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Tell a friend election toys & info


Really? There’s an election? Gee, I had no idea.

For anyone living under a rock, the United States is approaching the decision that initiates the peaceful transfer of power (or the Quadrennial Showdown between Good and Evil, take your pick). Some elections are more contentious than others; the race for the impending presidential election on November 4, 2008 may be one of the most heated.

MSNBC produced a slideshow of voter portraits. After viewing just a few photos, though, I could accurately guess the voter’s allegiance. For example, every single African American pictured is voting for Barack Obama. The lobbyist in a business suit is supporting John McCain. The hip young people tend to lean Democratic. The older rural white men are all Republicans. (Well, duh.) While I appreciate the diversity of American citizens featured, the voting populace is full of surprises, and I wish the slideshow reflected some of those instead of reinforcing stereotypes according to the conventional wisdom of demographics.

Tangentially, speaking of demographics, do you know about Generation Jones? Born between 1954 and 1965, “Jonesers” occupy the recently acknowledged generation between Baby Boomers and Generation Xers. For decades, Jonesers had been imprecisely lumped in with Baby Boomers, but their life experiences have been very different from those of Boomers. Instead of worrying about getting drafted into the Vietnam War or dancing in mud at Woodstock, Jonesers were listening to punk rock on their way to the unemployment office in the late ’70s and wondering when Ronald Reagan would get around to mentioning AIDS in the ’80s. (The name Generation Jones, according to Wikipedia, “derives from the slang term jonesing, referring to the unrequited cravings felt by this generation of unfulfilled expectations.”) Both Barack Obama and Sarah Palin are members of Generation Jones, and the Jonesers bloc comprises a potentially large number of swing voters.

Posted October 10, 2008 by Mariva in community, education, media, news, resources

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Tell a friend best free audio podcasts

best free audio podcasts

Over the years I’ve developed a pathological fear of boredom, and subsequently a fear of mundane activities that lead to boredom, like waiting at the airport (especially at night), exercising (if it’s routine and not, say, a hike in an unfamiliar area), or cooking and cleaning in the kitchen. I like to keep my mind occupied; sometimes my own thoughts are enough, and sometimes they’re just not. For when my thoughts aren’t enough, and there’s nothing good on the radio, I listen to my favorite podcasts.

The irony? Alas, there is simply not enough time — even counting the stretches of boring time during aforementioned mundane activities — to listen to everything I want to, so the podcasts not yet listened to stack up in a sometimes overwhelming queue. I’ve realized that podcasts are like books or recorded TV shows: I probably won’t get to everything, but it comforts me to know they’re there, promising a rich intellectual landscape in which to escape from a wasteland of ennui.

Posted January 5, 2008 by Mariva in education, entertainment, news, resources, technology

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Tell a friend baby safety

Safe Baby Handling Tips, by David and Kelly Sopp

It’s hard to imagine a better — or funnier — gift for the parents-to-be who already have everything than Safe Baby Handling Tips by David and Kelly Sopp.

This novelty picture book is basically a series of contrasting dos and don’ts with regard to taking care of an infant. For example, the correct way to "bond with baby" is to hold and coo at the baby, not attempt to engage him or her in a timed game of chess! And when you’re putting the baby down to play, put him or her in, say, a playpen, not a cage. When taking baby for a walk, put him or her in a baby backpack, not in an old potato sack.

I mean, sheesh, people — take care of the baby! Get this book.

Posted March 23, 2006 by Mariva in books, education, entertaining, entertainment, fun, gifts, home

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Tell a friend do it yourself

Make magazine

Remember "The Future"? When our environment was supposed to have become so technologically advanced that machines would do virtually everything for us, leaving us with many hours of free time to pursue various leisure activities? It turns out that the exact opposite happened, and so we’re left with less time for accomplishing the basic tasks of maintaining our lives, let alone for leisure.

Paradoxically, those with free time often use it to cram more work into their lives, inspired by the growing Do-It-Yourself (DIY) movement. (Granted, it’s work that’s taken on by choice — as opposed to the DIY work we’ll supposedly be doing after the post-peak oil crash — but still work nevertheless.)

Posted March 21, 2006 by Mariva in arts, crafts, education, fun, gadgets, innovations, resources, social

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Tell a friend book clubs and reading resources

book clubs and reading resources

A couple of years ago, I co-founded a major book club in my city. Because I was the facilitator, I felt it was my duty to read not only the chosen books but the study guides as well. It was like taking a literature class, without the term papers and oppressive overhead lighting.

Ah, those were the days. Now I’m in the middle of seven different books and can’t seem to finish any of them. Seriously. (I hope at least to finish Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix — yes, that’s Book 5, not even Book 6! — before the movie is released.)

Posted March 17, 2006 by Mariva in books, community, education, innovations, resources, social

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Tell a friend quote gifts

Lunch Mail

Sometimes the perfect thing to say has already been said by someone else. Lunch Mail has encapsulated this concept in an attractive product designed to uplift and inspire. Each Lunch Mail pack contains a set of thirty colorful business-card-size "surprise" messages. (Think fortune cookies or Cracker Jack prizes without the calories.) Created by the National Education Association, Lunch Mail was conceived as a special treat to include with children’s lunches, but I’ve seen them used for various grownup purposes, such as ice-breakers for cocktail parties, classes and business networking mixers.

Posted March 15, 2006 by Mariva in arts, books, crafts, education, fun, gifts, innovations, social

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Tell a friend BBC World Service: “Mobile Phones”

BBC World Service: "Mobile Phones" The BBC World Service produces fascinating radio documentaries on various topics:
  • "Building Beijing": Construction within this Chinese city — the site of the 2008 Olympic Games — is happening at such a mind-boggling rate that a new map is issued every three months.
  • "Memory": How does memory work, and how does it fail?
  • "All in a Day’s Work": Exploring the ways in which people around the world earn their living. Profiles include domestic workers, soldiers, judges and clerics.

Posted February 23, 2006 by Mariva in education, gadgets, innovations, news, resources, social

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Tell a friend squaring the circle

squaring the circle

I’d always wondered what the phrase "squaring the circle" meant. I figured it must mean something important, because it’s inspired titles for odd-shaped blank books and an obscure television show, as well as metaphors for geopolitics, economics, ecology, and even the performance and audio arts.

I posed the question to a friend who works in the Math Department at U.C. Berkeley. Her field is geometry, so I was sure that she’d be able to explain it to me. Weirdly, however, she didn’t know what "squaring the circle" meant, and she was barely even familiar with the phrase!

Posted February 16, 2006 by Mariva in education, innovations

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Tell a friend It really makes you think…


It really makes you think

Philosophy Talk: A couple of Stanford University professors discuss one broad, intriguing topic — such as time, happiness, forgiveness, virtue, propaganda, science, free will, democracy, beauty and so on — each week on a public radio program.

Posted February 8, 2006 by Mariva in education, entertainment, fun, innovations, news, resources

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Tell a friend Groundhog Day

Groundhog Day

If you’re not in Punxsutawney, Pennsylvania today, you can celebrate the annual tradition with the next best thing: watching my all-time favorite comedy film, Groundhog Day, which is said to be — believe it or not — one of the greatest Buddhist allegories ever.

(Background info about the movie is fun, too.)

Posted February 2, 2006 by Mariva in education, entertainment, holidays, movies

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