Weekendish: Weird contraptions and living goddesses
- 20 June 2014
A collection of some of the best reads from the BBC News website this week, with an injection of your comments.
The villagers of Esperanza, Mexico, would like their train back. They've still got the station and the track but no train. Along with hundreds of other communities, services petered out after the railways were privatised in 1995. Imagine their surprise, then, when Ivan Puig and Andres Padilla Domene's "spacecraft" rolled into town along the abandoned tracks. There are thousands of kilometres of disused track and the artist brothers thought it would be fun to explore as much possible in their home-made aluminium contraption. They documented their travels, including collecting anecdotes from the bemused inhabitants of the isolated towns. The BBC's Dan Curtis caught up with them in Finsbury Park, London, where their work on modern ruins is being exhibited, and saw the weird craft in action. If you only watch one thing online this weekend, make it this - beautiful footage from the brothers' journeys. Constantine Innemee tweets: "Love these guys.. It's like a weird Wes Anderson movie." Dominic Walters adds: "Fantastic idea! Though rather bittersweet." "Build a 'spaceship' and explore Mexico's abandoned railways. I'd like to shake their hands, legendary behaviour...", tweets Bryn Musselwhite.
We didn't ask the Mexican brothers if they had ever come across the godfather of all bizarre contraptions - Heath Robinson. The illustrator's name transcends the man and has entered the English language. First seen in the dictionary in about 1912, Heath Robinson-ish/esque/like means an "absurdly ingenious and impracticable device". The building of a museum to house his work will begin in a few months. Read this article on his curious legacy to see why we can't wait for it to be completed. Fifi Fanshawe tweets: "Hurray! Heath Robinson Museum to be built. Wonder how many ropes and pulleys they'll use in its construction?" Kaiser Of Crisps adds: "I hope the visitor door will open with an elaborate system of pullies etc." Can't stop eating tweets: "How has this guy escaped me until now? WOW! LOVE!"
Heath Robinson illustration © The Estate of JC Robinson reprinted by permission of Pollinger Limited on behalf of The Estate of William Heath Robinson
What's it like to be reincarnated as a goddess? Twelve-year-old Samita Bajracharya knows. Until recently, the Nepalese girl wasn't allowed to speak to anyone except for her family and close friends. Nor was she allowed outside, except for festivals - and even then she had to be carried because her feet were not allowed to touch the ground. She was worshipped by both Hindus and Buddhists, who believe she's a reincarnation of the Hindu goddess Durga. Her predecessor, Chanira, reveals: "When I was a goddess, I used to peek through the holes of windows." Her divine life ended abruptly when she was 15 - on the day she first menstruated. Alessandro Feroci tweets: "Magic and wonderful". Mary Langford asks: "Is this a fair on a 12 year old child?" Ann Larson tweets: "Lovely story about the sacred in modern day Nepal."
Where do you draw the line between a clumsy pass and an attempted sexual assault? The question has been central to a number of high-profile trials recently, and from the evidence of Jo Fidgen's article on Monday, there's little chance of a consensus any time soon. One California university has tried to introduce the idea of "affirmative consent". Some ask whether we're returning to an age as conservative as Jane Austen's - and others wonder if that's not a bad thing. Readers' comments included this from Yours In Sisterhood: "Seeking permission/consent to kiss someone is preferable to not doing so and causing another
party distress and or offence. Surely this is basic good manners." But PosterMeerkat asks, "Have we lost all sense of spontaneity that we cannot tell when someone wants to kiss us, or that we want to kiss someone? If so, then we are turning into a very sad nation."
Body marking has been used for centuries in parts of Africa to indicate a person's tribal heritage. It's becoming less common but some people still want to carry the marks of their ancestors. Laeila Adjovi visits southern Benin and witnesses a voodoo ritual. During days of celebrations, children are given new names, their hair is shaved and they are taken to a convent where an oracle helps them to communicate with previous generations. Then they undergo something known as scarification. Rachel Banning-Lover tweets: "And I thought parents getting their babies' ears pierced was bad. Why some people want facial scars." ObsidianPanda adds: "An interesting piece. Fine line between culture and abuse...but this is far less harmful than GM & circumcision."
Almost as disappointing as England's results in the World Cup, has been the flood of tenuously Brazil-themed food and drink items hitting our supermarkets. On Wednesday the Magazine investigated Brazilian-themed pot noodle, Brazilian-themed pizza and Brazilian-themed Lucozade. One only hopes that someone has brought out Brazilian-themed indigestion tablets. Clare Spencer's article was accompanied by a video in which a Brazilian-themed Brazilian taste-tested these comestibles. Drew White's reaction was concerned with another sort of authenticity - the background music in the video. "Trying to work out if @BBCNewsMagazine feature on inauthentic Brazil-themed products was using music ironically - was really not Brazilian!" In fact, it was the Cuban-themed Brazilian act, Os Mutantes. "Which totally proves the irony was intended," replied Drew, when we pointed out this out to him. Er, yes.
Here are some things we've enjoyed this week from elsewhere around the web:
Pixel Perfect: The Story of Eboy - The Verge
Kim Jong Un's Busy Year - The Atlantic
Ban the silent treatment - Wall Street Journal