Milk and Obesity in China

The coronavirus has given me a break from university work, and I have enjoyed having some time to sort out my head in the midst of all this COVID chaos. The only problem is, I now have to get two essays done before the 18th. And one of the essays is proving…strange, to say the least.

The question I have chosen to answer is something along the lines of “Has China abandoned its dietary and medicinal traditions?” And initially, I thought f*** no. I’ve lived in China. Their bread is too sweet, it took me six months to find actual milk (not the sweetened milkshake-like nonsense), and the hospitals still rely heavily on traditional Chinese medicine. I felt passionate enough in my answer that I thought I could manage this essay.

And then I started the reading.

Good God, is it repetitive. I have read three papers on the recommended list, and they can all be summed up as follows:

  • The Chinese are eating more dairy despite most of the population being lactose intolerant.
  • There’s a major discrepancy between rural and urban areas.
  • There’s a weird cult-like mentality towards milk. Apparently milk=strength. And with more Chinese drinking milk, and less Americans drinking it, China will inevitably overcome the Western oppressors and become the world’s leading superpower!
  • Thanks to all this milk drinking, and people working in offices all the time, a lot of Chinese are now overweight or obese.

Now, I still have further reading to do, but if this is what my professor is after, I am at a loss for words. How do I “milk” this topic of milk in China? How do I drag out “excessive dairy intake and a sedentary lifestyle results in obesity” into a 2500 word essay? Shall I go full-on conspiracy theorist and talk about milk being the key to world domination? Or shall I make a dig at the fact that, traditionally, milk and dairy were considered the foods of barbarians?

I haven’t decided yet. But this making me want to cry at the absurdity of the topic.

Why Today Is Important: 1st May

Today is May Day!

And before the term was commonly associated with danger, anyone who heard “May Day” would think of people in bright clothes dancing around a pole with countless ribbons. They’d think of springtime, a new year, and a resounded end to the frost and death of winter.

Since Ancient Rome, May Day has been an important time to boost the population’s morale, though its name has undergone changes. Initially, the festival was dedicated to Flora, the Roman goddess of flowers; understandable, given the bright blossoming buds that can be seen at this time of year.

The most famous orgies in European history, the Mysteries of Dionysus and Aphrodite, are also associated with this holiday. Historically, this festival would go on for days (and nights) with drinking, sex, grand feasts, animal races (and fights!) in a display of the utmost debauchery. It was one hell of a way to mark the complete end of winter’s grasp.

In Gallic Britain, May Day was Beltane, a festival that marks the beginning of summer. Rituals would be held to protect the harvest and livestock; people would dance and jump through large fires, and magnificent feasts would be held to celebrate.

Now, in the secular world the 1st May has other implications. International Workers’ Day, a day that commemorates all of the labourers and working class people of the world. This holiday is mostly associated with socialism and communism, but regardless of personal ideology the current global crisis has shown us just how much we depend on these people.

2020 has had a rough start. Maybe we should all celebrate May Day to say goodbye to the old bad luck, and usher in some good luck and some much needed morale. Just make sure you do it at home, folks!

With the world distracted, China intimidates Taiwan

China News

Tanks in Taiwan Tanks in Taiwan

The tanks queued patiently with the cars, delivery trucks and bright yellow taxis before rolling serenely through the traffic lights.

The drill, in Yuanshan, a town south-east of Taipei, was intended as practice at repelling a Chinese invasion.

Some of the tanks, covered in webbing, hid in a copse, about as inconspicuously as is possible for a 50-tonne vehicle.

The unit had good reason to be rehearsing. In recent months China has been rattling more sabres than usual at Taiwan, which it considers part of its territory.

With covid-19 subsiding in China but consuming America, some in Taiwan feel vulnerable.

China sends around 2,000 bomber patrols a year into the Taiwan Strait, which separates the two countries, according to Taiwan’s defence minister.

These are taking increasingly menacing routes. In 2016, when Tsai Ing-wen, an opponent of reunification with China, was first elected Taiwan’s president, China began sending…

View original post 433 more words

Book Preview!

Hey everyone, sorry I’ve not been posting much lately – a lot of things have been happening all at once, so it’s been difficult to find time to write about the news as well.

On the plus side, I’ve finished writing my book! It’s a small book, but hell, it’s a book! The Garden Journal is a small guide on the plants in your garden and their different uses (and toxins!), with a few recipes to help you get into a self-sustainable, back-to-your-roots lifestyle. So if anyone is interested, here is a free preview:

I’ll get back to writing again soon, I promise. It feels wrong to not write now.

Why Today Is Important: 1st April

April Fools!

In the West we take this day for granted as the day we trick each other, and pull pranks on one-another. Some pranks are harmless, and some are cruel. But why the hell do we do this to each other?

Some people believe that April Fools was inspired by Geoffrey Chaucer’s The Canterbury Tales, a story of the pilgrimage people in Britain would take to Canterbury, a town of religious importance. In one particular chapter on a naughty nun was the account of one pilgrim being tricked by a fox on the “32nd March”, or 1st April.

One account from France argues that April Fools originates from poisson d’avril, the fish of April.

Some even argue that the April Fools celebrations exist now in place of the old New Year’s celebrations held in Europe. In the Middle Ages, the people in Europe would celebrate New Year around March-April time, but as Christianity gained popularity and influence in the 1500s the New Year celebration changed to the 1st January. Not wanting to simply abandon tradition, the story goes that the people simply changed the name of their festivities in April, and gained an extra holiday.

In the Netherlands the story of April Fools is linked to the war at Brielle in 1572, where a Spanish duke was defeated, though no actual celebrations or festivities were associated with the victory.

And the last, and strangest, origins story of April Fools that I have seen states that April Fools goes way, way back, to the Great Flood and Noah’s Ark. Though, the likelihood of that is pretty slim.

So, whether you believe the Brits, or the French, or anyone else, in the end it doesn’t really matter, does it? Just go out there, have some fun, and try not to hurt anyone. It’s a day for fun, not for funerals.

Why He Studied Arabic

While I studied Chinese, my boyfriend went to the same university to study Arabic. We were both in the languages department, with intense interests in history and politics, and we were both crazy enough to choose some of the most difficult languages in the world.

People still ask us “which one’s harder?” And honestly, I’ve not got a clue. Chinese grammar is a lot easier, but Arabic has a standardised alphabet with a pretty sensible word-root system (so the word for book will be similar to the words for “library”, “book shop” etc).

The next most common question he’s asked, of course, is “why the hell did you study Arabic?” and of course “are you a Muslim?”

He’s not a Muslim, he’s just amazingly nerdy.

One of the primary thing that drew him to the Middle East is his love for history. A lot of people love history, but in the UK at least we don’t really look into really early human history. We look at the Greeks and Romans, but there is a strong argument for civilization first emerging in the Middle East. A lot of human history, a lot of the key successes and important developments took place in the Arab world. And that’s what caught my partner’s eye. He loved that mysterious, historical origin-story for humanity.

Being able to read the language just helped him to better understand it.

And of course, there’s always something happening in the Middle East. Every day when you turn the TV on, there’s something in the news about a big event in the Middle East. Maybe Saudi Arabia has angered rights activists, or we hear about the wars in Libya and Syria, or more tourists start going to Morocco and Lebanon. It’s a fascinating region, with such a wide variety of things going on. There’s always something to learn, something to look into.

And with so much going on other there, there’s always jobs available in the field.

Arabic has a lot to offer, but it’s one hell of a challenge. I can’t do it justice. But in visiting my partner when he lived in Amman, Jordan, and then our trip to Egypt in December last year, I’ve been impressed by what I’ve seen of the Middle East. The language is captivating, and the culture and history are so beautiful, but I understand the disadvantage I would face if I lived there.

Personally, I’m sold on Arabic. I want to learn it at some point in the near future. We’ve got a library’s worth of books here at home, and not all of them can be bought on Amazon. But, for anyone else who’s interested, here’s a basic book on the first thousand words to learn:

And if you want something a bit more…resourceful…this dictionary has been pretty useful to him over the years:

And these are two books he asked for as a birthday present/casual reading the other year:

Who Is Senator Lindsey Graham?

This is going to be a nice and simple intro to Senator Lindsey Graham. Why him? Well, I stumbled across his name in a news article and realised that he was just a faceless blur to me. He may as well be a mannequin for all he meant to me. And I figured, as a politician in an important country, there should be a better understanding of who on earth he is.

So, private life:

  • American
  • Born 9th July 1955
  • From Carolina
  • Unmarried
  • No children
  • Member of the Corinth Baptist Church

Political views:

  • A Republican
  • Thinks there should be limits to free speech
  • Supportive of surveillance
  • Wants sanctions to be placed on anyone who offers asylum to Edward Snowden
  • Focused on security
  • Wants amendments to be made to the immigration laws to prioritise US citizens
  • Calls the detention centre in Texas “overwhelmed”. Very in favour of it, thinking it’s necessary to keep people safe.
  • Opposes extensive background checks for potential gun owners
  • Opposed Obamacare, but is in favour of the Health Americans Act (seeking to improve healthcare)
  • Pro-vaccine
  • Not completely anti-abortion, but feels that after 20 weeks the fetus should only be aborted in emergencies
  • Accepts that climate change is a problem, but is concerned at the potential for fear-mongering exaggerations
  • Advocates interventionist approaches to foreign policy, e.g. was in favour of US involvement in Iraq.
  • Supports Israel
  • Called for military intervention in Venezuela
  • Supportive of closure of tax loopholes, due to concerns over national debt
  • Community-focused (see Charleston shooting aftermath)
  • Anti-Trump

Are We About To Die Out?

Everyone dies.

Most of us hope to die in our sleep of old age, after living a long, productive life. And it seems we’ve been successful! More and more people are dying from old age, having had a kid or two and found jobs that work for them.

The problem is that we’re not really producing enough people to replace the ones that are dying. Countries like Singapore and Japan are running a serious risk, with the weights of these nation resting on the ever decreasing numbers of people available. Children are having to step up as carers for their families in an unprecedented way: in many families, one person has to care for four grandparents, their own parents, some aunts/uncles, their partner’s family members and any other dependents that comes their way (children, disabled relatives, etc). This significant stress means that a lot of people don’t have the time to have children, let alone the energy, money or desire.

Healthcare programs have been introduced, but with mixed success. It’s no wonder that Japan is starting to invest in robotics – what other choice will they have as their numbers start to dwindle?

In the UK we’re starting to see a similar dilemma, and it’s interesting to see the socio-economic factors involved. The women you would generally view as successful (well educated, good job, stable partner, minimal vices, etc) often decide not to have children, or they wait until their mid-late thirties. For some, this brings unforeseen complications.

Meanwhile, in working class neighbourhoods, girls as young as thirteen fantasise about getting pregnant, rather than finding a career.

It’s difficult to find a middle ground.

The Garden Journal

When I was a kid, I was raised to love the land.

My family would go on walks whenever we could, and mum and dad would point out all the plants you can use: cleavers, comfrey, gorse…plants that are often mislabelled as weeds, pests and useless are actually remarkably good for us. Meanwhile, plants live holly and ivy – plants we romanticise and admire – are actually toxic.

My family was always good at distinguishing between the edible and the inedible, and we always kept to the most basic rule: if you don’t know, don’t touch it.

There are some plants that are clearly edible, and they always brought excitement around the summer months. We would look forward to the changing of the seasons, and the fresh crops of blackberries, apples, cherries, cherry plums, sloes, damsons – whatever we could find! It was amazing to see just how much you can find in your local parks and woodlands, and it would become a tradition every year to make things like apple and blackberry crumble, sloe gin and cherry brandy.

It would be so easy to just reminisce for hours about the old knowledge that was passed down to us. There is so much to tell.

That’s why I’m putting it together in a book on Amazon.

I’ve taken pictures of my personal garden journal, with notes and doodles for identifying plants, and I’m putting them together in a compilation for others to use.

I hope this proves helpful to someone in these weird times.

Create your website with
Get started