Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Avoid overdosing on fruit cake and candy canes.

DOCTORS issuing Christmas revellers with a bizarre warning this year - to avoid overdosing on fruit cake and candy canes.
Australians have also been warned that fruit cake, cranberry sauce, candy canes and other Christmas foods are high in sugar and can be big contributors to tooth decay.
Hunter New England oral health clinical director Dr Lanny Chor said people not only ate more sugar but ate it more frequently during the Christmas period.
"Frequency is as bad as quantity because the constant sugar levels stop saliva from doing its job, which is keeping the right pH levels in the mouth,'' Dr Chor said.
"One of the problems with the Christmas cake, chocolate-coated peanuts, candy canes, glace cherries and champagne is that there is often a continual period of eating between Christmas and New Year, exposing teeth to continuous acid attacks.''
Recent World Health Organisation data showed Australians eat an average 63 kilograms of sugar each year - more than a kilogram a week.
"Over the Christmas period, eat sensibly, brush your teeth with a fluoride toothpaste, especially before sleeping, and invest in looking after your teeth for the long term,'' Dr Chor said.
The Australia Medical Association said many Australians also associated heavy drinking with the festive season, but urged people to have a good time without putting their health at risk.
"Excess alcohol consumption is responsible for billions of dollars worth of illness and tragedy in Australia each year,'' AMA president Dr Rosanna Capolingua said.
"Alcohol abuse is the cause of many chronic health problems including cardiovascular disease, obesity, liver disease, and brain damage, and can lead to serious health risks such as acute alcohol poisoning.
"In addition to what it's doing to your body, excessive drinking can be the cause of all kinds of accidents, and no one wants to spend any time in a hospital emergency department.''

Blogger to global novelist-Mieko Kawakami

Mieko Kawakami: From blogger to global novelist
Her latest novel won Japan's top prize for new fiction writers. Kawakami is one of an emerging group of young Japanese women writers.
Mieko Kawakami hops off her bicycle outside Tokyo's Mamehiko cafe and heads in for some iced tea and conversation. Casually dressed in a jean vest and flouncy skirt, she appears unrushed, despite being one of the most sought-after young authors in Japan this year. When a young man recognizes her, she happily chats briefly with him about the play he is writing.

Ms. Kawakami says that writing hit her life suddenly – much like a traffic collision. A singer and songwriter, she turned to poetry and blogging– not unusual in a country that leads the world with 1.5 million daily blog postings, and whose authors have been adept at parlaying Internet exposure into literary success.

Her first novel was formed from her blogs. Her fourth, "Breasts and Egg," was tapped for the Akutagawa Prize, Japan's top award for new fiction writers. That put her in the company of such internationally renowned authors as Haruki Murakami, whose work includes "The Wind-Up Bird Chronicle" and "Norwegian Wood."

Kawakami, whose work has been translated into Korean, German, and Chinese (but not yet English), is part of an edgy and unconventional generation of female writers who are tackling women's stories of marriage, divorce, friendship – and finding a receptive audience at home and abroad.

Interest in their work could be a small silver lining of Japan's "lost decade," whose economic doldrums upended long-standing social roles. In the process, says Rolands Kelts, author of "Japanamerica: How Japanese Pop Culture Has Invaded the U.S.," another phenomenon developed: women unencumbered by traditional expectations and eager to tell stories once sidelined by establishment culture. They were also adept at tapping into new technologies – such as blogs and cellphones – to share them.

"A lot of what these women write feels fresh to Japanese readers and to readers around the world, who have seen Japanese women as eternally submissive and docile," says Mr. Kelts.

Indeed, says Masako Honda, professor emeritus of gender studies at Tokyo's Ochanomizu University, "Japanese women are writing good novels, and they're more aware of being accepted internationally. They created something different and succeeded at it."

In Kawakami's case, her edgy use of dialect made her blog stand out. "I grew up in Osaka, and I use very casual, local words," she says. "The style is difficult to translate – and to understand." But, she notes, she read books by J.D. Salinger and Kurt Vonnegut and understood them. "That is the magic that language has."

Motoyuki Shibata, a literature professor at the University of Tokyo, says her language reminds him of rock, or rap, because of its speed – but that her subjects are classical. "One of her most conspicuous qualities is her willingness to deal with big questions, such as what constitutes the self, what kind of relationship the self has with the world," he says.

As her work extends its reach, Kawakami speculates that her willingness to sharply challenge traditional perspectives is attractive. She laments that people don't plumb the depths of what's happening around them. "I'm here to shake that up," she says. "I use my novel as a tool to give others the opportunity to think about things they had never thought about."
Mieko Kawakami (born August 29, 1976) is a Japanese singer and writer from Osaka. She was awarded the 138th Akutagawa Prize for promising new writers of serious fiction (2007) for her novel Chichi to Ran ("Breasts and Egg"). Kawakami has released three albums and three singles as a singer. "Chichi to Ran" is her second novel. It describes the I concept and the relation between the heart and the body through three female characters.

"Singer Kawakami wins Akutagawa Prize" – Tokyograph (January 17, 2008) (Retrieved on January 26, 2008)
"Professional singer wins coveted Akutagawa literary award" – Mainichi – Daily News (January 17, 2008) (Retrieved on January 26, 2008)
"Akutagawa, Naoki prizes awarded" – The Japan Times (January 17, 2008) (Retrieved on January 26, 2008)