Stupid cultural peculiarity #5,674: big is beautiful / child abuse

Maybe, but that doesn’t mean we need to encourage people to be unhealthy.

I am always amazed by how easily we tolerate “religious” or “cultural” customs just because of their stated source. It really needs to stop. I don’t care if it’s a person’s religion or their heritage that condones an illogical, inconsiderate, and/or inhumane act. They need to discontinue that custom. Sure, one might think where does the line get drawn about what customs “make sense” versus those that do not? Am I suggesting that only Western ideals will win out? No, in fact, the choices are generally not that hard. If they are, there’s discussions to be had–but often topics are just avoided, or ridiculousness accepted on its face just because something is cultural or, more often because it’s religious.

These girls eat 14,000 to 16,000 calories daily. Recommended for a healthy 12-year-old girl is 1500 calories; in comparison, an adult male bodybuilder eats up to 4000. (photo from MC)

I first heard about force-feeding of women in Mauritania when I found this article in Marie Claire magazine. This is particularly troublesome when one considers that it’s more specific than just “women”– it is force-feeding of children that is the concern. I am amazed that I’d never heard of this “leblouh” before. If I haven’t heard of this from any of the blogs, newspapers, and magazines that I read, or from any of my friends or their friends–obviously this is an issue that is not getting any attention. Perhaps because Mauritania is not such a huge country, and a minority of it’s poor, uneducated women are really not a priority for anyone? Probably so–but this kind of sick point of view should be condemned. The fact that the world sat by while the junta government took over and ran rigged elections was just a prelude to these kinds of abuses returning.

Until recently, it appeared that force-feeding and the big-is-beautiful ethos were dying out. Although leblouh has never been outlawed in this Islamic republic, in 2003 the government started a campaign to fight child abuse and raise awareness of the health risks of obesity. Moreover, as diverse global influences — from knockoff Western fashions to Nigerian pop music and French TV — slowly reached the masses, young women in cities like Nouakchott, the capital, were beginning to slim down under their mulafa robes. But in December 2007, progress stalled when gunmen with suspected ties to al Qaeda’s North African wing murdered four French vacationers near the capital, causing tourism and foreign investment to plummet. Then, in August 2008, a military coup removed the democratic government and installed a junta that favored “a return to tradition.” An election in July kept the junta in power, despite claims of massive vote-rigging.

Surely, when we turn a blind eye to one problem, others will arise.


World cup final!…and psychic animals

Not exactly an inspiring game, but it got a lot more fun as the first half came to a close. The winning goal for Spain was well-deserved, as they were clearly the better team throughout the game–and the fact that at least 4 Spanish players had a touch to set up the goal was a great illustration of how Spain had played.

Meanwhile, on a level of at least as much attention as the Cup game itself (at least in America and Germany) was that Paul the Octopus was right, again! This means he has a better record (7 wins-0 losses) than the Spanish team (6wins-1loss) in this World Cup. So, kudos, my cephalopodic friend! Other animals have tried to grab the headlines, but been somewhat less successfull:  Harry, the Ozzie Crocodile, Mani, the Indian parrot, a Malaysian parakeet named Meena, a Dutch Chimp named Pino in an Estonian zoo, and even Jabulani–named ominously the same as the soccerball used for S. Africa’s World Cup matches– another octopus. I find it unsurprising that there are people who would listen to the predictions of various animals, and equally funny that there are people who are willing to believe in some supernatural being governing all their worldly (and post-worldly) doings but find it odd that one should believe in a cephalopod’s powers! On the other hand, while multiple sources have reported that PETA asked for Paul the Octopus to be released into the wild following his string of victories, I haven’t been able to locate anything on their website to that effect. I’m thinking throwing an animal raised in captivity out into the wild is somewhat less than wise.

We were lucky on base to have a couple of similarly sized rooms, because both got filled up! I hear from the workers here that this is by far the most interest they have ever seen in soccer. I knew the other football is growing in the USA. Here’s the room I was at:
Hope you had a fun place to watch the game at–where did you watch?


Goooal! AFN scores the World Cup!!

Proving that newspapers do in fact report good news sometimes, this morning’s Stars and Stripes paper reported: “Just hours before the start of the world’s largest sporting event, American Forces Network secured the broadcasting rights to the 2010 World Cup.” For many soldiers and support personnel working at US bases, this was a matter of great worry– as only few places have access to ESPN. Soccer fans had consigned themselves to having to try and find an online stream, or the really lucky few to find a TV set with ESPN. Even the day before the world’s biggest sporting event, people at cafeterias on US bases found themselves staring at the Stanley Cup replays and some random baseball matches. No, not even in America does anyone REALLY care about the Stanley cup. Fine– except maybe about 7 people!

Meanwhile, further down the article on realizes why this was a big issue. Reports the Stars and Stripes: “The process to obtain the broadcast rights involved 34 international television licensees and sub-licensees in 28 territories, who waived their territorial exclusivity, the AFN release said.”

So here we are–ready. Here in Kuwait this means the games will be on at the big TVs where we can all gather to watch, and maybe– just maybe– all the excitement draws in a few new converts to the beautiful game!


World Cup is coming! Google's special "next page" icon

So there’ll be a lot of searching of World Cup related terms on Google. Yes, I’m writing two consecutive posts having to do with Google, but hey, if they’re doing things right… !

As I was looking for a printable version of the official World Cup Schedule (pdf), I realized that for related searches, the bottom of the Google page looks like this:

Also, if you want a schedule that is in your timezone, on the FIFA website, they have a place where you can click and it converts the time into your zone. Unfortunately, the schedule is not printable with those times!
Meanwhile, here’s a place where you can check current World Cup scores and game results.
Not to be missed also is the work this guy put in to create a World Cup Excel template which generates all the right matches coming up, depending on the results  you put in. Definitely fun for tracking the madness!

4 years in the waiting and it’s coming soon! Hopefully you’ll find some fun places to watch from!


I want to be a gladiator! The "Spartacus" workout

Ok, not really.  Unless it was just a themed workout. So to all my people that want to get in shape:I just did this workout today and it is a.freaking.mazing.
This is the actual workout that the stars of Spartacus (which I haven’t watched so can’t comment on) use. And well, if I could look just a bit like Peter Mensah, it wouldn’t be a bad thing (also, see video on MH website below):

Here is the link to their site, which has a lot of great info to look through. But nicer still, you can get a printable version so you can take along to the gym. Start off with smaller/ no weights so you can get through all of the steps. Use longer breaks in the beginning if you need.  The smallest weights will feel like boulders in your hands before you’re done one set, so start off with lighter weights/ no weights and work your way up. Same with the breaks, if you can’t manage just 15 seconds inbetween sets, then lengthen that a bit, but remember: this is a circuit workout, intended to be done at high intensity with minimal rest. So anything more than 30 seconds of break and you’re starting to defeat the point. Also to note when you’re starting off, is that if you just can’t get through a full minute, just hold the position for the rest of the minute until its time to move to the next set. So really, if you look at this and think “oh I have to work out for a month before I can even start this!”, don’t. Because you can start this at your level–just you have to make sure to work through it consistently.

Although the workout is posted in Men’s Health magazine, I think women could benefit from this as well. You just want to keep your weights to a minimum so you don’t bulk up. Or I’m sure there are other already modified /tried / tested circuit workouts offered in women’s health magazines!

Try this.  Let me know how you like it!