Photo: Natalie Johnson (Flickr)

Our summer blog selection includes good news about gentle exercise, Dominique Browning takes on climate-change deniers, and the delightful prospect this fall of Glenn Close and Meryl Streep as potential Oscar competitors.

  • At Flashfree, Liz Scherer  relays some spectacular news about Tai Chi, a gentle yet challenging martial art often called “the moving meditation.” Citing a study published in the Journal of Aging Research, Scherer notes: “Eight premenopausal and seven post-menopausal sedentary women were asked to participate in an eight-week Tai Chi program” — 75 minutes twice weekly consisting of  a 5-minute check-in, 10 minutes of stretching/warm-up and 60 minutes of a modified 18-posture Tai Chi and Tai Chi fan style. “The Tai Chi routines coupled breathing to music, took a minute to a minute and a half per motion. The women learned five to 10 postures per week and the complete set was practiced for two weeks. Instructors were also sure to monitor and correct postures during each class.” The result? “Not only did 8 weeks of Tai Chi practice significantly improve balance, muscle strength and flexibility in both groups, but also produced as much as an 18 percent decline in a major marker for heart disease risk (i.e. plasma total homocysteine). Additionally, Tai Chi combined with measured, slow deep breathing improved the activities of antioxidant markers in the bloodstream that play a role in defending cells against damage from oxidative stress. Although this study is quite small and bears repeating with significantly higher numbers of women, the findings do imply that Tai Chi and slow deep breathing have [great] potential” to protect us, she writes. Perhaps we should look into Tai Chi, especially in the summer when we’re all looking for ways to get or stay fit without overstressing. We know WVFC contributor Lily Casura, who told us  over a year ago about her success with a similar practice, would approve.
  • Maybe relaxing stuff like that might prevent some of us from going after those other anti-aging potions, like Botox or the surgeon’s knife. Our Eleanore Wells hopes so at The Spinsterlicious Life. After lunch with some women who have, Wells reflects: “They both had that weird, too-wide-eyed, skin too smooth and shiny, slightly ‘off’ look of women who’ve had a tad too much facial work done. I hated it. I was unable to keep up with the conversation because I kept staring at their faces and having my own private conversation in my head: ‘Do they like the way they look?’  [she adds that] And here’s the thing:  I don’t know if having cosmetic surgery really fixes ‘the problem.’ Many women I see still seem self-conscious and uncomfortable about their age and their looks, even after they’ve had the work done. It’s like a trick has been played on them.” Every woman should choose for herself, but some of us hope it’s choice and not fear.
  • “I used to be a voracious reader. These days, like most people, I rarely have the time to read as much as I would like,” confesses the author of the sophisticated Luxe Chronicles. “I therefore cherish my annual summer vacation to catch up on the many books that accumulate throughout the year but which I’m rarely able to crack open until August. As usual, my list is top heavy with history as I love historical biographies and historically accurate novels (perhaps I’m just a frustrated historian/anthropologist at heart?).” Her list includes Simon Mawer’s The Glass Room and When the World Speaks, along with several volumes in French. How’s your summer reading list coming along? Tell us about it, in comments at the bottom of this post — they might make it in a WVFC Diary post, or more.
  • Dominique Browning has been very good to WVFC from the beginning; this past weekend she even hosted a few of us in her Rhode Island home. We luxuriate in her Slow Love So when her mind and pen turn to serious matters, as this week at Think Progress, we find ourselves snapping to attention. Her target: businesses, and their media enablers, who still act like there’s a “controversy” over the causes of our changing climate. Their ways are legion, she warns: they repeat lies till they sound true and “Denigrate scientists and medical professionals. Undercut their authority,” among other strategies. And they count on the rest of us to be too polite to call them out, Browning adds. “Somehow, we are reluctant to put a face on the polluting enemy. And the enemy knows it. [EPA’s] Lisa Jackson did not mention that coal-fired plants are the single biggest source of mercury, during her high-visibility interview with a sympathetic Jon Stewart at The Daily Show. She came across as a solid, responsible, trustworthy citizen – and she hit the dangers of mercury. But why on earth wouldn’t she call out the largest polluters, the dirty coal-fired utilities? We have yet to vilify the pro-polluting coal plant CEOs, who by now ought to be embarrassed to show up at the golf club. In fact, their more responsible colleagues should be vocally furious that they’re giving the entire industry a black eye.” Click over and read the whole thing — then do what she recommends. The stakes couldn’t be higher.
  • With Harry Potter and the Green Lantern filling the multiplexes, we can’t wait for the fall movie season. Also eager is Melissa at Women in Hollywood, who predicts that two of WVFC’s favorite Oscar contenders may be at it again: “I know that this is so very far away, but a girl can dream,” she writes. ” We already know that Meryl Streep will be in The Iron Lady opening in December, and now comes word that Glenn Close’s film Albert Nobbs will also be released this year. Liddell Entertainment and Roadside Attractions (which took Winter’s Bone all the way to the Oscars last year) will be releasing the film this fall.  Glenn Close stars as a woman passing as a man to survive in 19th-century Dublin.  She is also a producer and co-writer.  Since she is heavily involved in this film, we can bet that she will be pushing it all the way to Oscar night.” We can’t wait for our glimpse of cross-dressing Close, but for now we can anticipate Streep’s Thatcher. From the clip below, it might even make us like the Conservative Party icon.

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