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TV watching inhibits learning

Neil Postman and Jerry Mander have said that educational TV is a fraud for decades -- what you learn watching television is how to watch television. Period. The conceit of "educational TV" is the same one that sells "eat all you like" diet books and "think yourself rich" plans to fools: the idea of something for nothing (someone else, smarter than you, will handle raising your kids -- just pop in the video). You learn to be human by interacting with humans, not appliances. Madison Ave, ever alert to anything that would challenge its reign, constantly lampoons anyone who questions …

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15 Green Fashionistas

These fashionistas aren't just talking the talk, they're walking the catwalk. See who's shining a spotlight on clothing with a conscience, then join our comment thread below. Tierra Del Forte Just call her Ms. Green Jeans. This designer and founder of Del Forte Denim has created a line of premium organic denim for women. And when your favorite pair has seen its last days, send it back to her for Project Rejeaneration reuse and renewal.   Photo: Peter Larsen/ WireImage.com Stella McCartney A strict vegetarian, McCartney (daughter of Sir Paul and Linda) is an avid supporter of PETA and refuses …

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NYT dating advice: Eat more flesh

This makes me want to barf, on so many levels: Martha Flach mentioned meat twice in her Match.com profile: "I love architecture, The New Yorker, dogs ... steak for two and the Sunday puzzle." She was seeking, she added, "a smart, funny, kind man who owns a suit (but isn't one) ... and loves red wine and a big steak." The repetition worked. On her first date with Austin Wilkie, they ate steak frites. A year later, after burgers at the Corner Bistro in Greenwich Village, he proposed. This March, the rehearsal dinner was at Keens Steakhouse on West 36th …

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On blueberries, zucchini, and dragon slime

A few years ago, a friend served me some blueberry-studded gingerbread that she had bought at a local bakery. It was fine, but the spices in the gingerbread really obscured the flavor of the blueberries. On the other hand, I find plain blueberry muffins boring and bland. While I've had delicious lime-blueberry muffins and lemon-blueberry pound cake, sometimes I want something more substantial -- so I decided that someday I would create a recipe that was more flavorful and heartier than a muffin, but which would still let the blueberry flavor shine through. It must be summer. Photo: iStockphoto I …

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Can it happen here?

From CNNMoney.com: It may seem strange that the emirate of Abu Dhabi, one of the planet's largest suppliers of oil, is planning to build the world's first carbon-neutral city. But in fact, it makes a lot of financial sense. The 3.7-square-mile city, called Masdar, will cut its electricity bill by harnessing wind, solar, and geothermal energy, while a total ban on cars within city walls should reduce the long-term health costs associated with smog. Masdar will be filled with shaded streets to encourage walking. A solar-powered transit system will take you to the airport. Masdar is still on the drawing …

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Here comes the science!

Interesting piece on how to get folks to make choices that are better for the environment: A new study funded by the Economic and Social Research Council (ESRC) says that ethical consumption is most likely to happen when it is approached as a political or societal goal rather than encouraging individual changes in lifestyle. . . . The research findings present a clear message says Dr Barnett: "If ethical consumption campaigns are to succeed they need to transform the infrastructures of every day consumption rather than focusing on changing individual consumer behaviour."

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The next generation of riding transit

Riding transit just got way, way, easier. A new website called SpotBus is wildly better than existing online trip planners. For one thing, you can enter destinations like a normal person -- "Ballard," or "Ikea," or "ferry," or whatever -- not some arcane intersection. It's so much faster and more intuitive that it feels like giving up your old gimcrack five-disc CD changer for an iPod. It only works in the Puget Sound area, but there's no reason something similar couldn't be devised for other regions.

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Prying kids away from TV and video games costs … $100 million?

Here's a quote from one of today's electronic-gadget-loving kids: "The reason I prefer playing indoors is because that's where all the electrical outlets are." That was shared by Richard Louv (Grist interview here), author of Last Child in the Woods: Saving our Children from Nature Deficit Disorder, during a conference call I hosted recently for the Orion Grassroots Network, to catch us up on what's new in the "getting kids back into nature" movement (full audio here). Turns out there's a lot. The book documents how outdoor, unstructured play is critical to child development -- and is a bestseller, now …

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New York Sports Club kicks in to conserve

The other day at the gym I was engaging in classic attention-deficient media trawling -- attempting to read my magazine, watch the morning newscast, and work up a sweat all at the same time. So it didn't bother me too much when the TV kept shutting off. The equipment at these high-traffic fitness clubs is renowned for breaking down, so I chalked it up to an electrical glitch. Today I learned that in late July, the New York Sports Clubs reprogrammed their televisions to automatically turn off when not in use (this doesn't account, I guess, for those who want …

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The WSJ asks and answers

As home-appliance technology continues to move toward the energy-efficient (and brightly colored), more and more consumers are looking to replace their old appliances. But is it really an upgrade? No, says Jeanine Van Voorhees, who spent $1,000 on a new energy-saving washer only to find that it coughs up dingy, cat-hair-covered clothes. "I curse that machine every time," she says, and she often washes her loads twice. (I'm no expert, but that doesn't sound energy efficient to me.) According to this Wall Street Journal article, Van Voorhees isn't alone, either. Many conscientious consumers are reporting that their energy-efficient appliances aren't …

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