Wednesday, January 23, 2008


Some interesting stuff I came across:

- Cranberries are good against infections. That effect seems to only take place with women, though.

- We laugh 3-4 times less than people did 40 years ago. Today, an adult laughs about 15 times a day. Seems like much?

- Potatoes have their origin in the Andes (where they were grown by the Inkas) and only came to us about 500 years ago. Considering that they are pretty essential to Austrian food now, that makes me wonder which food will be "domestic" here in 500 years' time (with the climate change and all). Ginger? Mangoes? Bananas?
Also, looking at where potatoes have been produced in the last years, you notice the typical trend: Production in the Western world has remained constant or been reduced, while it has almost doubled in today's "production countries" China and India.

- New Scientist writes that Probiotic bacteria could keep us slim. My first thought was "Great, more food additives", then "Right, give the population a reason to think even less about what they eat". Then I went and read parts of the original research paper, understood about 17% of it, but at least it explains stuff a bit more thoroughly than the article. And you get some insight into what is necessary to come to such findings, animal testing and all.


I watched some of the DVD features of Children of Men. One of the extras, "The Possibility of Hope" really caught me. It shows statements of activists, ecologists, scientists, etc. about the current state of the world and outlooks on the future, reality and utopias and social economy. Naomi Klein is one of them, and so is James Lovelock, who says:

"I look on the earth as an elderly patient. She is a someone, who would be - if she were human - in her 80s. In other words, strong, vigorous full of her 80s, but not as young as she once was. [...] Because she is quite old, any stress she receives, like it's the same with one of us -- I'm at about her age in my 80s, and if I get influenza it will be a lot more serious than if you get it. Well, our patient Earth has the problem of humans. There are, I'm afraid, too many of them and they are doing too much damage to her capacity to regulate her temperature and composition."

Which is an analogy that I really, really like.

And Fabrizio Eva talks about globalisation, culture and identity, reminding me strongly of John Storey's work and what I learned in that context.

"This globalisation process does not extinguish other cultures, because it takes a long time for other cultures to disappear. Yet, it has repercussions between young and old people. Young people are willing to move, so they already have a preexisting conviction that they don't have to accept their culture the way it is. When they realize that life somewhere else might be better, they move to find their own, new identities."

Identity creation is a fascinating topic. We redefine ourselves continually through the different surroundings we put ourselves in - put on different masks, or show different aspects of our personality when we're online, among friends, among strangers, in our jobs, etc. Theoretically, this gives us so many opportunities for different identities that there's no need to move far away. You'd probably only move (based on the reason of identity) if you can't get to grips with any aspect of your living environment at all.
But, what this actually reminded me of: We used to be part of a single living environment decades or centuries ago (one village). Now that it is far easier to travel greater distances, we are part of multiple living environments, multiple cultures.

I wish more DVDs had great extras like that.


Continueing on the WIP. Not much progress - still trying to incorporate more brands, which proves a bit tricky.


Kati said...

Uuuh, I like this kind of knowledge... especially instead of learning my Business Communication vocabulary that's faaar more interesting. And these quotations are really good... I should definitely watch the movie soon :)

Magpie said...

I always enjoy posts like this one - I don't get to think about much about stuff like that any more - more than my colleagues perhaps, but not nearly as much as I'd like. These days, I'm mostly thinking about work, and while I enjoy my job, it still isn't ....enough. (And having to listen to Radio Oberösterreich all day does kill my brain.
I also liked what you said about different identities. I've often noticed I'm behaving completely differently at work and at home, but I think my online personality is rather close to my "home"/"friends" personality.

Completely random... reading about potatoes and food additives reminded me about reading that they'd managed to breed potoatoes with less calories. I still think that's sick - I mean, it's not as if we don't need enough space for farming already, and then they they think it's an achievementz to get less out of that space? (Am I making sense? My brain feels very dead today.) about simply eating less?
I can't understand those people.

Manuela said...

@kati: Yes, watch the movie! It's absolutely great (well, as long as you don't get a headache from hand-held camera work). A wonderful dystopia, and quite thought-provoking.

@magpie: I tend to push aside the thoughts I should think with stuff like that ;)
Ah well. I need something that keeps me in touch with reality while I'm constantly working with Victorian fairies.

I'm always fascinated by people whose online and "real" personalities are the same - people who write just like they'd say stuff in reality. My ex was like that. I'd known him for over half a year online, and when we finally met I realized that you can convert what he writes 1:1 to what he'd say. It's just ... fascinating. I can't imagine to do that myself, and I don't know a lot of people who do write like they talk - My own online personality is completely different to the reality personality (in real life, I don't talk ;).
So, thinking about such different personalities makes me a bit paranoid. The Manuela my brother knows is different to the me that other students know, or my parents, my friends, my teachers, people from Kendo etc. Every single person who knows me has their own image of who/how I am. And I'm wondering if any of them is anywhere close to any of the personalities that I see in myself. (And what does it matter, anyway?)

Similarly, I create images of other people. Maybe my images are accurate, maybe they're wrong. Probably the latter. I've been trying to figure out some people for some time, and they constantly surprise me because they act differently to what I'd have guessed (even my brother). Makes me wish I could look into people's heads and read their thoughts.
But still, it's what makes life more interesting. People are highly complex puzzles, and there are more of them out there than you can ever solve. You just pick the ones that catch your fancy and try to make them more complete :)

Heh, potatoes with less calories. That fits the general idea that calories are evil. Some people would just love to have food with zero calories, because, oh, they don't make you fat. Geez. Our body needs calories to function.
Soooo, you need more space, you get less out of one potatoe, and as a result you pay much more to get the same level of satisfaction. Crazy world.

Anonymous said...

First: I also had to listen to Radio Oberösterreich during a vacation job - from morning to evening. This was really terrible, I understand your feelings, magpie!

I suppose the origin of our different identities lies exactly in the fact that we deal with different people. We have developed different faces for different counterparts. We can be very flexible - if we do not try to change our environment. ;-)

Eating less is not an easy task I think. Nowadays we are not very much aware of what we eat. While eating our meal we do several other things - to save time. And that is not healthy for sure.


Anonymous said...

Again you have been faster, manu!
A debana-comment I would call that.

I also think that food with less calories is very bad - above all if you need a lot of nutrients. For example because you train kendô the 10th day in a row or something weird like that ;-)


Manuela said...

Hehe. If only I could get all these debana into my Kendo ;)

Eating less can be a challenge, I think. It takes a lot of discipline to break out of habits that you've indulged in for years. I've been monitoring what I eat for two weeks now and I find it hard to maintain a good balance - not only concerning how much I eat, but also how much variety there is in my weekly food intake. It's easy to lose track of our eating habits, with all the things our mind is occupied with - and food is a rather low priority in many people's lives, seeing that most people are only willing to spend - how much? - 10%? of their income on food.

Magpie said...

I realized today I actually have two different "work" personalities - one for talking with my colleagues, and one for customers.
Very interesting.
And yes, I do talk less in RL - at least with people I don't know well; a friend once told me, "when I met you, you didn't talk at all - and now you never shut up!" And she was sooo right!
And my classmates... I remember one of the being completely awed when I lost my temper - "I didn't know you could yell like that!". Didn't know my "home" personality.

I admit, I'm usually too lazy to think much about what I eat. Two hastily prepared sandwiches and two apples for work every day, and whatever I can find for breakfast (recently I've discovered leftover soup makes a nice breakfast. Especially chicken soup.) I don't know what'd happen if my mother didn't cook dinner.
But, thanks to my job, I don't really have to worry about how much I eat. I only put on weight if I'm at school (and I do eat a lot of sweets then, out of pure boredom. And because school food is horrible.)

Manuela said...

Seems our personalities work on a similar talkativity level :)
I can get quite, ahem, attached to people once I feel fully comfortable around them. Talking until it drives them crazy and jumping up and down over their mutilated bodies, stuff like that. Thankfully, I have very, very patient and tolerant friends ;)

Magpie said...

oh, and on laughing... I wish I did laugh as much as 15 times a day. *sigh* right now, 5 times a day is a lot.

Manuela said...

15 times also seems a lot to me. When I read it, I thought I laugh much less. I chuckle a lot, though. So I don't know what criteria the article uses for "laugh". If it's laughing with the fullest of my heart, then my ratio decreases dramatically (pretty much only when I spend a significant amount of time talking with people whose company I enjoy, which happens about every couple of days).
But I think if at one point every day you find something that makes you laugh with your whole body and soul, it already makes the day a pretty good one.

Magpie said...

You know... I don't particularly like working with other people, but at times like now, it can be a good thing - my colleagues do manage to make me laugh at least a couple of times a day. And I don't know what I'd do with my fellow Smarchers/whatever-we're-nows.