By Aneesh Karuppur (V)
Welcome back to another edition of The Pingry Record Tech Column! Let’s see how the new decade started off in the world of technology.
But first, a brief update on Pingry’s wonderful Student Technology Committee (STC). STC’s various groups are working hard in hopes of having significant results by the end of the school year. One team built a charging station near the cafeteria and is currently working on equipping it with cables. In addition, mobile charging carts have arrived and are under construction.
STC has also started a top-secret project relating to technology and interpersonal communication! Stay tuned for more updates on that group’s proposal to our existing technology issues.
STC’s 3D Printing team hosted its first workshop of the year, when Julian Lee (V) ran an AutoCAD workshop for STC members. In the near future, the team expects to roll out workshops for the student body and faculty, which will focus on integrating 3D Printing into specific curricula.
As of now, anybody can use the 3D printer for a valid, school-related reason. In fact, architecture and art classes have already started using it. To print, simply make a model using your CAD software of choice, save it as a .stl file, and speak to an STC member for help printing.
Now, let’s broaden our scope of discussion and take a look at some global tech news, starting off with the Consumer Electronics Show (CES) in January.
The buzziest part of the show was Neon, a Samsung subsidiary that is planning to make artificial humans for use in various settings. Neon ended up being completely overhyped. When excited showgoers went to the booth, they discovered that the life-sized images of people were actually just actors and not artificially intelligent cyborgs. Although Neon promises results eventually (as is the case for many tech startups!) it may take a while for anything to come of it.
One of the main focuses of the CES was the new display technology. Samsung showed off an 8K television (which has about sixteen times more pixels than a standard MacBook screen), which would not be very special if it were not for the fact that the TV has no bezels (black bars around the edge). This means that the visual content extends the entire length and width of the TV and provides an immersive viewing experience. In other news, LG, TCL, and other major TV manufacturers introduced some minor improvements to their existing lineups.
Another interesting development was the increased emphasis on 5G. 5G is the next-generation cellular network and has been reported to be much faster than existing 4G LTE technology. 5G has already been rolled out in numerous places across the country. Since it requires special phone models, its adoption has been fairly limited thus far. Nevertheless, major carriers have promised that more devices will support 5G by next year. At CES, laptop makers like Lenovo and HP jumped on the trend by offering 5G-enabled laptops so users can work anywhere with a cellular connection.
Well, that about wraps it up for this edition of the tech column! Be sure to continue reading in the next issue to observe the trends of the tech world.
By Rhea Kapur (IV)
In preparation for Snowball, Pingry’s annual winter formal, there are a couple items to consider. One is, of course, the look. For female students, it’s finding the perfect dress—classically beautiful, yet original—and for the gentlemen, a suit that stands out. Refer to this issue’s fashion column for more! Other items that come to mind include finding a date, perhaps, a group of friends to get ready with, and everything in between. In all the mayhem that ensues in the week leading up to the event, many don’t stop and think about the music. Out of sight, out of mind—until the event starts. There, it’s, “Ugh, what are the words to this again? Let’s go get a drink and wait ‘till something we know comes on.” The cycle repeats itself every year. The real fun at Snowball—or any dance, for that matter—is to vibe with your friends and just enjoy the music. Many upperclassmen I’ve talked to agree: at a dance, we enjoy the music to the fullest when, first of all, we like the songs, and even more importantly, we know the songs– the chorus, when the beat drops, and a cool freestyle that matches. And let’s be real here: a lot of the time, that isn’t the case.
To investigate this further, I reflected on exactly what type of music is played at Snowball. A friend on Student Government sent me the suggested playlist, which is curated by members of the group and sent to the Snowball DJ. Looking at it, we see that the songs mainly fall into two categories: hip-hop and iconic bops. The latter is self explanatory: the likes of Ed Sheeran’s “Thinking Out Loud,” The Killers’ “Mr. Brightside,” and John Legend’s “All of Me” are commonplace. These are songs that we’ve grown up listening to on the radio, the kinds of songs that friends scream out loud together, smiling, arm in arm—the songs that bring us teenagers together. These fall under the wider umbrella of “pop,” and they’re perfect for a close-knit, school-wide dance. An observation, though, if I may—at Snowball, it’s mainly the female students who dance to these songs, while the males stand on the side awkwardly. Maybe it’s because the lyrics are more touchy-feely, and that, even though male students know the words, singing along goes against the “masculine” image that they must project. Or, maybe this music just isn’t as popular among male students—but I digress.
The roles quickly reverse, though, when songs from the former category—hip-hop—come on. These are characterized by rhythmic beatboxing and clean beats accompanied by raw, flowing rap lyrics. The most popular of them—Drake’s “One Dance,” Travis Scott’s “HIGHEST IN THE ROOM”—are decently well known to all genders and bring most people out to the dance floor. However, when just slightly less popular songs come on—Lil Uzi Vert’s “That’s a Rack,” Migos’ “Narcos”—it’s the male students that jump up and crowd around the middle of the dance floor, enjoying the beat and shouting the lyrics, while female students step back.
Does this mean that the music tastes of our generation, our age group, also split into these two strict categories—and that the gender interests do as well? I would disagree. Take a look at recent breakout stars like Lil Nas X or Billie Eilish, for example. Lil Nas X’s “Old Town Road,” a smashing hit, combines a country sound with the classic hip-hop beat. Both sounds are prominent, and by putting them together, Lil Nas X becomes original, a pioneer, and instantly popular. Eilish’s sound is also definitive, original; she specializes in horror pop, with tunes that are uncannily catchy but also creepy and spine-tingling, and even have a bit of the hip-hop influence mixed in with the beat. As such, Eilish’s music has an entirely different, captivating sound, unlike anything that has been heard before. Both artists have a fantastic following with teenagers of all genders and backgrounds, including Pingry’s own—both artists are on the Snowball playlist and stirred the entire crowd to their feet when played. They’ve blurred the lines between the different genres. I believe this is also reflective of the world our generation is growing up in as a whole: we’re more accepting, more fluid, more willing to combine different aspects of what is known to create what is not. Although there may not be as many artists like Lil Nas X and Eilish out there just yet, with the same degree of popularity, I think that’s the direction we’re going in. Soon, popular music will be more obviously made up of more than just two sounds. Just imagine what the dynamics at Snowball will be like when that’s the case.
By Aneesh Karuppur (V)
As the holiday season quickly approaches, the technology world continues to develop and grow. In this issue, let’s take a look at some good gifts and some not-so-good ones.
First off, the topic most relevant to the average Pingry student is Apple’s new 16-inch MacBook Pro. They come with a scissor keyboard that feels deeper than the previous generation’s (2016-2019) butterfly keys. This new model also features a new TouchBar that has a physical Escape key and a fingerprint sensor/power button. The laptop comes with some incremental processor improvements, an (absolutely necessary) 8 terabyte solid-state drive, and a beefier battery. But the main selling point is the larger screen, which one-ups that of the previous 15-inch MacBook Pro. The screen is of a sufficiently high resolution, and the area surrounding the screen (the bezels) has been shrunk so a bigger screen can fit in about the same footprint as the outgoing 15-inch model. As is the case with Apple displays, the color accuracy is objectively unmatched among other laptops. The laptop still sticks with four USB-C/Thunderbolt 3 ports, which means that this can connect to a variety of devices (displays, external storage drives, GPUs, and other equipment) with a single cable. Pingry still recommends a dongle to go along with these relatively new ports, so I will recommend anything other than Apple’s overpriced USB-C dongles. Overall, the laptop is a nice upgrade and starts at the same $2,399 starting price as the old 15-inch model. If you are in the market for a new laptop for photo and video editing or coding and prefer a larger screen and more power options, this laptop is worth a look. An interesting note is that the upgrades for this machine will not be carried over to the 13-inch just yet, which will retain its issue-prone butterfly keyboard and large bezels. If you can hold out a few years for a 13-inch model, it may be worth it.
Another cool piece of tech that warrants discussion is Tesla’s Cybertruck pickup truck. This vehicle is boxy, sharp, and angular, and Tesla is billing it as an all-electric off-roading truck combination. Tesla also highlights features like “unbreakable” windows and a hefty steel structure. Surprisingly, it is not priced outlandishly: it starts at less than $40,000 and goes up from there. I can’t really make a recommendation, but if you want your utilitarian vehicle to stand out from the crowd, this is it.
Going back to Apple for a bit, let’s discuss Apple’s AirPods Pro. The new Pro label here doesn’t signify anything “professional” about these wireless earbuds, but Apple has made some meaningful changes. There are now swappable rubber tips to block noise more effectively, which perfectly ties in with Apple’s active noise cancelling feature. This means that repetitive, droning noises, like those in a subway ride or an airplane cabin, will be filtered out while the user is listening. The new AirPods Pro have some smaller touches, like vents to equalize the air pressure in the listener’s ears, and more actions that can be performed without taking out your phone (play, pause, skip track, etc.). They do come with Apple’s wireless charging case, albeit in a different shape. I think the AirPods Pro is cool, but more of a generous gift rather than a necessity. If you have the AirPods Gen 1 or Gen 2, I wouldn’t really recommend upgrading to these unless you really need noise cancelling in your life. Of course, the price is also higher than regular AirPods, so that is something to consider as well.
And, finally, a little holiday shopping advice––keep an eye out for any potential scams or fraudulent websites. Criminals have been using more sophisticated methods of phishing, like pretending to be the email address of a friend or family member, and it is often very difficult to detect this fraud at a glance. If an email asks you to enter your credit card information, Social Security number, or anything of the like, hover over the email address and search it up to make sure it is a legitimate email address from a major company or service. If a friend seems to be emailing you for money or a suspicious request, call or text the friend before you enter your information. Once the money is sent, it can be difficult to trace, and this is especially true with the advent of digital credit cards and financial services (Apple Card, Venmo, etc.).
If you’re careful and conscious, though, your holiday tech experience should be fun and rewarding. Happy shopping, and stay tuned for the next issue!
By Kat Andersen (V)
Although conspiracy theories have become pervasive in current times, this phenomenon is nothing new. Spanning the course of human history, conspiracy theories have facilitated the social, political, and religious divisions that invade societies. Their dynamic nature allows them to spread quickly and last wherever they take hold. They can explain unanswered questions, rationalize foreign ideas, destabilize powerful people, and undermine widely accepted beliefs, all in a fascinating and overwhelming manner. Often times, the more bizarre and outlandish a theory is, the more accepted it will be.
Think about conspiracy theories that plague our lives today. Whether you believe them or not, these ideas are deeply ingrained in how we understand the events and ideas around us. For example, two common theories– the possibility of extraterrestrial life in Area 51 and the idea that climate change isn’t real– have attracted news headlines, circulated social media, and (in the case of Area 51) served as inspiration for high school dances and Halloween costumes. However, there are countless others which add to the giant network of theories we have access to on a daily basis.
As I researched popular conspiracy theories, I realized that with every headline, I became more and more intrigued. From a lab in Alaska that’s controlling our minds, to 109 Lochness Monster sightings at Flathead Lake, Montana, to the Joplin Tornado of 2011 being created by the military, I realized that there are explanations for virtually every topic you could imagine. Some of these theories were outrageous, but others were quite convincing. I even found myself wondering if some theories could, to some extent, be true.
To find out why conspiracy theories seem so easy to believe, I did some research on the psychology behind them. According to a study done by the Association for Psychological Science, there are three important motives that drive us to believe a theory. The first is an “epistemic” motive: the idea that people need understanding and control over things. Thus, we are inclined to believe a conspiracy theory if it reduces “uncertainty and bewilderment.” The second is an “existential” motive, the idea that people want to have control and security. In order to do this, we use conspiracy theories to “exert control over the environment.” The last motive is social. Humans want to uphold their positive public image; therefore, conspiracies are attractive because they allow “blame for negative outcomes to be attributed to others,” rather than the group or individual (1).
Back to my initial question. Why do we believe in conspiracy theories? They provide us with comfort and control, and they help bridge the gap between what we know and what we don’t. They are consuming because they create a network. The further you dig, the more connections you see, and the more you find yourself accepting the rationale behind them. With these reasons in mind, it’s entertaining to scroll through the “35 Most Popular Conspiracy Theories”, or even to create your own. Then, try to understand why you chose to associate yourself with certain theories over others.
However, while lots of theories are light-hearted and amusing, some are malicious and inherently false. These include claims that 9/11 and the Holocaust didn’t happen. In the internet age, technology offers its users anonymity, as well as readily available information through social media and news platforms. Conspiracy theories have the potential to be much worse than in previous years, and the possibility of being misled or fed false information is increasing.
So, as we move into the future, and as conspiracy theories become more and more compelling, make sure to question not just if a theory is plausible, but also its intentions and impact.
By Rhea Kapur (V)
Existentialism has dominated my last few weeks. What does that mean, exactly? What even is existentialism? That question in and of itself, my friends, presents its own existential crisis––and that should tell you something about just how much it has been on my mind lately. According to the Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy, existentialism is the pursuit of what “further set of categories… [are] necessary to grasp human existence.” Let that sink in. Deep, I know. And, of course, we teenagers should all be familiar with the “existential crisis,” a term that is now so ingrained in American culture that it is considered colloquial, dare I say the content of memes. Just to be clear, though, an existential crisis is a moment where we question the meaning of life––or, conversely, contemplate how life has no meaning.
I love to explore different aspects of the Slavic cultures and Russian language. Russian literature offers nothing if not some of the best reading, and many great Russian writers were existentialists. A couple of weeks ago, I was reading Uncle Vanya, one of Anton Chekhov’s plays. There’s a line in there that immediately stopped me in my tracks. Helena remarks, “What a fine day! Not too hot.” And Voitski (Vanya) responds, “A fine day to hang oneself.” If that’s not existentialist, I don’t know what is. Yes, Vanya perhaps takes it too far, but the sentiment is there. In my Russian Literature HIRT, we’re reading Anna Karenina, a great novel by Leo Tolstoy, and a friend of mine recently gave a presentation on Tolstoy’s spiritual crisis. You guessed it: by the end of his life, he was a die-hard existentialist. And, in my American Literature course right now, we’re reading “Bartleby the Scrivener”––perhaps one of the strangest short stories of all time––which presents a perfect case study in absurdism, existentialism, and even nihilism.
For me, all of this inspired a Spotify playlist, which I have lovingly entitled “sediment of existentialism.” In curating this playlist, I had to think about what has had me feeling so existentialist (the literature, obviously, and maybe the crushing amount of work). How could I elicit those same feelings again at a random 2:00 AM, when I really need them?
I came up with two answers. One is slow, melancholy music: “Apocalypse,” “Nothing’s Gonna Hurt You Baby,” “Affection,” and “K.” These are slow-burning gems from the band Cigarettes After Sex, perfect for those late nights after you return from a memorable night out, or even while you type out one last essay before our upcoming break. Lana Del Ray, with her unique voice and powerful lyrics, has some stars too: “Love,” “Brooklyn Baby,” “Off to the Races,” and “Born to Die” (that title has me convinced that she, too, is an existentialist) are some of my favorites. All of these songs showcase raspy, unique, and contemplative voices, and they really get my existentialist gears turning, transporting me to entirely new worlds.
The other mini-genre in my existentialist music consists of songs that I’ve associated with a memory. Now, hang with me, folks, we’re getting deep here. What are those sentimental songs for me? “Supermarket Flowers” by Ed Sheeran is one that immediately comes to mind. I know I may have denounced pop in my last column, and Ed Sheeran would definitely qualify as a pop artist, but this song is exceptional; it’s poignant, and above all it’s beautifully sung. Sheeran wrote it to cope with losing his grandmother, and that loss is simultaneously raw and crystal clear in his voice. As someone who recently lost mine, I can really connect to it. Listening, I remember my dadi, yes, but I also think about death, the meaning of death, and where we go afterwards. Where is the “home” that Sheeran refers to? What quantifies “a life that’s been loved” and lived, as Sheeran sings? How can we measure that?
I have lighter songs, too: the last songs of the night that I’ve danced to (“I Lived” by OneRepublic), a Beatles piece a faraway friend of mine used to play me on his guitar (“Blackbird”), or the favorite song of a sister I never had (“The Monster” by Rihanna). All of these songs––the happy, sad, and in-between––make me contemplate life and its meaning. You could say they elicit those existential crises.
My advice for creating your own existentialist playlist? Find those songs that matter to you – the ones that make you reason, reflect, and reminisce. Find those melancholy songs to which you wallow, or the upbeat songs to which you sing along at the top of your lungs, shaking out your hair and smiling ear to ear (“Story of my Life” by One Direction, anyone?). If you need inspiration, give “sediment of existentialism” a listen. Maybe while reading Dostoevsky (another Russian existentialist––sigh) over break, as I will be. You never know what kinds of existential moments you might find yourself in.
Rhea Kapur (V)
Even though I dislike the mainstream, formulaic pop that constantly fills Spotify’s “Today’s Top Hits” Playlist, I keep an eye on the charts. Billboard Hot 100? The top 200 albums? Rolling Stone’s Top 100? iTunes Top 100? You name it. Imagine my surprise when, just a few days into October, I saw not Taylor Swift’s Lover at the top of the Billboard 200, but The Beatles’ Abbey Road, as it was just past the album’s 50th anniversary (Sept. 26th).
I went through a brief Beatles phase this summer, after rediscovering Ferris Bueller’s Day Off and the “Twist and Shout” cameo – the song was on repeat for weeks, so much so that Spotify would start recommending it in every single one of my personalized playlists. I mainly listened to their popular works – “Twist and Shout,” of course, “Hey Jude” (the beautiful lyrics of which, by the way, were written by Paul McCartney to comfort John Lennon’s son Julian during his parents’ divorce), “Here Comes The Sun,” and “Blackbird.” But, last week, after noticing the Beatles’ unusual appearance in the Billboard 200, and reminiscing about my summer obsession, I was intrigued. So I put in headphones, closed my doors, and blasted Abbey Road, Remastered 2009. The Beatles’ swan song. The famous last album. The goodbye. And I have to say – it was an experience.
My favorite song by far was “Carry That Weight,” one of the only songs on the album recorded with all four members. It’s dark, it’s deep, it’s striking. A bit of history: recorded as one with “Golden Slumbers,” an eerily reassuring, hopeful, and vulnerable track in and of itself, the song was written by Paul McCartney but it interestingly featured vocals from all four Beatles. The sheer pressure the song conveys (heavy trumpets, “weight” being repeated, etc. – and that abrupt ending) mirrors the Beatles’ own struggles at the time: inter-group rifts and management troubles with Apple plagued them. Fellow juniors, I bet you can relate to this pressure – I know I’m already feeling it. Take comfort in knowing that the Beatles, too, went through seemingly hopeless times – but of course, theirs was probably much more significant, as the band ended up breaking up at the end. However, those times overall turned out to be great and remembered from today’s perspective, and ours will too – have faith. The weight, in fact, will be “carried a long time.”
A couple more gems from Abbey Road – “You Never Give Me Your Money,” featuring a beautiful, poignant piano base, “Oh! Darling” with McCartney’s wrought, almost painful, but undeniably powerful vocals, and of course, “Come Together” with its unique instrumental backbone – quiet, but with all the more noticeable guitar and beats in the back. I highly recommend those. And check out the 2019 mix of Abbey Road – it has come out in honor of the 50th Anniversary!
To continue my “classics~vibes” music pattern, I was reminded of Elton John – another great artist I constantly listened to this summer after watching the movie in his honor, Rocketman, with some friends. And what a movie that was. It was the first time I really listened to and recognized Elton John, and in theaters, too – the music was just all-encompassing and consuming in conjunction with the story of his eventful, bright-as-a-supernova life. Hearing the song “Rocketman” blasted, I could sense the mixed feelings and, of course, the Ray Bradbury influence – he wrote a short story in the 1950s entitled “The Rocket Man” upon which the song lyrics are heavily based.
Elton John wrote about the most obscure things – the “blue jean baby” in his hands in “Tiny Dancer” (a classic, by the way – simply a beautiful song), or “Spanish Harlem” in “Mona Lisas and Mad Hatters” (one of my favorite songs of all time, and one of Elton’s own favorites, too. I mean, the emotion in it is unparalleled). Honky Chateau is definitely a must-check-out album. But, I digress. Overall, Elton manages to make each and every one of his songs striking and beautiful. He’s simply a genius – not only with the jazz piano, which backs almost all of his songs, but with the lyrics and the voice, too. I’m eternally envious of those fortunate enough to have witnessed his genius in person, in his prime (Mr. Keating, looking at you!).
So I highly, highly recommend checking out Elton John and Abbey Road. Listen to them alone, in a quiet space, or even on a rainy morning bus ride, but with the music blasting as loud as you can bear – and really feel the music. Let it transport you away from the generic pop for a minute and take you back to the roaring 60s and 70s, when people, places, and music had unique character. Anyway, I’ve been listening to these two as I write this column, and it’s been the perfect vibe. I guarantee you, you’ll be hooked.
Aneesh Karuppur (V)
Some interesting things transpired in the tech world over the summer, and even more during the start of the school year.
Perhaps the most talked-about issue was the release of Apple’s new products in September, the most buzzy of which is the new set of iPhones. These include the iPhone 11, the iPhone 11 Pro, and the iPhone 11 Pro Max. The feature everyone seems to be talking about are the new cameras; on the iPhone 11, there is now a second camera for enhanced zoom. On the iPhone 11 Pros, there are now three cameras: one for normal shots, one for closer ones, and one for an ultra-wide picture. The cameras also feature a new Night Mode, a concept likely pilfered from the previous “camera phone,” the Google Pixel. Night Mode uses software tools to brighten your image without making it grainy. It draws out details from all the black spots of your picture. Portrait mode has been updated, as has the camera app itself. It is now easier to look at and use. iPhones have long had 4K video (ultra-high-definition) abilities, and Apple is now advertising enhanced editing tools to go along with it. Finally, Apple is also selling “slofies” with the new batch of iPhones, which are essentially slow-mo selfie videos. I would consider the camera upgrades a reasonable selling point, but the “slofie” aspect is frankly not very compelling.
Other upgrades from last year’s phones include the improved glass casing and a faster chip that features more machine-learning capabilities. This means that the phone can better optimize various tasks and generally run faster during demanding tasks such as games and Schoology uploads. The new iPhones also come in some nice new colors, and have improved screens for quality and color accuracy.
All of this is well and good, but for me, it does not really add up to a compelling proposition. In fact, these last two years of iPhones have been fairly underwhelming. My recommendation is that, unless you have an iPhone 7 or older, or you really want the cool new camera features, this absurdly expensive update is not worth your money. Next year’s iPhones are rumored to have new designs and potentially 5G, the faster mobile data standard that some Android phones already have. For now, just upload the new iOS 13 on your existing phone and sit this update out.
Apple also announced some incremental upgrades in the Apple Watch Series 5, but I still recommend a Series 3 or a Series 4 if you can find one, as they have better value. Additionally, iPadOS on iPads can now better mimic a laptop operating system. To get a maximum bang for your buck, I recommend the regular iPad (or iPad Pro for artists) with a Logitech Crayon stylus (or an Apple Pencil for artists). These tablets should serve as good note-taking and art tools. Finally, Apple mildly updated their MacBook Pros by adding the TouchBar mini-touch screen, as well as some processor bumps. This last one gets a lukewarm recommendation from me—I am hoping that Apple will respond to recent leaps made by other manufacturers in the laptop industry and further improve their product.
Now that I have Apple’s news out of the way, let’s talk about Microsoft’s new line of Surface products. The Surface Laptop 3 is more of an incremental upgrade, but there is finally USB-C in the laptop. This port can connect to multiple displays, drives, or any other device through the use of a dongle instead of one individual port.
Microsoft also updated the Surface Pro 7 tablet with similar upgrades as the laptop. The new device here is the Surface Pro X, which is a clear iPad Pro copycat. It is more of a laptop than the Surface Pro 7 is, and comes with a harder keyboard. I still believe that a Dell XPS 2-in-1 would meet the needs of just about every Windows user except the extremely involved artist, so I don’t have a whole lot to recommend from Microsoft; they are charging Apple-level prices while Dell’s XPS’s are offering similar quality for significantly less money.
Finally, Samsung has announced its Galaxy Note 10 phones, which offer the best performance an Android phone can offer while still remaining svelte and making good use of the built in stylus (S-Pen). Personally, I am not a fan of Samsung devices, and the camera hole in the display is, in my opinion, a worse design than Apple’s notch. Regardless, the Note 10 is an impressive phone, and if you are willing to pay over a thousand dollars, it’s a solid buy.
That just about wraps it up for this issue’s tech column. I hope it helped you make more informed tech-buying decisions. Stay tuned for the next issue!
Alex Kaplan (V)
WARNING: This article contains spoilers for Avengers: Endgame and Spider-Man: Far From Home. If you don’t want to read spoilers, don’t read on.
This past July, I saw the release of the second Spider-Man film from the Marvel Cinematic Universe––Spider-Man: Far From Home. The film was a continuation of where the universe left off after Avengers: Endgame. The world is clearly still reeling from the loss of Iron Man in the battle against Thanos at the Avengers Headquarters, and the people are looking for a new symbol of peace. Nobody feels this pressure more than Peter Parker (played by Tom Holland), Tony Stark’s protege and high-school spider-teenager. He is hounded by the press and Nick Fury, and to top it all off, Stark left Peter unfettered access to his military-grade weapons system, EDITH (“Even Dead I’m The Hero”). The story follows Parker as he deals with this pressure and interacts with Mysterio, a walking fake-news metaphor. The circumstances around the film raise a lot of interesting moral questions, including whether or not it is acceptable to deceive people for their own comfort, and if it is fair to interrupt a hero’s daily life to recruit them for a mission. Chief among these questions is this: is it fair to lay the hopes of the world on a teenage hero?
Throughout the film, Peter Parker struggles to balance his life as a normal teenager with his superhero persona, which leads to some perilous situations. Peter spends the majority of the film on a field trip across Europe, where he tries to ask out his crush, MJ. While on a bus through the countryside, Peter realizes that the glasses Tony Stark left for him house EDITH, and he attempts to use it to remove an embarrassing photo from another student’s phone. Instead, he fails to exercise proper precaution and nearly kills a member of his class with a drone strike. Needless to say, Peter does not have the proper experience necessary to operate military-grade artificial intelligence technology. He is too concerned with the issues surrounding his high-school life to to focus on properly utilizing weapons technology.
Unfortunately for Peter, he has to focus on being a hero, or wherever the trip goes, massive elemental monsters follow. This seems to take a toll on him, as throughout the film Peter laments not being able to spend time with the people in his class. Speaking directly to Mysterio, he says, “I didn’t think I was going to have to save the world this summer. I know that makes me sound like such a jerk. I just, I had this plan with this girl that I really like, and now it’s all ruined.” Peter is unable to commit his time to heroism, and, in my opinion, the Avengers should not expect him to. He deserves to have a high school experience like anyone else’s.
Overall, I thought that Spider-Man: Far From Home was a well put-together and enjoyable film. I encourage anyone who likes both high school dramas and superhero/military shenanigans to watch it. It also serves as an effective reminder, and a cautionary tale to people like Pingry students, that teenagers should not be trusted with the fate of the entire world. Much like Peter Parker, we must be wary of overextending ourselves.
Spider-Man: Far From Home: 8.5/10
Tony Stark’s Moral Choices and Placement of Responsibility: 3/10
By Aneesh Karuppur ’21
Welcome back to The Pingry Record’s Tech Column! There’s a lot to talk about this issue — namely the Consumer Electronics Show (CES) in Las Vegas, Nevada — but there’s still exciting stuff going on back home at Pingry, too.
First up, Pingry’s Student Technology Committee (STC) has made a lot of progress over the season. Pingry’s Apple Authorized Service Provider, called The Bear Repair, has fixed many students’ computers since it was started this fall. The Bear Repair has done everything from troubleshooting problems to running official diagnostic tests to performing display and battery replacements. It provides the same level of service as an Apple Genius Bar, but without the hassle of driving to a different place or making an appointment far in advance. STC’s Apple Certified Mac Technicians (ACMT) are fully qualified and follow official procedures, and The Bear Repair’s pricing is lower as well. Check it out in the back of the tech office. Consultations, troubleshooting, and problem diagnoses are completely free! More ACMTs are being trained as this article is being written, so there will be even more available technicians in the coming months.
STC’s Tech Team has undertaken an endeavor to provide charging carts around the school, so students don’t have to leave their laptop in the tech office or sit in the library if it needs to be charged. The Charging Station team is currently working on the logistics and the placement of these carts and hopes to roll them out as soon as possible.
Tech Team is also working on getting the most out of the school’s 3D printer. New members are being trained on how to use computer-aided design (CAD) to make and print models. All students are allowed to use the 3D printer provided they design the models themselves.
In global tech news, the Consumer Electronics Show (CES) was a big deal. Computers, specifically gaming laptops, made a big splash at the show. Many high-performance computers were released with Nvidia’s latest RTX line of graphics processing units (GPUs). Additionally, laptop maker Gigabyte released a laptop that uses artificial intelligence to optimize power delivery. All of these innovations, while very expensive and not completely practical yet, point towards a software-driven future.
Another big theme at the show was new smartphones. Many manufacturers showed off unique designs, including smart flip phones, and more notably foldable phones. These devices are important since they feature screens that can bend almost a full 360 degrees. This could potentially mean more screen size in the same form factor and could increase portability. Companies like Apple and Samsung have developed proprietary knowledge and techniques in this technology due to their promises.
Virtual reality is also becoming more important. HTC, which makes the Vive headset, demonstrated a new eye-tracking technology that allows you to look around a virtual space without moving your head. Oculus debuted the Quest, a new headset which provides a virtual reality experience without the hassle of hooking up a computer. In fact, Pingry has both HTC Vive and Oculus headsets, and a desktop to power them, so students will hopefully be able to use virtual reality technology in their classes in the coming years.
By Kristine Fu ’19
During this bleak winter season, comfort is the priority. Many girls are sporting cozy shearling jackets and teddy coats to stay warm. Though, despite the winter aesthetic of oversized sweaters and leggings, there are many exciting fashion trends on the rise at Pingry. What was once dismissed as kitschy and gaudy is making a comeback; animal prints have been spotted on skirts, turtlenecks, and even phone cases! Pair your favorite basic sweater with a leopard print skirt or finish a monochromatic outfit with faux snakeskin shoes. On a night out, wear a leopard print coat with heels for the “city-girl look.”
With the spring season only a few weeks away, it’s time to break out the Lilly Pulitzer dresses and pastel skirts, as this year’s spring trends are reminiscent of Sixties fashion. The counterculture of the 1960’s represented a rebellion against the values of traditional society. During this time of social upheaval, mainstream fashion was radically changed with the emergence of Bohemian fashion. The same trends of flared sleeves, fringe jackets, and flowy peasant dresses can be seen at today’s popular clothing stores, such as Free People and Forever 21. Embrace the Boho-chic style with floral print dresses and embroidered denim jackets. For a comfortable and stylish outfit, wear a pair of flowy and flared pants with a plain tee-shirt.
With the revival of Sixties Mod, you’ll be seeing lots of brightly-colored culottes and tweed tops this spring. If you’re looking for the essential mini dress, find one with a fun and flirty print, like polka dots or colored stripes. Though once regarded as a fashion faux pas, mixing prints is in vogue once again. So, don’t be afraid to experiment with the broad color palette. This was the era of bold, innovative, and creative fashion that broke all the rules and created new trends. English model, Twiggy, popularized the plaid mini skirt, which had initially shocked the public. Leopard print was born in the wardrobe of the first lady and Sixties fashion icon, Jackie Kennedy. Yves Saint Laurent’s knee-high boots demonstrated that fashion had both functional and aesthetic value.
As the Italian designer Elsa Schiaparelli once said, “In difficult times, fashion is always outrageous.” Whether it is mixing prints or trying a vintage trend, take a fashion risk this season to find your own style. The values of individuality and self-discovery were fundamental to the counterculture revolution.