Internet Flaneur – September 10, 2012


Of course Putin is a mensch. Stalin would have eaten those cranes! Video: Putin flies with rare cranes! [via Twitter]

  • Vladimir Putin, the benevolent zookeeper | Stephen Cave and Polina Aronson | Comment is free | guardian.co.uk 091012
    Vladimir Putin, whatever else one might think of him, has a certain genius for the theatricality of power. Among his many stunts, communing with wild animals has always played a special role. But whereas his previous performances have been displays of manly courage – petting polar bears or tranquilising tigers – on Wednesday seemed to show a gentler side: Putin as good shepherd, albeit to a flock of Siberian white cranes. The message of the underlying symbolism, however, remained the same: that the Russian president is omnipotent and benevolent, sole dispenser of salvation.
    The stunt itself was pure pantomime: Putin in a motorised hang-glider showing the innocent young fledglings the way to freedom. In order to convince the cranes that he was their legitimate leader, the head of the Russian state cunningly disguised himself as one of them in an all-white suit with black gloves (they are white with black wingtips). Thus clad, he assumed his natural role as alpha-crane and took off.
    Despite the president’s efforts, the birds showed little enthusiasm: only one crane followed the hang glider when Putin flew for the first time, while the other birds sceptically observed from the ground. On a second attempt, however, five cranes took off with Putin, which was regarded by his entourage as good enough. The resident crane experts – who had branded the mission “flight of hope” – explained the lack of engagement on the birds’ side by strong wind, reminiscent of the references to “bad weather” made by election campaigners forced to apologise for the low turnout of pro-Putin voters in their districts.
  • Creativity Predicts a Longer Life: Scientific American 090912
    Researchers have long been studying the connection between health and the five major personality traits: agreeableness, extraversion, neuroticism, openness and conscientiousness. A large body of research links neuroticism with poorer health and conscientiousness with superior health. Now openness, which measures cognitive flexibility and the willingness to entertain novel ideas, has emerged as a lifelong protective factor. The linchpin seems to be the creativity associated with the personality trait—creative thinking reduces stress and keeps the brain healthy.
    A study published in the June issue of the Journal of Aging and Health found that higher openness predicted longer life, and other studies this year have linked that trait with lower metabolic risk, higher self-rated health and more appropriate stress response.
  • Steampunk Culture, steampunk, fantasy, science fiction, Jules Verne, H. G. Welles, Victorian era England, steam power
    Steampunk is a sub-genre of fantasy and speculative fiction that came into prominence in the 1980s and early 1990s. The term denotes works set in an era or world where steam power is still widely used. Usually the 19th century, and often Victorian era England, but with prominent elements of either science fiction or fantasy.
  • Photos, Videos: Tornado Touched Down In Brooklyn And Queens!: Gothamist
    We knew there were going to be some thunderstorms today, but things just got amped up oh so slightly: the National Weather Service warns that a severe thunderstorm passing over parts of Brooklyn right now could turn into a tornado!
    They say the storm is currently near Sheepshead Bay or Flatbush, and it’s moving northeast at 25 MPH. Other locations that the storm might hit include: Canarsie, Crown Heights, Howard Beach, Ozone Park, Forest Hills, Jamaica, Little Neck, Jackson Heights, Flushing and Bayside. In addition, a flash flood warning has been issued for Queens and Brooklyn until 12:45 p.m.
    You can share your photos with Gothamist, by sending them to photos@gothamist.com, tagging them “gothamist” on Flickr or #gothamist on Instagram, or Tweeting them to us @Gothamist.
    Update: According to The National Weather Service, the tornado has touched down on the Flatbush Avenue area of the Belt Parkway (and is moving eastward). Queens and Brooklyn have been put on tornado alert until 11:30 a.m. They recommend that residents immediately go indoors and/or to the lowest floor of your building for shelter, and to stay away from windows.
    According to reports, there is already “a lot of damage in the area,” including cars ontop of other cars.
    Update: Check out a first look at the tornado below, along with some tweets:
  • Advocate Fights ‘Ambient Despair’ In Assisted Living : NPR 090612
    Martin Baybe: “The truth is, in the facility I am in, the administration [is] by and large wonderful people — wonderful people — but in many facilities they are not, and they have a top-down management system, which starts obviously with the owners, or stockholders, whichever the case may be, and they try and make you as compliant as possible, as quickly as possible. They don’t need any revolutions. They want to put on a good face for the public. I was driving with someone else about a mile away from where I live and I saw an ad, a large ad, for my facility and there was a couple dancing [in it]. And I said to myself, ‘If I stood outside my room for five years, I would never see a couple dancing in my facility.’ “
  • A Room With A Grim View: The ‘Ambient Despair’ That Marks Life In Assisted Living
    Martin Bayne’s article @Health_Affairs: After entering an assisted living facility at age fifty-three because of young-onset Parkinson’s, an observer-advocate contemplates the dire need for long-term care reform.
  • The Feathered Flounder

    Martin Bayne: “The Feathered Flounder offers original literary writing by authors who are 60 or older. Each quarterly issue contains short fiction, essays, interviews, and video by writers with original voices. Sometimes serious, silly, irreverent, and wild; sometimes heartbreaking, educative, inspiring—The Feathered Flounder aims to inspire, incite, and surprise.Additionally, it strives to illuminate the universal path of aging … and beyond. Part fish and part bird, The Feathered Flounder is born in the imagination of those with the benefit of having accepted the unexpectedness of aging. This fish with feathers swims to our deepest depths and soars through the…”

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