In which a group of graying eternal amateurs discuss their passions, interests and obsessions, among them: movies, art, politics, evolutionary biology, taxes, writing, computers, these kids these days, and lousy educations.

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College administrator and arts buff

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Architectural historian and arts buff

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Entrepreneur and arts buff
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Media flunky and arts buff

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Our Last 50 Referrers

Wednesday, August 4, 2004

Dear Vanessa -- I'm vacationing on the Left Coast, where I'm doing my best to let sun, surf, and white wine turn me into an inarticulate and blissed-out disgrace. I'm also holed up in a place with a stunning view but a moody dial-up AOL connection, and am thus almost completely divorced from the web's ebb and flow. (Meaning: anytime I try to check out a blog or a website, the browser crashes.) So, for the next week and a half, I'm anticipating being at best a casual computer user and a light and whimsical blogger. Instead: morning yoga; sunset communions with the ocean gods; breathing deeply the smell of eucalyptus ... I might even read a book or two. Well, I'm considering the possibility, anyway. Best, Michael... posted by Michael at August 4, 2004 | perma-link | (6) comments

Tuesday, August 3, 2004

Fat Facts
Dear Vanessa -- Thanks to the Web, I've cut 'way back on magazine and newspaper consumption. But when I fly, I still load up on glossy magazines. One of the mags I treated myself to yesterday as I traveled out west was National Georgraphic, which I hadn't looked at in many years. Shorter articles; many more graphics, and far more aggressive graphics; and even some "attitude" -- some things don't remain the same, I guess. But it was also good to see that some things do indeed remain the same. Amid the pop and the clatter, the issue also featured some traditional NatGeo-style pages: tales of death-defying treks and outlandish beasties. (Six-foot-long squid!) Not all the visuals were punchy and hyped-up either. Some of the photography was breathtaking in the classic NatGeo way -- the squid shots by Brian Skerry were especially good. And the maps don't seem to have changed much in style at all. Super-detailed, full of snow-capped mountains and green river valleys, they're as mesmerizing as ever. But, thanks to discussions that have taken place on this blog, what fascinated me most in the issue was an article by Cathy Newman. Its subject? Why Americans have gotten so fat. Some startling data from Newman's article: For the first time, there are now as many fat people on the face of the planet as there are undernourished people. One in three Americans is obese -- twice as many as three decades ago. Obesity among American children and adolescents has tripled since 1980. Calling the New Urbanism! One reason for fat kids: "Suburban sprawl and lack of pedestrian-friendly streets have kids being driven instead of walking." We're getting fatter because -- why else? -- we're eating too much and exercising too little. These days, on average, we're eating 300 more calories a day than we need to. Adult American women now eat 325 more calories a day than they did in 1971; adult American men eat 168 calories more. Ladies -- what's going on? During the year 1970, the average American ate 1497 pounds of food; during the year 2000, the average American ate 1775 pounds of food. To our credit, we do eat more vegetables than we used to. Trouble is, most of that consists of iceberg lettuce, french fries, and potato chips. In the early 1970s, the average American ate 136 pounds of flour and cereal products per year. These days, the average American eats 200 pounds, most of them heavily processed. If you eat a mere hundred calories a day more than you need -- the equivalent of a glass of apple juice -- you'll gain 10 pounds in a year. The inverse, kinda, holds true too: if you begin getting 100 calories a day less exercise than you were getting, you’ll also gain ten pounds in a year. One in four Americans gets no exercise whatsoever. A culture of abundance indeed, and one that works hard to seduce. It can seem that everywhere are flashing... posted by Michael at August 3, 2004 | perma-link | (23) comments