The Upside Show Notes – Episode 11

Hi again, this is Jacqui presenting the Upside, episode number 11, a show that highlights some of the positive developments in recent events from around the world. How are you doing? I’ll be honest and admit that I am a bit tired today after having a long week, with my first two big assignments due yesterday for uni and a 7 hour road trip each way to visit my husband’s family in Queensland. We got back last night. I hope this past week has been restful for you and that you’ve had time to appreciate the good in your life. Perhaps you’ve discovered something wonderful, whether tiny or huge, in your own neck of the woods.

For this week’s Upside, an admittedly random-ish collection of news but hey – it’s all good. I didn’t have a lot of time to pull a themed set of stories together for you, my apologies. Of course we do have a lot of new indie and pop tunes to get through this Tuesday afternoon, so do stay tuned to hear three upsides of the news, at 2:30, 3, and 3:30pm.

2:30pm An early image from the JWST

NASA, along with the ESA and CSA, have revealed the first image from the James Webb Space Telescope, which was launched into orbit just over six months ago, ahead of the full image release later tonight. As a reminder, the JWST is the most powerful telescope ever launched into space and intended to succeed the Hubble as NASA’s flagship mission in astrophysics. It is peering into the universe from its observation point more than 1 million km from Earth.

The first image is of what scientists are calling “Webb’s First Deep Field,” and shows a galaxy cluster named SMACS 0723. Apparently this image reveals – in great detail, for the first time, and other superlatives – what these stars and systems looked like… 4.6 billion years ago… which just blows my mind. To quote from the official press release accompanying the image, “This slice of the vast universe covers a patch of sky approximately the size of a grain of sand held at arm’s length by someone on the ground.”

I won’t try to describe the visual to you on the radio aside from saying it’s a beautiful photograph. The link is in the show notes.

Load up the countdown clock to see how much longer you have to wait for the full set, which will be able to view at: https://www.nasa.gov/webbfirstimages

3pm Avoiding the News

Our next story is a bit of a curve-ball. It’s not a news story per se, it’s a recommendation to a thought-provoking opinion piece in The Washington Post about avoiding the news.

Written by Amanda Ripley, a journalist and author with several decades experience covering the usual set of dismal world events familiar to anyone who consumes a news report, I found much to relate to in this piece: the repetition of depressing events without so much as a mention of actions one could take to try to change things for the better, in particular, really resonated with me.

I’d like to read a few quotes from the piece, which is linked in the show notes.

She writes that, “It felt like my duty to be informed, as a citizen and as a journalist…. Usually, it made me feel more curious, not less. But half a dozen years ago, something changed. The news started to get under my skin.”

So Ripley started making an effort to cut back on her news consumption, but hearing about current events whether global or local can be unavoidable if you also try to keep up with friends, whether in person or on social media.

Here’s where the piece gets interesting, and why I’m using this time I have on the radio to tell you about it:

“And that gets to the heart of the problem here: If so many of us [journalists] feel poisoned by our products, might there be something wrong with them?”

She then discusses what the issues with typical news reporting might be:

“Today’s news, even high-quality print news, is not designed for humans. As Krista Tippett, the journalist and host of the radio show and podcast ‘On Being,’ puts it, ‘I don’t actually think we are equipped, physiologically or mentally, to be delivered catastrophic and confusing news and pictures, 24/7. We are analog creatures in a digital world.’”

Ripley describes how she spent the last year investigating how news designed for us humans might work, including alternative perspectives and presentation formats like solutions journalism, and more. I highly recommend reading the piece as it includes some unique, fresh and constructive ideas on staying informed while remaining sane and at least relatively happy.

The Washington Post – Opinion: I stopped reading the news. Is the problem me — or the product?

3:30pm Recommendations

For our final segment, a slightly different sort of round-up.

I appreciate you listening to this program and realise there are many other ways you could spend your time. The last upside, about current affairs, despair and ways to be an empowered and informed happy global citizen, mentioned a radio show and podcast called On Being, which is a program I absolutely love. With that in mind, I thought I’d recommend some other programs you could lend an ear to, recent excellent novels to be immersed in, and a good tv show or two.

So, a link to On Being, a program exploring the meaning of being human and our interactions with each other, is well worth your time. Each episode features an intriguing and inspiring interview with a truly diverse set of individuals, including physicists, poets, and leaders from various religious faiths.

Next, another podcast, The Happiness Lab, hosted by Dr. Laurie Santos, a professor at Yale University in the US. Over the course of her career researching what makes us happy and why we often end up doing the opposite, Santos has reworked her very popular psychology course — “the most popular class in [Yale]’s 300-year history” — into a podcast show full of inspiring stories and ideas on how to be… happy.

A couple of final quick recommendations for podcasts:

Song Exploder, each episode features a different musician taking apart how a song was made.

The Moth, where anyone can get up on stage (and on air) to tell a story, started in NYC and is now global, with story-telling events in cities all around the world including Australia.

And if you’re interested in Buddhism at all and want a straightforward, non-religious discussion of its topics and how they apply to your daily life, I recommend the Secular Buddhism podcast.

I think I’ve mentioned a novel or two that I’ve enjoyed already on this show, and here are a couple more: if you really want to be distracted from your daily life and get immersed in a story of existence and outer space – with a sense of humour – I highly recommend you check out Project Hail Mary, by Andy Weir, author of The Martian.

I’ve pointed out Great Circle on this show already, link in the show notes to this wonderful globe-trotting aviation adventure story.

A few more: Klara and the Sun by Nobel Prize winner Kazuo Ishiguro, a story about robots and an exploration of what makes us human; Sea of Tranquility by Emily St John Mandel, author of the very popular Station Eleven, this book goes from steam ships to a colony on the moon; and lastly, another recent novel called Black Cake by Charmaine Wilkerson, a story of family, love, adventure and legacy that I found fascinating and compelling.

As for television, my gosh there are so many TV shows aren’t there? I won’t list a bunch as this segment has already gone a bit long, but I will merely point out that the new season of What We Do In The Shadows starts today, though I haven’t yet figured out where to stream it in Australia.

Have a great week!

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