When you can't live without bananas

Get email updates of new posts:        (Delivered by FeedBurner)

Saturday, August 03, 2013

On the William Tell Overture

"Then comes the day comes when we learn that there is no Santa Claus, and perhaps later on that our beloved Lone Ranger theme actually comes from an overture by an Italian composer written for a French opera about a Swiss archer which was adapted from a German play. Ahh the complexities of adulthood."

From: Composers Datebook for Saturday, August 3, 2013

Friday, August 02, 2013

Decolonising yourself, recolonising yourself

(This was posted this morning in my Links post, but someone drew my attention to a comment on the post.

The other comments [especially the last one] are also good, so I am reproducing it with additions)

Decolonial Aesthesis: From Singapore, to Cambridge, to Duke University

"I always ask my students, grad and undergraduate, for the mid-term “exam”, to write a letter to whomever they wish. It should be an educated person who is a little bit familiar with the topic, or not necessarily. The question is to explain “in your own words” (and not to hide behind textual commentaries or statistics), your understanding of the concepts and issues discussed in the first part of the seminar...

Michelle K., from Singapore, wrote a letter to herself when she departed from Singapore to go to Cambridge...

You direct a play. You would have liked to act instead, but there are no Chinese women in Chekhov’s Russia. There are no Chinese in Ibsen’s Norway. There are no Chinese in the Germany of Carl Jung or in Chicago in the 1950s. There are no Brits either, but that doesn’t seem to matter. In three years of theatre you will see two black faces on stage. One is Othello. The other is a maid...

'You go bird-watching. There are several thousand bird species in the UK alone – robins, garnets, ravens, terns. You learn the names of trees and flowers – lilacs, magnolia, primrose, rosemary for remembrance, hyacinth for constancy, poppies, which mark the War Dead.It seems these flowers have a history that your flowers don’t. Poets write about them; they have meanings in books, and value in the flower shops.

No one writes about the ixoras that grew in your old neighborhood – dense stubby shrubs with blooms no bigger than a wink, but beloved for the single drop of nectar you could suck from the stems. Or about the hibiscuses, brilliant and brash with their long dangling stamens; or the bouganvilla, common, roadside-dusty, with their paper-thin petals. Or angsanas, with their space-ship seeds. Rain trees like vine-strewn umbrellas. Franjipanis. Pong-pongs...

These are all good things. They are the things that you went to Britain to acquire. But I am writing to you to make you see what you will be at pains not to see: that as you acquire them, there will also be parts of you that are lost. And I am writing to tell you that your gains are not innocent – that they come with the baggage of coloniality.

You will deny this at first, because you and your country are modern and free, and you will see your choice of university as precisely the expression of that freedom and ability. To think otherwise will seem almost absurd: you are at Cambridge; how could you possibly be oppressed?

But coloniality didn’t end in 1963, when the British let your country go... Coloniality continues, in fact, whenever bright young men and women from all over the world decide to cap off their educations by going on pilgrimage to pinnacles of Western civilization; when they dedicate themselves to the Western canon and walk in the shadows of gothic cathedrals and imperial facades, and learn that this is the good life."

My original comments:

1) This is more about modernity than colonialism/decolonialism
2) It would be really funny if the author got a white boyfriend
3) A catalogue for "Black Europe Body Politic" comments that "The letter that Michelle has written to herself is a superb example of both how coloniallity regulates and represses and disguises itself as ‘progress’ and ‘civilization’, and also of what kind of decolonial consciousness must be aimed for by decolonial subjects in order to liberate themselves ourselves from coloniality"
4) Liberate yourself from coloniality. Die from malaria while your husband is raping you even though you're a closeted lesbian

Comments from the post:

"I just wonder if the conclusion she draws, that her sense of cultural dis-ease stems from “colonialism”, is the only possible explanation. Comedy character Ali G’s catchphrase “Is It Because I’m Black?” comes to mind.

I suggest this because I am male, English, Caucasian and speak with “Received Pronunciation”. In short, I am about as good a colonial candidate as you could find. Yet shortly after I graduated from a “new” British university, I experienced something like Michelle K’s cultural dis-ease in my own country.

Getting my first job in the BBC was tough, not just because it was competitive, but also because I was up against the cultural arrogance of the overwhemingly Oxbridge-educated arts graduates who ran it at the time. In the end, rather like Michelle K, I got the vague sense that I had only been admitted because I was ‘exotic’ (a science graduate, very unusual in British media 25 years ago)...

The dis-ease Michelle K felt might have very little to do with her ethnicity or cultural roots. It might be because the world’s “greatest” educational institutions can sometimes feel like cults...

I will never get the opportunity to ask her why she turns the discomfort she felt outwards – pointing the finger at “colonialism” – rather than inwards toward her own expectations and those of her family."

"while the colonial aesthetic may be ‘true’ from your perception, it is not a conspiracy"

"“You study versification. Versification is the study of form in poetry. You learn that we all speak in iambs, like the Greeks. You write poetry, and learn the proper names for what you do: this is enjambement, this is anaphora, that is isocolon. You learn to paint with the textures that make up Britain: limestone, pipesmoke, lambswool, tweed; reckon, rubbish, brilliant, dodgy, quid.” Bla bla bla. As if, otherwise, one’d be well versed with 平平仄仄平平仄. Culture is constructed. You absorb and express what you feel like you must. That is all."

"To say that getting educated in the West is equivalent to supporting colonialism is wrong. That’s almost the same as saying that Singapore supports colonialism because it trades with European nations. Personally, I think she got a little carried away by the overwhelming culture and history of Europe, because there isn’t (as she points out too) much of that here in Singapore. This does not in any way go to point out colonial aesthesis or support for colonial rule. I would like to go to Japan as much as I would like to go to Europe to view the culture and history of those places... we humans tend to follow or accept ideas/notions/practices that we are used to... I don’t think this has anything to do with colonialism"

The best comment is from Anger from New Hampshire:

"The irony of it all is that Michelle has married a white dude from NC and is now a citizen of the United States.

She will have half-white kids, who will deny they have ANY Asian blood and would speak perfect American English. Michelle laments a culture she is only too eager to shed – not unlike the 84,000 Singaporean women who expressed that they will ONLY marry white dudes.

Thinking about it, she’s no different from Amy Chua of Tiger Mother fame, who, sees herself as a heroine trying to ‘rescue’ and ‘revive’ Asian culture in her daughters. While at the same time, expressed overt racism towards Asian(s) (men) in general.

The only redemption this pretentious letter affords itself is the clean prose coupled with well-researched portions on colonial aesthetics. Remove that, she’s just another Asian girl pretending wearing a fake veil of lament, wearing a borrowed armor of righteous indignation."

Addendum: This has surfaced on r/singapore as "To my eighteen-year-old self, on your departure for Cambridge" – 2003 essay, still relevant (re: Singlish, culture, etc) : singapore

Comments from there:

"I'm not sure what she's done since school but, considering that she gets really bothered by trivial shit like not knowing how to use a fish knife, she's probably not a doing anything important. "

"A more cynical person might note that many humanities students are good at getting bothered by trivial shit, because for many of them their livelihood depends on them getting bothered by trivial shit and proposing 'solutions' for trivial shit."

"There are people within the government itself who are constantly pushing for NS reform."
"How successful do you think those people will be when a large fraction of the cabinet are ex-SAF generals whose careers depended on a large well-staffed (by conscripts) military organization and who never actually experienced any professional disadvantage and financial hardship from NS?"

Links - 2nd August 2013

Sexworkers Critique of Swedish Prostitution policy - "If equal rights for women is important, then the experience of sexworkers themselves must surely be central to our discussion, regardless of what position one takes on prostitution... The new law which prohibits the act of buying sexual services is severely criticized by sexworkers. They find the law paradoxical, illogical and discriminatory. It further obstructs their work and exposes them to stress and danger. The women I have spoken to say that the reasoning behind the law does not makes sense to them. How can the politicians claim that only the clients are being punished and that they are being protected? The effect of the is law mostly negative for the sexworker. Some point out that even if a few men might get fined, the majority will continue buying sexual services as usual - and as usual it is women and sexworkers who will be the most adversely affected. As a result of the new legislation, the sexworkers say it is now harder for them to assess the clients. The clients are more stressed and scared and negotiation outdoors must be done in a more rapid manner. The likelihood of ending up with a dangerous client is thereby greater. Due to the law, sexworkers feel hunted by the police, social workers, media and sometimes even anti-prostitution activists on the streets. They find this unacceptable. One sexworker commented that no other vocational group would accept that the police "patrolled their workplace". Another consequence is that the sexworkers are now more apprehensive about seeking help from the police when they have had problems with an abusive customer. They do not want to be forced to report the client. Since the number of sexworkers on the streets has decreased and they are more scared, previous informal networks amongst the sexworkers have weakened. The result is that they are no longer able to warn each other about dangerous clients or give each other the same support. Women also report that another consequence of the law is lower prices on the streets since there are less customers and more competition. This means that women in more desperate need of money will engage in unsafe sex and sexual activity they usually would not perform. This in turn leads to poorer self-esteem and exposure to infection... Women working on the streets in some bigger cities claim that there is now a greater percentage of "perverted" customers and that the "nice and kind" customers have disappeared... the "kind" customers have either turned to the Internet to find sexual services or have been arrested by the police. On the contrary, the "perverted" customers know what to do to not be arrested and fined - they just have to deny it since there is rarely hard evidence... Several sexworkers say that they feel used by politicians, feminists and the media. They think that sexworkers are only listened to and being paid attention to if they say the correct things, i.e. that they find prostitution appalling, that they are victims, that they have stopped selling sex and will never go back, and that they are grateful to the current prostitution policy and to the policy makers. Sexworkers feel overlooked in decision-making processes regarding juridical changes etc., something they find undemocratic. They question whether any other social group would have been so consistently excluded from any relevant policy making process... Sexworkers say that contrary to the official belief, they are not the victims of their customers, but victims of the state... The sexworkers I have interviewed report greater feelings of powerlessness and resignation than before the introduction of the new legislation. They feel as if there is "no point" in trying to change the system (or its direct effects on their lives) and that no one supports them or speaks for them. Sexworkers express anger about Swedish politicians who, in their opinion, brag and tell lies about the effect of the new law vis-à-vis other countries. They wish that other countries might find out "the truth" about the effects of the law. They also strongly discourage other countries from adopting similar legislation... Women selling sex to support a drug habit seem to be less likely to regard sexwork as a positive experience or as a work. But they are just as critical of the Swedish legislation and policy"
False consciousness!

Beauty & the beasts : Essays in Idleness - "Tories, neo-Gaullists, Christian Democrats, & other Right-leaning parties had prettier women, & more handsome men, who were happier with fate overall, & enjoyed more fulfilling sex lives. By contrast, the farther Left one goes, the more anger & misery & frustration dominate; the more surrounded one becomes by the sort of people who cannot find a date, until they settle for each other. The differences, as we recall, were most pronounced in Italy, & helped to explain an otherwise puzzling entry in the Manifesto of the Italian Communist Party, to wit: “Sex without class-consciousness cannot give satisfaction, even if repeated to infinity.” Similarly, in Canada, there was an old saying: “You join the Liberals to get a job, you join the Conservatives to party, & you join the New Democrats in order to get 50 pounds of single-spaced documents.”"
Comment: "You’ve prompted the thought that every last bit of the leftist program is about “affirmative action” in one form or another. This is why I say politics at its core is economic competition carried out by other means."

Do laws affect attitudes? An assessment of the Norwegian prostitution law using longitudinal data - "criminalizing buying sex in Norway did not have large short-term effects on people’s attitudes in general. More exactly, it did not affect moral attitudes toward buying and selling sex and it did not make Norwegians, as compared to Swedes, more likely to want buying sex to be illegal, although it did make them more likely to want selling sex to be illegal. The summary statistics reveal, however, that Norwegians think it should be illegal to sell sex to a lesser extent after the implementation of the law than before... However, for respondents living in Oslo (the Norwegian capital), where the sex trade was clearly visible before the reform, there were clear effects on attitudes toward prostitution: People in Oslo now think that it should be illegal to buy sex to a larger extent than before the law. This supports the claim of proximity; that attitudes should be affected most for those most affected by a law. We also find that young people generally were more inclined than older people to change their views following a legal change. Finally, we find no support for the hypothesis that those who trust politicians more change their attitudes more in line with lawmakers’ intentions when there is a legal change."

Decolonial Aesthesis: From Singapore, to Cambridge, to Duke University | - "I always ask my students, grad and undergraduate, for the mid-term “exam”, to write a letter to whomever they wish. It should be an educated person who is a little bit familiar with the topic, or not necessarily. The question is to explain “in your own words” (and not to hide behind textual commentaries or statistics), your understanding of the concepts and issues discussed in the first part of the seminar... 'You go bird-watching. There are several thousand bird species in the UK alone – robins, garnets, ravens, terns. You learn the names of trees and flowers – lilacs, magnolia, primrose, rosemary for remembrance, hyacinth for constancy, poppies, which mark the War Dead.It seems these flowers have a history that your flowers don’t. Poets write about them; they have meanings in books, and value in the flower shops. No one writes about the ixoras that grew in your old neighborhood – dense stubby shrubs with blooms no bigger than a wink, but beloved for the single drop of nectar you could suck from the stems. Or about the hibiscuses, brilliant and brash with their long dangling stamens; or the bouganvilla, common, roadside-dusty, with their paper-thin petals. Or angsanas, with their space-ship seeds. Rain trees like vine-strewn umbrellas. Franjipanis. Pong-pongs.'"
This is more about modernity than colonialism/decolonialism; it would be really funny if the author got a white boyfriend
A catalogue for "Black Europe Body Politic" comments that "The letter that Michelle has written to herself is a superb example of both how coloniallity regulates and represses and disguises itself as ‘progress’ and ‘civilization’, and also of what kind of decolonial consciousness must be aimed for by decolonial subjects in order to liberate themselves ourselves from coloniality"
Liberate yourself from coloniality. Die from malaria while your husband is raping you even though you're a closeted lesbian

See above

Hunger dictates who men fancy - "A study of 61 male university students found those who were hungry were attracted to heavier women than those who were satiated. The hungry men also paid much less attention to a woman's body shape and regarded less curvy figures as more attractive. "

Stressed men drawn to heavy women

Men's Oppresive Beliefs Predict Their Breast Size Preferences in Women - "Previous studies of men’s breast size preferences have returned equivocal findings, with studies variously indicating a preference for small, medium, or large breasts... medium breasts were rated most frequent as attractive (32.7%), followed by large (24.4%) and very large (19.1%) breasts. Further analyses showed that men’s preferences for larger female breasts were significantly associated with a greater tendency to be benevolently sexist, to objectify women, and to be hostile towards women. These results are discussed in relation to feminist theories, which postulate that beauty ideals and practices in contemporary societies serve to maintain the domination of one sex over the other."
There is also: Resource Security Impacts Men's Female Breast Size Preferences

Convicted thief sues police for failing to give her a job - "Rachida Sobhi failed to inform the force that she had a conviction when she applied for the position but background checks disclosed her crime. She then claimed she suffered from a form of amnesia which caused her to forget the incident, but no other aspect of her life, according to reports. The case was initially dismissed at an employment tribunal but a senior judge subsequently ruled that her amnesia meant she was disabled when she filled in the application form and gave her leave to appeal."

Joseph Gordon-Levitt: My ’500 Days Of Summer’ Character Is Kind Of A Jerk - "Joseph Gordon-Levitt says that Tom’s dogged pursuit of Summer comes off as endearing, but in real life it would border on stalking. “The (500) Days of Summer attitude of ‘He wants you so bad’ seems attractive to some women and men, especially younger ones,” the actor said. “But I would encourage anyone who has a crush on my character to watch it again and examine how selfish he is”... "A lot of boys and girls think their lives will have meaning if they find a partner who wants nothing else in life but them. That’s not healthy. That’s falling in love with the idea of a person, not the actual person”"

The Influence of Body Mass Index on the Physical Attractiveness Preferences of Feminist and Nonfeminist Heterosexual Women and Lesbians - "regardless of sexual orientation and feminist ascription, BMI was a dominant predictor of physical attractiveness. The results also showed that there were significant differences between lesbians and heterosexual women in BMIs of images found to be most attractive, with lesbians preferring images of women with significantly higher BMIs than heterosexual women. Self-identification as a feminist did not appear to be associated with a preference for larger BMIs"
Even feminists have internalised the dominant paradigm

Thursday, August 01, 2013

Which is more annoying? Scientific fundamentalism or Sino-racialism?

A: If you dismiss Rupert Sheldrake and his low-IQ followers as snake oil pedlars not worthy of your time and consideration like I certainly do, you're not alone. I'm sorry to have to break it to you that we aren't the only intelligent people on earth. Jerry Coyne thinks so too and here is a link to his blog post. Sheldrake gives new depth to the word "STUPID" with his utterly insane suggestion that the speed of light dropped some time in the early 20th century. Anyway, the post was written in early March. After Sheldrake's looney talk, TED decided to ban his talk and removed it from their website. I'm surprised nobody put Rupert Insane Sheldrake in a triple-layered straitjacket and threw him into a padded cell but that's the West for you- always giving freedom to all kinds of freaks of nature.

Me: China puts lots of freaks in triple-layered straitjackets and throws them into padded cells

A: But China does it for a political reason. We should do it to fact-deniers and pedlars of pseudo-science.

Me: When Continental Drift Was Considered Pseudoscience

Continental Drift (the forerunner of Plate Tectonics) used to be considered pseudoscience

Should Alfred Wegener have been put in a triple-layered straitjacket and thrown into a padded cell?

A: there is a huge chasm separating Wegener from the likes of Rupert Looney Sheldrake. Have you seen Sheldrake's video? Do you know Sheldrake's credentials or the lack of them? Have you seen how Sheldrake loves to talk about what someone says in order to discredit him? If you come up with a hypothesis, you jolly well work on it and come up with the evidence or a test that proves the hypothesis correct. You don't jump from one wild speculation to another wilder speculation as Sheldrake does. In one video, he was furious with Dawkins for asking for evidence for telepathy which Sheldrake insanely believes in. Dawkins says an extraordinary claim needs strong evidence to back it up. His reply was it wasn't an extraordinary claim to say there is telepathy. He went on to say all of us had some experiences with telepathy at one time or another. So it's for Dawkins to show strong evidence that telepathy doesn't exist. To compare such a disgraceful looney to Wegener or other brilliant people is to do a great disservice to humanity. Sheldrake belongs to the padded cell.

That the earth goes round the sun was also considered wrong. It was worse. It was heresy. But all that is different from what Barmy Sheldrake is doing. We must not say that just because the entire world got it wrong once, now we can let every snake oil pedlar go round selling their dubious wares. If Sheldrake thinks there is telepathy, show the evidence. Don't say all of us have at one point or another experienced telepathy as he is saying. And then he jumps into what he calls cosmic resonance or something like that - I've forgotten his mumbo jumbo term for the lunatic belief that if you train a mouse in Singapore to do tricks, mice in New York would be able to do the same tricks because of a universal consciousness. And when you corner him for evidence, he will go on to another crackpot idea. Such a person must be locked up. I would suggest the gas chamber but I've always been a bit of an extremist. LOL

Me: A, you are saying this with the benefit from hindsight.

As ***'s favourite author Thomas Kuhn points out, we are all stuck in our paradigms.

Bear in mind that Newton was an alchemist.

No one is saying we shouldn't vigorously condemn Sheldrake's views

A: I disagree. It's very simple. Let's say Sheldrake postulates telepathy. Well, that's nothing new. Lots of crackpots have done that in their time. But let's say he does that. I would respect him if after postulating such a fanciful notion, he goes about to perform experiments to support his idea. It's very easy to do an experiment. Even a child of 3 knows how to do it. If the evidence shows his idea is bunkum, then he should have the decency to say he was wrong. Now, I would respect such a person. But no, that's not how Woodbridge Sheldrake goes about like any honest human being would. Instead when Dawkins challenged him for clear evidence, he replied that all of us had at one time or another experienced telepathy so it's for Dawkins to show the evidence that there is no telepathy. Now, you tell me if such a good-for-nothing ought not to be hanged drawn and quartered! Talking to Sheldrake is like talking to some of my fellow Christians.


A: Quote a friend's status: Oh goosh! The chinese nationals are changing seats anyhow and anywhere they like! They dont care if those seats are assigned.
And the poor stewardess had problem getting them to change back to their orginal!

Poor ang mo tourist is standing waiting to get back his seats.

... And they are shouting and screaming loudly in the plane.
I need my peace! Help!!!

I never remember this scene when I visited shanghai 6 years ago.. — at Changi International Airport (Terminal 3).

the stewardess should just get the pilot and taser all of them.

B: I think they do not realise that laws do apply on airliners.

Me: My plane landed and all the PRCs immediately stood up and opened the compartments

The attendants asked them to sit down, no response

The attendants had to forcibly walk down the aisles and shut the compartments

C: Same as some Indian tourists from India. And yes, can't stand those PRC nationals.

D: Ack. Their general anti-social behaviour never fails to amaze me.

E: Noted the same bad habits of (some of) the folk from PRC and India in the roads around Aljunied. I had seen people knocked down 3 times in 2 years, because they totally ignore the damn traffic laws, cross the road when others have the right of way, and recklessly get in the way of vehicles.

I get called discriminatory if I point it out... but they really need to educate these guys on how not to behave overseas.

Me: It's okay, let them get knocked down. Better that than "discriminating" against them

A: it's the lack of education I suppose, most of us are trained from young to behave in our accepted socially acceptable behavior.

D: http://forums.hardwarezone.com.sg/eat-drink-man-woman-16/haha-tiong-tourists-soak-their-legs-where-you-guess-4319154.html

Just saw this today.

E: And one of the most vexing things is... Their boorish behavior reflects badly on anyone who even looks vaguely Asian - i.e. us!

It is especially vexing especially if the person accusing me of xenophobia (for criticizing the boorish behavior) is Asian him/herself, and doesn't immediately understand this greater objective - of protecting the Asian image on the world stage.

That's only the mild stuff... Wait till you see the ones with them taking a dump in public. :(

hoho stewardess friend complained about some prc fellow putting newspaper on the floor of the plane and taking a shit right there.
=.=#) I shit you not. apparently that bloke was from a village. first time taking a plane. didn't now where's the toilet.

F: Dear All,

As I live half the time in China, please hear me out.

China is a place that has only in the last 25 years come out of poverty after a century of chaos, civil war and rape by Westerners, followed by a self-inflicted cultural revolution.

It has however in the last 25 years brough 600 million people out of poverty. Many still are poor and live in a developing world.

You will find that if you went to the big cities of Shanghai and Beijing, the professionals, the white collared workers do not behave any different from us.

Their high society is more sophisticated than our high society.

It is just that our average across the WHOLE country is a lot higher.

Many of those you see behaving badly are from smaller cities or villages.

Overall however, because in China there are so many people fighting for scarce resources, it pays to be aggressive. If you don't rush and push, you don't get on the train, you don't get on the lift, you wait a long time to get in or out of anywhere. This will improve over time as more infrastructure is built.

In absolute numbers, there are probably more 'civilised' PRC nationals than Singaporeans. Our population is but that of one district in Beijing.

Instead of attacking them, I normally try to defend them because I know this is part of the process of development and that the PRC friends that I have (white collared professionals) are as much global citizens as the next white man.

G: I'm living in China now and what F said is true. It's only within the last 20 years that huge numbers of Chinese people are lifted straight from poverty to the middle class and most of the PRC that you see in SG are from this class. If you only understand that it was just yesterday these people were living in villages without proper toilets (hole in the floor), no electricity and running water then you'd understand why they behave this way.

As for the manner of crossing roads, it's because in China cities there are harsh penalties for motorists who knock down pedestrians, cyclists. Not only they face fine, jail plus demerit points, they must pay the hospital bills, funereal expenses and any other indemnities regardless even if the fault lies with the pedestrians. That's why it is often said that the motorist better kill the pedestrian instead of just injuring and crippling which means a life time of paying. It's actually very good as there are really very few cases of speeding in the cities as all junctions are monitored by CCTVS and speed cameras.
So now you see why PRCs in SG cross road without looking out for cars on either side. This is exactly how they stroll across roads here in China. Remember this is the first time they have been out anywhere outside of China.

If you lived in 1st tier cities like Beijing or Shanghai then you'd find the residents actually better mannered than us in SG. They take pride in having good social habits. They usually don't talk on the mobiles in the subways but if they do then it's very softly. And we are loud compared to them.

There are very cultured PRCs but you won't find them here in SG. They are so rich they just go straight to Europe, UK, USA.

It's a culture thing so unless you have lived some time inside China as a local you won't understand why they are like that in SG.

E: I agree with your points and notes on China. However, we do need to continue to point out to them that their behaviour is wrong. It is part of the process. They will not learn if we just put up with them. And so must the white collared PRC correct their own, without favour, and not just stay silent.

This can take the form of criticism, which unfortunately, can go overboard into generalising the whole lot. Best we can do is to carefully control how we apply criticism, while staying aware of the circumstances that made them this way.

F: You don't need to point out to them. Their city cousins point it out to them every day. :) On the net there is a huge discussion on this. The city cousins find it even more shameful than you. You are afraid people treat you like them because you are ethnic Chinese. These city cousins are actual PRC nationals. Imagine their embarrassment ! :0

And let's not get too much on the moral high horse. Why do we have no-spitting signs in Singapore? it's because just 2 generations ago, ethnic chinese here were spitting also ;)

G: But have we even stopped littering after 40 years? Just as bad as the PRC litter in their own country. Just need to be honest.

F: That is true. But human beings everywhere litter. I especially despise Westerners who criticise PRCs when back in their home countries, their men urinate everywhere when they are drunk.

Me: As Isaac Asimov said, "if you think that thinking the earth is spherical is just as wrong as thinking the earth is flat, then your view is wronger than both of them put together"

Nobody is perfect but some people are worse than others

A: I call bullshit on the moral high horse reference.
Whats next you wana use the race card and xenophobia card?

They did something socially unacceptable, they should be taken to task for it.

Oh lets not judge them because we were like them in the past, might as well say slavery is ok because there were slave owners in singapore too.

F: I think A needs to get whacked by some 'barbarians' before he gets off his moral high horse. ;) I was descended from these 'barbarians' and know they have thousands of years of culture that is being re discovered at frightening speed at the moment. and didn't know there were slave owners in Singapore. Must be an alternate history.

See you in the great Middle Kingdom one day. Lets leave the PRC bashers to themselves. Our country unfortunately is nothing to them - not even the size of a 3rd tier city :(

A: Oh so you lived in china, so you think anyone who has anything bad to say about certain aspects of their behavior is considered anti prc?

Sure sure, point out the westerners do bad behavior too, so that excuses the PRC's.

My ex gf of 5 years was a student from wuhan, I have lived with a whole house of PRC students for 4 years. I experienced an awkward situation where most of the people living in the flat cheered when they saw the news on 911 on the TV and how americans deserve it.

In fact at one point, my mandarin have an accent because of my ex gf. I have spoken to them about all the different provinces where they are from and their culture.

I also worked in the construction industry and have worked with PRC construction workers.

F G When both of you finish playing with your soggy biscuit. i hope the two of you enjoy it.

A: The Chinese distinguish between wenhua (culture) and wenming (good behavior). One can have one without the other. Just because a people was great historically does not mean it is great now.

Yep, it's the alternate history of Singapore you didn't learnin school

"As in many ancient societies, it would have been the slave class that provided the aristocracy with their main source of power, sustaining the kings of early Singapore in royal luxury up on Bukit Larangan, from where they could survey life" - Singapore: A Biography / Mark Ravinder Frost, Yu-Mei Balasingamchow

"Slavery had long been a commonplace in the territories surrounding Singapore, and in Singapore itself it survived in various forms for many years. In the early days of the British settlement, Bugis traders imported boy and girl slaves annually and are said to have sold them at the riverside, close to the Resident's house, and to have offered them as presents both to the Resident and to..." - Singapore / Sally Backhouse

A: I find their lack of sense amusing.

Their baseless assumption that anyone has bad thing to say about any group is automatically put into neat little boxes. Oh "anti PRC basher!!" box

Hate the behavior, not the people.

Their attempts at being smart with thinly veiled threats of me experiencing bodily harm is amusing at best.

F: And the bugis is relevant to me a Chinese Singaporean in what way?

There was no Singapore during the days of the 'kings'. It was part of the Johor Riau sultanate. Most of our ancestors weren't even here when there was 'slavery'. As an ethnic Chinese, the history of china is your history too.

Me: Oh yes I forgot. As Chinese Singaporeans we don't have anything to do with the other races.

You: "didn't know there were slave owners in Singapore. Must be an alternate history"

You were the one who talked about Singaporean history, not me. And in the passage about Bugis traders, we were already in the era of "modern Singapore". The fact is that slavery is present both in the "Temasek" days and in the British period, so either way you are wrong.

If you want to talk about history, since you allude to how "Singapore" did not exist during the Riau sultanate, the identity of "China" as a nation is problematic. It did not spring into being and stay as a contiguous, continuous entity throughout many millennia.

Anyway I don't believe in hereditary culture.

F: In the early British period was it really Singapore or just a colonial outpost. Was bugis history part of the history of Singapore the colony? China may not have been a contiguous state throughout the millennia but definitely a continuos civilisation.

Doesn't matter whether you believe in hereditary culture.

Mr. SEAH when you look into the mirror every day, a chinese person stares back. People expect you to speak mandarin. Foreigners see a chinaman. If you are not fluent in mandarin , you are despised. Harsh but true.

Me: Why are we talking about Bugis history here? Please read the whole passage instead of zooming in on keywords. And if you consider China a continuous civilization I find it puzzling why in British times it wasn't "really Singapore"

Actually often foreigners think I'm Japanese, and my Vietnamese and Korean colleagues get mistaken for ethnically Chinese. Anyway people have the right to hold their misconceptions.

Incidentally the only people I am aware of who consider my poor Mandarin proficiency in a poor light... are Singaporean Chinese. Which is ironic given how atrocious the vast majority of them are in Mandarin.

F: Bugis owning slaves in Singapore and ancients malay kings owning slaves in the island before the British arrived are tangential to the history of Singapore the crown colony and Singapore the independent state, at best.

F: We might as well also say in the early days of Singapore women used to bind their feet since the early Chinese female immigrants had bound feet.

Me: Yep that's true

And no one is saying that because we used to bind women's feet, that we don't have the right to say anything about women's rights

G: Weird shit's happening.

F: I agree lol

A: The only weird shit I see is two self righteous people who lived in china, assuming that everyone who posts something bad about certain groups of individuals, labeling people and automatically put into your neat little convenient box of "anti xxx basher". The two same individuals who assert that we can say anything bad about tourists, who come to our country because we used to do it too.

The "let who is without sin, cast the first stone" logic is stupid.

Tuesday, July 30, 2013

On Literature (or Culture) Making you a Better Person

“Also she went in for culture, which gave her a certain moral authority. It wouldn't now; but people believed, then, that culture could make you better - a better person. They believed it could uplift you, or the women believed it. They hadn't yet seen Hitler at the opera house.” ― Margaret Atwood


The Ideal English Major - The Chronicle Review - The Chronicle of Higher Education

"What we're talking about is a path to becoming a human being, or at least a better sort of human being than one was at the start. An English major? To me an English major is someone who has decided, against all kinds of pious, prudent advice and all kinds of fears and resistances, to major, quite simply, in becoming a person. Once you've passed that particular course of study—or at least made some significant progress on your way—then maybe you're ready to take up something else."

(the writer is, naturally, an English professor)

Someone: i think the best part of this article is all the english majors reading it critically. this article is probably best for the undecided undergrads, who will later develop the skills to tear it apart.

(Ed: but then, I am not an English major...)

As a question was posed in a religious studies module I took, "Is there a difference between studying religion and being religious?" Similarly, is there a difference between studying humanity and being human?

"We use terms like “bookish” and “the ivory tower” to suggest that those of us who spend our lives reading and writing literature are impractical, unworldly, and poorly adapted for life... English departments would be populated by saints and sages. I can only say that, after working for more than fifty years in English departments, that has not been my experience...

As for beneficial moral effects, critic George Steiner reminds us, “We know that a man can read Goethe or Rilke in the evening, that he can play Bach and Schubert, and go to his day’s work at Auschwitz in the morning.” And Margaret Atwood slyly says of some women who believed that Culture (with a big C) will make you a better person, “They hadn’t yet seen Hitler at the opera house”...

The idea that we learn how to live from literature claims either too little or too much for literature."

--- Literature and the Brain / Norman Norwood Holland

Monday, July 29, 2013

Le Code pénal marocain

Article 418
Le meurtre, les blessures et les coups sont excusables s'ils sont commis par l'un des époux sur la personne de l'autre, ainsi que sur le complice, à l'instant où il les surprend en flagrant délit d'adultère.

Article 419
Le crime de castration est excusable s'il a été immédiatement provoqué par un attentat à la pudeur commis avec violences.

Article 420
Les blessures faites ou les coups portés sans intention de donner la mort, même s'ils l'ont occasionnée, sont excusables lorsqu'ils ont été commis par un chef de famille qui surprend dans son domicile un commerce charnel illicite, que les coups aient été portés sur l'un ou l'autre des coupables.

Je me rends compte qu'un crime excusable n'est pas un crime non puni...

Links - 29th July 2013

Are you strictly wheat and two veg ... - "We know better than most, the trials of sticking to a meatless diet. It's hard! So hard in fact that some of us stray. We started off vegetarians, then gently began experimenting with slim meats - the wafer-thin hams, the prosciuttos, the bacons. Before we knew it we were bathing in liver. We're not alone. When she got married, Madonna embraced the Brit lifestyle, embracing sausage rolls, protein and blood-lust after a lifetime of staunch vegetarianism. Anthea Turner says she smelt her builders' bacon butties and fell off the vegetable wagon. While Julia Sawalha strayed to the meat-side after four years on the greens - she was filmed eating ostrich on the Big Breakfast. Busted! One of Peta's 'sexiest vegetarians' Reese Witherspoon appeared on Ellen Degeneres' talk show cooking coq au vin. 'Everything's better with bacon!' she trilled. Liv Tyler went vegan for love when she met Joaquin Phoenix, but returned to beef when the relationship went sour. Vegetarian animal rights campaigner by day, former fur-wearer by night - 'When I crack an egg now,' Heather Mills says, 'I think: "Could that have been a baby?"' Her ex-ex Chris Terrill fondly remembers Heather cooking him her sublime Lancashire hotpot.Drew Barrymore, once a strict pleather-wearing veggie, now likes a sausage. Or, as she puts it: 'I don't put strict restrictions on myself any more.' And even the Dalai Lama's strayed. 'When I see a row of plucked chickens hanging in a meat shop, it hurts,' His Holiness once said. The poor dear tried to keep to a diet of nuts and milk until doctors forced him to return to meat."

Supposed Crimes of the Mind - "Yet whites at times seem exempt from any fallout over the slurring of blacks. Democratic Minnesota state representative Ryan Winkler recently tweeted of Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas’s vote to update the Voting Rights Act: “VRA majority is four accomplices to race discrimination and one Uncle Thomas.” Winkler’s implication was that four of the jurists were veritable racists, while Thomas was a sellout. After a meek apology, nothing much happened to Winkler... Does profanity against women destroy celebrity careers? Apparently not. TV talk-show host Bill Maher used two vulgar slang terms with reference to Sarah Palin, without any major consequences. Those Palin slurs were mild in comparison to late-night television icon David Letterman’s crude riff that Palin’s then-14-year-old daughter had been impregnated by baseball star Alex Rodriguez. In contrast, when talk-show host Rush Limbaugh demeaned activist Sandra Fluke as a “slut,” outrage followed... So how do we sort out all these slurs and the contradictory consequences that follow them? Apparently, racist, sexist, or homophobic words themselves do not necessarily earn any rebuke. Nor is the race or gender of the speaker always a clue to the degree of outrage that follows. Instead, the perceived ideology of the perpetrator is what matters most. Maher and Letterman, being good liberals, could hardly be crude sexists. But when the conservative Limbaugh uses similar terms, it must be a window into his dark heart."

Twitter / FantasyTiffany: How I feel about the whole ... - "i hope Trayvon Martin gets justice but TBH idgaf about it. Why? Bc Black people full of shit. We so quick to pull the Race Card when in actually ya'll just as racist, or more. Now if a NIGGA hada killed Trayvon, this would have never made the Media. Young Black Men get killed worldwide EVERY DAY & who killing them? NIGGAZ. Oh but let 1 Hispanic kill ONE nigga. Ya'll want justice? FOH. NOBODY kills more black people than Black people, so if you care so much about your people, stop being so fuckin ignorant. *Drops Mic*"

IP over Avian Carriers - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia - "IP over Avian Carriers (IPoAC) is a proposal to carry Internet Protocol (IP) traffic by birds such as homing pigeons. IP over Avian Carriers was initially described in RFC 1149, a Request for Comments (RFC) issued by the Internet Engineering Task Force (IETF) written by D. Waitzman and released on 1 April 1990. It is one of several April 1 RFCs... During the last 20 years, the information density of storage media and thus the bandwidth of an Avian Carrier has increased 3 times faster than the bandwidth of the Internet. IPoAC may achieve bandwidth peaks of orders of magnitude more than the Internet when used with multiple Avian Carriers in rural areas. For example: If 16 homing pigeons are given 8 32GB SD cards each, and take an hour to reach their destination, the throughput of the transfer would be 9102Mbit/s, excluding transfer to and from the SD cards."

Meet the 1920s gal Instagramming her life long before social media existed - "Children's nanny Vivian Maier took over 150,000 photographs during her lifetime"

An Earnest Plea to Christians: Please Stop Thanking God Publicly. Thank You. - "Want to thank God for your presumed “blessings”? Fantastic- just don’t do it in public. It only comes across as narcissistic vacuity. And please- if a loved one survived a tragedy, sickness, etc………not under ANY circumstances should you thank your God in public. Do you know the message this sends to the thousands of people who have lost loved ones prematurely? It sends the message that your God was looking out for your loved one but not theirs. Can you try to imagine for a moment what that would feel like?"

TCM proponents have it both ways - "[They] highlight what is wrong with non-evidence-based medicine - a dismissal of scientific evidence on the one hand, and unequivocal claims of efficacy on the other."

'Made in France' sex toys set to stimulate economy - The Local - "“Banks won’t finance projects like these because they consider them pornographic. Even when you come to them with a viable business plan, they tell us that there’s an ethical problem," said Lecca, whose stand-out product so far is an Eiffel Tower-shaped dildo, called the ‘La Tour Est Folle' (the tower is crazy). The rubber sex toy's website prides itself on offering a "monumental sensation", as well as being hypoallegenic and made entirely in France. La Tour Est Folle also boasts that the product contains no fat, whale oil, nails, screws, soy, GMOs, or radioactive material, and that it once successfully gave French adult film star Julie Valmont an orgasm... Despite their reputation as great lovers, the French have a lot of catching up to do when it comes to their indulgence in the odd naughty game, it would seem. “The French are way behind other European countries, especially the British,” said Lecca."

Dog urine blamed for rust on Henley, England, lampposts

Singapore's business, engineering students reveal top 10 dream firms - "According to the latest survey by Universum conducted among university students in Singapore, Google continues to dominate the hearts and minds of those studying in Business, while A*STAR secures the top spot among Engineering students"
Students are easily conned

China's top ten porn search terms might surprise you (SFW) - "The top 10 most commonly searched terms on porn sites over a 6 month period from China: Japanese, Chinese, Chinese (gay), Asian (gay), Japan, Asian, Japan (gay), Japanese (gay), China, Korean ... Chinese porn watchers don't appear to be very interested in anyone not of asian heritage, a mild xenophobia that's shared with Korea and Japan, both of which also prefer to watch asians getting fucked or doing the fucking... Of China's neighbours, only India and Kazakhstan search for members of other races getting their sex on"

People’s Pornography – An interview with Katrien Jacobs - "Chinese men really prefer Japanese porn over Western porn. I think it is primarily because the Japanese know how the play the Chinese markets for pop culture and sex entertainment. They simply supply an excessive kind of erotic imagination that Chinese entrepreneurs cannot handle. Even though there is a wealth of genres and mind-boggling fetish products available from Japan, the cultures actually share a quite narrow-minded patriarchal view on sexual pleasure. This is perhaps the reason why Chinese men like Japanese stars, because they embody a feminine ideal of innocence and purity that is harder to find in Western porn. Western females in porn are considered to be too active and too “coarse” for Chinese men. Also, it works well for Chinese people, and specifically youngsters, to project liberation and otherness onto the “foreign” Japanese porn culture... Pan Suiming is one of the leading Chinese scholars who has documented the deep-rooted effects of abstinence and sex/porn starvation in males during the Mao years. While males are now able to find a wealth of movies and hostess/sex work services, it is much harder for women to participate and release their frustration about this situation. So I think that China needs porn education, which would be more exciting than sex education, and would allow all kinds of people to watch and judge products, or even to make some of their own. But this is merely a fantasy at the current moment."

Christopher Lin's answer to What do feminists have instead of porn? - Quora - "As an avowed feminist, I often find myself masturbating to the sweet sound of the patriarchy being crushed underfoot. But as I grasp my penis in my hot little hands, I am suddenly suffused with self-doubt: "Can the master's tools ever dismantle the master's house?" I ask myself. My grip loosens, and my manhood shrinks with the recognition that my complete misreading of slogans from contemporary feminist thought is merely yet another part of my privileged existence. Would that Redstockings offered pleasure as simplistic as that of Vivid!"

Rabbinate presents: Pork-flavored foie gras - "farmers in Spain recently decided to breed geese in non-industrialized pasture lands. As opposed to the modern methods, they didn't fatten the geese, but gave them natural food. When the farmers tasted the first chunk of goose liver, they were amazed. "It tastes like pork," they cried out. They decided to share the sensational discovery with the chosen people, and sent a halachic query to Chief Rabbi Metzger. The latter demanded a second opinion, and asked that the goose liver be sent to three non-Jewish professional chefs in Europe, who are very familiar with the taste of Pork. The three chefs confirmed the discovery of a "rare culinary duplicate". Rabbi Metzger struggled with the problem and finally gave his answer: The meat is completely kosher. His ruling was based on a citation from the Talmud, which states that for every prohibition God imposed on the people of Israel – he created a kosher substitute with the exact same taste"

Durian wine, anyone? NUS students create grape-less wine - "n 2009, Japanese scientists found that combining durian and alcohol could prove fatal. This is because the fruit's high sulphur content inhibits the body's ability to process the drink."

My flat chest is a turn-off, says Keira - "The actress says her breasts were digitally boosted for the advertising campaign for her 2004 movie King Arthur. She also claims magazine publishers in the US ban stars from appearing on their front covers unless they have at least a C-cup size, or are willing to be digitally enhanced to make it appear as if they have."

English from Around the World: the Imagine Cup 2013

Team: Uganda
Country's Official Languages: Swahili and English
English Subtitles for Interview in English: None

Team: Belgium
Country's Official Languages: Dutch, French and German
English Subtitles for Interview in English: None

Team: Argentina
Country's Official Languages: Spanish
English Subtitles for Interview in English: None

Team: Singapore
Country's Official Languages: English, Malay, Chinese and Tamil
English Subtitles for Interview in English: Yes
Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...

Latest posts (which you might not see on this page)

powered by Blogger | WordPress by Newwpthemes