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youtube converter of “How one scientist took on the chemical industry”

In 1958, Rachel Carson received a letter describing songbirds suddenly dropping from tree branches. The writer blamed their deaths on a pesticide called DDT that exterminators had sprayed on a nearby marsh.

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How one scientist took on the chemical industry

The letter was the push Carson needed to investigate DDT. She had already heard from scientists and conservationists who were worried that rampant use of the pesticide posed a threat to fish, birds, and possibly humans. She began to make inquiries through government contacts from her years working in the United States Bureau of Fisheries.

She asked: “what has already silenced the voices of spring?” In 1962, Carson published her findings in “Silent Spring.”” Her book documented the misuse of chemicals and their toll on nature and human health. “Silent Spring” immediately drew both applause and impassioned dissent— along with vicious personal attacks on the author. How did this mild-mannered biologist and writer ignite such controversy? Carson began her career as a hardworking graduate student, balancing her studies in biology at John Hopkins University with part time jobs.

Still, she had to leave school before completing her doctorate to provide for her ailing father and sister. Carson found part time work with the Bureau of Fisheries writing for a radio program on marine biology. Her ability to write materials that could hold the general public’s attention impressed her superiors, and in 1936, she became the second woman to be hired at the Bureau full time. In 1941, she published the first of three books on the ocean, combining science with lyrical meditations on underwater worlds.

These explorations resonated with a wide audience. In “Silent Spring,” Carson turned her attention to the ways human actions threaten the balance of nature. DDT was originally used during World War II to shield crops from insects and protect soldiers from insect-borne diseases. After the war, it was routinely sprayed in wide swaths to fight pests, often with unforeseen results.

One attempt to eradicate fire ants in the southern U.S. killed wildlife indiscriminately, but did little to eliminate the ants. In spite of this and other mishaps, the US Department of Agriculture and chemical companies extolled the benefits of DDT.

There was little regulation or public awareness about its potential harm. But Carson showed how the overuse of chemicals led to the evolution of resistant species— which, in turn, encouraged the development of deadlier chemicals. Since DDT does not dissolve in water, she asserted that over time it would accumulate in the environment, the bodies of insects, the tissues of animals who consume those insects, and eventually humans. She suggested that exposure to DDT might alter the structure of genes, with unknown consequences for future generations.

The response to “Silent Spring” was explosive. For many people the book was a call to regulate substances capable of catastrophic harm. Others objected that Carson hadn’t mentioned DDT’s role controlling the threat insects posed to human health.

Former Secretary of Agriculture Ezra Taft Benson demanded to know “why a spinster with no children was so concerned about genetics?” and dismissed Carson as “probably a Communist.” A lawyer for a pesticide manufacturer alluded to Carson and her supporters as “sinister influences” aiming to paint businesses as “immoral.” In reality, Carson had focused on the dangers of chemicals because they weren’t widely understood, while the merits were well publicized. She rejected the prevailing belief that humans should and could control nature.

Instead, she challenged people to cultivate “maturity and mastery, not of nature, but of ourselves.” Carson died of cancer in 1964, only two years after the publication of “Silent Spring.” Her work galvanized a generation of environmental activists.

In 1969, under pressure from environmentalists, Congress passed the National Environmental Policy Act that required federal agencies to evaluate environmental impacts of their actions. To enforce the act, President Richard Nixon created the Environmental Protection Agency. And in 1972, the EPA issued a partial ban on the use of DDT.

Long after her death, Rachel Carson continued to advocate for nature through the lingering impact of her writing.

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youtube converter of “Why should you read sci-fi superstar Octavia E. Butler”

Following a devastating nuclear war, Lilith Iyapo awakens after 250 years of stasis to find herself surrounded by a group of aliens called the Oankali. These highly evolved beings want to trade DNA by breeding with humans so that each species’ genes can diversify and fortify the other.

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Why should you read sci-fi superstar Octavia E. Butler

The only alternative they offer is sterilization of the entire human race. Should humanity take the leap into the biological unknown, or hold on to its identity and perish? Questions like this haunt Octavia Butler’s “Dawn,” the first in her trilogy “Lilith’s Brood.” A visionary storyteller who upended science fiction, Butler built stunning worlds throughout her work– and explored dilemmas that keep us awake at night. Born in 1947, Butler grew up shy and introverted in Pasadena, California.

She dreamt up stories from an early age, and was soon scribbling these scenarios on paper. At twelve, she begged her mother for a typewriter after enduring a campy science fiction film called “Devil Girl From Mars.” Unimpressed with what she saw, Butler knew she could tell a better story. Much science fiction features white male heroes who blast aliens or become saviors of brown people.

Butler wanted to write diverse characters for diverse audiences. She brought nuance and depth to the representation of their experiences. For Butler, imagination was not only for planting the seeds of science fiction– but also a strategy for surviving an unjust world on one’s own terms.

Her work often takes troubling features of the world such as discrimination on the basis of race, gender, class, or ability, and invites the reader to contemplate them in new contexts. One of her most beloved novels, the “Parable of the Sower,” follows this pattern. It tells the story of Lauren Oya Olamina as she makes her way through a near-future California, ruined by corporate greed, inequality, and environmental destruction.

As she struggles with hyperempathy, or a condition in the novel that causes her to feel others’ pain, and less often, their pleasure. Lauren embarks on a quest with a group of refugees to find a place to thrive. There, they seek to live in accordance with Lauren’s found religion, Earthseed, which is based on the principle that humans must adapt to an ever-changing world.

Lauren’s quest had roots in a real life event– California Prop 187, which attempted to deny undocumented immigrants fundamental human rights, before it was deemed unconstitutional. Butler frequently incorporated contemporary news into her writing. In her 1998 sequel to “The Parable of the Sower,” “Parable of the Talents,” she wrote of a presidential candidate who controls Americans with virtual reality and “shock collars.” His slogan? “Make America great again.”

While people have noted her prescience, Butler was also interested in re-examining history. For instance, “Kindred” tells the story of a woman who is repeatedly pulled back in time to the Maryland plantation of her ancestors. Early on, she learns that her mission is to save the life of the white man who will rape her great grandmother. If she doesn’t save him, she herself will cease to exist.

This grim dilemma forces Dana to confront the ongoing trauma of slavery and sexual violence against Black women. With her stories of women founding new societies, time travelers overcoming historical strife, and interspecies bonding, Butler had a profound influence on the growing popularity of Afrofuturism. That’s a cultural movement where Black writers and artists who are inspired by the past, present and future, produce works that incorporate magic, history, technology and much more.

As Lauren comes to learn in “Parable of the Sower,” “All that you touch you Change. All that you Change Changes you. The only lasting truth is Change.

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youtube converter of “The historic women’s suffrage march on Washington”

On March 3, 1913, protesters parted for the woman in white: dressed in a flowing cape and sitting astride a white horse, the activist Inez Milholland was hard to miss. She was riding at the helm of the Women’s Suffrage Parade- the first mass protest for a woman’s right to vote on a national scale.

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The historic women’s suffrage march on Washington

After months of strategic planning and controversy, thousands of women gathered in Washington D.C. Here, they called for a constitutional amendment granting them the right to vote. By 1913, women’s rights activists had been campaigning for decades.

As a disenfranchised group, women had no voice in the laws that affected their– or anyone else’s– lives. However, they were struggling to secure broader support for political equality. They’d achieved no major victories since 1896, when Utah and Idaho enfranchised women.

That brought the total number of states which recognized a women’s right to vote to four. A new, media-savvy spirit arrived in the form of Alice Paul. She was inspired by the British suffragettes, who went on hunger strikes and endured imprisonment in the early 1900s.

Rather than conduct costly campaigns on a state-by-state basis, Paul sought the long-lasting impact of a constitutional amendment, which would protect women’s voting rights nationwide. As a member of the National American Women Suffrage Association, Paul proposed a massive pageant to whip up support and rejuvenate the movement. Washington authorities initially rejected her plan- and then tried to relegate the march to side streets. But Paul got those decisions overturned and confirmed a parade for the day before the presidential inauguration of Woodrow Wilson.

This would maximize media coverage and grab the attention of the crowds who would be in town. However, in planning the parade, Paul mainly focused on appealing to white women from all backgrounds, including those who were racist. She actively discouraged African American activists and organizations from participating- and stated that those who did so should march in the back.

But black women would not be made invisible in a national movement they helped shape. On the day of the march, Ida B. Wells-Barnett, a ground-breaking investigative journalist and anti-lynching advocate, refused to move to the back and proudly marched under the Illinois banner.

The co-founder of the NAACP, Mary Church Terrell, joined the parade with the 22 founders of the Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, an organization created by female students from Howard University. In these ways and more, black women persevered despite deep hostility from white women in the movement, and at great political and physical risk. On the day of the parade, suffragists assembled to create a powerful exhibition.

The surging sections of the procession included international suffragists, artists, performers and business-owners. Floats came in the form of golden chariots; an enormous Liberty Bell; and a map of enfranchised countries. On the steps of the Treasury Building, performers acted out the historical achievements of women to a live orchestra.

The marchers carried on even as a mob blocked the route, hurling insults and spitting at women, tossing cigars, and physically assaulting participants. The police did not intervene, and in the end, over 100 women were hospitalized. Their mistreatment, widely reported throughout the country, catapulted the parade into the public eye— and garnered suffragists greater sympathy. National newspapers lambasted the police, and Congressional hearings investigated their actions during the parade.

After the protest, the “Women’s Journal” declared, “Washington has been disgraced.” Equal suffrage has scored a great victory.” In this way, the march initiated a surge of support for women’s voting rights that endured in the coming years. Suffragists kept up steady pressure on their representatives, attended rallies, and petitioned the White House.

Inez Milholland, the woman on the white horse, campaigned constantly throughout the United States, despite suffering from chronic health problems. She did not live to see her efforts come to fruition. In 1916, she collapsed while giving a suffrage speech and died soon after. According to popular reports, her last words were, “Mr.”

President, how long must women wait for liberty?” Though full voting inclusion would take decades, in 1920, Congress ratified the 19th amendment, finally granting women the right to vote.

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youtube converter of “How one woman put man on the moon”

At roughly 4pm on July 20, 1969, mankind was just minutes away from landing on the surface of the moon. But before the astronauts began their final descent, an emergency alarm lit up.

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How one woman put man on the moon

Something was overloading the computer, and threatened to abort the landing. Back on Earth, Margaret Hamilton held her breath. She’d led the team developing the pioneering in-flight software, so she knew this mission had no room for error. But the nature of this last-second emergency would soon prove her software was working exactly as planned.

Born 33 years earlier in Paoli, Indiana, Hamilton had always been inquisitive. In college, she studied mathematics and philosophy, before taking a research position at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology to pay for grad school. Here, she encountered her first computer while developing software to support research into the new field of chaos theory. Next at MIT’s Lincoln Laboratory, Hamilton developed software for America’s first air defense system to search for enemy aircraft.

But when she heard that renowned engineer Charles Draper was looking for help sending mankind to the moon, she immediately joined his team. NASA looked to Draper and his group of over 400 engineers to invent the first compact digital flight computer, the Apollo Guidance Computer. Using input from astronauts, this device would be responsible for guiding, navigating and controlling the spacecraft. At a time when unreliable computers filled entire rooms, the AGC needed to operate without any errors, and fit in one cubic foot of space.

Draper divided the lab into two teams, one for designing hardware and one for developing software. Hamilton led the team that built the on-board flight software for both the Command and Lunar Modules. This work, for which she coined the term “software engineering,” was incredibly high stakes.” Human lives were on the line, so every program had to be perfect.

Margaret’s software needed to quickly detect unexpected errors and recover from them in real time. But this kind of adaptable program was difficult to build, since early software could only process jobs in a predetermined order. To solve this problem, Margaret designed her program to be “asynchronous,” meaning the software’s more important jobs would interrupt less important ones.” Her team assigned every task a unique priority to ensure that each job occurred in the correct order and at the right time— regardless of any surprises.

After this breakthrough, Margaret realized her software could help the astronauts work in an asynchronous environment as well. She designed Priority Displays that would interrupt astronaut’s regularly scheduled tasks to warn them of emergencies. The astronaut could then communicate with Mission Control to determine the best path forward.

This marked the first time flight software communicated directly— and asynchronously— with a pilot. It was these fail safes that triggered the alarms just before the lunar landing. Buzz Aldrin quickly realized his mistake— he’d inadvertently flipped the rendezvous radar switch.

This radar would be essential on their journey home, but here it was using up vital computational resources. Fortunately, the Apollo Guidance Computer was well equipped to manage this. During the overload, the software restart programs allowed only the highest priority jobs to be processed— including the programs necessary for landing.

The Priority Displays gave the astronauts a choice— to land or not to land. With minutes to spare, Mission Control gave the order. The Apollo 11 landing was about the astronauts, Mission Control, software and hardware all working together as an integrated system of systems.

Hamilton’s contributions were essential to the work of engineers and scientists inspired by President John F. Kennedy’s goal to reach the Moon. And her life-saving work went far beyond Apollo 11— no bugs were ever found in the in-flight software for any crewed Apollo missions. After her work on Apollo, Hamilton founded a company that uses its unique universal systems language to create breakthroughs for systems and software.

In 2003, NASA honored her achievements with the largest financial award they’d ever given to an individual. And 47 years after her software first guided astronauts to the moon, Hamilton was awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom for changing the way we think about technology.

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youtube converter of “Why should you read Flannery O’Connor”

A garrulous grandmother and a roaming bandit face off on a dirt road. A Bible salesman lures a one-legged philosopher into a barn.

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Notice: download videos and mp3 must be licensed by the version owner and used only for study and research, and not for commercial use and dissemination.

Why should you read Flannery O’Connor

A traveling handyman teaches a deaf woman her first word on an old plantation. From her farm in rural Georgia, surrounded by a flock of pet birds, Flannery O’Connor scribbled tales of outcasts, intruders and misfits staged in the world she knew best: the American South. She published two novels, but is perhaps best known for her short stories, which explored small-town life with stinging language, offbeat humor, and delightfully unsavory scenarios.

In her spare time O’Connor drew cartoons, and her writing is also brimming with caricature. In her stories, a mother has a face “as broad and innocent as a cabbage,” a man has as much drive as a “floor mop,” and one woman’s body is shaped like “a funeral urn.” The names of her characters are equally sly.

Take the story “The Life You Save May be Your Own,” where the one-handed drifter Tom Shiftlet wanders into the lives of an old woman named Lucynell Crater and her deaf and mute daughter.” Though Mrs. Crater is self-assured, her isolated home is falling apart.

At first, we may be suspicious of Shiftlet’s motives when he offers to help around the house, but O’Connor soon reveals the old woman to be just as scheming as her unexpected guest– and rattles the reader’s presumptions about who has the upper hand. For O’Connor, no subject was off limits. Though she was a devout Catholic, she wasn’t afraid to explore the possibility of pious thought and unpious behavior co-existing in the same person. In her novel The Violent Bear it Away, the main character grapples with the choice to become a man of God – but also sets fires and commits murder.

The book opens with the reluctant prophet in a particularly compromising position: “Francis Marion Tarwater’s uncle had been dead for only half a day when the boy got too drunk to finish digging his grave.” This leaves a passerby to “drag the body from the breakfast table where it was still sitting and bury it […] with enough dirt on top to keep the dogs from digging it up.” Though her own politics are still debated, O’Connor’s fiction could also be attuned to the racism of the South.

In “Everything that Rises Must Converge,” she depicts a son raging at his mother’s bigotry.” But the story reveals that he has his own blind spots and suggests that simply recognizing evil doesn’t exempt his character from scrutiny. Even as O’Connor probes the most unsavory aspects of humanity, she leaves the door to redemption open a crack. In “A Good Man is Hard to Find,” she redeems an insufferable grandmother for forgiving a hardened criminal, even as he closes in on her family.”

Though we might balk at the price the woman pays for this redemption, we’re forced to confront the nuance in moments we might otherwise consider purely violent or evil. O’Connor’s mastery of the grotesque and her explorations of the insularity and superstition of the South led her to be classified as a Southern Gothic writer. But her work pushed beyond the purely ridiculous and frightening characteristics associated with the genre to reveal the variety and nuance of human character. She knew some of this variety was uncomfortable, and that her stories could be an acquired taste – but she took pleasure in challenging her readers.

O’Connor died of lupus at the age of 39, after the disease had mostly confined her to her farm in Georgia for twelve years. During those years, she penned much of her most imaginative work. Her ability to flit between revulsion and revelation continues to draw readers to her endlessly surprising fictional worlds.

As her character Tom Shiftlet notes, the body is “like a house: it don’t go anywhere, but the spirit, lady, is like an automobile: always on the move.”

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youtube converter of “The meaning of life according to Simone de Beauvoir”

At the age of 21, Simone de Beauvoir became the youngest person to take the philosophy exams at France’s most esteemed university. She passed with flying colors.

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The meaning of life according to Simone de Beauvoir

But as soon as she mastered the rules of philosophy, she wanted to break them. She’d been schooled on Plato’s Theory of Forms, which dismissed the physical world as a flawed reflection of higher truths and unchanging ideals. But for de Beauvoir, earthly life was enthralling, sensual, and anything but static. Her desire to explore the physical world to its fullest would shape her life, and eventually, inspire a radical new philosophy.

Endlessly debating with her romantic and intellectual partner Jean Paul Sartre, de Beauvoir explored free will, desire, rights and responsibilities, and the value of personal experience. In the years following WWII, these ideas would converge into the school of thought most closely associated with their work: existentialism. Where Judeo-Christian traditions taught that humans are born with preordained purpose, de Beauvoir and Sartre proposed a revolutionary alternative.

They argued that humans are born free, and thrown into existence without a divine plan. As de Beauvoir acknowledged, this freedom is both a blessing and a burden. In “The Ethics of Ambiguity” she argued that our greatest ethical imperative is to create our own life’s meaning, while protecting the freedom of others to do the same. As de Beauvoir wrote, “A freedom which is interested only in denying freedom must be denied.”

This philosophy challenged its students to navigate the ambiguities and conflicts our desires produce, both internally and externally. And as de Beauvoir sought to find her own purpose, she began to question: if everyone deserves to freely pursue meaning, why was she restricted by society’s ideals of womanhood? Despite her prolific writing, teaching and activism, de Beauvoir struggled to be taken seriously by her male peers. She’d rejected her Catholic upbringing and marital expectations to study at university, and write memoirs, fiction and philosophy.

But the risks she was taking by embracing this lifestyle were lost on many of her male counterparts, who took these freedoms for granted. They had no intellectual interest in de Beauvoir’s work, which explored women’s inner lives, as well the author’s open relationship and bisexuality. To convey the importance of her perspective, de Beauvoir embarked on her most challenging book yet. Just as she’d created the foundations of existentialism, she’d now redefine the limits of gender.

Published in 1949, “The Second Sex” argues that, like our life’s meaning, gender is not predestined. As de Beauvoir famously wrote, “one is not born, but rather becomes, woman.” And to “become” a woman, she argued, was to become the Other.”

De Beauvoir defined Othering as the process of labeling women as less than the men who’d historically defined, and been defined as, the ideal human subjects. As the Other, she argued that women were considered second to men, and therefore systematically restricted from pursuing freedom. “The Second Sex” became an essential feminist treatise, offering a detailed history of women’s oppression and a wealth of anecdotal testimony.

“The Second Sex”’s combination of personal experience and philosophical intervention provided a new language to discuss feminist theory. Today, those conversations are still informed by de Beauvoir’s insistence that in the pursuit of equality, “there is no divorce between philosophy and life.” Of course, like any foundational work, the ideas in “The Second Sex” have been expanded upon since its publication.

Many modern thinkers have explored additional ways people are Othered that de Beauvoir doesn’t acknowledge. These include racial and economic identities, as well as the broader spectrum of gender and sexual identities we understand today. De Beauvoir’s legacy is further complicated by accusations of sexual misconduct by two of her university students.

In the face of these accusations, she had her teaching license revoked for abusing her position. In this aspect and others, de Beauvoir’s life remains controversial— and her work represents a contentious moment in the emergence of early feminism. She participated in those conversations for the rest of her life; writing fiction, philosophy, and memoirs until her death in 1986.

Today, her work offers a philosophical language to be reimagined, revisited and rebelled against— a response this revolutionary thinker might have welcomed.

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youtube converter of “How one journalist risked her life to hold murderers accountable”

In March of 1892, three Black grocery store owners in Memphis, Tennessee, were murdered by a mob of white men. Lynchings like these were happening all over the American South, often without any subsequent legal investigation or consequences for the murderers.

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How one journalist risked her life to hold murderers accountable

But this time, a young journalist and friend of the victims set out to expose the truth about these killings. Her reports would shock the nation and launch her career as an investigative journalist, civic leader, and civil rights advocate. Her name was Ida B. Wells.

Ida Bell Wells was born into slavery in Holly Springs, Mississippi on July 16, 1862, several months before the Emancipation Proclamation released her and her family. After losing both parents and a brother to yellow fever at the age of 16, she supported her five remaining siblings by working as a schoolteacher in Memphis, Tennessee. During this time, she began working as a journalist.

Writing under the pen name “Iola,” by the early 1890s she gained a reputation as a clear voice against racial injustice and become co-owner and editor of the Memphis Free Speech and Headlight newspaper.” She had no shortage of material: in the decades following the Civil War, Southern whites attempted to reassert their power by committing crimes against Black people including suppressing their votes, vandalizing their businesses, and even murdering them. After the murder of her friends, Wells launched an investigation into lynching. She analyzed specific cases through newspaper reports and police records, and interviewed people who had lost friends and family to lynch mobs.

She risked her life to get this information. As a Black person investigating racially motivated murders, she enraged many of the same southern white men involved in lynchings. Her bravery paid off. Most whites had claimed and subsequently reported that lynchings were responses to criminal acts by Black people.

But that was not usually the case. Through her research, Wells showed that these murders were actually a deliberate, brutal tactic to control or punish black people who competed with whites. Her friends, for example, had been lynched when their grocery store became popular enough to divert business from a white competitor.

Wells published her findings in 1892. In response, a white mob destroyed her newspaper presses. She was out of town when they struck, but they threatened to kill her if she ever returned to Memphis. So she traveled to New York, where that same year she re-published her research in a pamphlet titled Southern Horrors: Lynch Law in All Its Phases.

In 1895, after settling in Chicago, she built on Southern Horrors in a longer piece called The Red Record. Her careful documentation of the horrors of lynching and impassioned public speeches drew international attention. Wells used her newfound fame to amplify her message.

She traveled to Europe, where she rallied European outrage against racial violence in the American South in hopes that the US government and public would follow their example. Back in the US, she didn’t hesitate to confront powerful organizations, fighting the segregationist policies of the YMCA and leading a delegation to the White House to protest discriminatory workplace practices. She did all this while disenfranchised herself.

Women didn’t win the right to vote until Wells was in her late 50s. And even then, the vote was primarily extended to white women only. Wells was a key player in the battle for voting inclusion, starting a Black women’s suffrage organization in Chicago. But in spite of her deep commitment to women’s rights, she clashed with white leaders of the movement.

During a march for women’s suffrage in Washington D.C., she ignored the organizers’ attempt to placate Southern bigotry by placing Black women in the back, and marched up front alongside the white women. She also chafed with other civil rights leaders, who saw her as a dangerous radical.

She insisted on airing, in full detail, the atrocities taking place in the South, while others thought doing so would be counterproductive to negotiations with white politicians. Although she participated in the founding of the NAACP, she was soon sidelined from the organization. Wells’ unwillingness to compromise any aspect of her vision of justice shined a light on the weak points of the various rights movements, and ultimately made them stronger— but also made it difficult for her to find a place within them. She was ahead of her time, waging a tireless struggle for equality and justice decades before many had even begun to imagine it possible.

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youtube converter of “Ugly history”

On December 7, 1941, 16 year-old Aki Kurose shared in the horror of millions of Americans when Japanese planes attacked Pearl Harbor. What she did not know, was how that shared experience would soon leave her family and over 120,000 Japanese Americans alienated from their country, both socially and physically.

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Ugly history

As of 1941, Japanese American communities had been growing in the US for over 50 years. About one-third of them were immigrants, many of whom settled on the West Coast and had lived there for decades. The rest were born as American citizens, like Aki.

Born Akiko Kato in Seattle, Aki grew up in a diverse neighborhood where she never thought of herself as anything but American– until the day after the attack, when a teacher told her: “You people bombed Pearl Harbor.”” Amid racism, paranoia, and fears of sabotage, people labelled Japanese Americans as potential traitors. FBI agents began to search homes, confiscate belongings and detain community leaders without trial. Aki’s family was not immediately subjected to these extreme measures, but on February 19, 1942, President Roosevelt issued Executive Order 9066.

The order authorized the removal of any suspected enemies– including anyone of even partial Japanese heritage– from designated ‘military areas.’ At first, Japanese Americans were pushed to leave restricted areas and migrate inland. But as the government froze their bank accounts and imposed local restrictions such as curfews, many were unable to leave– Aki’s family among them. In March, a proclamation forbid Japanese Americans from changing their residency, trapping them in military zones.

In May, the army moved Aki and her family, along with over 7,000 Japanese Americans living in Seattle to “Camp Harmony” in Puyallup, Washington. This was one of several makeshift detention centers at former fairgrounds and racetracks, where entire families were packed into poorly converted stables and barracks. Over the ensuing months, the army moved Japanese Americans into long-term camps in desolate areas of the West and South, moving Aki and her family to Minidoka in southern Idaho.

Guarded by armed soldiers, many of these camps were still being constructed when incarcerees moved in. These hastily built prisons were overcrowded and unsanitary. People frequently fell ill and were unable to receive proper medical care.

The War Relocation Authority relied on incarcerees to keep the camps running. Many worked in camp facilities or taught in poorly equipped classrooms, while others raised crops and animals. Some Japanese Americans rebelled, organizing labor strikes and even rioting.

But many more, like Aki’s parents, endured. They constantly sought to recreate some semblance of life outside the camps, but the reality of their situation was unavoidable. Like many younger incarcerees, Aki was determined to leave her camp.

She finished her final year of high school at Minidoka, and with the aid of an anti-racist Quaker organization, she was able to enroll at Friends University in Kansas. For Aki’s family however, things wouldn’t begin to change until late 1944. A landmark Supreme Court case ruled that continued detention of American citizens without charges was unconstitutional. In the fall of 1945, the war ended and the camps closed down.

Remaining incarcerees were given a mere $25 and a train ticket to their pre-war address, but many no longer had a home or job to return to. Aki’s family had been able to keep their apartment, and Aki eventually returned to Seattle after college. However, post-war prejudice made finding work difficult.

Incarcarees faced discrimination and resentment from workers and tenants who replaced them. Fortunately, Japanese Americans weren’t alone in the fight against racial discrimination. Aki found work with one of Seattle’s first interracial labor unions and joined the Congress of Racial Equality.

She became a teacher, and over the next several decades, her advocacy for multicultural, socially conscious education would impact thousands of students. However, many ex-incarcerees, particularly members of older generations, were unable to rebuild their lives after the war. Children of incarcerees began a movement calling for the United States to atone for this historic injustice. In 1988, the US government officially apologized for the wartime incarceration– admitting it was the catastrophic result of racism, hysteria, and failed political leadership.

Three years after this apology, Aki Kurose was awarded the Human Rights Award from the Seattle Chapter of the United Nations, celebrating her vision of peace and respect for people of all backgrounds.

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Transcriber: Andrea McDonough Reviewer: Jessica Ruby Nowadays, we take curiosity for granted. We believe that if we put in the hard work, we might one day stand before the pyramids, discover a new species of flower, or even go to the moon.

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The contributions of female explorers

But, in the 18th and 19th century, female eyes gazed out windows at a world they were unlikely to ever explore. Life for women in the time of Queen Victoria was largely relegated to house chores and gossip. And, although they devoured books on exotic travel, most would never would leave the places in which they were born.

However, there were a few Victorian women, who, through privilege, endurance, and not taking “no” for an answer, did set sail for wilder shores. In 1860, Marianne North, an amateur gardener and painter, crossed the ocean to America with letters of introduction, an easel, and a love of flowers. She went on to travel to Jamaica, Peru, Japan, India, Australia. In fact, she went to every continent except Antarctica in pursuit of new flowers to paint.

“I was overwhelmed with the amount of subjects to be painted,” she wrote. “The hills were marvelously blue, piled one over the other beyond them. I never saw such abundance of pure color.” With no planes or automobiles and rarely a paved street, North rode donkeys, scaled cliffs, and crossed swamps to reach the plants she wanted.

And all this in the customary dress of her day, floor-length gowns. As photography had not yet been perfected, Marianne’s paintings gave botanists back in Europe their first glimpses of some of the world’s most unusual plants, like the giant pitcher plant of Borneo, the African torch lily, and the many other species named for her as she was the first European to catalog them in the wild. Meanwhile, back in London, Miss Mary Kingsley was the sheltered daughter of a traveling doctor who loved hearing her father’s tales of native customs in Africa.

Midway through writing a book on the subject, her father fell ill and died. So, Kingsley decided she would finish the book for him. Peers of her father advised her not to go, showing her maps of tropical diseases, but she went anyhow, landing in modern-day Sierra Leone in 1896 with two large suitcases and a phrase book.

Traveling into the jungle, she was able to confirm the existence of a then-mythical creature, the gorilla. She recalls fighting with crocodiles, being caught in a tornado, and tickling a hippopotamus with her umbrella so that he’d leave the side of her canoe. Falling into a spiky pit, she was saved from harm by her thick petticoat. “A good snake properly cooked is one of the best meals one gets out here,” she wrote.

Think Indiana Jones was resourceful? Kingsley could out-survive him any day! But when it comes to breaking rules, perhaps no female traveler was as daring as Alexandra David-Neel. Alexandra, who had studied Eastern religions at home in France, wanted desperately to prove herself to Parisian scholars of the day, all of whom were men. She decided the only way to be taken seriously was to visit the fabled city of Lhasa in the mountains of Tibet. “People will have to say, ‘This woman lived among the things she’s talking about.

She touched them and she saw them alive,'” she wrote. When she arrived at the border from India, she was forbidden to cross. So, she disguised herself as a Tibetan man. Dressed in a yak fur coat and a necklace of carved skulls, she hiked through the barren Himilayas all the way to Lhasa, where she was subsequently arrested.

She learned that the harder the journey, the better the story, and went on to write many books on Tibetan religion, which not only made a splash back in Paris but remain important today. These brave women, and others like them, went all over the world to prove that the desire to see for oneself not only changes the course of human knowledge, it changes the very idea of what is possible. They used the power of curiosity to try and understand the viewpoints and peculiarities of other places, perhaps because they, themselves, were seen as so unusual in their own societies. But their journeys revealed to them something more than the ways of foreign lands, they revealed something only they, themselves, could find: a sense of their own self.

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“From the tip of every branch, like a fat purple fig, a wonderful future beckoned and winked… but choosing one meant losing all the rest, and, as I sat there, unable to decide, the figs began to wrinkle and go black, and, one by one, they plopped to the ground at my feet.” In this passage from Sylvia Plath’s “The Bell Jar,” a young woman imagines an uncertain future– and speaks to the universal fear of becoming paralyzed by the prospect of making the wrong choice.

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Why should you read Sylvia Plath

Although she considered other careers, Plath chose the artist’s way. Poetry was her calling. Under her shrewd eye and pen, everyday objects became haunting images: a “new statue in a drafty museum,” a shadow in a mirror, a slab of soap.” Fiercely intelligent, penetrating and witty, Plath was also diagnosed with clinical depression.

She used poetry to explore her own states of mind in the most intimate terms, and her breathtaking perspectives on emotion, nature and art continue to captivate and resonate. In her first collection of poems, “The Colossus,” she wrote of a feeling of nothingness: “white: it is a complexion of the mind. At the same time, she found solace in nature, from “a blue mist” “dragging the lake,” to white flowers that “tower and topple,” to blue mussels “clumped like bulbs.”

After “The Colossus” she published “The Bell Jar,” her only novel, which fictionalizes the time she spent working for Mademoiselle magazine in New York during college. The novel follows its heroine, Esther, as she slides into a severe depressive episode, but also includes wickedly funny and shrewd depictions of snobby fashion parties and dates with dull men. Shortly after the publication of “The Bell Jar,” Plath died by suicide at age 30. Two years later, the collection of poems she wrote in a burst of creative energy during the months before her death was published under the title “Ariel.

” Widely considered her masterpiece, Ariel exemplifies the honesty and imagination Plath harnessed to capture her pain. In one of “Ariel’s” most forceful poems, “Lady Lazarus,” she explores her attempts to take her own life through Lazarus, the biblical figure who rose from the dead. She writes, “and I a smiling woman/ I am only thirty/ And like the cat I have nine times to die.” But the poem is also a testament to survival: “I rise with my red hair/ And I eat men like air.”

This unflinching language has made Plath an important touchstone for countless other readers and writers who sought to break the silence surrounding issues of trauma, frustration, and sexuality. “Ariel” is also filled with moving meditations on heartbreak and creativity. The title poem begins “Stasis in darkness/ Then the substanceless blue/ Pour of tor and distances.”

This sets the scene for a naked ride on horseback in the early morning— one of Plath’s most memorable expressions of the elation of creative freedom. But it is also full of foreboding imagery, such as “a child’s cry” that “melts in the wall” and a “red/eye, the cauldron of morning.” This darkness is echoed throughout the collection, which includes controversial references to the holocaust and the Kamikazes. Even the relics of seemingly happier times are described as crucifying the author: “My husband and child smiling out of the family photo; Their smiles catch onto my skin, little smiling hooks.”

Her domestic dissatisfaction and her husband’s mistreatment of her are constant themes in her later poetry. After her death, he inherited her estate, and has been accused of excluding some of her work from publication. Despite these possible omissions and her untimely death, what survives is one of the most extraordinary bodies of work by a twentieth century poet.

While her work can be shocking in its rage and trauma, Plath casts her readers as witnesses– not only to the truth of her psychological life, but to her astounding ability to express what often remains inexpressible.

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