Penguins: Spy in the Huddle

Penguins - Spy in the Huddle

PBS premiered a 3-part mini-series called Penguins: Spy in the Huddle on Wednesday night and OH MY GOODNESS IT WAS SO AMUSING! Researchers made animatronic penguin cameras and sent them out to mingle with real penguins to get a better sense of what penguin life is like. Here’s the description of the show from PBS’s website:

For nearly a year, 50 animatronic cameras disguised as realistic life-size penguins, eggs and rocks infiltrate penguin colonies to record the tough challenges penguins face from the moment they emerge from the sea to raising their chicks and finally returning to the water. The intimate, emotional, and sometimes amusing behavior of nature’s most devoted parents bringing up their young against the most extraordinary odds is revealed as never before.

If you missed the first episode, you can stream it online on PBS’s website. The next two parts will be available on PBS over the next two Wednesdays at 8pm.

Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can’t Stop Talking

Last month, I read Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can’t Stop Talking by Susan Cain, a non-fiction book about how introversion is misunderstood and undervalued in our society that glorifies being social and outgoing.

Summary

Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can't Stop TalkingIt’s estimated that a third to half of people are introverts. Introverts’ energy gets drained when they spend too much time with other people; extroverts’ energy gets drained when they spend too much time alone. Introverts are quiet, thoughtful listeners who prefer solitude; extroverts are talkative, energetic socialites. Contrary to popular belief, introverts aren’t necessarily shy, though some are.

Cain uses anecdotes and scientific studies to show that we are really limiting our potential by overlooking introverts.

Review

This will probably come as no surprise to those who know me — I’m an introvert. I would much rather stay at home with a book than go out partying with a group of people. There is a personality assessment mentioned in the book called the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator (MBTI). I’ve taken tests for it in the past and I definitely fall into the ISTJ type, which is described as:

Responsible, sincere, analytical, reserved, realistic, systematic. Hardworking and trustworthy with sound practical judgement.

ISTJs are faithful, logical, organized, sensible, and earnest traditionalists who enjoy keeping their lives and environments well-regulated. Typically reserved and serious individuals, they earn success through their thoroughness and extraordinary dependability.

In general, ISTJs are capable, logical, reasonable, and effective individuals with a deeply driven desire to promote security and peaceful living.

If you’re interested to find out your MBTI personality type, there are several tests online. The tests I found weren’t super great, so I suggest combining the results of a few tests with descriptions of each of the personality types (there are 16 types).

Anyway, back to the book.

Quiet isn’t about how introversion is better than extroversion (or vice-versa). Rather, Cain writes about how there is no “best” personality type and how we need to make sure we aren’t ignoring the needs and ideas of one group just because they’re less vocal, pushy, etc. Introversion isn’t something that needs to be “cured” and extroversion probably shouldn’t be so idealized. Both groups have their strengths and both groups are valuable in the workplace, school, family, and society in general.

Overall, I liked the book and I thought it did a great job illustrating introversion and its importance. I personally didn’t find it very enlightening (it was more an affirmation of things I already know), but it was thought-provoking and I found myself relating to a lot of the things Cain wrote about. If you’re an introvert or if you’re just looking to understand introversion better, I’d recommend reading it.

TED Talk

Susan Cain gave a TED Talk in 2012 called The Power of Introverts, which is definitely worth watching and it gives you a good idea of what to expect from the book. The video is below:

Honey Badgers: Masters of Mayhem

We already knew honey badgers were badass because of 2011’s “honey badger don’t care!” video, but I now have a ton of admiration for honey badgers thanks to this video about an incredibly smart honey badger named Stoffel:

It’s not really explained in the clip, but the reason why they wanted to keep Stoffel penned up was because he kept terrorizing the lions in an adjacent pen. He’d get bored, break into the lion pen, and chase the lions around. :O

You can watch the full Nature episode, Honey Badgers Masters of Mayhem, on PBS.

The Book Thief

The Book ThiefThe Book Thief by Markus Zusak is historical fiction about a young German girl living with foster parents during World War II. It is narrated by Death (a pretty interesting perspective), who begins the story with a small fact: you are going to die.

In spite of the macabre narrator and ultra depressing setting, The Book Thief is heart-warming and Liesel (the little German girl) provides hope and joy during such a dark time.

If you’re looking for a quick, light-hearted book with a happy ending, this is definitely not the right book for you, but I would otherwise recommend it to anyone. I loved the characters and this book really knew how to tug at your heartstrings.

Perhaps my favorite part is when Liesel finds herself in a library, which I quoted below. Book lovers will surely appreciate it.

“Jesus, Mary …”

She said it out loud, the words distributed into a room that was full of cold air and books. Books everywhere! Each wall was armed with overcrowded yet immaculate shelving. It was barely possible to see the paintwork. There were all different styles and sizes of lettering on the spines of the black, the red, the gray, the every-colored books. It was one of the most beautiful things Liesel Meminger had ever seen.

With wonder, she smiled.

That such a room existed!

Even when she tried to wipe the smile away with her forearm, she realized instantly that it was a pointless exercise. She could feel the eyes of the woman traveling her body, and when she looked at her, they had rested on her face.

There was more silence than she ever thought possible. It extended like an elastic, dying to break. The girl broke it.

“Can I?”

The two words stood among acres and acres of vacant, wood-floored land. The books were miles away.

The woman nodded.

Yes, you can.

By the way, the movie adaptation will be released on November 15 (the trailer is below). It looks like it will be a beautiful movie and, from what I can tell, stay pretty true to the book. Although it’s missing from the trailer, the movie will apparently be narrated by Death. I’m really looking forward to seeing it!