1. I got back into town from my yet-to-be-blogged-about vacation early enough on Monday morning that I still had most of the day, but late enough that I didn’t go into work. I very rarely (by which I mean never) have Mondays off, so I decided to take advantage of my free time by going to the Field Museum.
I really wanted to go to the Shedd Aquarium (actually, if I’m being honest, I really wanted to go the Museum of Science and Industry, but it takes too long to get there. Actually, if I’m being really honest, I didn’t want to go anywhere at all. I was super tired after not sleeping much on the train Sunday night.) to see the penguins, but the line, as always, was stupid long to get into the Shedd. The aquarium was having one of its required free-for-Illinois-residents days, which was why I planned to go, but the Field Museum was also free for Illinois residents on Monday. So the Field Museum it was.
I haven’t been to the Field Museum in over five years, so it was fun to go there again. I had a bunch of errands and chores to do Monday afternoon since I obviously didn’t do any of them while I was out of town for the weekend, so I was only at the museum for a couple of hours. I did still get to see penguins, though.
Admittedly, it was not quite what I had hoped for, but stuffed penguins are better than no penguins at all….? At least they were alive at one point in time 😛
I was excited to see that they had an Adelie penguin, however. My mom sent me this article about penguins in Antarctica a few weeks ago, and in the article one of the scientists studying the penguins described Adelie penguins as, “hard-wired, inflexible, Type A, high stress, highly structured animals,” and goodness gracious, if ever there were a description that fit me, that’s it. I was quite thrilled to find out my spirit animal is, indeed, a penguin. Life goal: accomplished.
2. I realize 2048 stopped being a big thing…oh, about two years ago now, but I’ve kept the app on my phone, and I tend to play the game when I’m traveling and bored (particularly on airplanes, because it engages my mind enough to distract me from the terror that comes from being in a metal cylinder 30,000 feet above the ground hurtling through the air at hundreds of miles per hour, and because it’s something to do on my phone that doesn’t require the Internet). I decided to play one round of 2048 while on the train back to Chicago, and a miracle happened:
I WON! I’ve never won 2048 before! I think I got to 1024 on my trip out to Seattle last fall, but that’s the best I’ve ever done. I could not believe it. I was so excited!!
3. I also kept myself entertained on the train with movies I rented from iTunes. While perhaps not the most cost-effective way to watch a movie these days (each rental cost about $5, and once you started watching the movie, it automatically deleted itself in 24 hours), I rarely buy music any more, so I didn’t mind using some of my iTunes credit for movie rentals. While regular movie downloads are HUGE files, the standard definition versions were less than 2 GB each, which was easy enough to free up on my phone after deleting pictures I didn’t need, apps I wouldn’t need while I was gone, and music I never listen to. With such a small screen, standard definition works just fine for movie watching.
Anyway, I rented Sleeping With Other People, which, though predictable like your standard rom-com, was still an enjoyable way to pass the time on the way home, and Spotlight, which I watched on the way down. HO.LY. SMOKES. I loved Spotlight. Loved it, loved it, loved it. I was thrilled to see (via Twitter, since unsurprisingly, the train did not broadcast the Oscars) it won Best Picture. I believe in the importance of journalism, and Spotlight did a phenomenal job of showing why journalism is important. As much as we would love to believe our legal system brings everyone to justice, I think you’d have to be pretty ignorant to actually think that’s how things work. Scandals get covered up, people with power get away with horrific things, and having freedom of the press allows journalists to find these stories, print these stories, and bring them to the public’s attention so that these things stop happening. Do you know why the Laquan McDonald video came out? Why Garry McCarthy lost his job, why people want Rahm Emanuel to resign (well, one of the reasons people want him to resign), why the police department is under a federal investigation? Because a journalist sued the city to force them to release the video (and because that journalist did so under the Emanuel administration, not the Daley administration, but that’s another rant about corruption for another time). Do you know why the Watergate scandal erupted like it did? Because of the Washington Post. People in power, whether that power comes from the government or a corporation or the church or anywhere else, do terrible things all the time and get away with it, because they have the power to get away with it. The press makes sure they don’t get away with it – or at least certainly aims to make sure they don’t get away with it.
It concerns me how many people don’t seem to understand that. I think the free press in this country is something we take for granted, something we assume is a given, like water at a restaurant, rather than something important. No one wants to pay for the news. Heck, I don’t want to pay for the news, not when I can get it for free online. But that’s the problem. No one has figured out how to make the news online profitable. Online advertising doesn’t generate revenue like print advertising, never mind the obvious lack of subscriber revenue as well. And sure, you can put up paywalls, or say you only get x articles free per month before you have to pay, but unless everyone did that, unless it became standard operating procedure across broadcast news website and print news websites that no one gives away the news for free, paywalls don’t make much of a difference either, because you can go find what you need elsewhere. But journalism isn’t a nonprofit venture. You only get investigative journalism when you have people to do the investigating – and people need to be paid in journalism just like any other field. So you can slash your budget and decimate your newsroom and operate with a bare bones staff, but how is that bare bones staff going to do the thorough reporting needed for a takedown like the Boston Globe unleashed on the Catholic church in Boston? That’s not a one-man job, as the movie clearly showed. And if you’re not putting out that kind of content–if you’re only publishing fluff, or sensationalist nonsense, or click baity non-stories–how will you create a reputation for yourself as a decent publication, one people can rely on and trust to expose injustice and tell actual stories? I don’t have an answer to that, and neither does anyone in the media industry, it seems. But the news is important, and I, for one, sincerely appreciate the efforts of everyone involved in Spotlight to show why that’s the case.
Have you ever been to the Field Museum?
Did you see any Oscar-winning movies? I also saw Inside Out last summer, but that’s it for me an Oscar winners this year. I’m not much of a movie person, though, so having seen two is pretty good for me.