Saturday, October 17, 2009

Saturday Shadows

Threading a trail through the day's headlines, in search of news off the beaten path.

Germany's Green Brothels: East Berlin's "The House Of Desire" offers discounts for, er, "customers" who visit their brothel by bicycle and on the bus, leaving cars (and wives?) at home:
"The environment is a topic on everyone's lips and it's pretty difficult to park around here. So we came up with the idea of an 'eco discount' of five euros [$7.70 CDN] to anyone who leaves the car at home," Ms Goetz told AFP.
Fifteen minutes in the brothel costs 25 euros rather than 30 euros [$46.25 CDN] for environmentally-conscious punters, around 10 per cent of whom have taken up the offer.
To qualify for the discount, "clients who come by bike show their helmet or their padlock keys," she said. "Others hand in their ticket or monthly pass if they have come on the bus."

Cakes Gone Wrong: When semi-literate bakers take you literally, you get surreal picture parades like this one, courtesy of the hilarious site Cake Wrecks, highlighted at the New York Times.

[When asked what they wanted written on their cake, the customer evidently replied "nothing"... so that's what they got.]
Strength Through Verdure: According to a new Dutch study, Being Near Nature Improves Physical & Mental Health:
The closer you live to nature, the healthier you're likely to be.
For instance, people who live within 1 kilometer (.6 miles) of a park or wooded area experience less anxiety and depression[.]
In areas with only 10% of green space, about 2.6% of people experienced anxiety disorders, compared to 1.8% of people in areas with 90% green space. The disparity was evident for depression as well — 3.2% of people living in more urbanized areas had depression versus 2.4% of those in more rural areas.
Children and poor people suffered disproportionately from lack of green acres, the researchers found.
If we're in a busy street with more technology and artificial things, we're going to be multi-tasking more, which prevents us from focusing on one thing," [Dr. David Rakel, director of integrative medicine and assistant professor of family medicine at the University of Wisconsin School of Medicine and Public Health] said. "In this day and age, we really need some sort of centering practice. We need to get our mind out of its own stories and focus on something that's pure. Nature is a beautiful example of that — it's the way things were meant to be."

I think the great British poet William Cowper would agree:

God made the country, and man made the town.
What wonder then that health and virtue, gifts
That can alone make sweet the bitter draught
That life holds out to all, should most abound
And least be threaten'd in the fields and groves?

___ lines 749-753, The Task (1785)

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