Deliberation (May 2022)
by Kevin Mercurio
Welcome to my monthly blog series. As a way to catalogue the happenings of the world, this blog will serve as a memento for its state at the time of publication. What I hope is that by clearly writing out top personal, local and global news, along with resources that can help us to develop skills, we can sift through the noise together. Let’s grow into our greatest potential.
Top Personal News
Why is every month flying by faster than I can keep up with these blogs? I’m writing this almost halfway through June and occurrences are starting to blur. Anyway, let’s quickly summarize what happened during the beautiful spring month of May 2022. Pint of Science returned in person to the city of Dublin and the six events I helped organized were a great success. Scientists from all sorts of backgrounds spoke to science enthusiasts (hopefully outside of the scientific community) to engage with the general public about their research in pubs across the city. Work-wise, submitted an abstract to the first DU Microbiological Society’s Focused Meeting on Microbiomes and Human Health scheduled in June (was accepted and will be presenting a poster!). Got to also use TCD’s confocal microscope for immunofluorescence assays on Caco-2 cells for my protein of interest, an adherens junction protein called E-cadherin. It was also birthdays galore this month in the Eir, and much delicious cake was had! Lastly, a return to podcasting led to an interview with a friend and researcher who also happens to have exceptional music talent. Episode will makes its debut in July, so stay tuned for that!
From one of the Pint of Science events!
Top Local News
To my knowledge, there was not anything noteworthy this month.
Top Global News
Still excluding the current war happening in Ukraine (latest updates on can be monitored on the BBC), I believe the obvious global news story this month that should be featured is the Ulvade School Mass Shooting, now added to the seemingly endless Wikipedia pages of mass shootings at schools in the US. Like every sad onlooker both inside and outside of the country says, we find ourselves here yet again. Why did 19 elementary school students and 2 teachers get gunned down, in the middle of the day, in modern society? There was a blatant Sunday Review front cover of the New York Times demonstrating the constancy of these circumstances, highlighted here in this tweet, in that gun control is absolutely necessary, as practically every recent mass shooting has been acted out by a gunman (literally a man every time) who has obtained firearms through entirely legal means. This is stark evidence that the current system to which people are allowed to obtained guns in certain US states is faulty and at the very least unsafe for the general public. A recent correspondence in the New England Journal of Medicine summarized findings by the CDC stating that firearm deaths disproportionately affect American youth, stating that “the increasing firearm-related mortality reflects a longer-term trend and shows that we continue to fail to protect our youth from a preventable cause of death”. How privileged are people outside the US in G20 countries that we never truly have to think about whether someone is carrying a loaded weapon. As cliche this critisicsm has become, I must say it for the sake of my own sanity, that America has so blindly attacked the idea of religious terrorism that it is powerless against the mentally unhealthy domestic terrorists within its own borders. A culture that not only permits the collection and usage of massively deadly weapons, but elicits an upbringing of desire to be better than their neighbours, along with a patriotic spirit to protect ideals so wrongfully grounded that they cannot see systems that go against these ideals. I’ve watched late night host Jimmy Kimmel’s monologue shortly after the shooting multiple times as one can really see the utter despair that even someone with somewhat power as him knows that he can do nothing alone, that society is entrusted in the hands of a select few chosen by people with a poor understanding of what these officials stand for. For a summary of this unforgettable tragedy, see the Guardian article.
Obtained from the Guardian.
Most Interesting Article of the Month
“IKEA’s race for the last old growth forests” published in The New Republic by Alexander Sammon. You’ve heard of fast fashion, but have you ever herd of fast furniture? Neither have I, and I own predominantly IKEA bought household items. For my entire life, I and my social circle have praised IKEA for their cheap but surprisingly long lasting furniture; from chairs, to couches, to tables, to every kitchen item known to man. I never once stopped to think about the amount of raw materials required to sustain such demand, particularly in wood-made furniture. This article, without a doubt a long read, deep dives into the mafia-esque monopoly-like structure IKEA has on affordable household living. Mainly, their structure is based on the amount of raw materials they can obtain, being the largest landowner in Romania and harvesting many of the old-growth trees in Suceava (among others). These lands contain much of Europe’s old growth forests, often called the Amazon of the East, regarding their role in assimilating carbon from the atmosphere and supporting in curbing climate change efforts. These activities are often taken by fishy practices in the logging industry, frequently surrounded in corruption and the disappearance of dissidents who try to sound the alarm. Too little detail would do the article no justice, therefore do read the full article here.
Obtained from the New Republic.
Most Interesting Video of the Month
Honestly, any of the tens (perhaps hundreds) of videos sensationalizing the Johnny Depp vs. Amber Heard defamation trial featured on the YouTube Channel “Law&Crime Network”. What felt like disgraced Hollywood star, Johnny Depp sued his now ex-wife Amber Heard over defamation, claiming her many actions had caused a decline in his career and overall well being. At the time of writing this, Depp had recently won the case and was awarded $10 million USD (20% of what was sought for) from Heard. Despite my shame in finding this even remotely interesting, what I really was fascinated by was the amount of publicity this case was given in the media and overall people. People giving opinions about the trial and getting bits and pieces of their private life was frankly absurd. Should I be surprised about the brutality of the internet? No. But perhaps this is a time for reflection in not just our ease to willingly glimpse into a celebrity couple’s troubles, but the urge to share criticisms over their behaviour towards each other, and framing the narrative outside of a court. Check out the infamous Propagate here.
Monthly Book Club
“Age Proof” by Rose Anne Kenny. The book is a collected summary of scientific studies on the field of aging by the Trinity College Professor and lead principle investigator for Ireland’s famous longitudinal study on aging, TILDA. Kenny takes readers through often talked about topics regarding what impacts the way in which humans age, from the Blue Zones and diet, to sleep and sex, to cold hormesis, and logically sets out an argument for or against recommendations made in the mainstream. In its easy to read format that invites all to understand, do check it out being featured in most bookstores today!
Movie/TV Show of the Month
The movie everyone didn’t know they wanted to see, “Jackass 4.5”. Johnny Knoxville and the gang return (or more like release) behind the scenes and extra footage of their 2022 final movie (probably) Jackass Forever. The series of movies stems from an old reality TV show on MTV where Knoxville and others pull elaborate pranks and stunts, often times on each other, for entertainment. Much of the cast has proven to be legends in orchestrating dumb shit, leading many (including myself) to replicate dumb shit at smaller scale (not advised). Cameos of other prank legends like Eric Andre are also amazing to watch. Check out the trailer to the original movie here.
This month, I’m highlighting a podcast that does a deep dive into something I often love doing myself, cinema, and that’s Science(ish). Hosts Rick Edwards and Dr. Michael Brooks explore the science behind many of Hollywood’s top movies in sci-fi, superhero, animation, even TV series and documentaries, and all the scientific theories and ideas these films touch on. Interviews with real experts in these fields are a nice touch, and with 100 episodes out, there’s got to be one that investigates your top movie of all time. Give them a listen!
Obtained from Podtail.
“Trenulețul” by Zdob și Zdub & Advahov Brothers. Watch the official music video here.
Quote of the Month
“What are we doing? Why are you here?”
- US Senator Chris Murphy (watch speech on the US Senate Floor here)