I get to cheat and use German for the title this week because it’s the 25th anniversary of the fall of the Berlin Wall. I remember this happening, but unfortunately I was thirteen and didn’t really have the wherewithal to fully comprehend the significance of it. Ah, youth.
In any case, I should go and see what my suspiciously quiet Offspring are doing, so without further delay, here are this week’s links:
It’s a disturbing and tragic fact that to be born an Indigenous Australian means that you have a lower life expectancy than your non-Indigenous countrymen and women. What’s most upsetting about this is that these early deaths are often due to dietary and lifestyle choices, which lead to diseases such as Type II diabetes and heart disease. Thus it’s not only a reduced number of years, but also a reduced quality of life which is the issue. This article suggests that the best way to help improve health outcomes for Indigenous people is to ensure proper nutrition. I also think that a focus on traditional Indigenous foods might not only be a boost to improving diet, but would be a way of ensuring that the cultural importance of food remains a relevant and ongoing aspect of life for Aboriginal Australians, and a means of cross-cultural communication.
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Australia has prided itself on having a classless society, at least to a greater degree than the UK, from where European settlement began. However, most of know this isn’t really the case. Class exists everywhere, and I find it very interesting to think about what it is that decides our social class. Money? Education? Attitude? Language? There are so many aspects of it. In this piece, four different people talk about the class they grew up in, and where they find themselves now.
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This week saw some interesting scenes around Julien Blanc, a ‘pick up artist’ with techniques which are, at best, questionable, and at worst, assault. He was due to give a seminar which was then cancelled due to public outrage. His visa was then revoked and he has since left the country. But at which point do someone’s speech or ideas become so abhorrent that we ban them altogether? Would it have been a better solution to invite him to debate this, or is this impossible when someone has such very odd ideas about how to connect with women? And what of the men who were attending his seminars? I would like to imagine that they are people who would sincerely like to know how to speak with women, how to ask them out, and really do not know where to start. We need to encourage men to talk with each other and with women, about expectations, experiences and what is acceptable ‘dating’ behaviour, otherwise men like Blanc will surely step in to fill the gaps with their rather toxic advice.
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Finally, to end on the Wall: this weekend, up to one million people are expected to descend on Berlin as the world celebrates and commemorates the fall of the Berlin Wall in 1989. Mikhail Gorbachev is one of those who is attending, and this article discusses his recent remarks about the East, the West and the possibility of a new Cold War. Where are we, in our relationship with Russia, compared to the fall of the Iron Curtain? I feel as though Gorbachev is right in his criticisms, and I wonder if we could perhaps learn from them, while we currently continue to fight against ideals other than our own. Of course, hindsight is 20-20. It’s so very hard to say what we might have done differently, under different leaders, and with a different attitude.