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Yes, there is finally a name for that strange feeling when you are driving on an icy overpass or walking along a high bridge and feel an urge to jump (or in my case -- disastrously for the myopic -- to throw your glasses). As the Body Odd blog on MSNBC reports, a team from Florida State University’s psychology department investigated this feeling and termed it "high-place phenomenon."
According to the Body Odd, the researchers thought their study might "shine light on one of Freud’s ideas, that some people have a 'death wish,' and that some suicides are purely impulsive, absent any sign of depression or even sadness." The post describes how the researchers went about gathering data, and explains why peoples' reactions to anxiety are sometimes more significant than their actual anxiety levels. Their conclusion? Essentially, it's all a miscommunication. When someone with high anxiety sensitivity stands at the precipice of something, she may experience a moment of fear and step back. She then wonders why she stepped back if there wasn't any danger, and her brain concludes there must have been a danger of her jumping.
What a wonderful thing, that brain! And always good to remember how the urge to live carries us along throughout our days—even when we eat what we know we shouldn't, even when we don't sleep enough, even when we push ourselves to the limit, even when we sway for a moment on whatever precipice we find ourselves on—how our brains move us through our lives, whispering "Live! Live! Live!"
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As it turns out, the women of Delhi, India, have adopted some great survival techniques in the face of the widespread sexual harassment that plagues the streets of their city. According to Sruthi Gottipati of the New York Times's India Ink blog, these everyday superheroes "read situations with razor wits and instinct; they deploy mind control. They size up their attackers and draw out the appropriate weapon–an earsplitting scream, a filthy look, a well-connected slap." So, in honor of International Women's Day, here is a video of some of the bravest and a**-kickingest women in the world. Caution: there is some condoning of violence. But only toward total creeps.
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Did you miss seeing Oprah on Jimmy Kimmel? Well, last night after the Oscars®, they chatted about a few things, like the time she almost got strangled during her first appearance at the awards, and what happens when she goes to the DMV, plus a few of Jimmy's ideas for new OWN shows. Our favorite: Book Club Fight Club.
To see what Oprah thought of Jimmy's ideas, and what happens when people annoy her in her office (hint: it ain’t pretty), check out the clips!
Which is why it's so wonderful to hear about the Rahimi sisters, my new favorite teenagers ever. According to an article in The Globe and Mail, these girls train 3 times a week in a gritty gym once used by the Taliban for public punishments, hoping to qualify for the Olympic games and eventually win the gold for their country. As the Globe reports, "Female boxing is still relatively unusual in most countries, but especially in Afghanistan, where many girls and women still face a struggle to secure an education or work, and activists say violence and abuse at home is common."
Under the Taliban sports were prohibited for women, so the thought of an Afghani team heading to the Olympics is pretty incredible. And how great that it's a super-tough sport like boxing! The very existence of these female fighters challenges stereotypes that have had a dangerous foothold in this part of the world. As the girls' coach Mohammad Saber Sharifi said, "We want to show the world that Afghan women can be leaders, too; that they can do anything – even boxing,” their coach. And you must see the full article for an awesome photo of the girls in action. Ka-pow!
Read About More Amazing Girls:
The Homecoming Queen/Football Star
The Fossil-Finding First-Grader
According to Fox News, a robber walked into an Olney, Md bagel shop and handed the cashier a note that said "I have a gun. Please give me the money. Don't make any noise.." (At least they said "please"!) The cashier handed over the money and the robber ran away. Unluckily for this would-be criminal, the husband of the bagel shop owner took off after him. And this husband happens to be a marathon runner. The robbers were apprehended within - ahem - 2 minutes.
What's not to love about this story? Here is a world were the robbers are cartoonishly bumbling and seemingly harmless, where the victims prevail, and where all that marathon training really comes in handy. Something to consider the next time you want to skip the treadmill at the gym.
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A high school supports its homecoming queens
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And it's a funny movie, it really is. I valued it most for its exploration of female friendship—it is truly refreshing to see women in a Hollywood film competing not over the living Ken doll that most romantic comedies tout, but instead over a female friend. Plus, the success of "Bridesmaids" has spawned a whole slew of female-centric movies and television shows meant to portray funny, smart women. If nothing else, that's got to be good for women in Hollywood-- actresses like Zooey Deschanel ("The New Girl") and Christina Applegate ("Up All Night") get to star in their own series in which they get to play more than just The Girlfriend. But, as Alyssa Rosenberg wrote in The Atlantic, "in some ways this year's sitcoms...feel a lot more like throwbacks to Archie comics than a continuation of the R-rated exploration of sex, materialism, and friendship that proved so powerful with movie audiences." In other words, it's great that women are getting all this attention in the media, but it raises the question: is this really the kind of attention women need? So the "Bridesmaids"-spinoff-flurry is getting its message heard, but what is the message? That women can be just as silly and bawdy and dumb as the man-boys of the Judd Apatow set? So... what?
Of course, it's gratifying that people are having these conversations about "Bridesmaids" and women in general. Good things happening for Kristen Wiig and her buddies can only mean good things for the rest of us too. Maybe "Bridesmaids" will remain just a beloved, funny movie about some ladies that spawns a new generation of screwball comediennes (welcome, admittedly). Maybe it will be remembered as the thing that somehow turned the tide of sexism in Hollywood, or the country. Seems like a lot to ask from a movie full of fart jokes but hey, they're really funny fart jokes.
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In an effort to diversify our holiday-related vegging-out, my
husband and I recently enjoyed that forgotten favorite, “A Holiday Affair.” In this curious film an unemployed Robert
Mitchum buys a widow's son a toy train, which turns out to be
more than just a generous gesture, but indeed a true show of character.
I was reminded of this when I read that anonymous donors have been paying off other peoples’ Kmart layaway balances all across the country. According to this AP article, a mysterious woman paid off a struggling father’s Christmas gifts at an Indianapolis Kmart recently, while Kmart customers across the Midwest have been getting calls telling them someone paid off their layaway balances, which means they’ll be able to take their purchases home before the holiday. "It was like an angel fell out of the sky and appeared in our store," said one 40-year Kmart employee. A nurse whose child’s Christmas present were anonymously paid for said, “It made me believe in Christmas again."
Best of all, one recipient said she planned to pay it forward by taking care of someone else’s layaway balance – keeping the cycle of giving. And that, as Robert Mitchum and Santa alike can attest, is the real spirit of the season.
According to this AP article, Hall was forced to live a wealthy family's garage, without electricity, washing her clothes in a bucket, while their five children lived a normal life steps away. She was not allowed to attend school and worked full-time for two years before a suspicious neighbor called the police and she was rescued. (Read the entire article to find out what happened after she was rescued, and the amazing way she pulled herself out of her troubles.)
“No one really can tell you you can’t do that or you can’t be that
person,” she said after her citizenship ceremony. “I can be who I want
to be." Hall says that she doesn’t dwell on the past
and is focused on starting her career -- becoming a police officer or
immigration agent to help other victims of human trafficking. “Now
I can move on with my career and start my life the way I want it,” the
22-year-old said. “It’s just something
I’ve waited for for a long time.”
That's one Cinderella story worth retelling.
Salon has a great user-generated series right now called “My Brilliant Second Career,” the latest installment of which is Katie McCaskey’s fascinating essay “We Never Thought We’d Be Grocers.” McCaskey tells the surprisingly suspenseful story of how she and her husband lost their jobs, left New York City, and, through many twists and turns, started a grocery store in small-town Virginia. Her story appeals to the “chucking it all” fantasy many of us harbor, while providing just enough realism – investor drama! No heat in the winter! – to avoid romanticizing the life of the small business owner. But in the end, McCaskey writes that starting the grocery store, which has become a kind of community center, "taught me a great deal about community. Specifically, how tightly connected we are, economically and emotionally." (Read McCaskey's essay to find out what feta cheese had to do with this life-changing adventure. )
For this couple, starting a small business not only revitalized their own careers, but also an entire town. As McCaskey put it, “George has taught me how much I value living in a walkable city where my economic efforts directly impact the health and happiness of my neighbors. It’s a role I didn’t imagine but have grown to love.” Maybe we won't really miss those retirement parties after all.
Check out the entire "My Brilliant Second Career" series -- they are as fascinating as they are hope-inspiring.
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Still, there is something about seeing that image that makes the author human, that reminds us of the mind behind the world we are about to enter. Which is why, let's admit it, we all peek, and feel disappointed when a publication is too sensible to include an author photo. It's also why we are always looking for new images of beloved authors like Shakespeare and Jane Austen, who had the bad manners to live before Google Images. Luckily for lovers of all things Austen, a new portrait of her has been found. Dr. Paula Byrne, the Austen biographer who found the image, told the BBC that right away she recognized the long, straight "Austen nose" and that the pencil sketch presents a very professional woman writer at the height of her creative powers." It certainly presents a different image than the sweet, bonneted Jane we are used to seeing reproduced on mugs and totes the world over.
As to why there aren't more images of the celebrated novelist, "When Jane Austen was writing, she wrote her novels anonymously. People didn't really know who she was at all and even after her death, when her name appears in print for the first time, she's not at all popular." Apparently, she didn't even tweet, either. Check out the BBC story for more on the controversy over authenticating the image, and to see the picture itself.
A new book by Jane Austen (sort of).
Celebrities share the classic books that changed them.