High heels indicate your status

IMG_1082Scientists claim that you can deduce someone’s social status by checking the size of their heels, especially after they moved to a new area.

A study of 15,000 online shoe purchases in America found that if women moved to a new area they adjusted the height of their heels to the local fashion – but only if they’d gone upmarket.

If the had moved down the socio-economic ladder they keep the same heel height as if to emphasise their superiority. Whether or not the women adjusted their heel height depended almost entirely on the relative wealth of their previous neighbourhood.

The study was carried out to investigate the contradiction in fashion – fitting in or standing out.Kurt Gray, from the University of Carolina and co-author of the study, said “From the beginning of time people … aligned themselves with the powerful and distanced themselves from the powerless. So it makes sense that they do the same with heel size.

And of course taller people are looked up to – and get paid more!

And as I’ve posted previously there are definitely advantages for women wearing high heels

The Knotted Gun

S6000450I’d seen, and photographed this bronze sculpture of a Colt Magnum revolver with a knot in the barrel a couple of times on my business trips to Sweden.

But I didn’t know what it was about – although I thought it was probably an anti-gun ownership protest, perhaps typical of a country noted for its neutrality.

It turns out that it was designed by Carl Fredrik Bengt Wilhelm Reuterswärd in response to the murder of John Lennon. Called The Knotted Gun or Non-violence it was seen as a political piece in the manner of Picasso’s Guernica.

Reuterswärd had met Lennon and Ono in Switzerland in 1969 and had discussed creating a piece that depicted the concept of peace. After Lennon’s death Ono asked him to continue.

He said “I was filled with bitterness and anger and immediately began to create a symbol for John Lennon and everyone else who had been a victim of such assassins

The work originally sat in the Strawberry Fields memorial in Central Park, New York across from Lennon’s apartment.

In 1988 the government of Luxembourg donated the statue to the United Nations.

More than a dozen variations exist in different locations around the world including one with two knots in the barrel in the Swedish town of Landskrona, where the sculptor latterly lived.

I only know this because of a recent obituary in the Times which described his career during which he was influenced by pop art and worked with lasers and holograms. He was a student at the Royal Art Academy in Stockholm where he later became a professor.

When he lost the use of his right hand due to a stroke he learned to use his left hand and staged an exhibition called “On the other hand“.

After his death in May this year aged 81 the Swedish foreign minister Margot Wallström tweeted “His sculpture outside the UNHQ reminds us that peace is the only way”

Hitchhiking robot murdered in USA

retro_robot_custom_text_sign_13668Imagine designing a robot to look helpless and vulnerable and leaving it by the roadside reliant on the kindness of strangers.

That’s what a team from Ryerson University, Toronto and McMaster University in Hamilton did. They wanted to see if a robot could trust humans. (I thought the question was whether or not humans could trust robots. We all remember HAL don’t we?)

Hitchbot was solar-powered and fitted with a GPS tracker, had a dot matrix face which could smile and it could respond to simple questions.

It hitchhiked successfully across Canada arriving in Victoria, British Columbia in a canoe with members of the Songhee First Nation. It also made it safely across Germany.

However Hitchbot came to a messy end last week when it was found decapitatated in Philadelphia, theso-called city of brotherly love. It had made it from Salem in Massachusets to New York and New Jersey prior to its demise.

The designers haven’t filed a crime report so there will be no justice for Hitchbot. Time to start a campaign I think!


Having a fat dog can be good for your health.

dog_wagging_tail_500_wht_12411At least in America where owners of fat dogs spend more time walking them and enjoying the health benefits themselves.

It seems dog owners can be encouraged to go out and get some exercise if vets tell them their dogs are dangerously overweight.

Research carried out by scientists at a  military hospital in Maryland recruited 32 dog owners through local vets. The dogs were all overweight or obese, as were most of their owners.

Half of  the volunteers were told to keep a careful eye on the dogs’ diets and the other half were told to walk them for at least 30 minutes a day.

After three months all the dogs and owners in the “walking” group had lost weight but so had owners in the other group who hadn’t been told to walk but had in fact walked their dogs more.

The researchers say love for your dog can be a powerful motivator to exercise.

In the UK however the PDSA said that over a quarter of the dogs in the UK were never exercised regularly off the lead and 1/4 million were never taken for a walk.

Fighting fit? The new Heavy Brigade

Seems it’s not just us civilians who are getting bigger and more obese.

More than 25,000 British military personnel have been diagnosed as obese in the last 4 years. That’s several battalions!

There is now an “obesity working group” looking into the problem and devising ways to keep people fitter and increase  their knowledge of how to eat more healthily.

A spokesman for the National Obesity Forum said; “These people have got plenty of time to keep in shape and I think it’s a responsibility to feed them properly and give them any amount of time to do exercises and keep themselves in shape”.

obstacle_course_boot_camp_1600_wht_11454Soldiers are supposed to have carefully managed fitness routines involving at least four 1-hour sessions of PT a week.

They can also have a diet ranging from 1,500 to 7,000 calories a day depending on their duties. Clearly not everyone is following the exercise routine or eating healthily.

As one senior officer was quoted as saying; “There are obese soldiers in just about every regiment in the British Army and no unit is immune. It’s also a reflection of the quality of food served in some army cookhouses. Unless the armed forces changes the way it feeds its personnel you will have a problem”.

Of course there are statistics and statistics! The number had been calculated using the much disputed body mass index (BMI)  and the obesity cut-off point of 30.

The MoD rightly points out that this can be misleading as “it doesn’t differentiate between body fat and muscle and says individuals are assessed on their ability to carry out military activities rather than on their weight”.

It’s not just the Brits. It wasn’t that long ago that 40% of the German Army was considered overweight and in 2012 the American Army dismissed over 1,600 soldiers for excess body weight, a 15- fold increase on the figures in 2007.


Fewer previous lovers make happier wives

woman_standing_proud_1600_wht_5402-2American women who had fewer sexual partners before they got married turn out to have happier marriages.

That’s according to researchers from the National Marriage Project at Virginia University in the USA.

More than half  (53%) of the wives who had only slept with their future husband felt highly satisfied in their marriages compared to 42% of those who had had pre-marital sex with two partners and only 22% of this who had had 10 or more previous sexual partners.

The Marriage Charity Foundation said it raised questions about the myth of the sexual revolution but cautioned about drawing conclusions from a small sample adding that they found it astonishing that a quarter of the young wives had had 10 or more previous partners.

These women must have bought into the sexual revolution thinking that you can sleep with whomever you like and then settle down as if nothing had happened. It turns out you can’t.

The psychologist who co-authored the report, Professor Galena Rhoades from Denver University thought that those who had had multiple partners before marriage might find it harder to remain committed to their louse because they were more aware of the alternatives.

She also said that many in the YOLO (You Only Live Once) generation “believe what happens while we’re young won’t affect your future. Our research paints a different picture”. (The same could be said about entries on Facebook which come back to haunt people later in life).

The study tracked almost 1,300 unmarried men and women aged 18-34 for five years. During that time over 400 got married and of these only 23% had only had sex with the person they married. So that’s an interesting statistic which seem to follow a normal distribution i.e. at one end you have between a fifth and a quarter of women who have only had sex with their husband and at the other end of the scale about the same proportion who have had sex with 10 or more partners b before marriage. So the middle 50% of people had between 2 and 9 sexual partners.

In case you are wondering about the men. There was no evidence that the number of partners they slept with before getting married had any affect on their level of happiness in marriage.

bohemian venice beach, california

nomad, interrupted

Saturday, January 4: Venice Beach in Los Angeles is a beachfront neighborhood of mist and muscles, bikinis and tattoos, piercings, surfboards, sunglasses, funnel cakes, pizza, hot dogs, exuberant street art, and medical marijuana. It’s gritty, energetic and a little chaotic, even before noon.  OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAVenice began as a seaside resort town in 1905; it was a separate city until 1926, when it merged with Los Angeles.  Today Venice is known for its canals, beaches and its eccentric Ocean Front Walk, a 2 1/2 mile pedestrian-only boardwalk that features performers, vendors, artists, fortune-tellers and the acrobats and body-builders of Muscle Beach (Wikipedia: Venice, Los Angeles).OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAVenice Beach is a combination of the tacky, the mindless, the ironic, and the novel.  ~ Freelance Dionysian

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAOLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAUnique among the world’s Bohemias. ~ Gordon J. Hazlitt


As we stroll down the boardwalk, we’re approached by men of various colors offering copies of their…

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If you’re getting married have a big wedding

champagne_banner_our_wedding_500_wht_604It seems that the bigger the wedding you have the happier you will be in your marriage.

According to research funded by the US National Institute of Child Health & Human Development and carried out at the Centre for Marital & Family Studies at Denver University.

The findings  suggest that saying their vows in front of a large number of friends and family may reinforce a couple’s belief that they have made the right decision. It may also provide them with a wider range of support when things are not going so well.

Two years after their wedding couples who had held large weddings endured less conflict, spent more quality time together and confided in each other more than those who hadn’t.

For every additional guest there was a small increase in levels of reported happiness regardless of the couple’s income. The couples in the study had an average of 118 guests.

These results are part of a tracking study of over 400 couples since 2006 following their engagement and subsequent marriage.

There are a number of factors which have a negative effect on the marriage. These are:

  • children from previous relationships
  • believing that one of them is less committed
  • marrying after pregnancy or childbirth
  • previously cohabiting with someone else
  • any previous sexual relationship with another partner

Factors which have a positive impact are:

  • both completing high school
  • if their parents were both together in their teens

A study in London found that couples were putting off or postponing marriages because of the trend towards bigger and more extravagant weddings. So invite a lot of guests but keep the costs down. This trend might be thought of as couples taking out insurance by investing in and celebrating their marriage so publicly.

This is not good news if you are a parent paying for it of course.  Look on the bright side; there might be less chance of your child returning home when the marriage fails.

Graduates recover better from brain injuries

graduation_hat_tassel_flip_anim_500_wht_14455A US study of 750 patients admitted to hospital after head trauma found that those who had been to university were 7 times more likely to resume their old life without disability compared to those patients who hadn’t finished high school.

The subjects of the research had suffered moderate to sever head injury and in 70% of cases the injury had been severe enough to cause bleeding in they brain. After recovery only 25% were classified as being disability free.

And those with most education were far more likely to be found in that 25%.

The research was carried out at Johns Hopkins School of Medicine by Dr Eric Schneider who said the results fitted a theory about how the brain copes with damage known as “cognitive reserve“.

The idea has been around for a while and is usually related to late-life dementia. Patients who have been high functioning throughout their lives, including their education and occupational complexity, seem to cope better in the face of the damage to their brains caused by the dementia.

Schneider says it may be due to those patients having more brain plasticity with an ability to form new, alternative, connections in the brain.

The results could also be due to the criteria used to assess who was disability free i.e. those who could return to their jobs and pick up where they left off. People with different educational backgrounds do different types of jobs. Balance is one of the things commonly affected by brain damage and that matters less for a desk job than for one involving manual work.

It could also be that people with more education were more motivated and disciplined to succeed in their recovery.