Tuesday 31 August 2021

Ambien Zombies

"Medicine has long worked on the assumption that women are essentially men with boobs and tubes – and so ‘women’s health’ became a term associated with the reproductive organs." 
Simon Crompton

Ambien (Zolpidem), one of the most common sedatives to treat insomnia and jet lags, was approved in 1992. About a decade later, worrying reports emerged about side effects, mostly by women, such as driving accidents the morning after taking the tablets, sleepwalking and bizarre behaviour without any recollection of it afterwards. In 2006, Ambien drew national attention when a disoriented congressman blamed the drug for a crash into a Capitol Hill barrier at 2 a.m.

He ultimately pleaded guilty to driving under the influence of prescription drugs and served a year probation. Around the same time, Sanofi was slammed with a class-action lawsuit by Ambien users who complained of sleep-eating while under the drug's influence. Plaintiffs' lawyer Susan Chana Lask cited examples of clients gobbling buttered cigarettes and raw eggs (including the shells) while in an Ambien-induced haze. "Ambien zombies," she called them. 

Only in 2013 did US drug regulators confirm that the manufacturer's recommended dose was double what women should take. The research prior to the drug's launch, in fact, had not differentiated between men and women (women, in fact, account for 64% of Ambien prescriptions) which was the reason why it had not been realised that women metabolise Ambien more slowly than men and hence still had the drug in their system when they woke up. The blood levels were so high the morning after that activities requiring alertness were impaired - including driving. It seems quite disturbing that sex and gender were not considered in the 1990s, but, even worse, "it's remarkable that this is still the case" (via and via).

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photograph via

Monday 30 August 2021

The Chinese-perspective of Intercultural Competence Models Revisited

"Most intercultural competence models have been developed by Western experts based on Western theory and Western cultural values, and they are not culturally specific models. The lack of non-Chinese researchers to study and contribute to the construction of intercultural competence from a Chinese-perspective is a serious shortcoming, and most of the models developed by Chinese scholars are a replica of the Western models. A Chinese-perspective of intercultural competence model is indeed needed to reinterpret concepts and theories that are coined in the West, which are then widely used and generalized without any concrete-solid bases of their universality."

"A Chinese-perspective of intercultural competence model is indeed needed to reinterpret concepts and theories that are coined in the West, which are then widely used and generalized without concrete-solid bases of their universality. Western-based intercultural competence models need to be scrutinized and analyzed thoroughly to conrm, to modify, or to deny altogether for their applications in different cultures. Unfortunately, the current practices in academia pay less attention to such an initial analysis." (Huat Chong & Grzymala-Mosczczynska, 2015)
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- Huat Chong, Y. & Grzymala-Moszczynska, H. (2015). Journal of Intercultural Management, 7(1), link
- photograph by Elisa Leonelli via

Sunday 29 August 2021

Quoting Lauren Bacall

"I think your whole life shows in your face and you should be proud of that."

photograph by Annie Leibowitz via

Monday 16 August 2021

Rainbow Europe Map 2021

The Rainbow Map and Index are a benchmarking tool used since 2009 to illustrate the legal and policy situation of queer people in European countries. It ranks 49 European countries based on 71 criteria from the categories equality and non-discrimination, family, hate crime and hate speech, legal gender recognition and bodily integrity, civil society space, and asylum. While Malta occupies the number one spot on the Rainbow Europe Map for the sixth year in the row, Poland occupies the lowest ranking in the EU for the second year in a row (via).

According to a survey carried out by the European Union Agency for Fundamental Rights, 19% in Poland say that LGBTQ prejudice and intolerance dropped in the last five years (vs 40% across the EU-28) whereas 68% say that they have risen (vs 36% for the EU-28). Not really surprisingly, only 4% in Poland believe that their government combats prejudice and intolerance aginst LGBTQ people (vs 33% for the EU-28) (via).

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photograph (taken in Wroclav in 1982) via

Sunday 15 August 2021

Climate Gerontology

Abstract: The global population is ageing at a time when climate variability is increasing. It is argued that if we are to minimize the negative impact of environmental change on older people, interdisciplinary study of the convergence of the two trends, "climate gerontology", is needed. 

Climate gerontology can examine the unique challenges and needs of older people in coping with extreme weather events. It can contribute to our understanding of the everyday challenges of growing old in a changing climate and how we can achieve the "longevity dividend". In particular, it can lead the way to the development of effective policies to reduce the carbon footprint of people during their life course, protect older people from climate-related threats and mobilize their wealth of knowledge and experience to address these. (Haq & Gutman, 2014).

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- Haq, G. & Gutman, G. (2014). Climate gerontology: meeting the challenge of population ageing and climate change. Zeitschrift für Gerontologie und Geriatrie, 47(6), 462-46.
- photograph by Tom Wood via

Friday 13 August 2021

Sun Protective Behaviour & Gender

According to a study carried out in Austria, there are significant gender differences when it comes to sun protective behaviour and knowledge. Women achieve higher knowledge scores, show higher risk awareness and perform more sun protection while men tend to underestimate the dangers of sun exposure without protection and report more sunburns (Moshammer et al., 2015).

- Haluza, D., Moshammer, H., Kundi, M. & Cervinka, R. (2015). Public (skin) health perspectives of gender differences in tanning habits and sun protective behaviour: a cross-sectional questionnaire survey. Wiener Klinische Wochenschrift, 127(3-4), 124-131.
- photograph by Martin Parr Magnum Photos via

Thursday 12 August 2021

Climate Change and the Disproportionally Affected

While the impact of climate change on health in the general population has been investigated, there are comparably few studies on the impact it has on older people - despite the very fact that climate change disproportionally affects older people (Leyva et al., 2017).

Older people's mortality rate is significantly higher, mobility is reduced and susceptibility to social isolation and disease increased. Older people experience greater impacts from flood events and related diseases; higher mortality rates are due to drowning and secondary health impacts (e.g. heart problems,  restricted access to medicine).The same is true for typhoons and hurricanes, with the elderly being more likely to die because of mobility difficulties or lack of evacuation assistance (HelpAge, 2015). About half of the people who died during Hurricane Katrina in 2005, were 75 or older, during Hurricane Sandy in 2012, half of those who lost their lives were over 65 (via). 
Climate change also forces people to migrate and it is the older ones who often stay behind. Older people are also disproportionally affected by heat waves (HelpAge, 2015). The Chicago heatwave of 1995, for instance, caused 514 heat-related deaths, 72% of them were older than 65 (via).
The elderly are already affected by the impacts of climate change. Over the next decades, however, their vulnerability is set to increase (HelpAge, 2015).

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- HelpAge (2015). Climate change in an ageing world, link
- Leyva, E. W. A., Beaman, A. & Davidson, P. M. (2017). Health Impact of Climate Change in Older People: An Integrative Review and Implications for Nursing. Journal of Nursing Scholarship, 49(6), 670-678.
- photograph by Martin Parr via 
- For The Elderly, Climate Change Poses More Risks To Wellness, 2021, Forbes
- The forgotten generation: The elderly are most at risk of suffering climate change, The Independent

Wednesday 4 August 2021

Kham. By Rinchen Ato.

"These photographs are an exploration of my heritage and the fast-evolving culture of the Khampa people. Over multiple trips, spanning the past two decades, I have documented family, friends and the struggles and celebrations of the wider community of Tibetan people living in Kham.

Deeply aware of the visual tropes used by foreign photographers, depicting Tibetans as 'foreign' or ‘other’, I hope that my work employs a sensibility which comes from my connection to the community, a community which, to me, is familiar."

photographs by Rinchen Ato via