Au Courant: January 31, 2016

Jan 31, 2016

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~The Simple Sophisticate, episode #84


The Atlantic magazine reported on Thursday that Mattel’s new barbies will be available in different sizes and different skin tones in response to low sales. Dropping 20% between 2012 and 2014, capitalism has had its way, and now curvy, petite, tall and differing ethnicities will be available. By the way, did you know that a man created Barbie? Yep, Reinhard Beuthien. Bravo to shoppers for exercising their power to institute change.

~UPDATE: There is much debate about the actual creator of Barbie as one commenter mentioned. For the brand Mattel, yes, Ruth Handler is credited, but the doll the actual design that inspired the prototype was credited to a man. This too is debatable: is it Jack Ryan as Emily Praeger contends in her article “Our Barbies, Ourselves” or is it the German creator Reinhard Beuthien as mentioned in today’s post? Jack Ryan worked for Mattel and was the inventor for Barbie, under the leadership of Ruth and her husband Elliott, given the task of “rethinking” the design of the German doll of which Barbie was inspired (designed by Beuthien).

National: United States

The standoff in southeastern Oregon at the Mahleur County Wildlife Refuge has all but wrapped up. While approximately four people remain on the compound, refusing to leave until they are guaranteed they will not be arrested, the leaders of the take-over that began on January 2nd, were arrested on the 26th of this past week along an isolated stretch of highway. All in total 11 have been arrested. While all but one of the occupants in the two vehicles were arrested without incident, one man, Richard LeVoy Finnicum, as was documented in aerial video made available by the FBI on Thursday, chose to attempt to evade capture, eventually getting his pickup stuck in the snow prompting him to exit his vehicle. At that point, while initially with his hands up, he is seen to reach for a weapon and is shot and killed by authorities. Ammon and Ryan Bundy have been denied bail by a federal judge in Portland, and through his lawyer, Ammon is asking the remaining few militants to stand down and leave the compound.

Facebook announced on Friday that they would no longer allow gun sales to be facilitated on their platform. As reported by The New York Times, many were circumventing the new federal law that requires background checks by selling guns on Facebook and Instagram accounts.

Earlier this week the U.S. News & World Report released its projections for the 100 Best Jobs in 2016 ranked according to their ability to pay well, challenge us, are a good match for our talents and skills, aren’t too stressful, offer room to advance and provide a satisfying work-life balance. The top five in ascending order: (5) physicians assistant (4) nurse anesthetist (3) computer systems analyst (2) dentist (1) orthodontist. After looking at the entire list, it is clear that health and technology are certain to be a worthwhile pursuit should such careers be of interest to you.


On Monday the three Democratic Presidential candidates participated in an additional Town Hall in Des Moines, Iowa, hosted by Drake University and the Iowan Democratic Party. On Monday, the first official opportunity for voters to cast their vote for their preferred Presidential candidate as the primaries begin with the Iowa Caucus.

On Thursday, the Republicans held a debate in Des Moines as well hosted by Fox News. However, this time, the first time after the first six debates, front-runner Donald Trump was not present. Due to tensions and foul treatment by Fox News, along with a distrust in moderator Megyn Kelly to be fair, Trump held his own event no five minutes away synchronized in time with the scheduled debate. Trump reported that his event to raise money for wounded vets raised more than $6 million dollars.

Breaking late Friday, the State Department announced that 22 of Hillary Clinton’s emails while she was Secretary of State were deemed “Too Classified” to be released as reported by The New York Times. Cited as containing highly classified information, each of the 22 emails were “upgraded” to classified after further scrutiny by intelligence officials and were not marked classified at the time they were exchanged between her private email server and the U.S. government.

Health & Science

Published earlier this month in the journal Health Affairs, a study revealed that providing financial incentives for employees to lose weight did not work. After a yearlong, randomized study with 197 obese employees at the University of Pennsylvania health system, the goal was to lose 5% of their body weight. None of the studied groups (four were organized, one as a control) reached the 5% goal.

Arts & Entertainment

The Sundance Film Festival wraps up today in Park City, Utah. And many films are causing a stir. The Los Angeles Times reports that independent films such as O.J. Made in American, Goat, Manchester by the Sea, Weiner, Birth of a Nation and Certain Woman were the films to see. Be sure to look for them to become more widely available later on in the year.

Last August three American men, Anthony Sadler, Alek Skarlatos and Spencer Stone thwarted a terror attack on a Parisian bound train, now they have a book deal. As reported by The Washington Post, the book will be released on the anniversary of the incident, August 21, and be titled The 15:17 to Paris. Published by Perseus Books Group, the first printing is expected to be six figures.

Beatrice Potter is also publishing a book this coming year, in September. Yes, Peter Rabbit’s Beatrice Potter. Titled The Tale of Kitty-in-Boots, the story was ready to be published during Potter’s lifetime, but political circumstance and wariness by her publisher shelved the tale of Kitty. Since Potter only finished one illustration for the story, illustrator Quentin Blake, best known for his art in many of Roald Dahl’s books, will complete the visuals, and be sure, Peter Rabbit will be included as well.

Bendite Event of the Week

Groundhog’s Day arrives on February 2nd and here in Bend, the Tower Theater will be showing, what else? the film Groundhog’s Day starring Bill Murray and Andie McDowell. With four different viewings available, 2pm, 3:45, 5:30 and 7:15, this 1993 film can be enjoyed for only $5.

French Word of the Week

La Tour Eiffel

Bonjour, this is Géraldine from Comme une Franç I’m here to share the latest French Word of the Week: a simple, very French word for your Simply Luxurious Life in France.

Symbol of Paris and symbol of France, la Tour Eiffel, the Eiffel Tower is a sight you can’t miss if you are traveling to my country.

It was finished in 1889 for l’Exposition universelle de Paris. It’s “312 mètres” high (1024 feet).

If you want to visit it, you can go to le 1er étage, and le 2ème étage à pied ou en ascenseur. I highly recommend you use the stairs if you can. Then you’ll reach le sommet  (the top) with the elevator.

If you just want a nice picture, go le Champ de Mars nearby or cross la Seine to reach La Place du Trocadéro. Once at la Place du Trocadéro, if you have time, I highly recommend you visit La Cité du Patrimoine et de l’Architecture: an amazing museum about architecture in France. I love this place!

Also, at night, don’t miss “les illuminations de la Tour Eiffel”. Even though I haven’t visited the Tour Eiffel in a while, I really like seeing it illuminated at night. At the beginning of each hour, for 5 minutes, la Tour Eiffel scintille. the Eiffel Tower sparkles.

If you want to add more French in your Simply Luxurious Life, join me on Comme une Franç for weekly video tips to sound French, even to the French! And it’s free.

Thought to Ponder


~Oprah celebrated her 62nd birthday on Friday January 29th~

2 thoughts on “Au Courant: January 31, 2016

  1. Barbie was created by a woman, Ruth Handler, when she noticed her daughter, Barbara, playing with paper dolls and giving them adult rolls. Most dolls until then had been infants. Reinhard Beuthien created the German cartoon character, Lilli, (which was later turned into a doll). The Lilli doll also spun-off Spanish and Polish versions. Ruth Handler almost totally ripped-off Lilli when she made her doll, but *technically* she created the iconic *Barbie*.

    1. Carrie, There is actually a lot of debate about this. For the brand Mattel, yes, Ruth Handler, but the doll that inspired the prototype is credited to a man. This too is debatable: is it Jack Ryan as Emily Praeger contends in her article “Our Barbies, Ourselves” (see link below to this article) or is it the German creator Reinhard Beuthien as mentioned in today’s post?

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