RHLSTP #156

Another RHLSTP RHLSTP! post (As my primary school teacher said of me, I have a real knack for being able to amuse myself). This time it is #156 with Ed Miliband and Geoff Lloyd, and Ed has a very incisive point about Brexit.

RH: You were remain, but now on your website I saw you saying we have to go through with Brexit.”
EM: Well I think people voted for it…
RH: But did they though, they voted for…they did a yes/no question but it didn’t say what that would involve, it didn’t say what that would mean, and so…
EM: Which goes back to your point about revolution. My constituency Doncaster north was 72% leave, top 5 or 6th highest in the country. And people didn’t just vote because of immigration or Europe and things they knew about; they voted because they wanted change. I’m afraid the terrible thing that Cameron did, was that he turned what was an issue that 15%-20% of the population cared about, which was Europe, into one that 75%-80% now feel attached to one side or the other. Remember this referendum? It was supposed to heal the divisions in the country. That didn’t work out.
RH: No
EM: And the trouble is, that the people who say it’s easy and you should just reverse it because people have been lied to about the NHS all that stuff – yes they were – but there is something deeper at the root of this and it was basically people saying “politics hasn’t taken any notice of us, politics hasn’t listened to us”. And if the response of politics is then to say “Now we are going to ignore you”, that is not a good thing.

 

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Pedantry

In a tutorial class earlier this week, we watched a video of millennials’ attitudes towards Singlish (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XzKurDAZGKw), with the tutor’s original intention to show it escaping my memory. But I remember being quite annoyed at a particular question that the street interviewer asked, which was “Do you think Singlish can be considered a language of its own – why or why not?” In and of itself, perhaps there is nothing wrong with this question. However from my perspective, I found it incredibly fascinating because to me the question is extremely complex, particularly because is not easy to define what a language is; even among professional linguists there is still considerable debate. And yet, this street interviewer made it seem like it the answer could be boiled down into a snappy reply as he queried his respondents. Unsurprisingly,  two of the answers given “Yes, because we have our own authentic taste and the way we communicate is very different. So when we say one or two phrases or sentences, usually we can catch it quickly.” and “I don’t think so. We cannot use it with people who visit Singapore.” did not come close to answering the question. However on the bright side, there was one “It’s not really a language because it is a rojak of English, Chinese and Malay” which did.

My unease at this question was symptomatic of a far greater problem, which was the problems I face in day to day communication because of my disconnect with the how people understand words, and also what they expect when they ask questions. For example, the “liberal intelligentsia” (Stewart Lee comedy vehicle reference) like Yuxuan would have no problems when I ask what they mean by “simple” words like color, because they understand or at least are aware of the complexity, nuances and different conceptualizations. On the other hand, conversations with bimbos like S highlight the vast disparity and disconnect between our understanding of language.

[Five of us are playing one of the most stupid games that I have ever played, “black magic”]
Me: Your jacket and the lampshade are of the same color. Blue.
S: (Launches into a pre-prepared mini speech) No! Blah blah blah men only see one color blah blah blah there is baby blue, coral blue…
Me: (despondently) What I mean is all the different variants you mention are essentially the same color. They are different shades/tints of blue. Or are you referring to another color theory?
S: ???

I am struggling to conclude this post, and the only way I can think of is to wish that more students can be like Yuxuan, who can argue that perhaps it is a positive sign that contemporary phrases like “Lit af” have the benefit of being able to represent different nuances of emotions and adjectives, whilst (and this is the crucial part) possessing knowledge of those specific nuances. And this will lead nicely into a future post about ignorance.

RHLSTP #168

Listening to Danielle Ward reflecting on what she finds so frustrating about standup struck a chord with me.

I really like doing stand up, but I get frustrated by the medium; I get frustrated by the idea that you can’t go on a bit of a journey…it’s really hard to create a different world. […] I find it a bit frustrating sometimes when you come out in front of an audience like when you are doing a club gig as a stand up or even a tour show and you come out and immediately find yourself trying to win them over. Conversely, when you do any piece of theatre like the one I did at the Dunbar and the audience are so excited about what’s going to happen whereas for stand up the audience is so combative “Come on then impress us”. I get really fed up with that sometimes that you’re not given that leeway do something a bit more interesting.

Social Studies Textbook Controversy

Recently, there was some controversy over a Secondary 3 Social Studies book regarding the idea of socio-economic status (SES). Link: https://www.channelnewsasia.com/news/singapore/controversial-social-studies-guidebook-not-on-approved-textbook-10042286

(Regarding this thing about online furore, Bill Maher has made an excellent point arguing for perspective, criticizing journalism that sensationalizes their headlines with phrases like “twitter in uproar” etc, when the scale and intensity of the reactions clearly do not match the headline. Link: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UL67FQ_uGBg But that is a point for another time and the objective of this piece is my personal learning point anyway)

I was having lunch with my mother when she brought up this topic, and I shared that I did not really understand what the big fuss was about. Being a sociology undergraduate, “class”, or in this case SES, was merely a classification tool and did not actually discriminate against people, merely reflecting the relative positions that people find themselves in society.  She responded by reminding me that not many understand class from an academic perspective, and colloquially “class” is used often in conjunction with the adjectives “high” and “low”. In Singapore, “high class” or “atas” is used predominantly in a positive way and expresses admiration and praise e.g. this hotel very high class/ he very high class while “low class” is a definite derogatory term. It suddenly dawned on me why earlier in the semester, the professor spent half the first lecture asking us what is “class”. (And also highlighted my problems when I speak to less knowledgable people, be it about color or logic or food etc) Regardless, it was a very enlightening moment for me, because for a start I really appreciated the fact my mum challenged my thinking and offered another perspective; and also in the context of the larger picture it was a very important reminder about the sensibilities of the public. It seems fair in this situation to take a more sympathetic view towards those who complain about the book. On one level if they understood class in the colloquial sense, perhaps it seems logical that they take offense at what they perceive to be denigration and discrimination; and on a more important level perhaps secondary three students would not have the maturity and knowledge to understand a “holistic and accurate picture of the context of what is discussed”and deepen their “understanding of current issues and the society that they live in”, as mentioned by the publisher.

This incident reinforced the notion that class remains a prickly issue in Singapore, and strengthened my belief of how majority of people are not ready for the marketplace of ideas suggested as early as the Greek philosophers, where the ideal is for an impartial assessment of all ideas before agreeing on the optimal one.

2017 favorites

100 things I liked slightly more in 2017

Games
1. Runescape
2. Just Cause 2
3. Fun Run 3
4. Hearthstone
5. Fifa Online 3
6. Psych!
7. 8 Ball Pool by Miniclip
8. Spyfall on Telegram
9. Fantasy Premier League
10. Vista Golf

Food
11. Signature neck steak at Prime 19, Khao Yai
12. Mango Sticky Rice from Chinatown, Bangkok
13. Gravy from Roast Pork fond, garlic, thyme and white wine at Aunt’s house
14. Pork Floss bought from Suwan Farm, Khao Yai
15. Tai Seng Fish Soup
16. Lixin Teochew Fishball Noodles at Food Republic, Breadtalk HQ
17. Thai Boat Noodles at Kaffe Toast, NUH Medical Centre
18. Pho Beef Combination at Pho Street, Westgate
19. 925 Yishun Chicken Rice at 722 Ang Mo Kio Ave 8
20. Boon Tong Kee at 368188 Macpherson Road
21. Tekong Seafood Restaurant at Changi Village
22. Baguette from Johan Bakery, Westgate
23. Legendary Fresh Cream Cake from Chateraise
24. Shrimp Floss Croissant from Breadtalk
25. Gillot Salted Butter from Phoon Huat
26. Cumberland Sausage from The Butcher, 278116 Holland Village
27. Soy Sauce Chicken Drumstick Noodles from Hawker Chan, 534119 Tai Seng
28. (Claypot Tofu, Ginger sauce, steamed rice) from Soup Restaurant
29. Punggol Nasi Lemak at 534721 Kovan
30. Pasta Brava (Stracchi in Saffron Cream Sauce, Linguine with crab meat and sea urchin, Lemon Sorbet, Chocolate Lava Cake)

Reads
31. Dilbert
32. Insanely Simple by Ken Segall
33. The Mixer by Michael Cox
34. Batman: Year One by Frank Miller
35. Islam and the Future of Tolerance: A Dialogue by Maajid Nawaz and Sam Harris
36. Kingdom Come by Mark Waid and Alex Ross
37. Justice Society of America: Thy Kingdom Come by Geoff Johns
38. Queen Bees & Wannabes by Rosalind Wiseman
39. Neither Civil nor Servant by Han Fook Kwang and Peh Shing Huei
40. Singapore in Transition by Han Fook Kwang

Songs
41. 叶炫清 cover – 关键词
42. Live Band playing Adele’s “Someone like You” at Midwinter Green, Khao Yai
43. A-lin cover – 月牙湾
44. Black Eyed Peas + Ariana Grande Manchester cover – Where is the Love
45. 伍佰 cover – 如果这都不算爱
46. Lana Del Rey – Love
47. Rag N Bone Man – Human
48. 张信哲 cover – 记得
49. Chanyeol & Punch – Stay with me
50. Andy Hui – 我还能爱谁
Musicians
51. 张靓颖
52. SCANDAL
53. Urban Zakapa (Thanks Michelle!)
54. Jay Chou
55. FIR
56. BLACKPINK
57. SNSD
58. LANY
59. Against The Current
60. The Chainsmokers

Films
61. War for the Planet of the Apes
62. Mean Girls
63. The last Jedi
64. Logan
65. Dunkirk
66. The Grandmaster
67. Kung Fu Panda 1
68. Kung Fu Panda 2
69. Inequality for All
70. Inside Job

Youtube Channels
71. Pokimane
72. Sorted Food
73. Grace Helbig
74. Epic Rab Battles
75. Richard Herring’s Leicester Square Theatre Podcast
76. Bill Wurtz
77. David Mitchell’s Soapbox
78. Binging with Babish
79. Worth It by Buzzfeed
80. Hot Thai Kitchen

Series
81. Mock the week
82. Young Sheldon
83. Game of Thrones
84. Attack on Titan
85. Would I Lie To You

Learning Points
86. Veganism actually forces vegans to be more creative and knowledgeable about ingredients, since they have to know and source for more e.g. Using unripe jackfruit for fried chicken since they have similar texture
87. Racism should be understood in a broader sense because the dictionary definition “prejudice, discrimination, or antagonism directed against someone of a different race based on the belief that one’s own race is superior” is limited in today’s circumstances

Miscellaneous
88. Dinner with Jo and Zea
89. Ethnography assignment to City Plaza with Bron
90. Getting Spotify
91. Non-English Lyrics with translations, romanizations and meaning side by side
92. Prof J and H sharing their experiences in academia
93. Regulations to the cleaning industry in Singapore means cleaners get higher pays
94. Attending Chua Beng Huat’s seminar
95. Atta Lakeside Resort at Khao Yai
96. Reconnecting with Nic
97. Football Nights every Thursday at Punggol
98. Watching Bayern vs Chelsea at the Sports Hub
99. Classical Art Memes facebook page
100. Learning to play tunes on the keyboard

 

 

Racism and nigger

A few weeks ago, I met up with H, the tutor for my culture module who is currently pursuing her PhD, and one of the topics we talked about was everyday racism. I raised the idea that the term “racism” is too loosely thrown about these days, if we were to stick by the academic definition of “prejudice, discrimination, or antagonism directed against someone of a different race based on the belief that one’s own race is superior”, so based on this arguably one can only conclusively say that examples like the Holocaust, Apartheid and racial segregation in America are “true” examples of racism, because there is both intent and discrimination (in the form of violence). She countered with a very interesting point that the definition itself must be examined in terms of the authors and context that it was written in, and it suddenly hit me that perhaps I need to reconsider sticking to this definition, and perhaps adapt it to make it more relevant to the plights of those who suffer from racial discrimination today.

But the main focus of this post is not about a conceptual debate of racism, but rather the painful (at least to me) situation in America, specifically regarding the word “nigger”. People avoid the word like the plague, and sponsors drop celebrities who were caught using the word at the drop of a hat. While it would be interesting to debate about usage of the word – proponents like George Carlin who see nothing with it “it’s the context that makes the word good or bad; there is nothing wrong with the word nigger in and of itself, it’s the racist asshole who’s using the word that you ought to be concerned about” versus opponents who claim that continued usage reinforces the power relations and trivializes the emotional burden of the word –  it seems far more important to point out the horrendous hypocrisy that is happening in America (nice alliteration) in the form of actual racist practices like voter ID laws, redlining, disproportionate violence against the black community amidst this sacred ban on a word. To make it clearer, what I mean to say is that it seems that the reality in America is that systemic oppression of the black community is fine, as long as you don’t say the word “nigger”. It is slightly amusing from a philosophical point of view, but then the suffering reminds you of how painful it is.

Looking back 13/8 – 19/8

3 new facts I learned this week:

  1. Moray eels have a second jaw that is called the pharyngeal jaw. The eels bites its prey using its oral jaws, then the pharyngeal jaws extend, clamp down and retracts, allowing the eel to swallow the prey.
  2. Greek statues were originally painted! Unlike the pure white marble we have come to associate Greek statues with, they were originally painted in vibrant colors
  3. Singapore is the only country in the World to have a tripartism! This refers to the collaboration among unions, employers and the Government

 

NEW CONCEPT NEW CONCEPT NEW CONCEPT: Precarity (The lack of security, stability and predictability especially in jobs)

Anecdote time: Whilst conducting a pilot survey for the NUS project, one of the surveyees took some time to chat with me about his life. He was an Indian national, who held a PhD and worked in the IT industry. I learned from him how he had to toil on weekdays, only returning home in the wee hours of the night. His work was project based, each project lasting for about 1-2 years. His visa needed to be renewed every year, so the threat of retrenchment was always looming over his shoulder, which according to him was exacerbated by the fact that in the event of a crisis, foreigners would be the first to be retrenched. Hence, addition to putting in the long hours he needed to go for constant training and renewal, and always surpass his local colleagues. He wants to but is unable bring his family over due to lack of stability, which is pitiful because he says due to the long hours he has very few friends. In spite all of this, he says that he trusts his neighbors, likes his estate and feels a sense of belonging, both to his neighborhood and Singapore. (There should be some commentary about how his individual experience reflects the state of society as a whole and its implication but lets leave that for another time. I need to reorganize my blog)

 

Phrase of the week: face like a smacked arse

 

Quote of the week: “Our proper response to the inexorable march of progress that has brought us to this place and time in the history of civilization is to find a way to confront it responsibly. Not modestly. Not un self-consciously. Not with faith in a power greater than ours to descend from the sky and set things right despite our best efforts to screw up. We have an obligation to know who we are, where we are and what we can do. We have an obligation to understand the ramifications of the things we do, and to choose to do them – or not – with our eyes open.” (Kingdom Come, Mark Waid and Alex Ross)

 

Book of the week: (Batman Year One, Frank Miller)

Stream of Consciousness

  1. My youtube liked videos playlist was running, and I found it rather satisfying that a serious Sam Harris video about Milo Yiannopoulos and the formation of tribes was immediately followed by Grace Helbig’s night time routine. Which was the first Helbig video I showed CYX and he liked it
  2. NTSH and my cousin told me the exact same thing: men’s clothing are largely similar so the way to stand out is through your watch, wallet and shoes. Which I find pretty strange, since I think a person’s uniqueness is largely expressed by accomplishments and thoughts, neither of which are really captured through apparel and accessories
  3. When people attribute events in their lives to a supernatural being, aren’t they simply relieving themselves of responsibility for action and thought? This originally came from No Man’s Land, but it does seem that it is a good argument against those who choose faith over rationality.
  4.  张信哲 “每一首情歌最重要的一句是哪一句? 第一句”
  5. Lex Luthor “Do you know how much power I’d have to give up to be president?” I remember being rather enthralled when I first heard it on Justice League Animated, and today as I learn more about the society, there seems to be validity in this statement. Without the need to invoke conspiracy theories of the existence of the illuminati, politicians are still at the whims and mercy of those who control material resources

I don’t know

 

Carbonara

Ingredients:

N5 Barilla Spaghetti

Fairprice prepacked streaky bacon

Lemon juice

Emborg whipping cream

Sugar

Salt

Egg yolks

black pepper

Parmesan cheese

 

Preparation:

  1. Feel Fill a pan with water, salt generously and bring to the boil
  2. Fry up some bacon in an oven until it goes crispy, then slice it into mini bits
  3. Grate the cheese and mix it in a bowl with the egg yolks, cream and pepper, whisk until evenly mixed

 

Steps:

  1. Drain the pasta when it is al dente
  2. Transfer the pasta into a pan, then turn on a low heat
  3. Pour the sauce into the pan and mix well
  4. Season to taste with salt, pepper and lemon juice

 

Food for thought:

  1. By strict definitions, this is neither a proper carbonara nor an alfredo. But it is closer to a carbonara, and outside of Italy people put cream in their carbonara, and I think it tastes better.
  2. I have tried making it the traditional way, where the pasta is tossed in the oil/grease that the bacon released while cooking, and the sauce just a mixture of egg yolks, cheese, salt and pepper. But I like this more. It feels more pleasant to the palate. The sauce is light and sweet.