Notes and shorts from around the world


Cultural appropriation
appropriated
The latest target of the cultural appropriation police is an 18 year old girl from Utah who posted a picture of herself on social media wearing a Chinese style dress, a cheongsam, to her high school dance.  “My culture is NOT your goddamn prom dress,” raged Twitter user Jeremy Lam.  Like many of these silly controversies about people of one background adopting and adapting the artefacts of another, this one was petty, coercive and infantilising, but it also exhibited a particular historical ignorance. The style of dress worn by the student was conceived in China after the overthrow of the Qing dynasty in 1912, when Chinese women found themselves free for the first time in 250 years to dress as they liked. The new garment, the cheongsam, was seen by some as a fusion of old and new, East and West. It used Chinese fabrics, but its shape and purpose – to allow easy movement, unlike previous, highly restrictive clothes – was consciously appropriated from European fashion. America’s would be culture police, in other words, were attacking a Western girl for wearing a dress designed precisely so that Chinese girls could live more like Western girls.
Do saunas prevent stroke?
University of Bristol researchers tracked 1,628 Finnish people with an average age of 63. They found that over a period of 15 years the people who had four to seven saunas a week were about 60% less likely to suffer a stroke than those who had just one sauna a week. The differences were similar even after the researchers adjusted for factors such as smoking, diabetes and high cholesterol – suggesting that they were not only down to sauna users’ having better overall health. “Saunas appear to have a blood pressure lowering effect, which may underlie the beneficial effect on stroke risk,” said Dr Setor Kunutsor, who co-wrote the study in Neurology. However, clinical trials would need to confirm that saunas reduce stroke risk – and in any case, they are not for everyone.  Finns use saunas from childhood, so their bodies are used to them. Older sauna novices should be cautious and talk to a doctor first if in poor health.
Whose fame?
George Clooney is recognised wherever he goes, but to some people, he is not the most interesting member of the family. Amal Clooney, the high profile human rights lawyer, in 2015, gave a speech to the European Court of Human Rights about the Armenian genocide, which “must have been watched by every Armenian in the world”,  said Geoffrey Robertson. Some time after, George arrived at a car park in LA, to hear one Armenian attendant shout to another, “Hey, this guy is married to Amal.  He parks for free.”
Bons mots
“Genius may have its limitations, but stupidity is not thus handicapped.” – Elbert Hubbard, writer, USA

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