When you chew some delicious food, and you come across something unchewable (this is not a real word), would you simply spit it on the table? Of course not. But in large parts of the world, including China, spitting bones and other undesired food straight onto the table is quite the norm. Why is it that table manners are so different from culture to culture, and what does it have to do with class warfare and veganism?
By Sonja Nikcevic
Some time ago, a certain, mysterious Rosemarie Urquico posted an inspiring, literary insight into why you, and everyone else in the world should date a girl who reads. And suddenly, without warning, the Internet exploded. The post went viral in the astounding Internet-hype way that seems to have become commonplace in recent society. Girls and women all over the world paused their lonely, or not so lonely, exciting or everyday, book-loving lives and recognized themselves in Urquico’s words. I’m not ashamed to admit I was one of them. Below is an extract, so you can keep up:
By Daniel Isler
In his mesmerizing book “Freedom”, Jonathan Franzen delicately handles a sensitive but critical issue. He takes his protagonist to a journey into a large sustainability activists group, calling mainly for immediate actions to decrease the world’s population. Although being recognized as a genuine issue by sustainability scientists and social scientists – the subject of decreasing population is still a taboo in most parts of the world. Just think for a second about China’s one-child policy, forbidding more than one biological child for each couple of parents – and feel the repulse and intimidation we experience in light of such intervention to our personal decisions.
But this is by no means a new issue: warning signs were raised already over 200 years ago, namely by British scholar, Reverend Thomas Robert Malthus. In a nutshell, he showed and argued that while population growth is exponential by nature (2-4-8-16…), food and other resources grow arithmetically (1-2-3-4…). This observation means that if untouched, the population will outgrow its own fuel needed to live, and will unavoidably extinct. Although debated intensively over the last 200 years and often dismissed by other scholars – Malthusianism remains a central notion in the debate about global over population.
This week the Oxford Dictionary’s word of the year 2013 came out and it was…drum roll…selfie! The word beat seven other ones that had made the shortlist for this year, beating words such as Twerk (thankfully), showrooming, bitcoin and bedroom tax. In order to qualify as the word of the year, the Oxford Dictionary requires it, “to reflect the ethos, mood, or preoccupations of that particular year and to have lasting potential as a word of cultural significance.” With that in mind it can make you wonder how a word such as selfie could become the word that reflects the preoccupations of our culture the most.
Grotesque: adjective. “comically or repulsively ugly or distorted. incongruous or inappropriate to a shocking degree.” (Oxford Dictionaries).
A cute guy with a perfect nose comes out of a rain of confetti. He is accompanied by a robot-like figure, covered all in white and wearing a robot-mask. The cute guy is wearing a leopard print scarf and a red jacket. The crowd is ecstatic, just as it has been for the last two hours. What will the cute guy do next? This evening is full of surprises, and the crowd is hungry for another one. Surprisingly, the guy and the robot do not start dancing, twerking, or lighting a joint on stage. The cameras do not fly around them, no music is being heard. the guy addresses the audience, ask them for their attention: “um… I’d like to invite you to join me in a moment of silence for the people in the Philippines that are suffering because of this horrible typhoon that’s affected this country”. The audience is obviously baffled. This whole evening they are encouraged to party like there is no tomorrow. Now this pretty-boy wants them to be silent? The “moment” lasts 10 seconds, as it is clear that a lot of people in the crowd did not understand what he asked for, or worse – they did understand, but genuinely do not give a rat’s arse.