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The History and Design Behind Prague's Concrete Apartments - Bloomberg

The real push for fully industrial building methods came from a speech by Soviet leader Nikita Khrushchev in 1954, who specifically called for the use of concrete panel construction as an efficiency measure in a bloc-wide drive for more and better housing. Despite the Soviet incentive, the housing produced to meet this call was nonetheless not fundamentally different from much being constructed in the West at the time. The internal layouts of paneláks, and their arrangement into planned, self-contained neighborhoods, had clear contemporary counterparts in Western Europe , where Sweden, France, West Germany and Britain were also building mass housing projects on a grand scale. In keeping with this exchange of ideas across the Iron Curtain, the name given to this 1950s new wave of Czech architecture and design was “Brussels Style,” after Czechoslovakian architects gained international attention for their designs at the Brussels World Fair in 1958. What was markedly different, however, was the paneláks’ delivery method, and the social aspirations behind them. The idea in Czechoslovakia was to rapidly urbanize the country through buildings that could be reproduced using the same prefabricated components, creating not just new homes but entire neighborhoods and even cities. Catering to all levels of society and allocated by need rather than ability to pay, these new quarters wouldn’t be public housing along the Western model. Because there was no private housing to counterbalance them, they were simply — well, housing.  For their new tenants, these panelák homes often represented an improvement. Coming from tenements heated with coal stoves and often lacking hot water or reliable plumbing, many residents were relieved to move in. These new units offered central heating, balconies and much more light than you might have gotten in Prague’s existing courtyard buildings (akin to Berlin’s Mietkasernen). They also had more modern conveniences than the cramped cottages previously occupied by migrants from the countryside.

Why money cannot 'buy' housework -- ScienceDaily

To negotiate their housework participation, men either hand over their income to their partners, who manage the money, so they use money to 'exchange' their way out of housework, or they hold on to their income to 'bargain' their way out of housework. "Men get away with not doing housework through both channels," explains Dr Hu. "It puts women in a very compromising position as they are left to do the lion's share of housework." Given wage penalties and a glass ceiling in the labour market, women are unlikely to win the 'war' over housework by 'exchanging' and 'bargaining' with men. They are seen to negotiate in a different way. Going 'solo', some working women are seen to opt out of housework by taking control of their own earnings and developing a sense of autonomy. Indeed, women's income only reduces their housework time when they can access their own earnings and have a say in household financial decisions. But the study finds that in the UK, less than 12% of working-age women kept separate purses, another 23% managed household finances, and only around 15% controlled financial decisions.

Memories form 'barrier' to letting go of objects for people who hoard -- ScienceDaily

Dr Stewart explains: "We can all relate to the experience of being flooded with positive memories when we hold valued possessions in our hands. However, our findings suggest that it's the way in which we respond to these object-related memories that dictates whether we hold onto an object or let it go. The typical population appears to be able to set aside these memories, presumably to ease the task of discarding the objects, and so manage to avoid the accumulation of clutter. The hoarding participants enjoyed the positive memories but reported that they got in the way of their attempts to discard objects."

'Goldilocks' neurons promote REM sleep -- ScienceDaily

This is the first time that an area of the brain has been found to control REM sleep as a function of room temperature. "Our discovery of these neurons has major implications for the control of REM sleep," says Schmidt. "It shows that the amount and timing of REM sleep are finely tuned with our immediate environment when we do not need to thermoregulate. It also con-firms how dream sleep and the loss of thermoregulation are tightly integrated." REM sleep is known to play an important role in many brain functions such as memory consolidation. REM sleep comprises approximately one quarter of our total sleep time. "These new data suggest that the function of REM sleep is to activate important brain functions specifically at times when we do not need to expend energy on thermoregulation, thus optimizing use of energy resources," says Schmidt.

Psychosis incidence highly variable internationally -- ScienceDaily

Among the contributing factors under consideration, they found that the strongest area-level predictor of high rates of psychotic disorders was a low rate of owner-occupied housing. The researchers used owner-occupied housing as an indicator of socio-economic affluence and stability. "Areas with higher rates of owner-occupied housing have lower rates of psychosis, which may be linked to social deprivation. People in areas that are socially deprived may have more social stresses, which could predict psychosis incidence, as suggested by other studies. An alternative explanation could be that owner-occupied housing is an indicator of social stability and cohesiveness, relating to stronger support networks," said the study's first author, Hannah Jongsma (University of Cambridge). In line with previous research, higher incidence of psychosis was also associated with younger age (although the authors also identified a secondary peak in middle age among women), males, and ethnic minorities. A related paper investigating psychosis incidence in a rural region of England, also led by Dr Kirkbride and published last week in JAMA Psychiatry, found that while people from ethnic minorities are more likely to experience a psychotic disorder, these rates become lower in areas with a high degree of ethnic diversity -- both for the majority- and minority-ethnic individuals, potentially suggesting that greater social connections between individuals from different backgrounds is protective against some mental health issues.

Will home be obliterated by virtual life?

When I asked Rosedale whether he stood behind the predictions he’d made during the early years of Second Life—that the locus of our lives would become virtual, and that the physical world would start to seem like a museum—he didn’t recant. Just the opposite: He said that at a certain point we would come to regard the real world as an “archaic, lovable place” that was no longer crucial. “What will we do with our offices when we no longer use them?” he wondered. “Will we play racquetball in them?” I pressed him on this. Did he really think that certain parts of the physical world—the homes we share with our families, for example, or the meals we enjoy with our friends, our bodies leaning close across tables—would someday cease to matter? Did he really believe that our corporeal selves weren’t fundamental to our humanity? I was surprised by how rapidly he conceded. The sphere of family would never become obsolete, he said—the physical home, where we choose to spend time with the people we love. “That has a more durable existence,” he said. “As I think you’d agree.”
When I left this country 18 years ago, I didn’t know how strangely departure would obliterate return: how could I have done? It’s one of time’s lessons, and can only be learned temporally. What is peculiar, even a little bitter, about living for so many years away from the country of my birth, is the slow revelation that I made a large choice a long time ago that did not resemble a large choice at the time; that it has taken years for me to see this; and that this process of retrospective comprehension in fact constitutes a life – is indeed how life is lived. Freud has a wonderful word, ‘afterwardness’, which I need to borrow, even at the cost of kidnapping it from its very different context. To think about home and the departure from home, about not going home and no longer feeling able to go home, is to be filled with a remarkable sense of ‘afterwardness’: it is too late to do anything about it now, and too late to know what should have been done. And that may be all right.
But Jozef doesn’t stay, and as the novella closes, we see him in Vienna airport, about to board a flight to America:He did not want to fly to Chicago. He imagined walking from Vienna to the Atlantic Ocean, and then hopping on a slow transatlantic steamer. It would take a month to get across the ocean, and he would be on the sea, land and borders nowhere to be found. Then he would see the Statue of Liberty and walk slowly to Chicago, stopping wherever he wished, talking to people, telling them stories about far-off lands, where people ate honey and pickles, where no one put ice in the water, where pigeons nested in pantries.It’s as if jet flight is existentially shallow; a slower journey would enact the gravity and enormity of the transformation.
The ‘great movement of peoples that was to take place in the second half of the 20th century’, that V.S. Naipaul spoke of in The Enigma of Arrival was, as Naipaul put it, ‘a movement between all the continents’. It could no longer be confined to a single paradigm (post-colonialism, internationalism, globalism, world literature). The jet engine has probably had a greater impact than the internet. It brings a Nigerian to New York, a Bosnian to Chicago, a Mexican to Berlin, an Australian to London, a German to Manchester. It brought one of n+1’s founding editors, Keith Gessen, as a little boy, from Russia to America in 1981, and now takes him back and forth between those countries (a liberty unknown to émigrés like Nabokov or Sergei Dovlatov).Recall Lukács’s phrase ‘transcendental homelessness’. What I have been describing, both in my own life and in the lives of others, is more like secular homelessness. It cannot claim the theological prestige of the transcendent. Perhaps it is not even homelessness; homelooseness (with an admixture of loss) might be the necessary (hideous) neologism: in which the ties that might bind one to Home have been loosened, perhaps happily, perhaps unhappily, perhaps permanently, perhaps only temporarily.
Or suppose I am looking down our Boston street, in dead summer. I see a familiar life: the clapboard houses, the porches, the heat-mirage hanging over the patched road (snakes of asphalt like black chewing gum), the grey cement sidewalks (signed in one place, when the cement was new, by three young siblings), the heavy maple trees, the unkempt willow down at the end, an old white Cadillac with the bumper sticker ‘Ted Kennedy has killed more people than my gun,’ and I feel … nothing: some recognition, but no comprehension, no real connection, no past, despite all the years I have lived there – just a tugging distance from it all. A panic suddenly overtakes me, and I wonder: how did I get here? And then the moment passes, and ordinary life closes itself around what had seemed, for a moment, a desperate lack.
Exile, as he understands it, is tragic homelessness, connected to the ancient sentence of banishment; he approves of Adorno’s subtitle to Minima Moralia: Reflections from a Mutilated Life. It’s hard to see how the milder, unforced journey I am describing could belong to this grander vision of suffering. ‘Not going home’ is not exactly the same as ‘homelessness’. That nice old boarding school standby, ‘homesickness’, might fit better, particularly if allowed a certain doubleness. I am sometimes homesick, where homesickness is a kind of longing for Britain and an irritation with Britain: sickness for and sickness of. I bump into plenty of people in America who tell me that they miss their native countries – Britain, Germany, Russia, Holland, South Africa – and who in the next breath say they cannot imagine returning. It is possible, I suppose, to miss home terribly, not know what home really is anymore, and refuse to go home, all at once. Such a tangle of feelings might then be a definition of luxurious freedom, as far removed from Said’s tragic homelessness as can be imagined.
Herodotus says that the Scythians were hard to defeat because they had no cities or settled forts: ‘they carry their houses with them and shoot with bows from horseback … their dwellings are on their wagons. How then can they fail to be invincible and inaccessible for others?’ To have a home is to become vulnerable. Not just to the attacks of others, but to our own adventures in alienation.
Wood, who grew up in England but has lived in the United States for 18 years, explores a certain form of contemporary homelessness — lives lived without the finality of exile, but also without the familiarity of home.He speaks of existences “marked by a certain provisionality, a structure of departure and return that may not end.”This is a widespread modern condition; perhaps it is the modern condition. Out of it, often, comes anxiety. Wood does not focus on the psychological effects of what he calls “a certain outsider-dom,” but if you dig into people who are depressed you often find that their distress at some level is linked to a sense of not fitting in, an anxiety about belonging: displacement anguish.
Even when you’re careful about picking a spot—protected forest, wild coastline, lonesome desert alongside a national park—you need a form of income and you need interludes of friendship and love and other problems. It doesn’t matter if you’ve got a whole crowd in the nearest city, because they will rarely if ever visit. People are lazy. Even the smart ones toss away most of their “free time” watching television. You’re on your own out there, and even Henry David Thoreau got lonesome and went back to town. Your rural neighbors might be fellow conservationists and tree huggers, but they’re more likely gun nuts with a sheet-metal garage crowded with dirt bikes and off-road buggies.