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More adventurous than the average bear

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Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Sun Xu vs Lai Shimun: not all lynch mobs are created equal; On Indians smelling

"Politics, n. Strife of interests masquerading as a contest of principles." - Ambrose Bierce, The Devil's Dictionary


Mr Brown asked:

"Is the Sun Xu lynch mob going to go after Lai Shimun too?"

I observed that they aready had, and also that nationalism is not a sacred cow here like race and religion are.

This quote came to mind:

"So before I was nine I had learned the basic canon of Arab life. It was me against my brother; me and my brother against our father; my family against my cousins and the clan; the clan against the tribe; the tribe against the world, and all of us against the infidel"

-- Leon Uris, 'The Haj' (available in the National Library, so it must be kosher)

This is a similar principle to the one by which it was alright for Saddam Hussein to kill 180,000 Kurds, but Bush and Blair are war criminals, why it's okay for the Taliban to deliberately kill children, but lone US soldiers' actions are the responsibility of the US as a whole, or why the Opium War is so much of a bigger deal than the Great Leap Forward, even though the latter did a lot more harm to China.

Me, I asked a Malay friend to find some racist anti-Chinese remarks and make a police report to expose the double standards in Singapore. In turn, he helped me over the linguistic barrier:

"in campus I walk past those ultra orthodox student tchrs who go "bodoh seh orang kafir". Which translates to "these infidels are so stupid""

Addendum: I'd heard one theory trying to explain why some people complain that Indians smell, that it's because they eat a lot of curry.

I didn't put much stock in this but I've found several sources which affirm it:

Food Detectives - Garlic & Curry Body Odor

"All things being equal, it's your diet that effects your body's smell most, both positively and negatively. A fishy smell, for instance, may be caused by too much of the B vitamin choline in your diet. Curry, cumin, fish, garlic and onion in the diet are notorious for giving people who eat a lot of these foods and spices a particular smell as they stay in your body's secretions for hours after eating them. Butyric acid in butter and other dairy foods makes Westerners stink to Asians who eat no milk products." - Ask Dr. Weil - Q&A: Bothered by Body Odor?

"Eating foods like cumin, curry, garlic, fish, onion and dairy could also cause body secretions to smell" --- Better Nutrition Magazine, July 2000

"Racial Smells

Studies have shown that different races have different characteristic smells. Some of these differences are due to variations in diet: People in India, for example, eat a lot of curry and spices, a diet that is reflected in their body odor. Racial differences also depend on hereditary traits. Asians tend to have very little body hair and few sweat glands to produce odor chemicals. Koreans, for instance, have litle body odor even if they do not wash regularly; underarm odor is so rare among Japanese that they consider it an illness. Caucasians, on the other hand, have more body hair and plenty of sweat glands. Africans have even more sweat glands. People's unconscious reactions to others who 'smell different' can contribute to distrust and intolerance.

Understanding what causes these emotional reactions can help us to behave more reasonably."

--- Senses and sensors: Smelling and Tasting / Authors Alvin Silverstein, Virginia B. Silverstein, Laura Silverstein Nunn
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