What I find particularly seductive about Google Street View is that it purports to be a very objective document of our world. It is simply the product of a car (or a motorbike or a hiker) driving down a street taking pictures. But, of course, it is far from an objective document. Humans get in the way, as they always do, filling each scene with stories.
There is something tantalizing about being there but not being there, about being everywhere and nowhere at once. The geospatial distance leaves us wanting, hungry for more. I’m enamored with the glitchiness of these human landscapes, the way people’s legs are sometimes separated from their bodies, the way everyone’s faces are blurred out, as if they no longer exist (sometimes they no longer do). This is our world, but it is not our world.
I have seen Naples from his vantage of a ship anchored offshore — one of the most sublime locations in the world, that sweep of coast stacked with apricot, carmine, azure and rose villas; the blue, blue U of the harbor; the emphatic Vesuvius anchoring the view.
In October of 1820, typhus raged in Naples. With his artist friend, Joseph Severn, the British poet John Keats rocked in the city’s harbor for 10 days, not nearly the quaranta giorni — 40 days — that give us our word quarantine.
Before this journey, Keats always felt intense melancholy. In “On Seeing the Elgin Marbles for the First Time,” he wrote “… mortality / Weighs heavily on me like unwilling sleep.” (And in the smooth pentameter of “Ode to a Nightingale”: “I have been half in love with easeful death.”) Not a holiday, this voyage out of England was a desperate trip to the sunny climate of Italy. His cough had grown steadily worse. Since the morning he’d seen a splotch of blood on his pillow, he knew he had little chance of surviving the consumption that had invaded his lungs. His last-ditch: Go to Rome. Meanwhile, exile at sea.
From a New York Times online article (March 16, 2020):
“Maintaining weight loss can get easier over time. Over time, less intentional effort, though not no effort, is needed to be successful. After about two years, healthy eating habits become part of the routine. Healthy choices become more automatic the longer people continue to make them. They feel weird when they don’t.”
Among the useful strategies identified in the new study is to keep lower calorie foods like fruits and vegetables more accessible. “We eat what we see,” Dr. Phelan noted. The corollary is equally important: keep high-calorie, less nourishing foods relatively inaccessible and out of sight if not out of the house entirely.
The new study led by Dr. Phelan, professor of kinesiology and public health at California Polytechnic State University, identified habits and strategies that can be keys to success for millions. Yes, like most sensible weight-loss plans, they involve healthful eating and regular physical activity. But they also include important self-monitoring practices and nonpunitive coping measures that can be the crucial to long-term weight management.
Global health officials have praised China and South Korea for the success of their efforts to contain the coronavirus. What are those countries getting right — and what can everyone else learn from them?
Stocks tanked again as the outbreak was officially declared a pandemic and policies to address its impact proved lacking or ineffective.
All flights to the U.S. have been suspended from Europe. Many schools announced they would close indefinitely, some nursing homes banned visitors, and workplaces across the country have urged their employees to work from home. Here are the latest updates.
From a New York Times online article (Feb 27, 2020):
Mr. Hood, a former Marine and Drug Enforcement Administration agent, held the plank on Feb. 15 for more time than an average day’s work.
The plank is a feat of static, but strenuous, exercise. The torso is sustained in a horizontal position, anchored by the toes on one end and the forearms on the other. The abdominal and thigh, back and arm muscles are among those firing away, turning most of the human body into a gravity-defying platform.
George E. Hood, a 62-year-old retiree from Naperville, Ill., strapped a heart monitor band across his chest, attached a catheter to his body, climbed onto a custom-built table covered with a lambskin and dialed up a curated rock ’n’ roll playlist on his phone.
And then he raised himself into a plank — and held the position for eight hours, 15 minutes and 15 seconds to set a Guinness World Record.
Excerpts from a New York Times interview (Feb 24, 2020):
“Hilary has reset the historical patterns through the way in which she’s reimagined the man,” said Diarmaid MacCulloch, an Oxford theology professor who published a new Cromwell biography in 2018. “It’s fiction which is extraordinarily probable, and it’s remarkably like the Cromwell I’d been excavating myself.”
Hilary Mantel has a recurring anxiety dream that takes place in a library. She finds a book with some scrap of historical information she’s been seeking, but when she tries to read it, the words disintegrate before her eyes.
“And then when you wake up,” she said, “you’ve got the rhythm of a sentence in your head, but you don’t know what the sentence was.”
To an unusual degree for a novelist, Mantel feels bound by facts. That approach has made her latest project — a nearly 1,800-page trilogy about the 16th-century lawyer and fixer Thomas Cromwell — more complicated than anything she’s undertaken in her four decades of writing.
From a New York Times article by Jane E. Brody (Feb 17, 2020):
“It takes 10 to 12 hours to use up the calories in the liver before a metabolic shift occurs to using stored fat,” Dr. Mattson told me. After meals, glucose is used for energy and fat is stored in fat tissue, but during fasts, once glucose is depleted, fat is broken down and used for energy.
I was skeptical, but it turns out there is something to be said for practicing a rather prolonged diurnal fast, preferably one lasting at least 16 hours. Mark P. Mattson, neuroscientist at the National Institute on Aging and Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine, explained that the liver stores glucose, which the body uses preferentially for energy before it turns to burning body fat.
For example, human studies of intermittent fasting found that it improved such disease indicators as insulin resistance, blood fat abnormalities, high blood pressure and inflammation, even independently of weight loss. In patients with multiple sclerosis, intermittent fasting reduced symptoms in just two months, a research team in Baltimore reported in 2018.