Stuff YOU Should Know

Posted by on Nov 17, 2015 in Stuff You Should Know

Russian Jet Crash Suspicious

Last month, a Russian airliner exploded over the Sinai Peninsula in Egypt. All 224 passengers were killed. Unlike the Malaysian plane that disappeared over the Indian Ocean last year, however, the United States is not involved in the investigation. (There were no Americans on the flight, which would have given our FBI access to the investigation.) President Obama did make a statement, speculating if the crash was caused by an on-board bomb.

However, Russian President Vladimir Putin admonished British Prime Minister David Cameron for suggesting the crash was an act of terror. But there is evidence to suspect foul play. The U.S. military reported seeing a flash of light on satellite surveillance that was likely to be an explosion. It was reported that the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) had previously issued a warning to airlines that planes fly higher above that region as a safety measure. The head of the Federal Air Transport Agency in Russia said that investigators would be examining the wreckage for traces of explosive substances.

Dig Deeper Continue to follow this story, noting any new developments as to the cause of the crash and, if determined to be a terrorist attack, any motivation behind the incident.

Charlie Brown & Co Hit the Big Screen

The new Peanuts movie is getting really good reviews. The Peanuts Movie is the first theatrical release of the comic strip franchise in 35 years. (There have been four previous movies, the last being 1980’s Bon Voyage, Charlie Brown (and Don’t Come Back!). In 2006, six years after creator Charles Schultz died in  at the age of 77, his son Craig and grandson Bryan started working on a script. They sought out director Steve Martino because they liked his work on the 2008 adaptation of Dr. Seuss’ Horton Hears a Who.

Blue Sky Studios (the folks responsible for computer animation films like the Ice Age and Rio franchises) became involved in 2012. While the look of the film is state-of-the-art contemporary, the creators worked very hard to remain true to the spirit of the original comic strip. One of the few criticisms has been that the ending might be a little “too happy,” which is counter to the fate of the classically despondent Charlie Brown.

What Do You Think? NPR recently reported a story on the creation of Franklin, the strip’s first African American Peanuts character, which you can watch here. Do you have a favorite Peanuts character? If so, who is it and why? Do a little research into his or her creation and evolution.

Canada’s New Prime Minister

Justin Trudeau, of the Liberal Party of Canada, was recently sworn in as the country’s Prime Minister (PM). (Like Great Britain, the government of Canada is a “constitutional monarchy,” where the monarch—the Queen of England—holds symbolic power, while the Prime Minister is considered the country’s chief executive, equivalent to our president.)

Trudeau, 43, is the eldest son of former two-term PM Pierre Trudeau (1968-1979 and 1980-1984). He defeated incumbent Stephen Harper of the Conservative Party of Canada.

Low-angle view of a Canadian flag

The new Canadian prime minister made history, recently with his advisory appointments. Credit: ©Inti St Clair/Blend Images LLC.

Trudeau campaigned on a platform to reject austerity measures (a government practice of raising taxes and cutting the national budget in times of economic downturn). The country is anticipating many changes because of the shift in political majority from Conservative to Liberal, including an increase in public spending as well as an increase in hosting Syrian refugees. It was recently announced that half of the members of Trudeau’s new cabinet (whose role it is to advise the PM on various areas of expertise) will be women.

Dig Deeper After being sworn in, a journalist asked Trudeau why having a gender-balanced cabinet was so important. He responded, “Because it’s 2015.” Do some research and find out which countries have the most women represented in high governmental positions. List the top five.

Does Worrying Actually Help?

In the new Steven Spielberg thriller Bridge of Spies, Tom Hanks’ character questions a courtroom defendant, saying, “Aren’t you worried?” to which the man responds, “Would it help?” It’s a good question and one featured in a recent study published by the journal Emotion. Researchers from the University of California, Riverside spent four months studying 230 law school students as they waited for the results of the bar exam.

The responses of the students were divided into three categories—those who attempted to suppress fears; those who tried to find a “silver lining” in potential bad news; and those who practiced “defensive pessimism,” coming up with hypothetical solutions to “what if” questions. After receiving the results of the bar exam, those in the latter category responded better to bad news and experienced more joy at hearing good news. This study was different than previous ones that have focused strictly on the end result rather than the uncertainty of not knowing. Another finding of the study showed that active waiting mechanisms like exercise and cleaning out a closet were better coping mechanisms than passive ones, like watching television.

What Do You Think? Are you a worrier? If so, explain how you attempt to cope with stress while waiting for news. If not, explain your answer; have you always been a non-worrier, or did you learn to overcome it?