Wednesday, December 01, 2010

bad decisions

The problem with bad decisions is that, you never quite know if it is a bad decision until it is already too late.

Monday, October 18, 2010

Angie becomes Geertje

So, this weekend, German Chancellor Angela Merkel announced that

"Multi-culturalism is dead.... long live multi-culturalism"

no the last bit of the sentence I put in.
She actually said, how guest workers (Gastarbeiters) that came to lift up the economy during the 60s (and till now!) have not left as the Germans had once believed, but now the Germans and the immigrants could not "live happily side by side".

The reasons noted not only by her, but others is that
1. too many come
2. they all bring their (large) families)
3. they eat up all the welfare checks

The thing I would like to know is
1. how many did actually came in the last decades
2. Does the German government believe in splitting up families? So you only want to bring in the young workers, without their dependents?
3. Did you not think of this when you wanted to import (skilled) workers?
4. What exactly is the proportion of migrants on welfare schemes - I ask this, since I know they will not make it easy to get ANY migrants on it
5. How much of the recent/past economic growth can you attribute to the migrant community??
6. WHO do you exactly define as migrants anyhow? Are you saying those who were born in Germany but of different ethnicity are also migrants? - since these days "migrant" is just a way for them to say "middle eastern/muslim"....

about question number 5, and 4
Migrant workers are a great asset, fuel of economic growth when the economy is doing well and there is a worker/ skill shortage. This is when the media and the politicians shut the **ck up about migration issues. On the other hand, in economic conditions such as now, in recession, companies let go of the vulnerable workers first - thus the women and migrants. Also, in times of uncertainty, employers will not employ new workers, but when they do, they go back into the traditional way of thinking - employing white men.
Thus, when we say migrants are on welfare checks, let;s really see who it is to blame. I know that there are asylum seekers that can be categorized as abit different case, but really what is this percentage, and again whose fault is it- their fault or the failure of the integration/training policies? Also, if you fail to accept those in dire situation, what type of world wide brotherhood are we supporting?

but overall, why isn't anyone showing hard proof concerning this at all?
and another thing, who can really define who "immigrants" are? Who are we kidding pretending nations have existed for a long time? its only in the past one of two decades that countries formed their current boundaries. and Even before then, there were loads of mass migrations all over. Do nations really have the legitimacy to say who the country belongs to?
I believe that migration is the easy way out for many politicians when they want to make a grand reform on the current social security/assistance scheme, so it doesn't upset their main voting population. Unfortunately, this whole scheme is working...

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

How capitalism gets a grasp on you

There is a saying, many of you know different versions of.
it goes roughly

"If you are not a Marxist at a young age, you are an idiot,
if you are a Marxist as an older adult, you are an idiot"

It more or less talks about how as a young person one should dream of the idealism of society, but come to the cold sense of real life when one becomes an "adult".
Having been a Marxist when I was young (yes, despite some entries telling you otherwise, yours truly is not as stupid as one may think), I always thought this quote was preposterous, idiotic and not true. Once a Marxist, always a Marxist. Although I did fear the moment when I have lost my true hearts without even noticing.

Now being in an age where one could be categorized as the "older adult", I understand why this quote comes about. Not because Marxism is too idealistic, but because capitalism really gets a grasp on you, and it is very difficult to escape its reigns.

After graduating, one will find a job. A Job will usually be something about 40 hours, which is what my contract is. It is a rather well paying position, although I am not making banker's bonuses, I do not complain. I would actually like to work shorter hours, but that is not really a possibility for me at this position I am in.
This is also enforced due to that I could not find a cheaper place for us to live. Living with my partner, we tried to find something which is not big, but also not too expensive. However, the housing market is made so there is either rooms for students, single persons' housing, or big ass couple/family housing. At least in Amsterdam, there is no middle ground, especially in the renter's market. Or, what happens is that the amount of money you spend per square meter increase dramatically when the size becomes below 100m2. When children come, it would be worse, you feel that you need to provide for them the best there is... and what about all the other stuff, such as bio-food, stylish clothes, and insurance for when things do not go as smoothly. One cannot but work full time. Especially since when you start working, naturally you do get into the rat race of them all. Its okay when you are not playing at all, but when you do, you feel a need to succeed.

However, working full time, and having a long commute, one really looses the energy to do anything other than work. When one has free time, it is to relax and relieve stress you get from work. Something like watching mind numbing videos and comedy. When you are physically and emotionally burned out, especially due to the increase in work intensity we have these days, one does not have extra energy to go and ponder upon some of the main questions in life and society. This is the reason why one looses contact with one's political ideals.... pure lack of energy.

Everyone I know after 30, when asked how they are doing, the first thing they'll say is "busy... I'm super busy, but otherwise okay".... regardless of what they do, and whether or not they have children. I think it is even considered a merit to say this, to show people that you are not wasting away your life.

After living like this for awhile, you become mind numbed drones, perfect to be blindfolded unaware of how society is being led. Since all you want is some nice food, a nice vacation and some sleep.

oct 12 2010...very very tired.
need to update this later... but thought I will share this though first.

Thursday, October 07, 2010

I like it in my own way, thank you very much

So, many of you know that Breast Cancer Research Foundation, or aka the pink ribbon group, has launched a campaign in facebook, which was secretly sent out to ladies, to write in their status where they put their purses.

The original message goes like
"About a year ago, we played the game about what color bra you were wearing at the moment. The purpose was to increase awareness of October Breast Cancer Awareness month. It was a tremendous success and we had men wondering for days what was with the colors and it made it to the news.
This year's game has to do with your handbag/purse, where we put our handbag the moment we get home for example "I like it on the couch", "kitchen counter", "the dresser" well u get the idea. Just put your answer as your status with nothing more than that and cut n paste this message and forward to all your FB female friends to their inbox. It doesn't have to be suggestive. I'm going for the vague "on the stairs". The bra game made it to the news. Let's see how powerful we women really are!!! REMEMBER - DO NOT PUT YOUR ANSWER AS A REPLY TO THIS MESSAGE- PUT IT IN YOUR STATUS!"

I didn't know about the last year's campaign and just found out about this years, and have participated. I know some people have had real fun with this, since it was a "inside joke" amongst women, and find it very funny how men reacted. My male friends knew what it was about, and didn't send any questionable remarks.

However, others found this sexist and objectifying women and have made this heard.

Ofcourse as it happens in facebook, this has drawn comments/discussions, and I thought I would share this with my non-facebook friends, since it draws an interesting example of feminist in conflict.

I will try to summarize this discussion, which will really not do anyone justice but again, what is justice anyhow.
Here are the points.
1) campaign was sexist due to its deliberate exclusion of men.
2) it presumes women have either purses and/or sex.
3) It is provoking and has sexual connotations
4) did not help in making the point, which is breast cancer

Let;s respond to this one by one. 1) yes, it is excluding men, but breast cancer is predominately something that women have to deal with, like pregnancy, and the whole point of the joke was to keep it as an insider's joke, which made some people happy. Also many gender equality movements exclude men.
2) I don't think it was sexist to think women can have sex or bags(I've understood this term broadly),
3) I believe women who read this note and put status signs up are able to make this judgement for themselve - they are not stupid
4)Yes, I agree on this issue. it could've been done much smarter, but if the whole point was to draw attention, it succeeded - but I agree it could've been much more linked to the actual cause and abit more stylish. And this point, I think is shared by most people (from the conservatives, to not so conservative, and the times)

Also, my beef with this was that the statement about this whole status update was stated as a "fact" where it is really a "opinion". And the nature of the statement was potentially be offensive to those who participated in the whole scheme. It also had a bullying nature, where it made those who participated feel like they were ignorant and were impediments to the feminist cause.

But more importantly, let's talk about the number 3, provocative and sexual innuendo part of the problem, which is probably the biggest problem the supporters for "the joke being sexist/objectifying" group.
I have always faced criticisms from women on this issue. The example here shows women noting where they put their purse, but give the reader the notion that this is where they would like to have (their bag) sex. This isn't funny at first site, but if you have several status updates doing the same thing, it could be funny.

But whichever the case, even if this were actually about sex, I don't find it objectifying. Definition of objectifying is to make something as if it were an object, rather than a person. Me talking about where I would like to have "it", whatever it may be, does not objectify me. Perhaps it shows that I am a sexual person who may like to share my preferences with others. However, making me into an object it does not. I am also aware that many women are objectified and are objectifying themselves as nothing but something to have sex with. This, if chosen out of ignorance or is forced, it is bad/horrible. But since one of the core human essences are being sexual beings, it is natural to show one's sexual side as well. Ofcourse the stupidity of this is that some women objectifying themselves, may encourage men to think that of other women. However, just because men have dominated the territory of sex for a while now, does not mean that we should shun it as being a wasteland, a place no real feminist goes, unless you want a full on battle to tear down the land - to talk about it seriously.(I am referring to comments such as "If you want to talk about sex openly, admit that you've had it at least once when you didn't really feel like it.Or how you REALLY like it. Or masturbation. Or something"... which indicates sex is supposedly something women should never make light of or joke about). I think women should take the reins of women's sexuality discussions into our own hands but we should also be able to see the lightness in it as well. Thus women in charge of showing women's sexuality, not men in their own fantasy way. The first seasons of sex and the city did improve this aspect... although the later seasons were as if I was watching the video version of Cosmopolitan.

But again, do not discourage women in talking about sex, period, due to the scares of objectifying themselves.The problem with this is that it is dangerously close to the religious/conservative views on how women should be chastised and prude, and women do not have sexuality or their sexualities should be a secret. Ofcourse there are women all over the spectrum of sexual freedom. But to shun the side where one believes women should have fun too and can freely talk and make jokes about sex, to shun those who are not afraid of the male penis, is also not feminism. The problem is that once you do this, once you mark that out of the feminist map, you will have women who will not be able to own their own sexualities, and again this is a battle lost against the conservative male view. Also, it is losing your (potential) freedom to own your own sexuality. Coming from very prudent/conservative countries (I also mean the US here), I know how this could go. Some women believe that equal rights is to make men(and women) fear talking about sex and sexuality, rather than enabling women to take power and lead in the discussion of sex. Where it is believe that sexuality/sexual things are evil, too private to be talked about. This is not a society I will like to live in, nor do I believe is a gender equal society.

Last point I want to make is the ease of calling thing sexist. Being Asian, I also have the god given right to call things racist (no, I don't really but you get my point). Now with both things, its like calling wolf. Once you start calling everything sexist/racist, the gravity of your voice becomes weaker and weaker, since you are thought to be someone who will always be calling "wolf!". Also, the people who can join you in the cause becomes smaller and smaller, since you are excluding diverse views. I believe that this is one of the reasons some women themselves do not want to be categorized as feminist, due to that many "feminists" have marked the line way too strict, restrictive and aggressively and then marked it as being a "general feminist rule". Making feminism something like a totalitarian regime is not something we should aspire to. Taking a strong stand is one thing, being facist is another.

someone posted a blog post on this discussion (from the opposing view) - although I disagree with parts of the point 1 & 3 - first of all sex is the way to catch EVERYONE's attention, and I don't think others were excluded, you could've easily did something such as putting a ribbon on your photo, or a link (again its your choice). which is something I also did. but I understand what he's getting at, and is much clearer than what was being mentioned in the previous discussion, so thanks chris!

Tuesday, October 05, 2010

Watch out Nederland

"Extremists cause serious damage to you and your society"

Yes, the day that I was dreading is finally here. I mean it was here since a few weeks ago, but the point is that what has once been a feared thought, is now reality. What is it, you ask?

The Dutch government coalition, after several unsuccessful mix matches, which included 6 parties at one point, is now one where the Dutch Conservative party (VVD) and the Dutch Christian Democrats(CDA) is in alliance with the one and only that party with the crazy (fake) blond haired guy, Dutch Freedom party (PVV).
You might think it is really nothing and that everyone knows that he is not meant to be taken seriously. However, I also say that one crazy guy somewhere on his own shouting out things is one thing, him being in the main cabinet coalition is another.

I wonder whether the government understands the gravity of their judgment- I’m looking at you VVD! I understand that for them the main goal was to have a coalition where they can take the majority in parliament to form a cabinet. I’m sorry to say this, but the most important goal in politics is to gain and maintain power- the other political ideals are just small peculiarities that come with the game. Thus, in some way it is understandable that they had to resort to this result.(also I would like to point out some of the members from the other two parties are very against this coalition that they have stepped down – thank you!)

However, it is also clear that this move is potentially putting everyone – yes not only the Dutch but us, the stinking foreigners you guys want to kick out – in danger. Again, one guy shouting obscenities about someone else’s religion is one thing. To have him as a legitimate government party leader is another. Although I am not saying Muslims are aggressive by nature – no, that’s what Geertje is saying. What I want to point out that there are some groups of the Muslim community that have shown that they are able to inflict harm on to society if they feel it necessary. (I also want to point out extremist Christians have also shown this potential several times, and I’m sure other religious extremists are also similar..) Now to have a guy who openly insults that religion and clearly stating that he wants the people who follow this religion, as well as all non-"western"(read blond) foreigners - out of the country he is living in, and to put that guy not only in parliament but also as one of the main government party leaders,… in my opinion that is just putting a big bull’s eye mark straight into the country we call low lands.

What this does is not only putting those who believe in this ideology in danger – which makes sense, since if you want “freedom of speech” as Geert Wilders puts it, you also have to deal with the consequences of your choice – but also others who believe that nut is just plain crazy in danger as well. And this includes those of us who did not even get to have a say in this whole issue.

So, who is to blame here? Of course Geertje is, or his parents or whoever raised that nut case. But also, I blame the sensation seeking news media who has given him too much air time and made his populist ideas go through to the public. Of course the media was the one who had put a stigmatized image on the Muslim community in the Netherlands, showing them off as ganstas and terrorists that disrespect the “Dutch norms”. However, it is also the general public who gave their precious votes to this nut case. I don’t care what type of shit you were fed by PVV or the media. By principle you should never vote for someone whose main message is of hatred and segregation of society. It’s your faults and now it’s the rest of us who have to live with it.

Seriously, I have to take the train to work and take several types of public transportation which could be prone to terrorist activities, and Mr. Wilders you have made my already stressed out life more stressful to think that your voice of hatred will come back and bite, unfortunately not you but us in the ass.
Also, this has not been noted enough, but migrants are not here to use your welfare states. We are here/were here to build up this place, and have contributed so much in terms of not only economic growth but also enhancing society culturally.(not to mention feeding the poorly fed Dutch)

To finish up, Geert Wilders is currently on trial on charges of inciting hatred. I hope, not just for myself but for the sake of all the people who live here, that he is charged. I hope that at least the Dutch judicial system is wise enough to know and show that hatred is not the way to go at things, and it is not okay to trash others, since it does come with consequences.

Tuesday, August 03, 2010

Berlin insider tips

Here is a compiled list of places I gathered in my 6 months or so stay in berlin, and also having a berliner as a partner.

hang out places: all with loads of cafes and restaurants
Prenzlauer Berg
especially near kastanienalle/zionskirche
and lychenerstrasse

especially around Oranienstrasse (near SO36)
and Bergmanstrasse

Galleries and Museums

The East side gallery

for awesome graffiti and all

Museum: I liked the museum of photography (forgot the name but it is in Oranienburger strasse S bahn)
So at the corner where Oranienburger strasse meets Tucholsky Strasse

Also the hambergerbahnhof museum for modern arts is nice

Flea market sundays
Either Mauer park(trendier: nice to just hang without buying stuff) or Boxhagener Platz (cheaper and getting even more trendy)

Pizza place: il casolare: punk pizza place even the italians love

Also for proper german food try Max and Moritz on Oranienstrasse
see menu

Sunday brunch in Lychenerstrasse(this is where I lived) or Kruezberg at oranienstrasse/Paul-Linke Ufer oder Maybachufer

Also, there are loads of cheap places near Kreuzberg 36 - near Oranienstrasse which are around 5 euros for a main dish
and Kreuzberg Bergmanstrasse also offers a wide range of cuisines around 10 euros or less.

Don;t forget to check out
Spätzle express : what is spätzle??

**Lazy Caribbean bar
the YAAM - really nice in sunny days

**Drink as much as you want and then pay as much as you want wine bar
Weinerei - all near Zionskirche
even the new york times loved it

Berghain: techono electornic, but the whole idea is to go there, since it's supposed to be this amazing place which opens around 00:00~ 15:00 ... peak is around 4am.

also lots of night life around Warschauerstrasse

but buy a Zitty(events etc guide for Berlin) and see what is happening.
or go to

but most of all have fun and stay around in the East side...

Monday, August 02, 2010

my first barbie

This was my first barbie, that I got when I was in elementary school, from my best friend Leigh. Actually that was my only barbie, since I didn't get another one due to that I had one. Oh what fun we had with her, making clothes for her, and also shooting movies, which included borderlinish soft porn - harlequin romance novel types mind you! (we didn't have ken, so it ended up taking some interesting turns....)

awww good times.

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

One liners

hi there.
Since it has been forever since I've posted my last entries, here is something to say.. hey this blog has not been abandoned.

Some one liners i've written in the previous months, travelling.

"You can always blame your parents for everything wrong about yourself, including the lack of respect for one's parents" - in Seoul, May 2010.

"I often wish that the cute guy I meet in an off occassion is gay.... This is how much I love my husband" - after meeting the ultra cute steward on an AirFrance flight to Nantes, June, 2010

"There is no perfect man... there is just that normal guy that comes long in your life, after a series of terrible men, who make him seem perfect in comparison" - thoughts I had right before getting married....

Starved for Attention

"An estimated 195 million children worldwide suffer from the effects of malnutrition, with 90 percent living in sub-Saharan Africa and South Asia. In fact, malnutrition contributes to at least one-third of the eight million annual deaths of children under five years of age.Many families simply cannot afford to provide nutritious food—particularly animal source foods such as milk, meat, and eggs—that their young children need to grow and thrive. Instead, they struggle to survive—far from the media spotlight—on a diet of little more than cereal porridges of maize or rice, amounting to the equivalent of bread and water."
This video shows how much of this problem is to be accounted for by the food aid systems currently in place, which is linked to the goal of sustaining the american corn industry. (see also last entry - from Food Inc, concerning how the american corn farming has changed the way people eat, and how it is one cause of obesity and malnourishment of Americans)

Just to answer some of the questions listed in the last part - the reasons why the US is providing corn meals to malnourished African children as food, when it simply does not provide the necessary vitamins and nourishment are simple.

No world aid is given without political and economical reasons from the provider. in this case, the US government provide aid to indirectly supply government support to their (massive) corn-farm industry and other industries surrounding it. In addition, it also acts as a pacifiers to third worlds which encourages dependence on aid/foreign(us-owned) products, and provides obstacles in developing a self-sustaining economy. Overall, the foremost purpose of the aid is NOT in providing nutritious food to children in the third world, thus the double standard and the bad quality of food provided.

Join the petition

Wednesday, June 02, 2010

hours of the week

I haven't been writing much... because I have been busy with several different things.
I will write more about what exactly they were later, but for today, I want to share this idea of how exactly our time is spent.

Okay now let's calculate 24*7=148 hours a week. everyone has that much hours.

Let's take the big chunks out first.
8*7=56 hours of sleep a week
5*8=40 (officially) hours of work a week
which totals up to .. = 96
that only leaves us about 52 hours

on top of that I need approximately 10 hours a week to commute time each week (half of which also can be considered my new paper reading time)
and average 1 hour each day to clean myself, and get dressed, and defecate etc. that is 7
and on average 2.5 hours a day to prepare, cook, eat food and clean up afterwards. that is 17.5 hours.. let's round it up to 18.
and I will do approximately 7 hours a week of household errands ( that is shopping for food, etc., cleaning the house, laundry and other household tasks).
that is total = 42 hours

that leaves 10 hours.

that is all the free time I have (officially) to spend to do whatever I want.

If I need to keep in shape I should to atleast 2 hours of exercise each week but 1 hour to prepare etc. thus that leaves 7.

in those 7 hours, I need to get leisure, relax and fulfil my inner self.
how does anyone manage to do this????

(this post was initially written on the 2nd of June, 2010)

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Food Inc

This is a must see movie, which is a investigative documentary concerning the food industry. What I really like about this movie is that it doesn't stop at showing the viewers how food is produced, and how it is consumed but why this is the case. How the various national policies, and corporate lobbyist has changed what people eat, how it is made etc.

Thursday, April 01, 2010

Gordon Brown and Labour Party goes for the offense.

and other posters

An article in today's Guardian reports that the British labour party is now going for the offense strategy for their election campaign, putting Gordon Brown as the alpha male character.
" Labour was "going all in", staking the election on the hope that voters will be drawn to an alpha-male personality who "is prepared to pummel, punch or even headbutt the British economy into a new era of jobs and prosperity"."

" Labour further hopes to "harness the power of internet folksourcing", the aide explained, encouraging supporters to design their own posters, which could then be showcased online. The "design your own poster" initiative has caught the imagination of Downing Street strategists, the aide said, because it is cheap, fosters engagement among voters and, above all, nothing could possibly go wrong with it."

Saturday, March 27, 2010

Capitalism and greed

I know many point to morality failures as one of the key reasons for the financial crisis that was felt across the world. Some were so convinced that they argue that financial stock brokers/bankers should take an oath before starting trading, just as they do in the medical field (hippocratic oath). However, I believe as many others do, that this is not a moral issue. This is/was not something that could've been solved by moralities. Rather it is a structural issue, where the system drives individuals to act a certain way. Capitalism, by definition puts market values and accumulation of capital as it's foremost important value.
This documentary/tv show puts it also in a very clear view.

However, let me iterate my views further.
Free market economist also believe that if you let market loose, than everything will find equilibrium. In these cases, morality does not have a place. A bit simpler, banks accumulated and made money due to that that is something they could do in the current system. Although some criticize for it being immoral due to that there were very high risks involved and much of the money was made was done where it was not due, let's think about it again. In the financial sector, much like other sectors but more so, the biggest goal is to achieve financial gains. The more you gain, the better. Although some may be in the boundaries of being illegal, if that is still within the rules of the game, you do it. As noted in the documentary, others are doing it, the pressures to follow would be large, especially when born/raised in a country where competition is thought to provide the best results, and falling back is only a characteristics of a looser- in all aspects of the words.
I even see this in academia, where our drug of preference is academic publications. No longer is it that development and spread of knowledge our goal. No, our goal is to write publications, regardless of any moral misdeed this may contain, and I've seen one too many academics even throw their health away to be on top of the game. But, again, can we blame this on morals? No.. I also believe it goes way beyond that. It has more to do with the high of competition. I think many of the bankers who have done " immoral" banking had enough? money in their hands. But to be perceived as the best, they needed the extra. Although the money didn't hurt.

and this all comes about, due to that we loose conscious of what we are doing, exactly what the consequences of our choices made and why we are behaving a certain way. Which leads me to this book Momo: on which I want to write another entry. Although I must say, to be conscious of everything, would be painful in many ways, or would lead us to believing the best we can do is to go rot in some dirt. I mean there is a golden middle, and many of us, not through our own choices, have been lead/ are in a position where we are actually asleep.

Friday, March 26, 2010


"So you have a couple of drinks, fight about politics... and then you take it personally when he doesn't agree with you... that is called having a dad."

- Liz Lemmon, from 30 Rock

Thursday, February 11, 2010

Ridiculous biblical quote concerning love&sex

The bible condemns much more than same sex couples.

Here are some examples

"A marriage shall be considered valid only if the wife is a virgin. If the wife is not a virgin, she shall be executed."
-* DEUTERONOMY 22:13-21

"If a man be found lying with a woman married to an husband, then they shall both of them die, both the man that lay with the woman, and the woman."

Divorce is strictly forbidden in both Testaments, as is remarriage of anyone who has been divorced.* MARK 10:1-12

The Bible forbids a married couple from having sexual intercourse during a woman's period. If they disobey, both shall be executed.
"Never have sexual intercourse with a woman while she is unclean during her monthly period."

If a man dies childless, his widow is ordered by biblical law to have intercourse with each of his brothers in turn until she bears her deceased husband a male heir.
"Moses wrote for us that if a man's brother dies and leaves a wife but no children, the man must marry the widow and have children for his brother."
* MARK 12:18-27

"If two men are fighting and the wife of one of them comes to rescue her husband from his assailant, and she reaches out and seizes him by his private parts, you shall cut off her hand. Show her no pity."
* DEUTERONOMY 25:11-12

... and you still want to ban same sex marriage? why not trying to ban law allowing divorces and try to make a law trying to ban sex during menstruation????

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

my life's worth in numbers

So, the university is now setting up a new way of quantifying one's output research wise. The formula is
weight of publication*length/number of authors

although it is not as simple.
anyhow so yours truly calculated my own number
and during the past 7 years or so of publications(from 2003-), my number is 7.4 ... so like 1 point per year. this number has no relevance until you compare it to what the university is expecting their researchers to produce per year == 12 points.

which means... I have to do 12 times better than what I've done before...

shijsh! - as my Croatian friend would say

Friday, February 05, 2010

Review: Push - by Sapphire

This book is a very quick read. The book is the original the movie "Precious" is based on.

Unlike the movie, there is no lighter skinned african americans that behave, dress and look more like the white-middle class that save our heroine. No, rather it is the dark dreads wearing aggressive lesbian that saves the day. In that respect and others, the book is much more raw and direct and also much more aggressive... towards society that is divided by race. The rawness of the book is what really got to me, although I must say the story is abit overwhelming - although throughout the book the author does not allow you to look at Precious jones in any patronizing sympathetic way. She is a fighter, and she does not want you to be sad for her, she wants you to be mad for her.

I give it a 4-4.5 star.(out of five)

The imagery game....

this is how we did it ol'skool style

So, as some of you may know, yours truly is getting hitched in Seoul soon, and I've found out a lot of about Korea(ns) in the past few days while I was preparing for stuff. First of all, I must say ALL weddings cost alot of money. The extent to which Koreans spend it, is a bit different from others, mostly due to the fact that they invite EVERYONE - here is a piece on the New York Times criticizing this. My cousin, for example, whose father has been working for the government and was then dealing with politics, had married another son of a politician, and they had 1000 + guests. Yes... 1000 PLUS. One of the ways they can have such extravagant weddings is that people do not give gifts to the bride and groom but rather money, which helps to pay for the food that they will be having at the wedding. The reason there are so many people invited to weddings in Korea, is due to the fact that in Korea weddings are not an affair of the bride and groom, but rather an affair of the parents. It is a show of power, or more like a competition of show of power(from the bride and groom's fathers) by having more guests than the other person. Thus, 1000 is easily done by those who are affiliated to this and that group. Ofcourse, this custom of inviting everyone you know actually stems from the old Korea culture, when weddings and funerals were not of an private affair but rather a community affair. This was ofcourse back in those times when extended families with the same last names lived in a closed community.

People did not expect invitations due to that you could just show up for the festivities without one, due to the fact that it was an open invitation to all. And there was even a little parade around the whole village with the groom in the front riding a donkey or a horse, a group of musicians playing pungmul, and the bride in a hand carried carriage, and the families, which was done to make sure everyone in the village knew what was going on. They would then head off to the big house of the neighbourhood- the family - with a garden (or the bride/groom's house?) where people were served with rather simple foods- noodles and pancakes and loads of drinks... a bit of chicken or other types of meat if they were lucky, and the families were rich enough. Thus, it was alright to invite everyone.

-Here comes the bride and groom..

Things are abit different these days. First of all, practically no one does traditional weddings, with the exception of those who get married to foreigners. But on top of that, the (pre-)wedding issues are an example of the predominant culture of artificiality and extravagance/materialism that exists in current society. I will not use all the space to explain the complicated customs a Korean wedding entail, including presents that is passed to the bride and groom's extended families. But more, I would like to talk about the photo/video taking culture of Korean weddings. Asians are stereotyped as photo-loving beasts, although I must say there are as many of them out there here in Europe or in the US, but it just caught up much later than in fast-speed developing Asian countries. However, what you still don't have is this studio photo taking culture... well not yet.

Anyhow, in Korea it is customary to take what is called a "rehearsal photo" - which is a studio photo shoot, in addition to having a photographer follow you around the whole day of the wedding to take photos of your wedding day, and ofcourse what we call the commemoration photo(where everyone who has been to the wedding take somewhat of a evidence photo). What surprised me is several things.
Firstly, the incredible expense. If you do both studio and wedding photo shoots, you need make up and hair done for both days, and you need to have several types of wedding dresses as well as other evening gowns etc. Now forgetting about the real wedding gown you will wear on the big day, you need to borrow the dresses for the photo shoot(which from my friends' experiences is about 3-6 gowns), this will cost about - that is makeup, hair, dresses, photo shoots,= 5,000,000won=3,200 euros. and yes this price actually is JUST for the photos!! Also, you will need a video shoot, starting from approximately 1,250,000 =800 euros if you want a video of the wedding day, and of the studio photo shoot day. In conclusion, that is 4000 euros just so you have pretty memories of your wedding.

Now this can be okay, to say that, if you have money, and as we say in Korea you if money is "attacking you"(cuz you have too much of it), or you can't stand the stink of money rotting, do what ever. Even if it is the case that, we are talking about a country where the average GDP per capita is about 28,000 dollar=20,000 euros, which means that you blow like 1/5th of your year's income on photos and videos.well 1/10 if you think you divide that among the two of you.and did I mention about 21% of its population lives under the poverty line- of 60% of the national medium wage AFTER benefits and taxes.(OECD average is about 17% and its much lower for EU-15).SOURCE

The bigger problem I have is how fake everything looks. Or more so, how it looks, to me atleast, some sort of struggle to look like something from TV and movies.

an example of "rehearsal photo" - your dream to be a the princess for a day comes true.

- "ah the sweet fake memories of being in make-believe land wearing a big white dress.."

As you can see from the photos, they make up scenes of being outside, or in some fancy European city - wearing a big white dress and a tux. and I am thinking.. really? Why? don't you rather use that money to go to that place and really take photos of it? no... cuz it won't look as pretty. What the studios offer is a fake reality, of you being the princess and the price, or in real terms, rich no need to work aristocrats who have photographers following them around to record every second.

"remember the fake house and the fake fight we had?? - oh yeah.. it was during those time I keep wearing white big dresses and you a tux.... what happened to our Tom Ford book btw?"

The same goes for the videos made... which is done only through the fake imagery of rich European society that the wedding ceremony places make.
Anyhow... the important question.. why?? Why do people do that?
Well the very direct answer would be that, because everyone does it, and it has become somehow a norm to do so. And one does not question the group norm in Korea. The other direct answer is that, well you get nice pretty photos... not minding that they are not really you, because nothing in there... even your face, is not real...due to the make up that literally makes everyone looks the same.
But really why?? I believe it is because that imagery, however fake it is, and however unreal it looks, it shows somehow, to others but also to yourself, a image of the good life one only dreams of having. The luxurious lifestyle where one dresses all the time in evening gowns and goes to fancy European cities, and is happy (and pretty- with good hair day) all the time. Even if it is fake, somehow that image makes one believe, that one is happy, or atleast did one's best to show to others that they are somewhat of the rich and famous. If not, at least not worse off than others. And that ... that alone is worth 1/5 of your yearly income...

postscript: I've just talked to a friend in the states(US), and she says how the same thing is now becoming popular there. Also, in Russia it is in fashion to pack your wedding dresses and tuxs and fly over to Egypt to take your wedding photos in front of the Sphinx or the piramids.

Friday, January 08, 2010

Korea feminism- just 20 years behind England?

I just read an article from Lynn Barber in which she talks about feminism in England back in the day, or more so how it was living in the 60s and 70s as a female. Her stories are dangerously similar to what I've experienced also as a young teenage girl in Seoul, not in the 60s but in the 90s.
This similarity concerns the role of women, girls, how to understand relationships, the misconceptions of sex or how women should deal with it etc.
It makes me think, maybe Korea is culturally - atleast in the feminist sense, 20 years behind. I was wondering if it reflects the national economic growth - or growth in capitalism. In actuality, korea is now quite advanced economically and well culturally, am not sure what to say since I am not there now and it changes very quickly.

Lynn Barber is a contributor for the Guardian and is the author of the biography "An Education" which will be out in theatres soon as a movie.