry Reid, Sen. Ted Stevens and Sen. Daniel Inouye.


Now, you must be wondering what they did with a 22 Million Dollar budget? Well, they collected, documented and investigated all the UFOs or UAPs (Call them what you want to).


Senator Harry Reid did a rather long, but extremely insightful Op-Ed for the New York Times on this very recently, check it out here.


So maybe the government just wants to put the rumours to bed. According to me, to the United States of America it could be about a security threat. If it's true that Aliens don’t exist, then UFOs could pose big threats to the security of the United States of America.



3.Should we even be searching for aliens and Extraterrestrial Life?


The age-old question returns - should we even be searching for aliens? We saw that millions of dollars were spent in 2007 to document and investigate UFO sightings. Astronomers and scientists have spent countless years researching and looking for extraterrestrial life. A great example is the previously unsolved Wow! Signal.


Way back in 1977, an astronomer named Jerry Ehman heard a sudden burst of weird radio waves while using the Big Ear Radio Telescope. He wrote Wow! Beside the notation of the signal. This was initially thought to be Alien Contact, but sadly it wasn’t. The most likely cause was a sun-like star emitting radio waves.


I for one would love to meet aliens and talk to them. After all, wouldn’t you want to be friends with the people who have the power to destroy your planet with a flick of a switch (unless Global Warming catches up to us first)? One positive of searching for


Extraterrestrial life is that we may get new technology, and one negative is the fear that the Aliens may want to take over Earth.


Sure, it may cost a lot to search for Extraterrestrial life, but wouldn’t it be nice to know that we are not alone in the universe? (Actually that could also be terrifying to know, but…)


4. Aliens in Pop Culture


Films, Tv Shows and Books like Aliens like- Aliens in the Attic, the book Tintin: Flight 714, and ET: Extraterrestrial have embraced the Alien and UFO pop culture. Hopefully, we shall get more Alien themed movies. I wonder what a real alien would think about these movies. I mean, how can we even be sure that they look like little green men, and do they even live on Mars?


Well, that’s all from your friendly neighbourhood conspiracy nut Agastya. I do hope this article was fun and didn’t seem full of random far out conspira-


Important Note: *Agastya was unable to complete the last line of this article because he was abducted by aliens*


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Note from the Editor- Information on the Alien Abduction of our dear colleague Agastya Rao shall come soon. We are currently sending our best negotiator Tardy Man to secure Agastya’s release. (Watch Weekly Digest #42 for more on Tardy Man).



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By: Agastya Rao


1. Israel has become the world's first country to ban the sale of fur. In further heartening news, other countries are considering a similar ban. Let us hope they reach a decision soon, and the suffocation and skinning of animals for the sake of fur collars comes to an end.


2. We have seen images of "socially distant" world leaders in Cornwall, UK at the ag 7 summit. Many recent G7 summits have been criticised for not doing enough. To make them aware of their obligations to the environment, artists Alex Wreckage and Joe Rush created a unique work of art - a Mount Rushmore - style sculpture of the G7 leaders.

This was created entirely out of electronic waste, and dubbed "Mount Recyclemore". Hopefully this will remind leaders of the obligation to deal with the growing problem of electronic waste (of which G7 nations produce 15.9 million tonnes every year).


3. If you have not yet watched singer Jane Marczweski (aka Nightbirdie) sing a song "It's OK" at her audition on America's Got Talent, please do so. This brave woman is suffering from Cancer and has been given a 2% chance of survival, but her beautiful musical rendition and positive thoughts brought inspiration to everyone who watched .


4. Who says one has to be very young to be an Olympian? 43 year old Ms Laura Wilkinson who has previously won medals at the Olympics before retiring, is back to try her luck at the next Olympics. Age is just a number - will power is stronger,


5. Landowners in England have been offered a monetary incentive to make the country green. The UK Government announced its Forestry Commission scheme that will pay landowners bonus amounts up to GBP 2800 for every hectare of woodland that helps in the recovery of wildlife. The Paperless Press thinks this is a superb idea that can be replicated everywhere possible.


6. The US State of Colorado has recorded the first ever litter of grey wolf pups since the 1940s. This animal species had almost become extinct, but the country worked hard at a reintroduction programme. Happy news indeed.

7. Lila, a two year old black Labrador will now serve as a full-time emotional support dog for the US Capitol Police. We always say, dogs are truly the best.



By: Abhimanyu Rao


1. Do you know what VVV-WIT-08 is? It is a giant star that is blinking at the edge of our galaxy, Milky Way. New observations by astronomers show that the star is located over 25,000 light-years away from Earth. Astronomers believe that this star may belong to a new class of stars - a "blinking giant" binary system.

2. NASA has designed new spacesuits for its next lunar mission of 2024. With new innovations like a cooling garment layer, a two-way radio system, a portable life support system and a carbon dioxide removal system, research and development for these Artemis Mission suits will likely cost over USD 300 million.

3. New evidence unearthed by biological anthropologists and archaeologists suggests that humans may have inhabited the region that is now southern Mexico much earlier than is currently believed. It is likely that humans walked the area between 33,448 and 28, 279 years ago.

4. By recreating certain conditions in a lab, scientists have concluded that Auroras or northern lights are formed when electrons from space ride waves in the Earth's magnetic field


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Entertainment quotient for the week:



Disney+


-Loki- Marvel’s TV show about the God of Mischief


Netflix

- Wish Dragon


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