Friday High Five: Meditating for Money, Dieting with Ice

Silent reading parties are the new toast

So … silent reading parties are a thing in New York. Partiers bring their own books, sink into couches, and aren’t allowed to talk to the others in the room. Organiser Jamie Burns got the idea after reading about similar parties held in Seattle. What’s the point? ‘There’s an energy to being in a room with other people. And being out and reading is better than staying home and planning to read.’

Photo: *The New Yorker*

Photo: The New Yorker

Meditation: The new weapon of Wall Street

‘Meditation used to have this reputation as a hippie thing for people who speak in a particularly soft tone of voice,’ says author Jay Michaelson. ‘Samurai practiced meditation to become more effective killers. It’s value neutral.’ So did kamikaze pilots, and so are Wall Street traders now - in order to make a killing on the markets. Traders report that meditations gives them an edge by allowing them to tune in to their instincts better, and to switch off after work, making them sharper overall.

Maya Angelou dies, aged 86

Celebrated American poet and author Maya Angelou died this week, aged 86. She wrote seven autobiographies, most notably I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings, an indictment of the racial discrimination she experienced during her childhood. ‘If growing up is painful for the southern black girl, being aware of her displacement is the rust on the razor that threatens the throat. It is an unnecessary insult.’ Angelou, a long-time Clinton supporter, read her poem ‘A Pulse of the Morning’ at the inauguration of president Bill Clinton, making it a bestseller.

The Guardian has shared 15 favourite Angelou quotes, including: ‘There is no greater agony than bearing an untold story inside you.’

Before the worldwide web: The origins of hypertext

The intellectual origins of the worldwide web (i.e. the internet) are often traced to Vannevar Bush’s 1945 Atlantic essay ‘As We May Think’, in which he described a machine called the Memex, ‘a hypertext-like device capable of allowing its users to comb through a large set of documents stored on microfilm, connected via a network of “links” and “associative trails” that anticipated the hyperlinked structure of today’s Web.’

Paul Otlet's Mondotheque

Paul Otlet's Mondotheque

But earlier, in 1934, Belgian bibliographer and entrepreneur Paul Otlet laid out a plan for a global network of ‘electric telescopes’ that would allow anyone in the world to access to a vast library of books, articles, photographs, audio recordings, and films.

The ice diet: Science or fad?

When gastroenterologist Dr Brian Weiner decided to lose weight, he stumbled on a discovery that has since made its way into medical journals … eating ice can be a way to lose weight, because your body is burning calories to produce the thermal energy required to melt the ice, while the ice itself contains no calories. ‘While eating ice, you are serving two purposes,“ Weiner explains, "you are burning calories and not eating positive-calorie foods.’