webcowgirl: (Twit/ter)
Oh, Twitter. It's totally ramped up my ability to connect with people again (since LJ has been dying rather a slow death), but it has made it difficult to have conversations with people about Neat Stuff Online, especially because I mostly access it using my phone. Still, there is Neat Stuff Online to discuss, so here I go.

First, only of interest to one or two: a cache of lost American silent movies has been found in New Zealand! I'm not too bothered about the John Ford film, "Upstream," but "Why Husbands Flirt" looks awfully cute.

Second, ongoing reporting on doctors aiding torture. The note is that they were supposed to keep it from becoming torture but I just don't see how these medical professionals could not see they were complicit in torture. Hello, Nuremberg trials?

Third, and causing me most time wasted yesterday, twin articles on how the modern computer society is changing us. The shorter one says the constant low-level "noise" is affecting our brains, but notes that it's become a "vital part of our ability to connect with others." Sure, chatting online, Twitter, commenting on Facebook, this all takes a lot of time and is multithreaded and nagging, but who really does this stuff on the phone anymore? And how else are we supposed to do it? If you say, "Ooh, I don't want to send emails or texts," then suddenly you're cut off from a lot of people and events. The article says it's making us impatient and forgetful, but maybe that's a small price to pay - or it can be better managed.

The other article in this set is called Hooked On Gadgets, and I felt this had more points worth debating. How do we handle the deluge of data we are now under? What effects does being this plugged in have on us? Does multitasking really work? How does it affect how we deal with people face to face? Do people hide behind their technology, and why?

Finally, a brief mention of a woman fired for being too sexy. She wore the same clothes as another woman, but because she had the extreme hourglass figure, she was criticized for being a distraction. I thought this was very interesting in terms of showing the horrible standards women are held up to at work but also of prejudice against attractive people.
webcowgirl: (Flamenco)
J and I went to Sadler's Wells last night to see Eva Yerbabuena - it was a much more satisfying experience than last Sunday. Next week we're going twice, though I secretly want to go see one of the acts happening between now and next Thursday. Ah well. Time, never enough.

I've been thinking a bit about aggressiveness. I get called aggressive, almost always by men, and usually when they're unhappy with my behavior (bosses, my dad, Wechsler). I have come to believe that this calling a woman aggressive is actually a control tactic. I say this because you ONLY hear a man called aggressive because of physical behavior - though, to be honest, I think you'd just NOT say it to his face, you'd say it behind is back - but you don't call a man aggressive simply for stating his opinion. I believe aggressive, applied to a woman, is a way of saying "opinionated," as said by someone who doesn't enjoy having a woman express their opinion more strongly, or more convincingly, than the person who calls them aggressive. Because, really, they would NEVER say this to a man. It's a control tactic used to shut women up. And along those lines, have a look at this article on stereotyping women in business. Read the report at the bottom, it's where the meat is.

Uh, what else. J and I went to the BFI to see Late Autumn, which is one of the last movies we'll be seeing in the Ozu festival - it was nice but kind of light (a relief) with a very funny scene in which the men were talking about a colleague who had died 7 years ago ...
Man 1: His wife is so beautiful still!
Man 2: He used up all of his luck marrying her.
Man 3: You have to die early when you marry a woman that beautiful.
Old waitress: You need more sake?
Men: No thanks!
Man 1: Her husband will have a long life.
Man 2: Thank God for unexpected blessings, eh?

I was laughing out loud at how amazingly rude and mean they were. Later they were all saying they wished THEY were widowers - a horrible sentiment given that they were all married!

Anyway, we're having theatre geeks over for tacos tonight. It should be lots of fun, but I've got to clean STAT!
webcowgirl: (Default)
Here's my review of Ghosts at the Arcola. I felt it was a bit of Woman in Black meets August Osage County - a non-stop action melodrama, with chase scenes and car crashes. And nudity. Or, well, maybe not, but I felt it was really a rip-roaring two hours and lots of fun, if you go for that kind of thing.

1. Just a little walk - one hour a week - improves women's health.

2. It's easier to sleep in cold room. Which is why I really felt bad for my friends in unairconditioned Seattle last week, and why, for all people are grousing about it being a cloudy, overly cool summer in London, I am grateful we've had the weather we've had - meaning I can get a good night's sleep pretty much every evening.
webcowgirl: (Status report)
I don't agree with everything this woman says about the difference between men and women as managers, but I do agree with her on what makes a good manager. Well worth reading.

I have accepted the job offer after negotiating a salary rise. Next step: negotiating a leaving date. Current step: across the street to get a nibble.
webcowgirl: (Default)
This article about running out of work, money, and luck is really interesting. Note the presumption of access to health insurance and a car.

And this: "Meanwhile they were finding out why some recipients have taken to calling the assistance program “Torture and Abuse of Needy Families.” From the start, the experience has been “humiliating,” Kristen said. The caseworkers “treat you like a bum — they act like every dollar you get is coming out of their own paychecks." " - I get the feeling welfare/jobs caseworkers in the US and UK treat people about exactly the same.

The UK assumption of the classes people are in being permanent is interesting to me. And the Parentes would have considered themselves middle class, as do I. But I think that I could just as easily slip into the same situation in two years as they have - out of work, no place to live, being treated like a scrounger by the government. My only saving grace is that I don't have to take care of any children. But I don't see myself having enough money saved up to keep this from happening, and God knows I would have no one to turn to to bail me out. My only hope is to just keep working and hope I stay employed.
webcowgirl: (Tiger monkey)
As a person with a strong temper and a big mouth, I found this article in the New York Times very interesting.

"The adult brain expends at least as much energy on inhibition as on action, some studies suggest, and mental health relies on abiding strategies to ignore or suppress deeply disturbing thoughts — of one’s own inevitable death, for example."

But then: "Perverse impulses seem to arise when people focus intensely on avoiding specific errors or taboos. The theory is straightforward: to avoid blurting out that a colleague is a raging hypocrite, the brain must first imagine just that; the very presence of that catastrophic insult, in turn, increases the odds that the brain will spit it out."

I am doomed, I tell you. But I sure feel my brain sweating through keeping my mouth shut, even though I so frequently don't.
webcowgirl: (London Biker)
Wow, six minutes a week is as good for building muscle as these ridiculous hours and hours most people associate with gym work? I may need to rethink my routine.

(I like articles like this because I feel like a lot of people don't like to exercise because they think it takes to much time. It's really encouraging to think that it could be easy and I want to encourage these thoughts to spread!)
webcowgirl: (Default)
I was fascinated by this article on how food has "evolved" to make it so much more difficult to control overeating. The person interviewed has just published a book called The End of Overeating: Taking Control of the Insatiable American Appetite, and I would like to get a copy of it because it seems to delve into elements of human psychology that I personally find fascinating. How do food manufacturers make us want to eat more, even when we are full? What is the psychology (and perhaps even physiology) of hunger?

"This is not a diet book, but Dr. Kessler devotes a sizable section to “food rehab,” offering practical advice for using the science of overeating to our advantage, so that we begin to think differently about food and take back control of our eating habits.

"One of his main messages is that overeating is not due to an absence of willpower, but a biological challenge made more difficult by the overstimulating food environment that surrounds us. 'Conditioned hypereating' is a chronic problem that is made worse by dieting [emphasis mine] and needs to be managed rather than cured, he said. And while lapses are inevitable, Dr. Kessler outlines several strategies that address the behavioral, cognitive and nutritional factors that fuel overeating.Read more... )

The article also has the most wonderful description of a Snickers bar, which, of course, has made me want to go out and get one. Evil!

(Meanwhile, Mark Bittman posts the 10 ingredient shopping list that will keep you going all week. The only problem is, er, well, it includes shrim, asparagus and mushrooms, so I'm not touching it with a ten foot pole.)
webcowgirl: (E-love)
If you are looking for an internet time waster guaranteed to make you sit at your computer giggling helplessly, I recommend Texts From Last Night. It's lke sitting in the back seat of a car being driven by two American 20 years old - horrible and fascinating and really funny. Like the Wedding Crashers. You have been warned.

(FYI clearly it's gym over lunch today for me.)
webcowgirl: (Blythe)
Living over here, I find there are a few elements of American culture that just haven't translated very well in England and are a bit of a mystery - high school, "the prom," and our race obsession being three of them.

Read about all of them in this article in the New York Times.

Class? In America, we're generally not concerned about it. Race is still our big problem.
webcowgirl: (I Miss America)
I think this article captures nicely what it's like to be poor in America.

English people: do you think it's different here? In what ways?
webcowgirl: (Jizo)
I know a lot of people on my flist suffer from depression, so I'm sharing this article on chronic depression from the New York Times. It's a good companion to an article on women bullying women in the workplace.

Now I'm going to eat some strawberries.
webcowgirl: (wind)
Per today's New York Times, having friends can save your life.

"Proximity and the amount of contact with a friend wasn’t associated with survival. Just having friends was protective."

"Only smoking was as important a risk factor as lack of social support."

"In the study of nurses with breast cancer, having a spouse wasn’t associated with survival."

Anyway ... it's interesting to think that it's important to physical as well as mental health.

As for me, I'm still feeling pretty weak. This is not going to be one of those staying late at work days.

My new Alain de Botton book, The Pleasures and Sorrows of Work, has shown up. I'm excited about reading it after hearing him speak earlier in the month. To quote my review: De Botton had interesting things to say about why people don’t enjoy work (”They’re not supposed to, but they think they are, so they’re dissatisfied”), why workplaces are bizarre (”They put policies in place to make sure you continue to value making money over, say, having sex with your coworkers”), what work says about us as a society (”It’s a good thing that people have jobs no one can understand, at least according to those that judge a society’s evolution by how specialized its workers can be”) and the biscuit industry (”Of all of the people at XYZ biscuit company involved in the design of the Biscuit Alpha, not a single one of them knows how to bake”).

Anyway, it was interesting enough that I went out and bought the book afterall. It's too late for me to get it autographed but, who knows, maybe he and I will sit down and have lunch today and discuss life after Proust, a topic relevant to both of us. There has to be more to life than Charlaine Harris, after all.

Also, Twittering with your mind - just the thing I think [livejournal.com profile] butterbee would be researching if she didn't hate Twitter so much!
webcowgirl: (flower)
It should be no surprise to me that Barry Lyndon (which we saw Sunday as part of the BFI's Kubrik retrospective) was also (along with Brideshead Revisited filmed at Castle Howard, near York.

But looking at a list of the places it was filmed, it also appears locations in Dorset, Oxfordshire, way north Scotland, and elsewhere. It does inspire me to travel. If only I could guarantee a sunny day when I could actually enjoy walking around an estate instead of getting rained on!

Meanwhile, for a moment or two of comic fear, modified My Little Ponies. I like the Cthulu one.
webcowgirl: (Queen Apple)
Well! Thanks to an article [livejournal.com profile] butterbee linked to, I now know my long-standing preference to "give experiences not stuff" (or in this case buy them) is actually the right tack to take in terms of creating more happiness in my life! Apparently "experiential purchases, such as a meal out or theater tickets, result in increased well-being because they satisfy higher order needs, specifically the need for social connectedness and vitality -- a feeling of being alive." So travel and theater really are doing it for me - not that I wouldn't complain about having a decent pair of waterproof shoes right now. For that matter, I think an exception should be made for books, because they are things that give you experiences ... in your head.

So that's it, I'm living on ratty furniture for the rest of my life and spending all of my money on theater and travel. W00T!
webcowgirl: (I Miss America)
AP Headline: "Bush set to say farewell to the nation"
Nation to Bush: "Don't let the door hit your ass on the way out."
World to Bush administration: "How about a little time in detention with Mr. Karadzic?" (I love the thought that any of them might be arrested if they travelled abroad. That would make my year!)

In a comedic moment, The Guardian's farewell to President ... Gore. Thanks to [livejournal.com profile] jhg - hysterical and highly recommended!
webcowgirl: (Morpheus)
Okay, I think this is GREAT NEWS and have to share it.

"There is no cure for the common cold, but in an experiment that deliberately infected volunteers with a virus, researchers have shown that getting less sleep can substantially increase the risk of catching one."

I have often felt that the amount of sleep I get is directly related to my ability to ward off infection, and since I started, er, drinking red wine to stave off the effects of aging (per another article) and generally getting 8 hours a night (I think these things are related), I have managed to fight off cold after cold. I firmly believe that eating well and getting enough sleep and regular hand washing (and not getting colds) is the best way to avoid getting colds ... and I am right in one of these things! I have felt one after another hit this winter but I've just had a runny nose that was gone the next day - a huge improvement over last year. I've also been trying to adjust my schedule so that I'm not getting home after 10:30 so I have enough time to wind down before bed, and I feel like this has been paying off.

(The "don't get a cold to keep you from getting a cold" sounds redundant but I need something to explain the fact that when you get one you tend to get a million in a row due to your immune system being overtaxed or something like that.)

Also, some further advice about avoiding heart attacks: get tested for C-reactive protein, Mediterranean diet (the Sicilian cooking will serve me well), take care of your teeth, avoid chronic stress (like I had all of the last five months of this year), get enough sleep, and a bit of cardio. Time to add in a bit more cardio - brisk walking will work and I note it's sunny outside. :-)
webcowgirl: (Queen Apple)
For those of you who are interested in rare species, I can't give you pink iguanas, but I can give you rare tree Kangaroos have twins.

If you're doing annual reviews at work, this article might be worthwhile reading.

When I read the Metro this morning, I was excited to see that staycation has achieved some traction and may, like Pinocchio, become a real word. On the other hand - they're just now getting around to considering "defriending" for this list? How 2004 of them!

The meanest thing on the internet today is probably here. Oscar season is the one time a year I will read celebrity news, because I like to look at the dresses, but the quotes on this site make it worth reading just for the humor value.


Oh yeah. And per this article, I could be paid to blog and snorkel. You know what? For £75K a year, I am going to apply for this job. I don't care if it's half publicity stunt, I think it could be the best six months of my life.

Wait, maybe this costume outfunnies the other link. I think I want it as a new icon.

Anyway, I have work to do as my 3 PM meeting was cancelled and the internet is back up again. Hope your Monday is going alright.
webcowgirl: (HotTomato)
Well, in what is doubtlessly the most exciting article to hit the New York Times in weeks (looks like election season is well and truly over!), the secrets of making perfect gravy are revealed. Now, making perfect gravy is one of my superpowers, but I don't consider it a loss for this knowledge to become more widely disseminated. Key element: "one tablespoon of fat to one tablespoon of flour to one cup of liquid will make gravy." They've also got a nice article about good side dishes, which is always the element I fuss over every year. Of course, this year I'm not cooking Thanksgiving, so I don't have to worry about finding the ingredients to make sweet potato gratin with orange zest ... though, who knows, maybe I should.

Meanwhile, the NY equivalent of an Oyster card has been used to get a man out of jail as its verified his alibi. As near as I can tell he's been in jail since May, so this is a really good thing.

In other "which news is most interesting or useless" we have an article about teenagers socializing on the internet as well as Project Runway, when will it return (critical news this!). And finally, happy people spend less time watching TV, but it doesn't seem to be a causational thing.
webcowgirl: (I Miss America)
Inspired by this picture (of Kareem Rashad Sultan Khan's mom at her son's grave in Arlington), Colin Powell has gone out and stood up for what's right:

He told Tom Brokaw that he was troubled by what other Republicans, not McCain, had said: “ ‘Well, you know that Mr. Obama is a Muslim.’ Well, the correct answer is, he is not a Muslim. He’s a Christian. He’s always been a Christian. But the really right answer is, what if he is? Is there something wrong with being a Muslim in this country? The answer’s no. That’s not America. Is something wrong with some 7-year-old Muslim-American kid believing that he or she could be president?”

Well, alright, Mr. Powell. Thank you for that.

I am still against the war and I don't think anyone should join up to go fight in it. I am against armies in general. But man, I am really grateful to Colin Powell for saying what needed to be said. I would be happy and proud to have him serving my country again in a high office.

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