Archive for: August, 2017

Vaiana/Moana: the real life edition

Aug 31 2017 Published by under Decisions

The other day I watched the 2016 Disney movie "Vaiana*" with my two sons. We all really liked it and I think my kids have watched it about five times since we watched it together. For those three people who haven't seen it or heard about it: it's a Polynesian inspired movie about the daughter of an island chief who gets chosen by the ocean to find the half god Maui and save the islands.

However, around two thirds into the movie, Vaiana realizes that it is a very difficult task and at some point she talks to the ghost of her grandmother who inspired her to go on this quest and says that it is just too hard. At that point, I thought how funny and awesome at the same time it would be if the movie would just end there. The lesson would be that sometimes, you find yourself on a very difficult journey, in the presence of a narcissistic half god (wait, is this a metaphor for some academic labs?!) and you realize that it is just too hard. And that it is fine to realize this and decide you're going to do something else. You've learned things on the journey that have made you stronger and more experienced, but at the same time you realize that this journey is not for you. Wouldn't it be good for kids to learn that there is no shame in deciding to give up sometimes?

But of course, this is a Disney film and not real life. So I guess I'm not really spoiling anything by telling that it does not actually stop there.

 

* when writing this post I found out that the movie is actually called Moana in English speaking countries and Vaiana in some (?) European countries.

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What I read over the summer

Aug 25 2017 Published by under books, personal posts

It has been much quieter here on the blog than I had hoped, but the first half of this year has significantly kicked my butt. Every time I tried to put my thoughts about that on paper it did not lead to anything coherent and/or blogable. But then I had a really nice break over the summer, which even allowed me to read books!

Living a Feminist Life - Sara Ahmed: I had been following Sara Ahmed on twitter for a while but so far I had never read any feminist literature. Reading Sara's book was great because she is able to put in words what it means to experience sexism and racism and what it feels like to address those issues, sometimes over and over. Her style is interesting, as it very much reads like a flow of thoughts, which made some parts hard to follow at first.

Homo Deus - Yuval Noah Harari: This was a gift from my brother and is actually the sequal to the book Sapiens, but I started with this one and have Sapiens still waiting for me. In this book, Harari talks about how things like famine, plague and war have been transformed from incomprehensible and uncontrollable forces of nature into manageable challenges for human beings. I thought that the first part of this book sounded a bit 'splainy to me, but I was especially impressed with the second part of the book where Harari talks about how we see the human brain as a collection of algorithms, that cannot compete with the algorithms that humans are creating at the moment, or will create in the future. I was impressed by his ability to think outside of what we currently know and experience and describe what the future might be like when computer-algorithms become better than biological algorithms (which I guess is already the case right now for some specific tasks).

The angel's game (in Dutch: Het spel van de engel) - Carlos Ruiz Safon - This book had been sitting on my bookshelf for nearly 8 years. Together with my husband and brother I had given it to my grandmother for her 80th birthday. She brought it on vacation with her into the mountains, read until page 28 and died in her sleep of a massive stroke. My mom wrote down where my grandmother was in the book after she passed away when she drove to meet my grandfather at their vacation destination and later gave the book back to me. It took me 8 years to not get so incredibly sad when I picked up this book that I could actually start reading it and think about the awesome person my grandmother was, and how weird it still is that she isn't around anymore. With respect to the book: it is a good vacation book, because the story just pulls you in. But it is not a mind-blowing story and it sounds and feels very similar to Shadow of the Wind, the bestseller Ruiz Safon wrote earlier.

What about you, dear reader of this blog (if you are still around), have you read any of these books or do did you read anything else worth sharing during the summer?

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