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Ian's Shoelace Site

IanKnot0A.gifVia Boing Boing, Ian's Shoelace Site provides diagrams and instructions for tieing your shoelaces in 16 different ways.

Thrill of the Chase

From an article by M.P. Dunleavey in The New York Times and reprinted in the International Herald Tribune:

One of the great puzzles of human nature is why we keep striving for more material things - money, jobs, homes, cars, flat-screen televisions - when they do not seem to make us any happier in the long run. Philosophers have pondered this conundrum for centuries, and modern economists have been examining it from a number of angles, over several decades, in a multitude of cultures. Not only does greater wealth not guarantee happiness - even when you get what you want - research indicates that you will not find it as satisfying as you had hoped, and you will want something else. Richard Easterlin, professor of economics at the University of Southern California, is one of the seminal researchers in this area. In effect, his work shows that if you think that buying a three-bedroom condominium and a certain kind of car will make you happy, you had better think twice. In a few years, a) you're not likely to report being any happier, and b) you're likely to say that, now, finding a good private school for your children and buying a vacation home will really make you happy. In Easterlin's view, this cycle of desire and dissatisfaction tends to keep people on an endless treadmill. This may sound self-defeating, but that is Easterlin's point. Why not get off the treadmill and pursue a life with fewer material ambitions? You would probably be happier. Or would you? If our material achievements tend to leave us only momentarily fulfilled, why then do so many people keep reaching for that next goal? Claudia Senik, professor of economics at the Sorbonne, believes that the struggle for a certain achievement may offer a peculiar reward all its own. "For the basic person there is pleasure in progress," Senik said. "We are proud to aim at something - to earn a degree, buy a house. So when I work to reach a higher position or earn a higher income, I'm already happy today." It may seem that we are all hapless consumers, at the mercy of our own greed and needs - or cursed by the gods. But Senik offers a more positive interpretation. You can let go of the rather iffy rewards of getting and spending, and look for everyday pleasure while you are struggling to advance, improve, progress, achieve and attain. As Easterlin pointed out, "If you recognize that the striving can be of value in itself, then instead of taking a job that pays you the most, you may be better off taking work you'll enjoy."

Origin of the Easter Bunny

From today's installment of The Writer's Almanac:

The word "Easter" comes from an ancient pagan goddess worshipped by Anglo Saxons named Eostre. According to legend, Eostre once saved a bird whose wings had frozen during the winter by turning the bird into a rabbit. Because the rabbit had once been a bird, it could still lay eggs, and that rabbit became our Easter Bunny.

How to Raise an Environmentalist

From Newswise:

Children with plenty of opportunity to play in nature before age 11 are more likely to grow up to be environmentalists than other children, says Cornell University environmental psychologist Nancy Wells and research associate Kristi Lekies. "Although domesticated nature activities -- caring for plants and gardens -- also have a positive relationship to adult environment attitudes, their effects aren't as strong as participating in such wild nature activities as camping, playing in the woods, hiking, walking, fishing and hunting," said environmental psychologist Nancy Wells, assistant professor of design and environmental analysis in the College of Human Ecology at Cornell. Interestingly, participating in scouts or other forms of environmental education programs had no effect on adult attitudes toward the environment. "Participating in nature-related activities that are mandatory evidently do not have the same effects as free play in nature, which don't have demands or distractions posed by others and may be particularly critical in influencing long-term environmentalism," Wells said.

Girls Gone Violent

From an article on abcnews:

A growing number of teenage girls seem to be engaging in more extreme not-so-nice behavior, including violence. Teenage boys used to be the typical troublemakers, but statistics, and legal and school officials suggest young girls are narrowing the gap - with disturbing consequences. "The school violence cases that we see here," said Charles Lind, senior deputy prosecutor in King County, Wash., "about one out of every five involves a young woman instead of a young man. And those cases predominantly involve assaults and weapons possession in school." In his book, "See Jane Hit," Dr. James Garbarino said cultural changes in entertainment and sports have stripped away girls' inhibitions. "You used to be able to say to girls, 'Don't hit,' and have the culture back that up," he said. "Now that is no longer true." Girls no longer seem to worry if they're being "like the boys." "Sports can and does increase the risk of aggression, and aggression spilling off the field," he said. It's not just sports. Entertainment also is laced with violence by women.


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