Category Archives: lifestyle

Fast food culture – calories that make you happy

   Who have never been to the McDonald’s in his or her life? Or never ate in that hot-dog stand nearby? I suppose hardly anyone. Modern lifestyle revolving around tasks and deadlines, makes us more impatient, caring more about the speed than about quality. It can be applied not only to food, but also to the work done or services. But is this the only reason why we spend so much time and money in such restaurants?

   Junk food overflows the world. We don’t want (or we cannot afford) to eat in fancy restaurants where you have to spend quite a sum on a dinner which will be probably too small for your liking. Let alone time required to prepare that boeuf stroganoff you ordered. We want our food to be quick, cheap and in large size. The fact that it is harmful for our health, containing a lot of calories and saturated fats is only a minor drawback. If you only have twenty minutes to eat something in between two meetings with clients who ensure your safe place at work, you won’t be worried about how healthy your diet is. But as you think of it, fast foods are not stuffed with businessmen and women. It is full of teenagers. image  
  Let’s not forget that the main reason we eat out is to socialise. Young people crowd in Mc Donald’s after school or during holidays as there is not many places to go, especially if you don’t live in a big city. Besides, since early childhood we were taken for a cheeseburger and cola by our parents as a reward for being polite or doing some houseworks. This way, we always see junk food as something special and when we can go there by our own, we do it a lot. Sometimes I see mothers with children as young as four or five years, ordering Happy Meals with a nice toy. That’s just another reason why we like to eat junk food that much – we associate it with that careless times when we had so much fun playing and spending time with our parents.   

The popularity of fast food restaurants, which is part and parcel of our globalized world, makes local food industry disappear. Some countries defend themselves against this phenomenon, as France does, but of little avail. Even in Israel the burger industry is big, swerving the kosher meat – as the religious tradition requires. There’s no way of stopping it. Fast food culture is something we associate with modern world as much as social media, smartphones and watching TV every evening.

   As a result, the percentage of obese people with health problems is constantly growing. Those whose habit is to drop by and leave with a paper bag full of salt, sugar, fats and calories are susceptible to future weight problems, heart attacks, high blood pressure and many more. But healthy food is not necessarily expensive, although in some cases  may be, but it surely requires time and effort. But for the good physique and general condition it is worth it. Cook something by yourself on a regular basis and enjoy some burger now and then. All within reason and you will be in good shape for a long time.   

Literature? Who on earth reads books?

Computers make the world go around. We cannot live without technology, and I don’t mean the teenagers who wouldn’t be able to check their facebook and instagram accounts anymore. It is everywhere and we are completely dependent on it, as it is necessary in so many areas of life – a doctor use their computer programs to analyze the progress of chemotherapy, a stockbroker needs the Internet to observe changes on the market, a librarian use achieves to find a particular book. Most schools use various programs and tools which facilitate the learning process. Some teachers are even unable to make lessons without their notebook with access to Internet. Moreover, we should bear in mind that in the world there’s more ‘virtual’ money than we can back up by the real currency. If the system goes down, our money stored in banks will simply disappear, leading in riot and social unrest.

Generally speaking, technology makes our lives easier and is a very positive phenomenon. But since we can do almost everything with it, we are getting more and more lazy. What’s the point in calculating anything if a computer can do it for you and in addition will highlight the most important figures? The danger starts when one doesn’t see the reason in reading books if he can surf the net instead.

Young people tend to spend more time behind the screen (on their PCs, tablets, smartphones or other devices enabling quick connection to the Web) than the adults, wasting huge amounts of time playing Angry Birds, liking their friends’ photos on facebook or chatting online. It is said that the generations that grew up with computers are less intelligent, less sociable and less read. Teenagers take no interest in reading books. Their knowledge about literature ends with some information about set books the teachers told them, because few of them have read it themselves. And if they have some story on paper ( or online, e-books are becoming more and more popular) it is mostly not Waiting for Godot, but something more like Twilight or Fifty shades of grey. The popularity of these kind of literature is unbelievable. Even if there are novels written by young ambitious writers, it usually doesn’t receive great popularity, which only vampire stories can attain. But maybe what is popular should not be of quality, but be written in simple language and tell the simple stories – of romance, cheating, family feud or school life. And all the characters are just like hundred similar before and after. Plastic hero in plastic story for plastic people in plastic world. The literature has been dethroned. Using the newest iPad is cool, reading books is not.
Fortunately, printed word is not yet completely forgotten
We cannot ascribe this phenomenon only to the Internet, although it is responsible for enormous part of it. The second is the way we are educated – since every employer wants a specialist in one particular domain, nobody cares about general knowledge. Nobody requires a lawyer to know how many orbitals the atom of hydrogen has or the chemist to know who the Frederick Nietzsche was. Nobody ain’t time for reading, especially if the set books were an unpleasant experience back in the day. Since that time, novels and poetry are things considered ‘for swots only’. But wouldn’t it be good if all citizens of a country knew the most important figures for their homeland’s history? One might ask what for. For the sake of knowledge itself. An educated person should know certain things.

There is, though, a lot of social campaigns encouraging people to read and they have been largely successful in many countries of Europe. It is very important to emphasize the importance of reading in our lives, as the activity that enriches our vocabulary and imagination, simultaneously widening our horizons and sometimes even changing our views on world. Let’s not forget that literature makes the culture.

 

Dress code

The summer has begun. The scorching sun makes people all sweaty and looking for a fan or a seat near the window. It is natural the higher the temperature goes, the scantier the people dress (within reason, of course). But the problem appears when men are allowed to go shirtless and women are frowned upon when they put on shorts or a top with moderate cleavage. It is especially visible in schools, as in workplaces people are usually dressed in a way it is acceptable for the company, although it is not always a rule. But when a teenager, who already kicks against all possible rules, is told what he is to wear, it cannot end well.

Dress code is sometimes necessary and understandable, as for example in politics or marketing, in situations when you have to deal with customer or represent a big company or political party. Then you must look professional, but being professional doesn’t have to mean that you must wear the same attire in summer and in winter. For example French police officers have two kinds of uniforms – one with light materials and with short sleeves for the warmer part of the year and one more ‘heavy’, for wintertime. It is a solution which is very good for both image of institution and for people working on behalf of it. There are also some initiatives to make employees more comfortable not only in their clothes, but in company in general, such as allowing the workers to dress more casually on Fridays.
The way one dress is very important for an individual, and the right to wear whatever you want is as important as the freedom of speaking your mind.

The high schools and their expectations of how their attendants should look like is a completely different story. Firstly, we have young people who aren’t necessarily willing to comply with what the principal says is allowed and what is not. Some schools have their uniforms and nobody have any problem with it. But in most of them, there are only some rules what you cannot dress, rules which majority breaks. The question is if these regulation follow the common sense or not, and if they treat everybody the same way. Making girls put on so-called modest attire when boys are allowed to wear almost anything and giving an argument that any part of women’s (girls in high school age are almost adult, at least in terms of appearance) body which is not covered would distract their male peers or male teachers is ridiculous. It is a claim that men have no brain to tell them that they shouldn’t touch anyone without their consent and excusing such actions by putting the guilt on females.

The problem also lies in the language we use while addressing such issues. Few moths ago, all Internet talked about a 16-year-old girl who was offended when their principal used the phrase ‘the modest the hottest’, as a mean to get the girls to cover their bodies. But it is somehow inappropriate to use such sexually-connotated word to get what he wants. Especially as most girls in that age already have low self-esteem and such sentences are very unlikely to improve their situation, making them ashamed of their bodies.
Another thing is how teachers address these who violate these rules and for example come to school in shorts or leggings – some make humiliating remarks like ‘why you are wearing panties in school?’ or even tell them to put on shorts when they have leggings (but that one is extreme). Let’s have some mutual respect, teachers towards pupils and vice versa.

It is obvious that we cannot let everything pass without a word, some rules must be followed in order to ensure safety and good atmosphere in class. But going too far in one or other way will do no good. Neither very strict nor very liberal policy towards the clothes is good. School should ensure that their pupils know how to dress appropriately for it will be required of them afterwards, and also that each of them have some freedom to express himself or herself through their clothing. Both things should be learned at high school and be obvious in adult life.

Let’s abolish all the final exams!

The May is coming to an end and the final exams are something that now occupies minds of most of young people. Some of them have already passed all of them, while others are still cramming for the remaining ones. But are these big tests really that important?

The answer for that question is not as simple as you may think. There’s been a lot of criticism of schools lately, because they are said to be getting more and more exam-oriented. They are simply focusing on the end of year examination and everything they do throughout the year has some connections with it.

On the other hand, it is very important for the students to get the best marks possible. Why? The most obvious reason is that the better your marks are now, the wider will be the range of universities wanting you and the more likely you are to get a well-paid job on today’s unstable job market. The next would probably be the parents’ expectations and personal ambitions. The A levels or the equivalents are treated as the most important moment in one’s education. Not everyone will go further to get a degree and there’s a lot of pressure on getting the highest marks possible.

Teachers are judged on grounds of their students’ achievement, so it is perfectly understandable why they put so much emphasis on doing all types of exercises that improve learners’ ability to do well on an exam rather than on learning more facts and information that are useful in the future studies or work. The tests themselves are getting more and more complicated as it comes to structure, and less reliable as an indicator of potential of a future attendant of university. The exams are bad, bad, bad – everybody complains about them, but let’s be realistic – what other possibility do the we have to select the best pupils? Talking with each student would take too much time as the candidates almost always outnumber the places available. Setting entrance exam is basically doing the same thing, but in other time. And using personal statement and teacher’s reference as the only requirement would be simply foolish.

But what’s so wrong with it? It’s long been that way – you are taught, you learn, and you are required to show how much you’ve learned. And it works just like that since our first years in school. And since we don’t have any choice, we should just lay it to rest.And if you want to rebel – you’ll end up failing a year. At least, it is how I see it.