“A bus designed for people who never take buses”: how London’s Routemaster became a £300m white elephant |City Metric

The article has an interesting take on tradition vs modernity.

http://www.citymetric.com/transport/bus-designed-people-who-never-take-buses-how-londons-routemaster-became-300m-white

Summary:  Routemasters were the iconic London buses that were decommissioned in 2004. To revive this cultural icon, Transport for London (TfL) reportedly spent £11.4m to get the new Routemasters designed. Each new bus cost £375,000 (which was almost double the price of a normal bus at £190,000), were heavier and thus less environmentally friendly, could carry fewer passengers due to its design, caused discomfort for the passengers (too hot in summer, and too cold in winter), and cost more to run (a conductor is needed in addition to the bus driver due to the possibly unsafe open design at the back).

Questions:

  • Should cultural icons or traditions be preserved at all costs?
  • If traditions are allowed to die out, what might the repercussions be?

A Fairytale Kingdom Faces Real-Life Troubles | National Geographic

http://news.nationalgeographic.com/2016/10/setomaa-culture-estonia-russia-photographs/

The Setos have fiercely maintained their traditions for centuries. Those include their ancient polyphonic singing, recently recognized on UNESCO’s Intangible Cultural Heritage list.

But they’ve also created entirely new traditions, complete with their own royalty, to stave off modern threats to their cultural identity.

The greatest threat today is a border between Russia and Estonia—traditionally more of a suggestion than a demarcation—that divides the Setos. The border shifted multiple times over the 20th century—a span that saw two world wars, the rise and fall of the Soviet Union, and the early stirrings of a European Union.

But by the mid-1990s, Estonia was relishing its post-Soviet independence. And the border—though still not ratified to this day—was becoming an enforced one, dividing Setomaa’s Russian and Estonian sides. Yet it was also dividing the Setos from one another, cleaving their crop fields, churches, and cemeteries.

“The border came, and it broke their daily life,” says Elena Nikiforova, a research fellow at the Center for Independent Social Research in St. Petersburg who conducted field work in Setomaa as the border was strengthened.

“The border became this trigger for them to start thinking of themselves as a separate people,” she says. “Being divided by the border, they became united.”

Unable to alter the course of foreign policy and torn between two countries, the Setos in 1994 declared for themselves a new, unified entity: the Kingdom of Setomaa.

Now, more than two decades later, they are keeping that kingdom alive.

Patients should have the right to choose marijuana over prescription drugs | ATTN

Source: https://youtu.be/6VjLwUtiUYs

  • What are the drugs that are legal in your country?
  • Is marijuana legal in your country? Why (not)?
  • What do you know about marijuana?
  • Do you think that people have an accurate idea of drugs?
  • Why might a “harmless” drug like marijuana be banned?
  • Do you think that this video is accurate, or is there a slant (bias) to it?

Minneapolis Somali man using cartoons to counter ISIS recruitment | MPR News

Read here: https://www.mprnews.org/story/2014/11/24/daily-circuit-average-mohamed

The videos, aimed at ages 8 to 16, often directly respond to videos already online.

“We take the ideology piece by piece, value for value, and we create that counter-narrative,” he said on The Daily Circuit. “That counter-narrative is meant to question, challenge and agitate minds into not accepting what has been told in the propaganda videos that these organizations of extremism keep on creating.”

Ahmed said he’s taking the videos to mosques, community youth organizations and even families dealing with a family member joining an extremist group. He said it’s important to reach the siblings in this moment to help them understand other ways to look at their religious beliefs.

Source: https://youtu.be/7vJ-SlxjRrQ

Source: https://youtu.be/j_1F_yGw7SQ

The Bloody Truth About Vampires | National Geographic

http://news.nationalgeographic.com/2016/10/vampires-europe-new-england-halloween-history/

Often, these legends arose from a misunderstanding of how bodies decompose. As a corpse’s skin shrinks, its teeth and fingernails can appear to have grown longer. And as internal organs break down, a dark “purge fluid” can leak out of the nose and mouth. People unfamiliar with this process would interpret this fluid to be blood and suspect that the corpse had been drinking it from the living. (Read “Archaeologists Suspect Vampire Burial; An Undead Primer.”)

Bloody corpses weren’t the only cause for suspicion. Before people understood how certain diseases spread, they sometimes imagined vampires were behind the unseen forces slowly ravaging their communities. “The one constant in the evolution of vampire legend has been its close association with disease,” writes Mark Collins Jenkins in his book Vampire Forensics. Trying to kill vampires, or prevent them from feeding, was a way for people to feel as though they had some control over disease.

Questions:

  • What are some superstitions in your culture? Why do people still believe in them despite scientific explanations?
  • Do you think that superstitions can be good forpeople? Should they be continued?

With its tourists behaving badly, China embarks on some soul-searching | Today

http://www.todayonline.com/chinaindia/china/its-tourists-behaving-badly-china-embarks-some-soul-searching

Two young Chinese tourists carve their names on the Great Wall. Hundreds of picnickers leave their garbage moldering on the banks of the Yellow River.

Such episodes during the recent National Day holiday have produced a flurry of photographic postings and a spasm of soul-searching in China, highlighting anxieties over the habits and image of tourists at home and abroad in a nation that is increasingly cash-rich but, some say, short on manners and experience with the outside world.

Questions:

  • When you travel, how do you behave? Do you expect things to be similar to your country? Do you say things like, “We do this better/differently where I come from.”
  • What is ideal behaviour from a tourist?
  • Although tourism can improve the economy, there can be negative effects as well. What are some negative effects that tourism/tourists bring?