The Weekly Tally 09.05.19

WHO’S IN TOWN?

“No matter where you travel in the world, there will always be a tourist attraction,” writes Los Gatos-based photographer Oliver Klink in a statement introducing his photographic project, Cultures in Transition. As tourists we spend just a little time at these attractions, and we leave thinking we know the people there, but it’s just an illusion. Klink spent 15 years visiting and photographing five Asian countries – Bhutan, Myanmar, Mongolia, China and India – traveling what he calls the “last mile,” that reveals the people who live there. He sought to capture the rapid transitions taking place as their countries turn more commercial and urban. His goal was to capture the subtleties of changes in people’s emotions, culture and spirituality. Klink is in town this week to present a slideshow.

6:30pm, Wed Sept. 11. McCone Irvine Auditorium, 499 Pierce St., Monterey. Free. middlebury.edu/institute/events.

FREE SPEECH

Two years ago, conservative commentator Ben Shapiro spoke at University of Wisconsin, Madison. After 18 students screamed “Shame!” and “Safety!” at him, drowning out the first part of his speech, Shapiro responded with “Are you done yet?” among other jeers. The protesters quieted down and he continued his monologue. Two months later, Wisconsin lawmakers introduced a bill allowing the UW school system to discipline students for “violent, abusive, indecent, profane… or other disorderly conduct that interferes with the free expression of others.” The bill died, but has now been reintroduced in the state legislature. There has been pushback from Democrats, none of whom voted for the bill in 2017, calling it vague and “completely open to interpretation.” Similar incidents highlight the debate over campus free speech and the role universities play (or fail to play) in exposing students to ideas they disagree with. Students have clashed with speakers, some of them peddling messages of hate, on numerous campuses.

GOOD WEEK / BAD WEEK

GOOD:

The odds of winning a sweepstakes are low. That makes it especially sweet that Seaside’s MLK School of the Arts Principal Sam Humphrey won Nutella’s “Who Makes Your Morning Happy?” contest, with a $15,000 prize (he donated part of that to the school). Humphrey was nominated by Kera Abraham, a parent of an MLK student (and a former Weekly staffer), who submitted an essay to Nutella about Humphrey’s positive morning ritual, starting with all 415 students in the auditorium. “‘Fired up?’ Principal Humphrey asks into the mic. ‘Ready to learn!’ the kids and teachers respond in unison. ‘¡Adelante!’ the principal shouts. ‘¡Adelante!’ the students shout back.” His philsophy? “Some of our students endure a lot of hardships in the morning before getting to school. Giving them just five minutes of energy, enthusiasm, dancing and celebrating gives them the restart they need to have a great day.”

BAD:

Despite their epic comeback, sea otters don’t have it easy. Researchers have long been trying to understand why the population has stagnated, and a study published Aug. 21 in Proceedings of the Royal Society: Biological Sciences, has a partial answer: Toxoplasma gondii, which causes toxoplasmosis, via cat poop. (It­­­ can also infect humans, which is why pregnant women are advised not to clean litter boxes.) Toxoplasmosis is the cause of death in only 3 percent of otter deaths, but the study definitively establishes a link between pollution on land and wildlife in the sea. Cats get the parasite from eating infected birds or rats, then pass it along in their feces. “We hope we can rethink the way that we house our cats,” lead author Karen Shapiro says. “But there’s also the larger perspective of how we construct our surroundings.” One solution: conserving wetlands, which can help filter pollutants.

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