Disinformation

While I spend several posts going over the stupid things people say on facebook, I thought it would be worthwhile to highlight one intelligent comment R made today, which is especially pertinent for many of my friends who love to share articles that advocate for certain lifestyles or modes of governance.

In an age of social media disinformation can we please point out inaccuracies where we see them and not just blithely share articles? Gives them the imprimatur of legitimacy especially when someone who should be in the know about these things doesn’t say anything.

It takes a lot more effort to filter the things you share comprehensively, and most of my smarter (and more diligent) friends tend to not share anything altogether because they want to share responsibly and only give the full picture instead of propagating any particular bias. The article in question was a Fox News article on ditching Obamacare.

Recently I called out my own MIL (privately, of course), for sharing this other article on being early for things. She adores punctuality in general and very much prefers it when people are early. Z has this aunt XX however who is always late for things (she’s my favourite aunt haha). I am somewhat ambivalent but I do hate it when people are unapologetically and dramatically late (like say 30 mins – 2 hrs) because they subconsciously send the message that their time is more important than yours. So one day while we were driving someplace Z’s mum actually remarked “XX is always late. I don’t understand how she still has so many friends.” and I was utterly shocked at that ridiculous statement. Hands up all of you who make friends with other people because of punctuality. Wow. Just trying to give context as to how obsessive she is with this, to the extent that she even posts articles like the one above encouraging people to be early to things.

I don’t normally read stuff she shares (or any sort of moralizing type article) on fb because they are 1. uneducational, 2. have low entertainment value but I was checking her feed because she complained that they made the font bigger for one of her status updates (and she dislikes attention being directed to her in any overt way).

I disliked the article she shared because the writer was so obviously self-righteous about being early to things (“To my knowledge, none of my blood relations has ever missed a plane.” lol. Z says she must be indirectly sniping her husband/wife) and also seems to utilize her punctuality as a way to assert dominance – “Being early makes you feel in control — or makes others think you are in control, which is the next best thing.” It would be one thing if she wrote that it makes herself feel as if she is in control, which is fine and good, but when you advocate being early for things so that you can play mind games with people? That would be okay for perhaps many other people but certainly NOT a pastor’s wife.

Other choice gobbets:

But my favourite lesson from Lunch with the FT cuttings comes from Stephen Green, then head of HSBC. He turned up three minutes early for the meeting and apologised for being late. This is a stroke of genius. It forces the other person, who had been occupying the moral high ground by dint of getting there even earlier, to pull out his watch and protest that, on the contrary, the new arrival is early too.

The writer is batshit crazy! She’s got some serious neuroses going on! I mean, can’t you at least read through the entire article before sharing it? It actually says

(Being early) gives you the moral high ground. If you arrive first at a meeting, not only do you choose where to sit, you are also in a position to lord it over those arriving later.

So my question to her was – do you actually lord it over other people just because you are early to something? Are you advocating that people who are early get to lord it over other people? Simisai moral highground. What a crock.

So that was one example of an article being blithely shared, without the sharer reading through it herself or fully understanding all its implications. I expect any educated person who shares articles to at least read through them and make sure it makes sense. Most people, I wouldn’t bother calling out but my MIL has got a perfectly fine education and is not stupid. I told her she should write her own opinions clearly instead of just hiding behind some article that only roughly (and very tangentially) shares the same opinions as her. The only reason she expresses herself badly is because she doesn’t express herself enough to have had any practice at all.

Just to be clear, I have nothing against fluffy silly articles being shared, I glory in Buzzfeed listicles and all the Shanghaiist and George Takei fluff :P But those aren’t (overtly) trying to change people for the better or anything. If you are trying to get me (or anyone else) to change their lifestyle or decision-making algorithms then you’d better have some strong arguments going for you instead of anecdotal bs like

Earliness is the defining characteristic of my entire family. Both my parents were wildly early for everything. All three of their children and all 10 grandchildren — even when in the throes of assorted teenage phases — could always be relied upon to pitch up with bags of time to spare for any given occasion.

Cut it out with the self-righteousness already. So you were early to your appointment today?

come i clap for you - come i clap for you  Misc

The Worst Has Finally Happened

I sliced off the tip of my ring finger while trying to make very thin lunes of onion for my cabbage-scallop-oden braise. I had 3 guests coming over for dinner, it wasn’t the knife’s fault at all, I had just sharpened it on my wet japanese whetstone last week. It was the onion that slipped, and made the knife slice off the tip of my finger. It was megagross! LZ wanted to bring me to the emergency room but I really didnt want to go (oh yes, this is being typed entirely with my right hand so i will be eschewing things like apostrophes and good grammar) because im afraid of doctors, shots, stitches, the whole shebang. i dont mean in a hick way, of course id go if it were urgent. but i needed to feed 5 people tonight and my chicken was in the oven. lz had a look around the onions and found the piece that came off – sorry if this is grossing anybody out. it was a disk about 6mm in diameter and 2mm in thickness, nothing so bad, but the blood was really pouring. compressed it with a clean (i hope) kitchen towel, which did stave the bleeding, but I left it there for nearly 1.5 hrs while lz finished his dinner (with the company) which meant that the paper towel freaking annealed to the open wound and i had to rip it off. he managed to get some antiseptic ointment and non adhesive dressing and ripping the kitchen towel off was. quite the experience. we did of course call the school clinic to get advice about whether i should forget about the dinner party and go directly to the ER but (after being redirected 3 times) the nurse said we could just treat it at home and gave us instructions as to what to buy and what to do.

i really need to rethink my onion luning technique. I have cut that shape many times (particularly for japanese dishes such as yakitori don and oyakodon) but obviously balancing a wedge of onion on its edge while slicing it is sheer madness. i guess i probably was lucky the last 10000 times.

The Friend Zone

I like LZ’s guy friends much better than I like my girlfriends’ guy friends. I wonder why that is. I told LZ tt it’s probably because I know my girlfriends for much much longer (say since > 10 years ago), so I am that much closer to them. When they bring their +1’s along to meet me, the conversation is more often than not really constrained because I can’t talk to them with the same intimacy when there’s an outsider. Most of their husbands/boyfriends are still obviously outsiders. Even if there is no sensitive information being traded, you don’t want to exclude them too much by talking about things they do not know about :S

Whereas with LZ’s guy friends, -I- am the intruder, I try to make the relationships as intimate as possible in the shortest amount of time by doing unglam things or just being generally familiar without being too irritating. I don’t mind if they talk about their army stuff (as long as it’s not too boring) and I don’t mind them being all weird and excited about their silly tree game. They also don’t mind being unglam in front of me (I am treated more like a boy than a girl, I guess?), perhaps boys just have thicker skin and don’t embarrass that easily. Just the other day one of his guy friends let me put a bubble clay face mask on him just for kicks :o

I don’t think their conversation is super constrained just because I am around, and he and his guy friends go way back too. In fact I think I manage to cover more ground with his guy friends than he does, because you know, guys like him, they can spend a humongous amount of time together without ever talking about anything very “important”. Like they may not know how the other is doing vis a vis more significant aspects of their lives, but just josh around all day without a need to become closer because talking about (what I consider) “important” things can be really awkward. Me, I am damn kaypoh. I want to know all about their girlfriends, their dating philosophies, their exes, what they are like as a person, what makes them tick, what their interests are, what kinds of people they like or dislike, what kinds of food they like or dislike. I want to know the whole person. I don’t just want to be entertained by their lame jokes. So in the final analysis I sometimes pry way more information out of his guy friends than he ever has done in his life. He is really useless as an informant. If he were in defence no spy would ever want to cultivate him.

And that’s why I like his guy friends much more than I like my girlfriends’ guy friends. My girlfriends’ guy friends (apart from Fabio) invariably look like they just came along out of obligation and would like to get out of the meeting asap, instead of trying to be friends properly.

LZ: “How about my female friends?”
Me: “Who?”
LZ: “Hypothetically speaking.”
lol he really doesn’t have any. Well, he has one, and I do like her too. In fact we have written letters to each other completely sidelining him. I tend to do that with his female friends. Either I have a very magnetic personality or I am unhealthily possessive and grabby. All your friends are belong to me.

The Professor’s Beloved Equation

This was so beautiful! It couldn’t have been done anywhere else but Japan. The premise is that this math professor has Alzheimer’s, or at least a special form of it, such that his memory is only 80 minutes long. In the movie his memory was shown to have reset every day at the least, so every morning when his housekeeper arrives, the following conversation takes place:

“Konichiwa!”
“What’s your shoe size?”
“24 centimetres.”
“My, what a noble number… It’s the factorial of 4.”
“What is a factorial?”
“If you multiply all the whole numbers from 1 to 4, you get 24.”
“What’s your telephone number?”
“576-1455”
“Did you say 5,761,445? Why, that’s wonderful. That’s equivalent to the prime numbers up to one billion. In any event, come in.”

And then every day she came in after that, the same thing would repeat.

“What’s your shoe size?”
“24. The factorial of 4!”
“That’s wonderful. What a noble number…”

He meets her afresh every day, and while she goes about her daily chores he disrupts infuses her housekeeping experience with a good dose of math.

On the day one of the professor’s papers got accepted for publication in a journal:

“Do you often submit your papers to magazines?”
“Right.. I sent my proof to the Journal of Mathematics, Vol. 37 today. That’s good. ”
“Oh, no! I should’ve sent it express. Only first place takes a cash prize.”
“No, there’s no need to send it express. It’s important to arrive at the truth before anyone else, but it’s more important that the proof be beautiful. ”
“Are there such things as beautiful or ugly proofs?”
“Of course. In a truly correct proof, air-tight and compelling reasoning coexists without contradiction, with supple logic. Just as no one can prove why stars are beautiful, it’s difficult to express the beauty of mathematics.” He paused for a beat.
“What’s your birthday?”
“February 20th.”
“What a charming number!” The professor takes off his watch.
“220… Take a look at this. Back in college, I won the President’s award for my paper on Transcendental Number Theory.”
“Ah.. what a great honor..” the housekeeper tried to be relevant.
“No, that doesn’t matter. Can you read the number?”
“President’s Award No. 284. Does that mean you’re the 284th person to receive the honor?”
“I suppose. The question is 284 and 220. This is no time to be washing dishes. Come with me, quick!”

They walk over to the blackboard. The professor writes 220 and 284 on two ends.
“What do you think?”
“Well, I.. Both have 3 digits… How can I phrase this? At the meat counter at the supermarket, if there are two packets of ground beef, one 220g and one 284g, they seem the same to me. One quick glance, and they look similar. They’re both in the 200 range, and all the digits are even…”

“That’s a keen insight. Intuition is important. Grasp the numbers intuitively from your heart. Do you know what a divisor is?”
“Yes, I think so, I remember studying them.”
“Let’s write out all the divisors for 220 and 284, excepting themselves.”
220: 1, 2, 4, 5, 10, 11, 20, 22, 44, 55, 110
284: 1, 2, 4, 71, 142,
“You can calculate all those divisors in your head?”
“I’m just using the same intuition you did. Onto the next step.”
1 + 2 + 4 + 5 + 10 + 11 + 22 + 44 + 55 + 110 = 284
1 + 2 + 4 + 71 + 142 = 220
“Will you behold, this beautiful chain of numbers. Add all the divisors for 284, and you get 220. Add all the divisors for 220, and you get 284. They’re amicable numbers.”
“Amicable numbers?”
“Mm. Such pairs are very rare. Even Fermat and Descartes only discovered one pair each. They’re numbers bound to each other by God’s design.”
“God’s design…”
“Mm. Isn’t it beautiful? Your birthday and the number engraved on my wristwatch are so perfectly intertwined.”

He gave everyone in his acquaintance names, mathematical names that represented their characteristics. To the housekeeper’s son, he gave the name “Root” (of course, pronounced “Root-oh” in Japanese)

“I can tell you’ve a wise heart in here. All right, you’re a Root. You accept any number that comes your way, rejecting none. A truly generous symbol, Root.”

Root starts coming by the house everyday since the Professor cannot stand the idea of Root waiting at home alone for his mother while his mother prepares dinner for a complete stranger. After being thoroughly schooled in the beauty of numbers by the professor, Root goes on to become a math teacher, and teaches his students about the professor’s lifelong equation:

“Pi is the circle ratio, right? “i” is the square root of -1 and an imaginary number. Here we have pi, a number that continues to the ends of the universe, and the imaginary number “i” which never shows itself. What’s tricky, is “e”. “e” is also called the “Napier number,” after John Napier, the British mathematician. The Napier number is one of the constants so critical to math. For now, I’ll just tell you the conclusion. If you calculate this “e”, its value is 2.7182818284…. This is just like pi. It goes on and on and on forever. It’s an irrational number. From an infinite universe, pi drifts down to “e”, and shakes hands with the bashful “i”. They come together, and hold their breaths… none of them are connected. But, if a single human adds just one thing… the world is transformed.
root
The contradiction is resolved. Zero. In other words, the realm of nothingness embraces them.

Today, we celebrate this equation. When a single human added just one thing to my contradictory and irrational life.

Soya bean milk

CH (Z’s college roommate) is back in Seattle! Which led to the soya bean milk** debacle today. For some time now the uwajimaya downtown has been rather lax about stocking the correct soya bean milk brand (with the yellow cap). Either they only have the large gallon-sized bottles which are a little difficult to finish, or they are out of stock altogether. An asian grocery. With no soy bean milk! So today we went to dinner in the ID with CH and parked at the Uwajimaya before heading to Fort St. George. While walking to the restaurant we walked through the supermarket and decided to check out how many bottles were left (we didn’t manage to get any last week). They come in gallon sized bottles (half gallons used to exist up until recently) and there were only 6 left. The boys were afraid that they’d be out when we got back from dinner, a very real possibility. So of course they decided to hide the soy bean milk among the regular milk, which is less popular. Only in an Asian supermarket. The regular gallon sized milk had blue caps so they arranged two gallons of soy milk in the middle of a bunch of bottles of regular milk. I don’t know why we always do unglam things. Further, the more people there are in our party, the more unglam the things we do. Like this soy milk hiding. Is it us who are inducing this unglam behaviour it or our friends who are like us? Not sure if I want to know the answer to that question.

Just the other day we picked up a scattered bunch of dried lavender just lying in the street. We were going to the Belle Epicurean for lunch (they have really good French sandwiches and feuilletes btw) and there was this van parked by the road with a bunch of lavender haphazardly scattered on the floor next to it. All dried and some broken stems but otherwise pretty intact and still smelt really good. The kind of thing you pay $14 at L’Occitane for. Well screw that, Z and I stopped, looked at each other, then got a paper bag from our car and filled it with the lavender and went merrily on our way.

3X2A0036
all artfully arranged and shit

 

After shopping at Uwajimaya we went to Daiso since CH needed a filter for his tub and we got sidetracked at the cashiers by the rows and rows of Japanese gummies! They both bought a pack of cuboidal kyoho grape flavoured gummies and I got a 5 pack of gumdrop shaped gummies. The difference (we sampled both in the car) is that the cube gummies are made with no gelatin, just glutinous rice flour so they are much softer than say gummy bears and lean more toward the consistency of mochi skin without being too bland. Very nice! Each packet only had 6 little cube-gummies though, all individually wrapped despite being sugar coated with no chance of coalescing into a giant gummy. There is no such thing as ‘Saving the Environment’ in Japan. My 5 pack in a chain (the kind you tear off) used both gelatin and pectin, but still managed to remain more pliable than typical gummy bears/circus peanuts (tts what Chris called them, if I remember correctly). I think it’s the use of glutinous rice flour/starch. Never really stopped to examine the ingredient list of Japanese sweets but they were both (yes, both these 28 year old men) so drawn by the shape of those gummies we had to try them all.

I love how my childhood follows me around like a ghost I cannot shed. Sophistication, so prized in adolescence, is now in short supply and shows no signs of returning.

** Asian soy milk is far and away better different from the artifically vanilla flavoured, overly sweet American version for the lactose intolerant. It is delicious hot, cold, sweet, salty (only in Taiwan), and especially with fried cruller dipped in. I don’t know what kind of magical sugar they use to flavour our soy milk but it is super amazing and Z and I can’t go without it. You’re meant to drink it on its own, like a latte.

Sigh

Decided to get some of the backlog of grievances out of the way or they’d just fester in my drafts folder.

This guy is full of shit.
I wish the main news body in Singapore did not publish drivel like this. Sure, the forum page is for random people of the public to air their opinions. But some opinions are definitely worse than others. It’s like there’s no filter at all.

Here is a subset of my complaints:
1. It’s entirely inspired by his aunt’s husband passing away and the fact that he perceives her to be “all alone” with “nobody to take care of her”, as if she can’t take care of herself, and that it is a given that she regrets not having children now. There are so many assumptions involved with this I was horrified at his convoluted and highly illogical, myopic thought process, so incapable is he of empathizing with other people and why they make the decisions they do. He is so sure that his point of view is the only legitimate one and that anyone else who consciously decides the contrary will regret their choice. I’m not even going to expound further on the obvious egotism of having children so that you will not be lonely in your old age.

2. He says

If we all thought more deeply about the things that are truly important to us, that give our lives meaning, I am sure the vast majority of us would come to the same conclusion: that family ranks above anything else.

What research has he done to substantiate this claim? I certainly don’t think that family ranks above anything else. If anything my family has been most key in highlighting the kind of personality dysfunctions I want to avoid, and how futile approaching them is if I ever have any problems. There is very little kindredness in my family; they’re nice, normal (in a pinch) people but if I wanted to have a real conversation with someone they’d be the last people I’d go to.

Further, even if family ranks above anything else for you that doesn’t necessarily have to mean a family that you have created, it could be the family that you were born with. But I don’t even know why I bother.

3.

And my grandparents must have been so proud and happy in the knowledge that, even as they were leaving this world and their material possessions behind, they would live on through us, for we are their legacy.

I think this idea of a “legacy” has got to go. How can he possibly accuse the childfree of being egocentric if one of his reasons for procreating is to leave a legacy of his own and have his bloodline/whatever-the-hell-he-thinks-imperative-for-him-to-leave-behind continued? How self-involved does he have to be to presume on behalf of the deceased?

4.

I get the impression that people from generations past appeared to place the family and community above the self, whereas the opposite is generally true for the younger generations of Singaporeans.

Again, another anecdotal statement based on his community of friends, who are probably all in the same generation as him (i.e. not the younger generation) and who feel a kind of moral superiority in their wise old age that allows them to criticize members of the “younger generation” for not being community-centred enough. People give back to the community in all kinds of ways. His decision to do good, civic-minded deeds does not allow him to expect others to do so, and to execute their good deeds with the same conspicuousness that he does.

Even if the younger generation is not family or community-centred, why should he expect them to be? The world they grew up in is vastly different from the world he grew up in. If they are not community-minded, it probably points to how little they feel they have personally benefited from the notions of family and community that he so prizes, and hence how little they feel indebted to it. How can he go so far as to accuse them of being ingrates without saying how they have explicitly benefited from either institution and proceeded to show their ingratitude?

5.

So if my grandparents, despite their relative poverty, felt comfortable having as many kids as they did, why are we so cautious when it comes to parenthood today?

He obviously knows nothing about the history of contraception. Does he really think every single one of the 5+ odd kids that families used to have in the 40s and 50s were planned for and greatly anticipated? I suppose actual historical phenomena such as the Post War Baby Boom means nothing to him, seeing that he’s just plucking random ideas out of his head and cobbling them together in a poor facsimile of a reasoned exposition.

6.

Having children will necessarily entail sacrifice, that much is certain, but even if I am poorer – in terms of time, freedom and money – my life will surely be richer for it.

This is an assumption of the grossest proportions, and nobody should feel entitled to prescribe child-rearing for someone else.

People like this make me ashamed to be Singaporean. Unfortunately there isn’t any intelligent discourse in the comments section of the Straits Times that doesn’t quickly descend into anarchy, unlike knetz sites that allow upvoting and downvoting of comments so you CAN see the general picture of what the majority thinks.

Dear Straits Times, please stop publishing drivel in your forum page.

In related news, we have been reading “Selfish, Shallow, and Self-Absorbed” and it has been mostly fantastic, especially the essay elucidating how “maternal instinct” is by and large a social construct misappropriated as ‘instinct’. Sure, people may feel it, but that doesn’t imply that it has had primal roots. More on that another day.

The Four Graces

Just finished this new D.E. Stevenson book, the last installment of the Miss Buncle series. Here’s a sample of a conversation between Sal (the vicar’s daughter) and Jos Barefoot (random village guy):

“Were you at the wedding, Jos?” she asked.
“I don’t ‘old with weddings,” declared Jos, sitting down upon an upturned barrow and beginning to fill his pipe. “Too much fuss, to my mind. Weddings is nothing to make a fuss about. Weddings is lotteries, that’s what.”
“You never took a ticket, Jos.”
“Not me,” said Jos. “I never ‘ad a woman — never wanted one. Weddings is lotteries; they may be all right an’ they may be all wrong. You’m not thinkin’ of gettin’ married, Miss Sal?”
“No,” said Sal, smiling.
“That’s right. You be better as you are. Passon couldn’t do without you neither. You be better as you are.”
“It’s a good thing everybody doesn’t think so.”
Jos shook his head. “Ar,” he said gravely. “There’s Toop. Toop would ‘ave been better without that woman. You can’t deny it, Miss Sal.”
Sal could not, so she was silent.
“It ‘appened when Toop was in Lunnon,” said Jos, striking a match and lighting his pipe. “‘E met Maria at a party–fish an’ chips it was– an’ Maria looked reel smart in a blue dress an’ ‘er ‘air done up to kill. Toop was took with ‘er but ‘e wouldn’t never ‘ave ‘ad ‘er if ‘e ‘adn’t ‘appened to see it wrote up on the Albert ‘All.”
“Wrote up on the Albert Hall!” exclaimed Sal, repeating the statement word for word in her amazement.
“‘Ave Maria,” nodded Jos. “That’s what it said — ‘Ave Maria. It give Toop quite a turn… wrote up on the Albert ‘All in letters a foot ‘igh… so ‘e ‘ad ‘er.”

Such a great passage for my current thoughts. We recently booked tickets to our first show at the Benaroya Hall, and it is not with the Seattle Symphony! (Pity, as that would have been much cheaper with student discounts and all). Gad Elmaleh (who has been performing in Manhattan recently) will be doing his show here in Seattle in September. I had a teeny little crush on him in Cornell after watching La Doublure and Hors de prix. An old blog post reveals that I even got the Cornell library to purchase some of his DVDs so I could watch them. Ha! The very notion of the legalistic lengths I went to to watch certain movies is laughable now. Since then, I have not watched any of his movies except for Midnight in Paris, and I can’t even remember what part he played. So right after the current entertainment queue we’ll have to fit some of his work in before we go to see him live. I’m very excited. He’s got these beautiful eyes and an extremely sexy French accent.

In the queue now:
1. Finishing up Let’s Eat 2
2. The Professor’s Beloved Equation (movie based on The Professor and his Housekeeper)
3. The Three Musketeers (Korean drama) – rewatching with LZ
4. Naeil’s Cantabile (A korean remake of Nodame Cantabile with -I feel- worse looking actors. Nobody can beat the wonderful Juri Ueno. The Korean Chiaki just looks like a straight up jerk, compared to Hiroshi Tamaki who also looks like quite a jerk but has the kind of bad boy vibe that can still be lovable). Case in point:


Joo Won in Naeil’s Cantabile. What is with that weird parting? And that smug smirk?

Chiaki-senpai in Nodame
5. The Time We Were Not In Love – rewatching with LZ
6. Gad Elmaleh movies
7. Brilliant Legacy
Another reason why the passage is apt is that our first anniversary is coming up! We are not one for marking the passage of time but any excuse for a celebration and presents and cards etc. is always welcome. I got him a fantastic present and have been bugging him to guess what it is for the last few days. He is SO BAD at guessing. He bought me some jewellery from the South Lake Union Saturday Market and a canvas/leather tote from the Umbrella Collective as an anniversary gift. Essentially things that I looked at, thought were too expensive to purchase (my bar is rather high :P), and he decided to get for me because he didn’t have any ideas anyway. So after that I was casting around for something to give him and landed on the best, perfectest idea and it really bugs me that he cannot guess what it is! I’m just being excited about his present all by myself and it’s not even the sort of present I used to give him that was “for him” but turned out to be something for me, like our creme brulee torch :P

Yes, yes, I am a very wicked, selfish partner but there must be some charm that’s made him stick around for so long.