After sorting through 13,000 photographs submitted by over 1300 photographers from all over the world, the winners of the very first Natural Landscape Photography Awards have been announced. A few of my favorite winners are embedded above; from top to bottom, Paul Hammett, Antonio Fernandez, Hans Strand, and Tobias Richter. Hammett’s shot of lightning striking the Matterhorn took 30 minutes of patience to capture:
Setting up my tripod as thunder boomed around me, hopes of getting an image turned to excitement as the storm moved over the Matterhorn.
I was briefly frustrated trying to nail focus and settings in the dark. Occasional flashes of nearby lightning helped me recompose, refine focus and adjust settings. But I cursed each of them as a missed opportunity to get a shot. Once happy with the camera set up, I could take time to fire off numerous 10 second exposures and just watch the show.
Each lightning strike gave me the shivers. When these two hit the summit, I knew I had something special in the camera.
With the United States incarcerating more individuals than any other nation — over 2 million as of 2019 — these publications represent a vast dimension of media history. These publications depict and report on all manner of life within the walls of prisons, from the quotidian to the upsetting. Incarcerated journalists walk a tightrope between oversight by administration — even censorship-and seeking to report accurately on their experiences inside. Some publications were produced with the sanction of institutional authorities; others were produced underground.
The Golden Age of Detective Fictiondescribes a period between the world wars in which a certain style of murder mystery novel took hold, led by the prolific and talented Agatha Christie. Scott Stedman explains about the rise and fall of the genre in today’s issue of Why is this interesting?
It wasn’t until Agatha Christie introduced the world to Poirot that the genre shifted into its strictest and most enduring form: the garden variety murder mystery.
“I specialize in murders of quiet, domestic interest.” —Agatha Christie.
Agatha Christie is the most popular modern writer to ever live (outmatched in sales by only Shakespeare and the Bible). Christie is unrelenting in her ability to surprise — she killed children, popularized the unreliable narrator, introduced serial killers. Still, she was a fiercely disciplined adherent to a form created by her community of fellow writers, developed in the legendary Detection Club (including Dorothy Sayers, Ronald Knox, and the remarkable GK Chesterton). In an age sandwiched between two world wars — her stories brim with pride for a stiff British moral certitude that was impervious to the most heinous acts against it.
A central feature of many of these whodunits was that the reader had access to all the same information as the detective and could, in theory, figure things out before they did. In 1929, Ronald Knox wrote down 10 rules that made this possible:
1. The criminal must be someone mentioned in the early part of the story, but must not be anyone whose thoughts the reader has been allowed to follow.
2. All supernatural or preternatural agencies are ruled out as a matter of course.
3. Not more than one secret room or passage is allowable.
4. No hitherto undiscovered poisons may be used, nor any appliance which will need a long scientific explanation at the end.
5. No racial stereotypes.
6. No accident must ever help the detective, nor must he ever have an unaccountable intuition which proves to be right.
7. The detective must not himself commit the crime.
8. The detective must not light on any clues which are not instantly produced for the inspection of the reader.
9. The stupid friend of the detective, the Watson, must not conceal any thoughts which pass through his mind; his intelligence must be slightly, but very slightly, below that of the average reader.
10. Twin brothers, and doubles generally, must not appear unless we have been duly prepared for them.
It’s interesting to see how these rules are applied and broken in TV and films these days. I feel like “hitherto undiscovered poisons” and “appliances which will need a long scientific explanation” (not to mention the “unaccountable intuition” of characters) are now regularly deployed, which can lead to feelings of being cheating as a viewer if it’s not done well. (via why is this interesting?)
Clothing too has become unsexy. Little House on the Prairie chic was big last spring. Now we’re back to the two-sizes-too-big outfits. No one wants to take those ugly clothes off someone. Just call me when you get home and we’ll do it on FaceTime so I don’t have to see that sack on my floor.
Then there’s the “look at me, don’t look at me” nature of social media. Women pose provocatively in full makeup and tight outfits, but all their comments are from girlfriends leaving a row of fire emojis. If a man dares post how good she looks, that guy is a creep. Message her privately and that’s “sliding into her DMs.” Men are supposed to ignore how women look which, seeing as men have started wars over the beauty of women, has traditionally been somewhat of a challenge. Women are supposed to want them to ignore how we look, but secretly not: why would we actually want that?
There’s the question of whether something men used to do with some regularity — say, lean in for a kiss with a woman without asking — is now something sinister. Huma Abedin, best known for standing by her man Anthony Weiner again and again as he exposed himself to random women on the internet, has a book coming out in which she tells the story of being “sexually assaulted” by a US senator. She says that she left a party with him, they went for a walk and she accompanied him upstairs for coffee. Upstairs, he tries to kiss her, she says no and he stops.
When I tweeted that this was clearly not assault, several responses said he should have asked her permission. Could there be anything more mood-sapping than someone asking for formal permission to kiss you? This isn’t a British period drama. Even Mr. Darcy has probably stopped asking by now.
No sex, no drugs, no wine, no women? Why, it’s as if we’re turning Japanese or something.
What Makes Life Meaningful?
What do people value in life? How much of what gives people satisfaction in their lives is fundamental and shared across cultures, and how much is unique to a given society? To understand these and other issues, Pew Research Center posed an open-ended question about the meaning of life to nearly 19,000 adults across 17 advanced economies. From analyzing people’s answers, it is clear that one source of meaning is predominant: family. In 14 of the 17 advanced economies surveyed, more mention their family as a source of meaning in their lives than any other factor. Highlighting their relationships with parents, siblings, children and grandchildren, people frequently mention quality time spent with their kinfolk, the pride they get from the accomplishments of their relatives and even the desire to live a life that leaves an improved world for their offspring. In Australia, New Zealand, Greece and the United States, around half or more say their family is something that makes their lives fulfilling…”
In a bid to shine a spotlight on their research and make it more accessible, academics around the world are following in the footsteps of their students and taking to TikTok to share videos. The trend is being highlighted by a team of researchers at the Knowledge Media Design Institute (KMDI) at the University of Toronto’s Faculty of Information.
The researchers looked at the different ways academics, educators and scholarly communities are using TikTok, the popular social media platform that specializes in short-form user-generated videos, to share knowledge – from Gothic architecture explainers to weight loss tips. In particular, the researchers examined user behaviour, concerns about youth engagement, data and privacy implications, the technical features of the app and the visual aspect of scholarly contribution. “If watching YouTube is like sitting in a lecture, then using TikTok is like having a conversation,” says study co-lead JP King, a sessional instructor at the John H. Daniels Faculty of Architecture, Landscape, and Design who works as KMDI’s data visualization and graphic designer. “TikTok provides a fun place to create new forms of accessible learning shared outside of classrooms, textbooks, and conference halls…”