Archive for Cultural

Getting my hands dirty

Ambassador Bleich with the prize-winning merino sheep.

From Ambassador Bleich:

Today I added another unusual chapter to the strange, and strangely interesting, experience of being an ambassador. Not only did we have a good family day, but I will never look at my suits the same way again.

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100 years of American eating

The Food Availability Data System, created by USDA’s Economic Research Service (ERS), has just been updated.  For many of the several hundred food commodities covered, this new release marks 100 years of data – from 1909 to 2008.

“Food availability” is essentially the per capita amount of food in the U.S. food marketing system available for consumption. ERS economists include production and imports of the various foods, and exclude exports as well as farm and industrial uses, to arrive at an approximation of what Americans consume on average. Food availability includes all food-from grocery stores, restaurants, school cafeterias, and other eating places.

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Sharing a ‘Stars & Stripes’ moment

Ambassador Bleich conducts the Canberra Symphony Orchestra for 'Stars and Stripes'

From Ambassador Bleich:

When I was growing up, there was a program on TV called Quantum Leap. In each episode, the hapless hero unexpectedly appeared in another person’s body with no idea what was going on and had to react accordingly. That is sort of how I felt tonight, when I suddenly found myself standing before an audience of thousands of concert-goers at the Canberra Symphony Orchestra’s 60th Anniversary Concert with a conductor’s baton in my hand. Like the guy in Quantum Leap, all I could do was say “Oh boy” and start conducting.

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The bombing of Darwin

Ceremony at the ANZAC Memorial in Darwin

From Ambassador Bleich:

Today is the 68th anniversary of the Bombing of Darwin. I attended several moving ceremonies in Darwin this morning to honor the fallen soldiers and sailors of that attack.

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Acknowledgement is the first step to healing

Sorry written in the sky over the Sydney Opera House

From Ambassador Bleich:

Saturday was the second anniversary of the National Apology Day for the Stolen Generation, and it has made me think about the parallels in America’s and Australia’s histories – both good and bad.

The history of Native Americans and indigenous Australians has been strikingly similar, and similarly tragic. As a lawyer in the States, I worked on Native American issues to protect Indian children from being removed from their native homes. It exposed me to the sad history of Native American tribes and the difficulty we all still face in repairing the damage. U.S. reform efforts have generally followed one of three approaches – (1) assimilating, (2) isolating, or (3) empowering and then neglecting tribes – all without appreciable success.

» Continue reading “Acknowledgement is the first step to healing”

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February is African American history month

Free at Last

President Obama has proclaimed February as National African American History Month.

“As we mark National African American History Month, we should take note of this special moment in our Nation’s history and the actors who worked so diligently to deliver us to this place,” the President remarked. “One such organization is the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People — the NAACP — which this year will witness 100 years of service to the Nation on February 12. Because of their work, including the contributions of those luminaries on the front lines and great advocates behind the scenes, we as a Nation were able to take the dramatic steps we have in recent history.”

Learn more:

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Australian author Alice Pung featured in webchat Saturday

Alice Pung

A recent participant in the International Writing Program fall residency at the University of Iowa, Australian author Alice Pung will participate in an on-line chat about her life, her work, and her experience at the IWP residency beginning on Saturday, 6 February,  at 7AM Canberra time (Australia Eastern Daylight Saving Time).

Born in Melbourne to Cambodian parents, Alice Pung writes fiction, non-fiction and plays.

Readers are welcome to submit questions to Ms. Pung before or during the discussion.

Update: The full transcript of Ms. Pung’s responses is now available on the Virtual Writing University website.

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2010 Statistical Abstract of the U.S. released

The Statistical Abstract, also known as “Uncle Sam’s Almanac,” has been published since 1878 — before automobiles, airplanes and motion pictures had even been invented. Contained in the 129th edition are more than 1,400 tables of social, political and economic facts which collectively describe the state of our nation and the world.

Did you know that in 2007, the nation’s 16,604 libraries collectively had an average of 12.5 public-use computers connected to the Internet per library?

Every edition of the Statistical Abstract, dating from 1878, is available in PDF or zip files on the Census Bureau’s Web site.

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Honoring our veterans on 11 November

“On Veterans Day, we honor the heroes we have lost, and we rededicate ourselves to the next generation of veterans,” wrote President Obama in his proclamation.  ”Today, we reflect upon the invaluable contributions of our country’s veterans and reaffirm our commitment to provide them and their families with the essential support they were promised and have earned.”

Learn more:

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Museums and libraries play critical role in skills development

Museums, Libraries and 21st Century Skills is a website created by the Institute of Library and Museum Services to help libraries and museums evaluate their readiness to engage the public and to deliver 21st century skills.

The Institute of Museum and Library Services is the primary source of federal support for the 123,000 libraries and 17,500 museums in the United States. The Institute’s mission is to create strong libraries and museums that connect people to information and ideas.

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