Hello, my name is ******* and I’m an internet addict

September 12, 2008

Why is this page taking sooooo long to f*****g load?!!!!!!

If you’re like me your hours spent in front of the television are pretty much down to zero….but that’s because you’re spending hours in front of the computer on the internet. With the days of dial-up internet and slow loading pages consigned to the electronic dustbin of history, easy access to entertainment, mass communication, and learning thanks to high speed broadband has left us addicted. Source for news? The internet. Source for music? The internet. Source for finding where that new flick is playing? Why, the internet of course!

Very cheap and very accessible, the internet has come to dominate our lives in a way simply not possible to understand two decades ago. Think back to university when researching and being forced to dig through moldy stacks of books for sources on an essay about the French Revolution. Think back to booking a vacation by visiting a travel agent and putting your trip in their hands. Think back about combing through the yellow pages to make a dinner reservation at a restaurant. The internet has made so many things so much easier by placing information at the tips of our worn fingers attached to our carpal-tunneled hands. Read the rest of this entry »


I’m dying for a drink, but why?

September 10, 2008

very, very tempting……

It’s Friday afternoon around 4 pm. Your work for the week is done (maybe) and you’re ready to call it quits. You know exactly what you’re gonna do once it’s time to head out of the office. You’re going downstairs for a drink. Whether it’s a gin and tonic, an import beer, a vodka/soda or a scotch on the rocks, you’ve been thinking about it all day and you can’t wait for the taste to touch your lips.

Last week you did the exact same thing and woke up with a nasty hangover. Yet you’re gonna do it all over again. Is it addiction? A way to cope with personal problems by drowning it in drink?

Scientists are now telling us that binge drinking can be habit forming because when we binge drink, we block out the memories of the worst part of the experience and instead only remember the good parts. It seems alcohol helps us engage in selective memory. Here’s an excerpt from an article that appeared in yesterday’s edition of the UK Independent:

Alcohol has been found to affect memory in a selective manner. Drinking makes it easier to remember the good things about a party but harder to recall the bad things that happen after having too much.

Studies into the memories of people engaged in heavy drinking have shown that it is the inability to remember the worst excesses of a night out – while remembering the happy things that led up to them – is one of the main causes of repeated binge drinking.

We here at Vodka/Soda encourage the proliferation of good memories associated with alcohol, so be sure to run downstairs for a quick one once work is done :)

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The Happy Sexless Marriage

September 8, 2008

Paul Cox and wife
Paul Cox has found his asexual soulmate

Our liberal society has no hesitation in pointing out that sexual relations is central to mature relationships, especially marriage. In much of the western world, a marriage contract is not binding until the act of consummation occurs. Failure to do so in the Roman Catholic faith is grounds for an annulment. So tied up in the idea of marriage is sex that the thought of no sex within a marriage automatically leads to the idea that the relationship has failed.

Can a sexless marriage be a happy marriage? Paul Cox emphatically replies that “yes, it can!”, especially when both individuals are asexuals. Read about his happy relationship in We’re Married, We Just Don’t Have Sex”:

One day I got an email from Amanda. She was asexual, living close by, and offered to show me around the neighbourhood. In case she was cruising for an asexual boyfriend, I responded with a warning that I was “vehemently anti-romantic”. But we met up anyway, for tea and ice-skating, and we took to meeting a lot.

I loved Amanda’s attitude to life and enjoyed hanging out with her. And she was pretty. At first I tried to treat it like any other friendship. Then I found myself travelling four miles downtown to deliver sandwiches when she told me she was hungry. Two months in, we were at a gig and it seemed like a good idea to hold her hand. I felt cautious about it but just wanted to. I wondered if I could. Then I found I couldn’t let go.

That evening ended with us agreeing that our friendship was an important thing. We wanted to commit for life. In the asexual community we don’t form relationships lightly. If you don’t want to spend the rest of your life with a person, there’s no reason to make such a special commitment.

read the rest of the article here

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Sports Fandom Is More Positive Than We Once Thought

September 8, 2008

Fans of the legendary English soccer team Liverpool FC display their support

Fans of professional sports are a derided bunch. Usually associated with belonging to the lowest common denominator intellectually and culturally, others have gone as far as to claim that they represent the most prevalent form of social conditioning present in our modern society.

An observer in first century Rome coined the phrase bread and circuses to describe how Romans of that era chose food and fun over freedom, thus giving up their civic duty in favour of decadence. To people like Noam Chomsky, little has changed. In Manufacturing Consent Chomsky explains the role of sports in social conditioning:

Take, say, sports — that’s another crucial example of the indoctrination system, in my view. For one thing because it — you know, it offers people something to pay attention to that’s of no importance. [audience laughs] That keeps them from worrying about — [applause] keeps them from worrying about things that matter to their lives that they might have some idea of doing something about. And in fact it’s striking to see the intelligence that’s used by ordinary people in [discussions of] sports [as opposed to political and social issues]. I mean, you listen to radio stations where people call in — they have the most exotic information [more laughter] and understanding about all kind of arcane issues. And the press undoubtedly does a lot with this.

You know, I remember in high school, already I was pretty old. I suddenly asked myself at one point, why do I care if my high school team wins the football game? [laughter] I mean, I don’t know anybody on the team, you know? [audience roars] I mean, they have nothing to do with me, I mean, why I am cheering for my team? It doesn’t mean any — it doesn’t make sense. But the point is, it does make sense: it’s a way of building up irrational attitudes of submission to authority, and group cohesion behind leadership elements — in fact, it’s training in irrational jingoism. That’s also a feature of competitive sports. I think if you look closely at these things, I think, typically, they do have functions, and that’s why energy is devoted to supporting them and creating a basis for them and advertisers are willing to pay for them and so on.

Is being a fan of professional sports all that bad? New research by economists and psychologists suggests that sports fandom actually has some benefits.

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From the Office of the Obvious: Musical Tastes Do Reflect Personality

September 4, 2008

rock music fans
The survey shows that heavy metal fans are also very creative and at ease with themselves, but not are not very outgoing or hard-working

Growing up in the early 80s out in suburbia, the musical divide was a simple one: you either listened to hard rock/heavy metal of the Led Zeppelin/Rolling Stones/Def Leppard/Judas Priest variety, or you listened to New Wave coming out of the UK best represented by bands such as Depeche Mode and The Smiths. Alongside the debates that raged about the musical qualities of each came subtle (or blunt) jabs at what each others’ tastes meant about the person themselves.

For instance, the prevalence of black leather and lumberjack coat attire plus feathered hair gave fans of heavy metal a “dirty” appearance. The trite lyricism of hard rock allowed its fans to be mocked for their intelligence or lack thereof. The glam look of New Wave acts naturally led to those in the opposing camps to question the sexuality of their fans.

Heriot Watt University in Edinburgh conducted an extensive study of 36,000 music fans to research what their musical tastes say about their personalities. Here are some of the thumbnail results:

Indie: Devotees have low self-esteem and are not very hard-working, kind or generous. However, they are creative.

Rock ‘n’ Roll: Fans have high self-esteem and are very creative, hard-working and at ease with themselves, but not very kind or generous.

Blues: High self-esteem, creative, outgoing and at ease with themselves.

Classical: Classical music lovers have high self-esteem, are creative and at ease with themselves, but not outgoing.

Heavy metal: Very creative and at ease with themselves, but not very outgoing or hard-working.

Reggae: High self-esteem, creative, outgoing, kind, generous and at ease with themselves, but not very hard-working.

Country & Western: Very hard-working and outgoing.

Dance: Creative and outgoing but not kind or generous.

Rap: High self-esteem, outgoing.

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iPod – The Symbol of Our Age and Why I Refuse To Buy One

September 3, 2008

iPod – its presence is ubiquitous

I don’t have an iPod. There, I said. In fact, I refuse to buy an iPod. If I wish to listen to music, I have a stereo and I have my laptop at home, plus I have a stereo system in my car should I wish to listen to music while driving.

During the day in the city, I’ll see hundreds of people going every which way with iPods attached to their bodies and heads. Whether they’re walking to the subway or working out in the gym, these people are detached from the mass around them. It’s precisely this detachment from the reality in their midst that I can’t appreciate. When I’m walking around, I enjoy not just the sights but also the sounds of the city around me. Each and ever sense combines to give me a better understanding of my surroundings. Wearing an iPod cuts me off not only from my surroundings, but it also cuts me off from the people and the community as a whole. Wearing an iPod also tells others that you are in your own space and wish not to be bothered. It’s difficult to call it elitist since it is an incredibly popular technology, but the iPod can be deemed a rejection of the immediate world around you as you seek to control your sensory perception by listening to a pre-arranged soundtrack.

Rob Clowes of Spiked Online elaborates on how the iPod separates an individual from their surroundings in his review of Michael Bull’s Sound Moves: IPod Culture and Urban Experience entitled: The Dialectic of wearing an iPod. I’ve provided several excellent excerpts. Read the rest of this entry »

The Soundtrack of our Lives

September 2, 2008

The songs we heard growing up shape our memories

Sights and smells will trigger memories in an individual but the sense of sound seems to trigger them best and especially when they are in musical form. Often enough, hearing an old song will automatically take us back to a place that no longer exist anywhere but in our memories, whether good or bad.

Dave Munger presents us with some research on why this is the case in Music and Memory: How the Songs We Heard Growing Up Shape the Story of Our Lives. Here’s an excerpt:

Matching our intuitions about music, researchers have found that music is an important influence on our memories. We associate songs with emotions, people, and places we’ve experienced in the past. This isn’t to say that music is the only influence on memory: the photos I took, the sights I saw, and the words I wrote about my hike will also help to preserve it in my mind for many years to come.

But it’s not easy to parse out exactly how music evokes memories. If I listened to “Rock Lobster” on the drive down from Hart’s Pass where we finished our hike, will “Rock Lobster” be associated with that memory, or with my birthday party in college where I danced wildly to the same song? Does music have a more powerful effect on memory than other influences, like images, words, or smells? We don’t know, but a group led by Petr Janata has taken an important first step in understanding how music can affect memory.

On that note, I’d like to present to you the soundtrack of my youth. Feel free to share yours with us.

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