Frisk #161

Pork and beans, it’s Frisk #161! That’s the number of the A-road that goes from Beckingham to Goole. One of these places has an RSPB nature reserve, the other is “well placed to receive a wide selection of DAB radio stations”. Why not try driving the A161 to find out which is which…?


Weaving a Home
According to Donald Trump, climate change is a fictitious concept dreamt up by the Chinese. But according to the UN, who’ve used actual data and stuff, there will be around 250,000,000 climate change refugees by the year 2050. It’s up to your own brainbox to decide which of these two ideas you find more credible.
Assuming that the UN might be on to something, a Jordanian architect has designed a brilliant system of huts for climate refugees, fusing traditional nomadic tribe design with sustainable technology. ‘Weaving a Home’ is the name, and each hut is essentially a portable structure combining hardy plastic and fabric tubes, allowing its inhabitant to be reasonably self-sufficient; the solar-powered skin converts light into electricity, the storage tank on the roof collects water via thermosyphoning to be used for showering, and it all collapses down into a 31cm flatpack. So just in case Trump turns out to be talking through his hat, life for people displaced by nature might be slightly less awful.

This, on the face of it, is an inspired idea. Moonlite is a little image clickwheel thing that you clip on to your iPhone – the phone’s torch shines through the images and projects them onto the wall. The pictures correspond with a bedtime story on the screen, and it senses when you’ve clicked to the next image so that the correct page appears. A fun way to read a bedtime story to your kid, right?
Well, yes and no. It’s undoubtedly a great concept, but… well, storytime with the kids is my favourite part of the day, and I can tell you with absolute certainty that this is not a time to get them all riled up. If you’re shining pictures all over the gaff and waving a phone in their face, they’re not going to sleep. Still, this is a clever repurposing of an already existing thing: whoever thought of turning the iPhone’s camera flash into a torch was some sort of genius, and the idea of harnessing it for other things is equally clever.

The American Dream
Fundamental to so much in American culture is the concept ‘the American Dream’ – the notion that equal opportunities for success are available to all; prosperity and upward social mobility can be achieved by anyone willing to work hard. A barrier-free society means that your pool-cleaner could be the next President.
This idea is… increasingly challenging these days. But the evidence suggests that, in spite of the country’s colossal wealth gap, people still do seem to believe in the American Dream. Research from Harvard has found that US citizens are much more optimistic about economic mobility than other Western countries; areas with the lowest economic mobility and highest inequality expressed the most optimism, with people in the least socially mobile states believing their chances of moving up the ranks to be almost twice as likely as they actually are. In a climate of post-truth politics, evidence has become far less important than hope and belief. It’s why lottery ticket sales are rocketing, but also why the age-old ethos of knuckling down to make things better holds as strong as ever. The American Dream, against all the odds, is alive and kicking.

Daniel Bevis, Senior Knowledge Editor

18th January 2017