Monthly Archives: February 2013

Hedy Lamarr’s Beauty

I attended the talk on Hedy Lamarr last night. What resignated with me the most was Hedy’s beauty. The fact that, as a young teenager, she was hired based solely on her looks, shows how much beauty is valued in American society. Shallowness in Hollywood is extremely prevelant in today’s society. Many women are having their bodies operated on so they can “look the part”. It is honestly quite sad that these women subject themselves to plastic surgery just so they can be successfull. Look at Nicki Minaj, for example. The before and after pics of this superstar are astounding. There is very little “Nicki” actually left. The insecurity felt by many popular female stars is a direct result of our media. So much pressure is put on us as humans to look perfect that many people are willing to do whatever it takes. Hedy’s completely natural beauty is what separated her from famous stars of today.

Hedy Lamarr

Last night I attended the Jepson Forum event on Hedy Lamarr.  She was an incredible woman for a number of reasons, but the one that stuck out to me the most was that she was not satisfied with her natural abilities.  So many people nowadays are concerned with their looks and believe that looking good will get them through life.  Lamarr was beautiful and she knew she was, but she wanted more in life then to just be remembered as “the most beautiful girl in the world.”  She strived to be remembered as a great person, not just as a pretty woman.

This stuck with me because as an athlete, a lot of people have tons of raw talent, but don’t ever choose to work hard enough to actually become successful at their craft.  Like Hedy, good athletes do not just want to be remembered for their natural ability (or beauty), but for the hard work and effort that they put into something to really make them be great at it.  Hedy was an outstanding person that can be looked up to by people all over the world.


Why do we do things we know we shouldn’t?

In Chapter 14 of Diamond’s “Collapse,” the question is raised as to whether or not destructive decisions we make that adversely effect our societies are done intentionally.  My immediate reaction to this question was, of course, “no,” however upon further consideration, I have decided that a large difference exists between intentionally doing something and doing something innocently but with a subconscious knowledge of the action’s negative implications. 

For instance, many students on campus, including myself, occasionally drive from their on campus housing to the library or to class.  Are we intentionally destroying the environment by driving automobiles unnecessarily? -No.  People drive such distances such as from a dorm to the library because it is more convenient, it saves time, maybe it’s freezing outside but under that layer, people are still aware that their actions, over time, have the potentional for seriously adverse consequences for the state of our environment.  When I leave my hair dryer plugged in for days, it is not because I say to myself each morning, “hey, I’m gonna deplete precious resources and waste electricity!”…rather, I am in a hurry or I forget to do such things because it’s not constantly on my mind. 

We are a society that hates waiting for things.  Whether it be the angry people in line at Starbucks who want their coffee now, or the people who become frustrated when their wifi speed is slow- we have become accustomed to doing things how we want and when we want and receiving things as soon as they are needed.  Taking the time to plan out decisions for the cause of protecting the environment and natural world around us is time consuming and may not lead to the instant gratification that we are used to so as a result, people neglect making changes to their routine for the long-term gain of our society.  The old saying, “You can’t teach a dog new tricks,” is certainly one that applies in this instance.  However maybe it’s time that we do learn new tricks as time very well may be running out before our eyes.

Hedy Lamarr

Yesterday, I attended Hedy’s Folly: The Life and Breakthrough Inventions of Hedy Lamarr, the Most Beautiful Woman in the World given by Richard Rhodes.  Rhodes is a very accomplished man and author of many successful books. In his speech, Rhodes told the story of the life of Hedy Lamarr, from her childhood to her death.  Lamarr had such a fascinating life and throughout his talk and the question and answer period, it was very clear that Rhodes knew almost every single detail about her life.

One part of her life that really stood out to me was that even after living in Hollywood, she did not become changed by the superficiality of the celebrity world. Most people who enter Hollywood rarely come out the same way and usually become more artificial because of the nature of the industry. Lamarr had such incredible dedication and self control; she stayed on a good path and did not become susceptible to the negative consequences of Hollywood.

Another part that stood out was a quote that Rhodes had taken from Lamarr, “I can tell you how to be a star. All you have to do is stand around and look dumb.” When I heard this, I felt so bad for Lamarr. She loved acting but she hated the fact that no one could see past her acting career and her pretty face. If people had paid attention to anything besides her beauty, she could have been even more successful than she already was.

I feel as if these problems that Lamarr encountered is still a problem today. Hollywood is definitely a successful industry but many of the people in it are incredibly phony and lack morals. If they concentrated less on partying, dieting, making themselves look beautiful with extreme methods, or reality TV, the people in Hollywood would not turn out to be as superficial, and as a result, Hollywood would be more efficient and successful.  Furthermore, if Hollywood did not place so much importance on looking perfect and the typical actress/model, these people and more specifically, the women, would not feel the pressure to look a certain way.  Lamarr was smart enough to know that she was more than just a pretty face, however, the way that Hollywood is today, many actresses think that is all they can and will be.  These women do not strive to be better because they think that they are only a pretty face.

Although we have made great leaps in terms of gender equality, the fact that Lamarr had similar issues about 50 years ago just shows that we still have a ways to go. Hopefully, Hollywood will make a turnaround and that we can realize that we need to make a change in the way that people view women.

Richard Rhodes: Hedy’s Folly

I had never heard of Hedy Lamarr before this speech last night however she had an extremely interesting life. The combination of movie star and technology invention is strange however she was obviously a very interesting person. Her life illustrated the problems with the Hollywood lifestyle because event though she was the “most beautiful woman in the world”, no one appreciated the intelligence she possessed. This was mostly represented in her opting out of the typical Hollywood lifestyle and instead resorting to inventing. The fact that she never had any formal education in technology however created such a world renowned idea such as frequency hopping is just evident of her natural intelligence.

While her life was interesting, Richard Rhodes was a bit confusing as a speaker. He made many assumptions about what the audience knew (he was correct about the older segment). However, the younger portion of the audience did not understand many of his references. Also, some parts of her life which I would be interested in hearing about he quickly skipped over like personal life, 6 husbands, etc. He went into such detail about he early life however he really did not expand on her later in life which would be interesting. Overall though, I found my introduction into Hedy’s life very interesting.

Blind Nil

The reading for today’s class was extremely real, and honestly somewhat threatening. Diamond discusses how societies have failed in the past because they did not anticipate the outcomes of their actions, and they also were not able to come up with solutions when the issues had approached them more closely. One of the most logical ways to prepare for the future is to examine the past. Societies have failed in so many different ways, and a way for present day societies to succeed is to simply avoid what the past societies have failed at doing. However, there have been many new innovations that are creating new problems for the future. Technology has entered our lives and made things much more simple for us, but it has also created various problems. For instance, the amount of energy we use is leaving such a large carbon footprint and causing global warming to occur, but people choose to ignore this fact. Even though people are aware that global warming is occurring, they choose to turn their head away from the issue and continue with luxuries, such as electricity, gas, printing paper, and wasting water. People often take the approach claiming there is nothing they can do to fix the problem so why stop what they are doing? Our society does not have the ability to see future consequences, but the time will come when the world discovers that there simply are no more resources to waste. We must pay attention to the future, because focusing just on the present is what is going to destroy Earth and the human race.

Disastrous Decisions

Diamond’s chapter about why societies make disastrous decisions really made me think about the United States, even the entire world, and how we are doing that exact thing right now. Not surprisingly, the first thing that came to my mind was the environment. I think in this particular area we have really gone through multiple of Diamond’s categories. In the past, we didn’t really anticipate all of the consequences that our actions would have. New inventions like technology, and pesticides were things we hadn’t seen before, so it might not have been possible for us to understand the full impact these things could have. Then, once these new inventions actually caused problems, it took us so long to actually accept that something was wrong. Global warming is a prime example. There are still some people that deny that global warming really exists. However, now we know that say cutting down the rainforest, or releasing all these toxins into the environment is bad, yet we still do it. I think this really ties back to what we were talking about in class the other day about humans’ ability to think very far into the future. It is so hard for us to actually understand because we are not going to personally feel the full impact of what we are doing. Earlier in the year we were talking about how people don’t join a cause unless they have been personally affected by it. Without being able to directly feel the consequences our present actions are going to have in the distant future, we are far less likely to take action now. We understand that what we are doing now is damaging and unsustainable, but we don’t want to give up OUR current lifestyle to benefit someone 100 or more years from now.

Women in Media

Last week, I went to listen to the lecture “Taking Back Our Bodies, Media, and Lives” by Courtney Martin – a well established feminist in the young feminist movement.  She is a co-runner of a popular feminist website for 20-something women and is a mover-and-shaker among college programs about Women’s Studies.

While there were so many amazing things that she was talking about in reference to women’s rights and how young girls are becoming educated and involved in the awareness for this social issue, I could not help but continue to think back to one of the first points she made.  Courtney claimed right away that the word “media” is overused in our lazy society.

When you think of it, “media” is a completely overused word.  It’s loaded language.  It carries so many different meanings.  Media is considered to be a movie, a tv show, a magazine, a photograph, clipart, Fox News, your 2nd grade powerpoint, you name it.  Where is society supposed to draw the line on what “media” is?  When arguing that “the media” is affecting our youth (as many psychologists try to do) what does that really mean?    Our society has gotten into this fallacious habit of grouping all of these new technologies and displays into one category, making it difficult to distinguish what we mean when talking.  At this point, it’s all been around long enough that a distinction needs to be made. “Media” is no longer a strong enough word to describe what is feeding our culture the information we receive.  It’s time for us to make a change and be clear.

Jepson Forum Event: Richard Rhodes

This evening I listened to RIchard Rhodes, the Pulitzer-Prize winning author of “Hedy’s Folly: The Life and Breakthrough Inventions of Hedy Lamarr, the Most Beautiful Woman in the World.”  I had never heard of Hedy Lamarr before, and was extremely impressed by her accomplishments.  It was inspring to learn how she chased her dreams, and although it was tough at first, she eventually made it to America where she fulfilled her dream of acting and inventing. When I heard that she was considered “the most beautiful woman in the world,” during the WWII era, I automatically assumed she was just a pin-up and nothing more.  However, Hedy Lamarr was an astounding individual and great contributor to modern day technology.

Although she was part of the young Hollywood crowd, she did not enjoy the typical party scene.  This allowed her to spend time working on various inventions.  Her mind was constantly thinking of creating things to make every-day life easier.  Some of her minor inventions were a box for disposing tissues, and a seat for weak people to use in the shower.  However, her most important invention – in collaboration with George Antheil – was the use of “frequency hopping.” This made it harder for enemies to detect and stop torpedoes.  I found it fascinating that this was inspired in part by George’s composing, specifically his attempt to synchronize 16 pianos at once.

This technology was not only effective, but has helped a lot of modern-day technology become possible.  I never realized it was used in GPS’s and wireless phones.  Can you imagine where we would be without her?

Gas, Print Credits, Booze, and Slapping Rwandan Wrists.

I couldn’t get past the second page of the reading for tomorrow before thoughts and questions started racing through my head. The first thing that stuck out for me was the question about what the person on Easter Island who cut down the last palm tree was thinking. Did he know he was cutting the last one down? It seems so absurd to us that a society like theirs knowingly destroyed all their resources quicker than they could replenish, and yet we drive around campus in our cars that guzzle gas, print 200 pages of reading material for a class without any thought to how the paper came to be there (only the thought of how many print credits we’re wasting goes through the mind), and we eat absurd amounts of food and leave even larger amounts on our trays when we stick them on the rack on our way out. We’re such hypocrites because we are knowingly depleting all our resources quicker than we can replenish them and yet we take the American stance of, “it isn’t my concern because I can’t do anything about it. I NEED to eat. I NEED to print this out. I NEED to drive to Martin’s to pick up booze.” Instead of asking what the last person was thinking on Easter, ask what you will be thinking when you fill up your car for the last time.

The other thing that randomly popped into my head goes back to class on Tuesday (for the 10:30 section). We approached the subject of how we can solve the problems in China and we had a vague idea of a solution we could implement. However, when Rwanda was turned on for a solution we had no idea what to do. There is a crystal clear moral dilemma with allowing a nation to kill its people en mass, however we have no idea how to stop it. We can tell them publicly, “oh, hey you over there, stop that. If you don’t I’ll slap your wrist.” That won’t do. We could send in a couple hundred thousand US troops to clean up the mess, but what will that do? They didn’t do anything to us, so why not send those troops into inner city Chicago to clean up the gangs who are killing our own people? Is it our duty as the moral compass of the world to be the police? Its a real issue to struggle through, and as a class we didn’t even seem to try.