This story seems to be set in some sort of future on Earth. We know this because countries like the U.S. (where the characters are located) and Japan are mentioned. However, the way of living in this new world is much different than ours. Commanders and their wives seem to be at the top of the social status as they own the houses and do very little of the chores, Guardians are generally police or other servants such as drivers and bodyguards, Marthas, as they are called, are cooks, and Handmaids (the main character is a handmaid) are there to do chores around the house and run errands. We are introduced to the main characters peers, Rita and Cora, but we don’t formally know the name of the main character yet. The world that they live in seems dominated by religion and there is allusion to war between these religions. So far the book describes the area that they live in and how pieces of an older time, perhaps not far from now, are still here in the form of old re-purposed buildings and stores.
I have not necessarily read many dystopian novels before so this is very interesting to me. I like the mystery of trying to figure out why things are this way and what secrets lie beneath.
The book does take place on Earth and several settings such as old buildings like gyms and stores. There are still cars and plants so it is more of a progression or alternate fate of our world.
I will comment on Elizabeth and Melia's blogs
This article, written by Jamie Robinson, adapted from an article by The Spaces, "Tropicalia: World’s Largest Single-Domed Tropical Greenhouse is Coming to France" found on CNN was published on 5th of April, 2018. Additional info from Huh. Magazine and Coldefy & Associates Architects Urbanists
This article talks about a new greenhouse being developed by the architecture practice Coldefy and Associates. This tropical haven is described as a “bubble of harmony” by the designing group.
This 215,000 square foot greenhouse will be built in Rang-du-Fliers, Pas-de-Calais in France showcasing many different species and plants. The structure will be created with materials that capture heat and will be designed in a way that it can be self regulating. By naturally heating the inside, the harsher weathers of a French department near the British channel will not be an issue. Included in the lush surroundings will be many water features such as waterfalls and very large pools structured to make a proper habitat for the animals and species living in it. The whole design will put the environment in the limelight and will try to minimize the harsh man made obstacles like beams or pillars. Even though the building takes up an abundance of space, its ecological footprint will be very small. In addition to being self regulating, the greenhouse will be a very green design in the sense that it will be able to protect the landscape that it houses and even divert energy to other buildings nearby. The project is estimated to start in 2019 and open its doors in 2021.
This place is designed to create a “harmonious world” with its design of lush forest. The whole experience is to reconnect you to nature and enjoy what it has to offer. The creators have designed it as a place for curiosity and enjoyment whether it be for education or for fun. They do not talk much about why they decided to make this but as most architectural designs, it is created with a purpose. While making this greenhouse they are also being conscious to be ecologically friendly and not use any more resources than needed.
I believe this is a great concept. The way that it is designed so as to blend in with the environment literally and environmentally makes it all the more enticing. I chose this article because among the news about despair and increasing violence everywhere, this was like a beacon of light and peace. There will be many other amenities, and even labs and clinics devoted to studying and helping the creatures of this environment.
I will comment on Melia and Ricky's blog
This article, written by Tal Kopan, "DACA 'deadline' marks only inaction" was found on CNN published on Monday Mar 5, 2018
This article details the back and forth of the DACA situation. Many agencies including the Department of Homeland security, and almost all of the branches of government are involved in this dispute. Being a topic that has been in discussion for a while, each party has some aspect to the situation that counters anothers.
Pending a decision in Congress, President Trump set a deadline of March 5 to make a decision regarding the status of DACA (or Defered Action for Child Arrivals). The deadline came and went but there was no decision. The Department of Homeland Security would renew some permits but by the 5th permits would no longer be useful. As usual with this back and forth discussion, federal courts ruled against the reasoning for ending the permit renewals and ordered that they continue to renew. This of course brought everyone back to square one in this perpetual cycle. As this debate continues it seems that the only positions are to either delay time to allow for more "discussion" or the more dramatic position of terminating the program effective immediately.
The scene for this situation is Washington D.C.. Of course the effect of it can be felt throughout the country. While the discussion is mainly between the branches of government, there have been demonstrations and protests in the lions den that is Capitol Hill.
This event bloomed into media relevance on March 5th when the deadline expired. It will continue to be a difficult discussion until March 23 but the program could be reinstated for another 3 years until they come up with a decision.
Since the beginning of the Trump Administration, there has been talk of repealing the Obama era policy. Starting in 2012, the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals was a policy that granted some young immigrants deferred action for deportation and a permit to work as long as they renewed it periodically. This was looked at as a form of the DREAM Act proposed in 2001, therefore those who fall under DACA are commonly called DREAMers. There have been those that are against and for the policy and this has been much more prevalent now that it is under review.
The people who are affected by this suffer the most. While everyone is tired of the bickering, the victims of this must wait in agony to hear their fate. Even though their position must be unimaginable, if you try to think of their situation you would realize that there is no words to explain what it must be like to be at the mercy of a quarreling government. If they are forced to move to a country where many don't have strong roots it can almost be a death sentence.
I will comment on Elena and Joseph's posts
This book has ruined me. The beginning of the end starts when the timelines get closer together and closer to the main timeline of the present siege of Saint-Malo. Werner is still feeling guilty for not reporting the radio broadcasts of Etienne but he is also tired and scarred from all of the other reports and deaths. He decides to watch the house and that is where he meets Marie-Laure. While Werner sees her she doesn't notice him. Another who notices her is Sergeant Major Reinhold von Rumpel, a greedy and horrible Nazi who has been searching for the Sea of Flames diamond that was entrusted to the LeBlancs ever since the beginning of the book. He has determined it was them because all of the other red herrings with fake diamonds were taken care of or didn't have the original. The climax probably comes during the siege when Marie is hiding in the attic because von Rumpel has planted himself in the house employing one of his waiting torture techniques. Werner and Volkheimer were trapped in the basement of a bombed hotel converted AA location. They are on the verge of giving up hope with a rifle nearby but they are mentally saved by Marie-Laure when she risks her life to broadcast music and other recordings. They eventually decide to use a grenade to blow a hole in the rubble because they have nothing to lose and this actually works. Once out Werner decides to go to the LeBlanc house and upon arrival confronts von Rumpel. After a tense moment that ends in Werner lunging for a nearby rifle and shooting von Rumpel, he goes to the wardrobe to explain to Marie that he isn't here to hurt her, they spend some brief time in which Werner tells Marie that he and Jutta used to listen to Marie's grandfathers recordings. The conclusion of the book involves the saddest part in my opinion, Werner is captured and it seems that he will be alright until one night he starts to lose his mind, walking out of his tent and into a minefield which as assumed is not great for survival. The book ends in the 1970s when all of the characters are older. After a visit from Volkheimer to deliver Werners belongings, Jutta and her son Max travels to France to meet this girl that Werner met along his travels. She finds Marie-Laure and similarly to when Werner met her they catch up in a very circular and oddly satisfying.
Now for the sequel in which Jutta's son Max who has a reminiscent curiosity grows up:
When Max was 12 Jutta gave him Werner's old notebook. Many of the questions addressed in the journal Max also wondered and some he had even already answered. Jutta couldn't believe how similar he was and sometimes it was too much to handle, especially when Max got to radios and how they worked. At first he showed little interest in it as radios weren't a big part of his life at this point, but when he studied the diagrams and got more curious he realized how interesting these strange contraptions were and Jutta realized how difficult it would be to hear about this piece of engineering that was as soft as a linen sheet but as painful as a stab. Max's curiosity branched out to other places that Werner's didn't as a child. He found interest in his fathers train models, in creating small models of towns and of birds or sealife. Well into his old age Max held this curiosity and became great like those who came before him, those kids forced to be adults in the midst of the most chaos the world had ever seen.
Much happens in the book after last post's summary. Werner has many troubles and it seems that his life gets much rougher as the book progresses. Frederick goes missing one day and, true to the saying, curiosity kills the cat when Werner finds out that after all of the bullying, some boys have hurt Frederick so badly that he needs surgery and suffers severe brain damage. This absolutely knocks Werner off his feet and he spends most of his time in a daze. To make matters worse, he is drafted to the army despite his young age. There he is reunited with Volkheimer (who was drafted a bit before) and a few other soldiers; they are all put in one crew as a form of bounty hunters who use the radio direction finding device that Werner creates to find partisans that try to sabotage the Germans. This role takes a toll on Werners mind as he has to see many deaths, some of which weren't as necessary. By the time he gets to Saint-Malo he develops something of a conscience, hiding radio transmissions from the crew including those sent by Etienne and Marie-Laure. Those two grieve over losing Madame Manec to illness and decide to carry on her sabateur work, getting codes baked into bread from the baker and reading them over Etienne's hidden radio transmitter in the attic. Marie-Laure is still saddened from the absence of her father but she gets along with Etienne and the support of the other ladies that were friends with Madame Manec. She frequently goes to a grotto that she was told about and listens to the snails and other marine life there.
If I were in the book I wouldn't mind being either Werner or Marie-Laure's friend. They both share a deep curiosity for how and why things are the way they are. If I were to be Werner's friend I would try to support him through the rough times that he is having, maybe trying to take his mind off of it in some way. If I were Marie Laure's friend I would probably help with the sabotage that they do and also describe things to her like her father did. In Werner's case I would get along well with Volkheimer because he seems to be a gentle giant that has good advice at important times. I would get along with Etienne because he would have many stories to tell and things to teach. I would probably not get along with either of the Neumann's in Werners crew (probably one more than the other) because they seem to be too annoying and it would drive me mad. There are not many people that I wouldn't get along with in Marie-Laure's storyline but I would probably scorn the occupying Nazis for taking so much from us, down to essential needs.
After we left off we learned more about how Werner got into the army. He was accepted to Schlupforta, a higher education school that also trains them for war. There he meets Frederick a boy who cheated his way into the school because he has poor eyesight, Frank Volkheimer a very large intimidating character who is actually a gentle giant, Werner meets him because one of the professors sees Werner's proficiency in physics and engineering and Volkheimer is there to make sure he is indisturbed. Marie-Laure enjoys her time in Saint-Malo because her uncle opens up to her and shares with her all of these sciences. Her father gets a telegram to return to Paris and this scares Marie-Laure because she has never been away from her father. It gets worse because her father is captured by Nazis on the grounds of being a potential spy because he took measurements of the city for a scale model that he made for Marie-Laure.
The relationship between Marie-Laure and Etienne (the uncle) is a very interesting one. It is very childish in nature probably due to the fact that Etienne hasn't had much contact with people and Marie-Laure rubs off on him. They are both curious and have deep rooted memories to different aspects of science and nature. Marie has the ability to calm Etienne down when he gets paranoid and anxious and I think that this is a really special connection. Another very odd yet meaningful connection is that of Werner and Frederick. They start out as normal friends but as the terrible treatment by the commandant towards Frederick increases, he grows distant. Still they visit Frederick's family in Berlin and this excites Werner, but as they get back to the hell of Schlupforta Frederick is picked on more and more and eventually he tries to distance himself from Werner in an attempt to save him from being picked on next. The last interesting relationship in this book is that of Werner and Volkheimer, they are an unlikely friendship but Volkheimer is a pseudo-father figure that protects Werner. He is obviously still there when they are out on the field and Volkheimer still protects and instills hope in Werner. I appreciate that Volkheimer is a gentle giant character because he somehow adds calm to Werner's storyline. If I were to advise the main characters on these relationships I would tell them to keep them close and cherish them because you never know if they could leave from your life, and because they are the best chance of getting through these hard times. I feel that these supporting characters are more important than the main characters themselves because they instill hope and happiness in the otherwise drab and terrible environment around them.
In the book so far we are introduced to the characters; a blind French girl named Marie-Laure LeBlanc and a German boy named Werner Pfennig. The setting is Europe on the verge of war. The majority of this section is flashback to introduce the characters and their personality. Marie-Laure lives in Paris with her father, a locksmith who works at the Muséum national d'Histoire naturelle. She learns to find her way around with the help of her father and as she refines her spacial awareness she develops a habit of associating things with smells or sounds. She becomes very interested in the worlds of books like Around the World in 80 Days and 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea when her father gives them to her on her birthdays. Werner grows up in a very different situation. He and his sister Jutta live in a orphaned children's home run by a kind-spirited French-German nun named Frau Elena in a German mining town called Zollverein. Their father died in a mine collapse as is the case with a lot of the other orphans there. Werner is unique, however, because he has a burning curiosity to understand things and how they work. They salvage a broken radio and he manages to fix it and even go as far as improving its speakers so that the whole children's home can hear. The quote "The air swarms with so much that is invisible! How he wishes he had eyes to see the ultraviolet, eyes to see the infrared, eyes to see radio waves crowding the darkening sky, flashing through the walls of the house." describes his yearning to learn about science and the backstage of the world. Their paths come closer together a bit later when Germany threatens to occupy France and Marie-Laure and her father have to flee France to her Uncle Etienne's house in Saint-Malo. Somehow that is yet to be described, Werner is stationed in Saint-Malo as a soldier once it is German occupied, and that is where the first quarter of my book leaves off.
We know that their paths will cross soon and that this will probably cause, or be at the time that, the conflict arises. The war at this point is already in motion and this could add another level of danger.
I hope that the two meet in good faith and bond over their curiosity for things, Werner probably knows some French because he lives with Frau Elena so they might have some conversation, Werner might even teach her some German. I wonder what will happen to Marie-Laure's family and that might be part of the conflict. I definitely love the book so far, I feel that it is a perfect combination of reality and fiction in my favorite era. I enjoy how the book is set up with the different settings and time frames, while some might consider it to be confusing and poor for continuity I think it is great and adds to the rising tension. I am very curious to see what happens next.
I will comment on Melia and Lillie's blogs.
For this, the first installment of the Current Events Blog, we will discuss the collision and subsequent pollution from the Iranian operated oil tanker Sanchi.
The information for this post comes from the CNN article “Oil spill off China coast now the size of Paris” published at 11:50 AM ET, Thu Jan 18, 2018 by Euan McKirdy and Nanlin Fang
This article gives details about the current extent of an oil spill between the Yellow Sea and the East China Sea. It gives background on the payload and shipping company as well as how the spill happened. It also details the obvious and lasting environmental effects.
On Sunday January 7th an Iranian crude oil tanker, the Sanchi collided with another vessel en route to South Korea. This was immediately investigated primarily by Chinese authorities and rescue attempts were made. All thirty of the crew were assumed dead from the initial blast, recovering three bodies from the wreckage. While the devastation was bad from the beginning the eventual leakage of the oil into the East China Sea poses obvious environmental risks. There are many different groupings of oil around the wreckage, the largest of which spans across 19 square miles. This oil, however, is relatively less harmful than other less refined oils as it is condensate oil, it is lighter and evaporates more than other crude oils. It is speculated that most of the oil would have been burned up in the fires but there is clearly more that continues to spread in the oceanic flows. The fact that the oil is lighter and prone to evaporation might aid in the clean up and reduce the contamination of fishing grounds in the neighboring areas, but it still poses a dangerous and potentially long lasting harm to that environment.
The collision with the CF Crystal occured around January 6-7 as the Sanchi was traveling from Asaluyeh in Iran to Daesan in South Korea, The CF Crystal was traveling from Kalama, Washington in the U.S. to Machong, Guangdong Province in China. It is not written how the collision occurred but despite the Sanchi suffering major structural damage, the CF Crystal was able to dock in Zhoushan. This collision causes a major financial problem for the companies involved with expenses in the hundred millions.
This event is horrible and definitely should be brought to the attention of more people. While it is an accident, there should be investigation including interviews of the survivors of the other ship. Clean up is a very large priority as well, seeing as the area that the oil is being spread around is growing to very large distances and it is disturbing many environments that must be considered and protected. In comparison to other oil spills this seems to be a relatively subdued event that isn’t receiving much press and thus not enough support to clear it up. This must be treated as a very large issue because despite the easy evaporation of this condensate oil, it is also potentially highly toxic and could cause immense damage.
I will comment on Matias and Karley's blog posts.