12 May 2014

Monday miscellany

Not content with arranging their clothing by colour, the charity shops are now doing it with their books!

Worried about keeping your memory sharp? Learn a challenging new skill. It seems that older people who learn challenging new skills do better on memory tests -

Some were assigned to learn quilting, some to learn Photoshop, and the control groups engaged in nonintellectual activities with a social group or performed low-demand cognitive tasks with no social contact. Social activities alone don't have an impact on memory performance.

Another way to "defer cognitive aging" is to exercise: 45 minutes, three times a week, increases the volume of the brain, even for people who have been sedentary.


British road markings often confuse visitors from overseas - and this one confuses the locals -
Chosen by residents of an estate in Dagenham to improve safety, it looks like a car crash has already happened.
“It is a deliberately unconventional design aimed at refocusing the street around people, instead of cars, and making it safer and more pleasant for the whole community.
“The star is designed to increase drivers’ awareness of the surroundings and to slow traffic speeds.
“We’ve already seen a big change, with cars travelling much slower ."


Nice cover... One of "10 overlooked novels" recommended for the modern reader. "This novel should carry a health warning for male readers. "Read at your Discomfort, Men". ... There is painfully lingering attention in the novel, for male readers, on the unaesthetic properties of the naked (but hirsute) male buttocks, unsightly paunches and general smelliness. ... And the "ice house"? An image for the frigid prison that marriage with a man represents for every woman. Bawden raises female scorn to an art form."

Another of the 10 is Anne Tyler's "Dinner at the Homesick Restaurant", which she believed was her best novel. Maybe so, but my own favourite is "Ladder of Years". She has a way of getting you on the side of her dysfunctional characters ... rather like the way Trollope (Anthony not Joanne) gets your sympathy for even the villains in his books. The novelist as interpreter? The novelist as God?


"Michael Nordqvist won the Nordics national prize at the Sony world photography awards for this self-portrait taken half a second after leaping from a plane. 'I held the camera in my hand pointing it at the helmet to catch the sky and aircraft in the mirror of the visor,' he said." (via The Guardian)

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