Partnering with Little Free Library, the Minneapolis Police Department is converting a pair of police cruisers into bookmobiles in the hopes of promoting literacy and teaching the importance of reading. While making normal rounds on Minneapolis’ North and South sides, policing officers will be carrying and handing out books. The officers will remain ready to respond to certain types of emergencies, but will not be dispatched to calls, allowing them ample time to visit neighborhoods without libraries and give books away to anyone who wants them. Organizers note that this is the first program of its time in the U.S. Normally, Little Free Libraries are stationary boxes that look a bit like oversized birdhouses or mailboxes. The Minneapolis Police Department has also helped to install many of the stationary libraries, assembling the miniature houses for installation along the cities’ residential streets. Police Chief Medaria Arradondo believes that officers helping out the community like this is “an incredible way to empower our youth and reach them in a positive way.” Children and parents are encouraged to flag down the new police bookmobiles, recognizable by the “WE SHARE BOOKS!
” decals on the sides of the cars. Hopefully this initiative will help bring the joy of reading to children who otherwise would have a hard time getting access to books!
Public TV Station in Puerto Rico Forced to Shut Down in Hurricane Aftermath
The PBS affiliate in Puerto Rico is off the air indefinitely in the wake of Hurricane Maria’s destruction. Sistema TV in San Juan is licensed to private university Sistema Universitario Ana G. Méndez. University President José F. Méndez Méndez announced in a statement that the decision to shut down the station was a difficult one, but the school remains focused on ensuring current students are able to complete academic terms. The station’s infrustructure had been damaged by Hurricane Maria
, and requires a good deal of attention before it could recover from the damage. Both Hurricanes Irma and Maria knocked broadcasters in Puerto Rico off the air and devastated the island’s communication networks, leaving most of the island without electricity since Maria hit on September 20th
. CPB, which funds Sistema TV, reportedly provided $30,000 to help the station recover from damage, though it is unclear yet how and when those funds will be used. CPB has also paid for engineers to travel to Puerto Rico to help San Juan station WIPR retore its FM signal. Sistema TV achor Mardelis Jusino Ortiz reported being without words upon hearing of the station’s shutdown. Hopefully funds and donations will allow the station to eventually recover from the damage so Puerto Rican residents can have access to news and other valuable public-access programming.
Tricking the Eye: Best Illusions of the Year
Remember those Magic Eye illusions you used to look at as a kid? The Best Illusion of the Year Contest, now in its 13th year, makes a point of celebrating artistic creations meant to trick the human eye. Each year, online voters around the world decide the winners, with cash prizes going to the top three places. This year, first place went to “Shape from Motion Only,” a shape perception illusion created by a team at Tel Aviv University in Israel. Second place went to a new rendering of what is known as the “Cafe Wall shape distortion effect,” created by a U.S. artist and magician; third place went to a classical geometric illusion created by an Italian visual artist. In a piece for Scientific American, Susana Martinez-Conde interviewed the winners about their creations and how they tell us about our brains and daily perceptual experiences. Second place winner Victoria Skye, for example, explains that her illusion teaches us we cannot trust our perception as light and its variances affect what we think we see–she extends this lesson to daily life: “We cannot take things at face value. This can be applied to teaching moments on how the brain distorts things. For instance, when we judge people at first sight, it doesn’t mean what you see is the truth.” Want to see these intriguing illusions and learn more about how the artists discovered them? Read on <HERE
A Med School Theater Troupe Breaking the Mold
When people think of medical school, they think of long hours, endless studying, and brutal exams–they don’t usually think of theater. But a student-run theater company at Columbia University’s College of Physicians and Surgeons may change all that: every member of the Bard Hall Players
is studying to join the medical profession. Founded in 1967, the troupe produces three shows a year, with each production put together entirely by medical students–including sets, costumes, orchestra, and lighting. Fourth-year medical student Sam Bruce explains: “Medical school can be very stressful. You need an outlet where the people are a little bit more forgiving. You can’t go into a patient’s room and look like you’re having a bad day. You have to leave that all at the door.” The Bard Hall Players aren’t even the only artistic group at the College of Physicians and Surgeons–the school also has an a cappella group called The Ultrasounds, class-year-specific bands (the second year’s is called the Flu Fighters), and a symphony composed of both students and staff. Students of all experience levels can join the Bard Hall Players. Many find that their time on stage helps them with their medical training: “You get time to dive into the human experience,” explains one medical student. “A lot of times, you need to put yourself in the shows of patients. It keeps you grounded in the human experience.” What a truly delightful opportunity for these medical students! It would be incredible if medical schools across the globe could incorporate troupes and programs like these to allow students to explore and enjoy their own creativity!