Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Let's not repeat the mistakes of men

I had a rather interesting experience last weekend. So, I was out with a few friends to a pub with a dance floor (in a town in England). I was thinking to myself, “well, my husband is actually one of the cutest boys in the crowd”, and felt quite smug about it all. Hm hm ..
Less than an hour of thinking that, after a brief moment of keeping him out of my sight, I hear back from a friend of the horrible attack that was brought upon my man.
“Do you know what happened…. X got slapped in his ass my some girl”
What? Ofcourse I was a bit shocked and instinctively my alter ego sprouted out which sways her finger and hips while saying
“Bitch! You ain’t gonna mess with m~~~y man, or you gonna find yo self some reaaaaal trouble!!”
Of course it would’ve been amusing to go find the girl in question and try out my miss thang and all that impression, I thought despite my urge to use this as an social experiment, a opportunity to do social research.
I was first shocked to find out, that “girl”, was in no way a girl, but a woman well in her mid/late thirties- with glasses and looks rather decent. I approached her…
Me: “Excuse me, did you happen to slap a person’s ass tonight?”
Ass slapper: “No… what do ya mean?”
Me: “Well, I was told that you did in fact slap someone’s ass tonight… and was wondering why you did it?”
Ass slapper: “What? I don’t remember… and I mean like guys do it all the time! So what?”
Me: “Do you think its okay, since guys slap your ass? Do you appreciate it if guys slap your ass? Was this your way of spreading the goodness of ass slapping?”
Ass slapper: “what… no… I mean, I guess it is embarrassing…?... I don’t X*”&”£ing care, I had loads of sambucca and don’t remember any ways!!”
Me: “Do you think its okay because you are drunk?”
Ass slapper: “Yeah, I mean like, whatever I had my sambucca and I don’t care what I do…”
Me: “Do you think its okay to use drunkenness and alcohol use as an excuse?”
Ass slapper: “What?? I don’t know, I ain’t talking to you no mo!”
(of course this is the shorter version of  the whole conversation)

Of course many people found this story quite amusing and really made the highlight of the night. The girl didn’t seem too embarrassed since she did not try to hide herself in any way nor showed any signs of remorse.
The interesting question is how we can see this happening. Actually many women do slap guys assess (or even grab their balls) in clubs and bars in the UK. I have to admit, this kind of behaviour is observed in the UK scene but I’ve never witnessed or heard of anything similar happening in other countries. I am not too sure about her argument that guys do it all the time.
What would’ve happened if it were the other way around – if a guy went up to her and slapped her ass. Of course it could be that she would’ve enjoyed it, but if it were for me, I would’ve been very disturbed and would’ve notified the bouncer/security to remove him from the premises if possible. My partner on the other hand was numb to this whole ordeal and thought nothing much of it. One other guy friend of mine added his view that guys usually enjoy it, since it is a dream come true for guys to be seen as sexual objects. Of course I disagree. I think that some guys do find it very disturbing if someone (anyone) slaps their ass and show sexual aggression towards them in any shape or form.
Many people said that even though there may be some guys who would feel that way, it is usually different for men and women. Yes, it is true. Since in most cases men are stronger than women physically, and there are more sexual assaults and violence committed towards women by men than the other way around, (47,000 women are raped every year in the UK (BCS, 2001)) the connotation one sexual assault holds from one sex to another is different depending on who commits the act.
However, this does not make the act a non aggressive act. Ass slapping perhaps is just a minor form of sexual aggression, but it is still a form that can inflict emotional and physical harm upon people. In addition, if we let this type of aggression slip, it can lead to more types of aggression that can inflict greater harm.
The point that this woman used – “well, guys do it all the time” is sometime used by women to justify their behaviours. Since men have used aggression towards women throughout history, it justifies aggression back towards them as well. In a way, this could be justified as a means to get men aware of how it actually feels to be harassed sexually by the other sex. On the other hand, the problem I have towards this approach is because it entails that women have learnt nothing from the wrong doings and the misogyny history of men. We cannot and should not repeat the horrid acts men have over centuries afflicted upon women but the other way around. We should learn from the agony and the pain caused from these acts, and make sure when women’s emancipation is reached (or when women take over the world) that we do not cause each other pain and no sex is tormented by the other.
That is my definition of emancipation. The goal is not to oppress men as they did to us, but to make everyone is equal and where both sexes can live in harmony... 

Thursday, August 11, 2011

London burning

It brings me great pain and sadness to see London being torn apart as it has in the past few days by riots and looting.
However, I do not stand with people who believe that this is just a mere criminal activity, a great big party set up by urban youths, just because the items and the shops that are being looted are more commercial than symbolic of the state.
Let us not forget that this is exactly what happened when Rodney King was brutally beaten by the police in Los Angeles in 1992, and then it was the Korean shops that were looted.
One of the key words that keeps coming up in many of the commentaries not only from journalists, practitioners working in the communities, but also academics is the term “nothing to lose”. What this means is simple. Who in their right mind with a proper job, salary and a home would want to risk their life to go and loot. The reason for this is because they have too much to lose if it were the case that they may be caught by the police. Also another reason would be that they would already have the resources to buy these things rather than looting them if they really needed them. On the other hand for the rioters at the street now, this is not the case. Mentioned several times by other columnists, they really have no other means and in a way this is their way of getting back at society that put them in a pit for a long time, getting the items they have been exposed constantly as their passport to a good life.
However, this does not make it any less political than let’s say if they were to attack monuments. If they were to have had a good political strategy which the middle class could’ve also agreed to, I would’ve been happy to say that at least someone made great efforts to make sure that the improvished youth got some education – and I mean education as in the miseducation of lauren hill, not high school education. I am sorry that these rioters- or at least many who participated – did not get to read Marx, Trostsky, Chomsky, Naomi Klein and other contemporary thinkers about political uprising and the state of the world today that many of us in the middle class get to read. I am sorry that they do not read the guardian and al jajerra and keep up to date on what is happening with the world. However, this does not give us the right to judge what is and what isn’t a proper justified riot, and what is and what is not political for these people.The whole point is that this group of individuals as an isolated class of society decided to express their ever growing anger and frustration out the way they know best. In this respect UK is in a much worse situation than in Spain and Greece in terms of educating, enlightening their youths – if we just compare the patterns of riots.
Of course there are some that say, "why don’t they just try harder and get out of their situation as some of us did?"- mentioned by a friend, if I understood correctly, who was the only mixed white-asian minority in a white majority neighbourhood. This is quite different from what is happening here, where people believe to have been attacked as a social group rather than one individual in society. Thus this is why they are acting as a social group. Also, we have already seen so many studies that show how the myth that is the “hard working American dream”. The truth of the matter is, it is incredibly hard for most of these kids to actually gain that ticket out of urban jungles and as a social worker who has worked in these neighbourhoods, we are essentially lying to them if we tell them that if they work hard they will achieve the dream that is shown at them constantly through television screens. The reality is that for many of them hard work will only be rewarded by low-wage insecure jobs which will not allow you to even get off of social security, regardless how hard you try.
Some people say, but wait a minute, many other ethnic minorities do make it – look at the Asian American communities in the States. I will tell them, if you look at the history of Asian American communities, many of the 1st generations were actually from high socio-economic positions in their own country, and were only put in lower social classes due to that they have migrated to the States. These parents – and their smart genes which is one of the biggest indicator of a child’s academic achievement – put great effort in their children because they come from the “middle class” culture where education is put first etc. This is not the case for many other minorities. You cannot use the success case of one group and blame another that they are not following suit. The groups have very different characteristics and starting points.
This is not to say I condone the riots and the loots and its incredibly sad and frightening to watch, especially given that I am on my way to move there myself. However, it is not the answer to just blame those who take part, categorizing again as “us” and the bad “them”. I am not saying they have no fault, they do and probably will be punished very firmly for it (Actually I am afraid their punishment will come much quicker and harder than for those who took much more money in greater lengths – yes I mean the financial sector). However, how many of us can really say that put in the same situation - I don’t mean you now just being there, but having that family history, living under such circumstances from birth and so forth – would’ve absolutely not have done what has happened? Can we really say that “they” are completely different people who are essentially different from “us”? I just want to emphasize again that if we consider this as a mere criminal activity, we will stop at prosecuting those who have taken part. However, as mentioned again and again, this is a politically derived phenomenon where the social structure has played an important part. If there are no changes made, this is bound to happen again in another 30 years (’81 Brixton riots) with the next generation. Just as a side note, I believe that the same actually goes for the financial crisis. The bankers are not essentially evil people who are very different from the rest of us by birth because they are driven by greed and have no morals – much of that, no not all, is from the system that enable them to act as such and know that they have much more to gain than to lose. If we do not understand this, progress cannot be made.

Saturday, July 23, 2011

ad sense

okay. The thing you see on the right side there....I am only trying this for the experience so don't think i've sold my soul to the devil.
I'll take it down in due time.

Who should pay for dates?

So, the top headline of the "feminist" online magazine Jezebel today is that Kelly Ripa apparently argued that women picking up the check on dates are "gross", and because women give birth men should pick up the check.

Here you can see the jezebel article and the video of the whole thing.

There has been a whole discussion underneath it arguing one way or the other.
Surprisingly, many women argue that "If you ask a women out on a date, you should pay. I would pay if I asked a guy out"

But let's think about this a bit more. Why do women expect men to pay for dates in some cultures?
Ask men.co.uk, answers that men should pay most of the dates till month 3, and then wean off to every third time during the following month.
The reason for this is because
"The first two months provide guys the opportunity to prove they’re solvent, capable and understand the social conventions of dating -- and all are three important qualities ladies will be looking for in a date."

Sounds fair enough... but why don't the guys try to find that quality in a women, to see if the WOMEN are solvent and capable etc??

Another example....
So a friend of mine in Korea who has also lived in the States for a long period of time, when she went out on dates she wouldn't even take her wallet/purse with her. She expected the guy to pick her up from home, take her out - wine, dine the whole shebang - and then bring her back safe and sound.
But I ask, she makes quite alot of money herself, then isn't it unfair? No, she argues, because she spends time and money to make herself pretty and gets ready for the date.
In that sense, guys are investing their money for a hot chick returns?

But I mean it is not really sensible nor is it sustainable. Unless the guy is rather rich, he cannot afford to pay for everything, or else he would be broke or in debt rather quickly, or you won't have any dates due to it. Ofcourse I've seen in some case in Korea that women would thus give their boyfriends large chunks of money in private so that he can indeed pay for her in public. Thus are the norms of chivarly.

How is it done here - in the Netherlands/Germany? In many cases even on first dates, regardless who asked who out, you split the check. Sometimes I know it is not fair given that I've only had the main course and you the three course meal, but hey that's how it goes. Sometimes one person may pay for the whole thing than you pay for the next round. Also, even have lived in several countries I always had the pleasure of dating guys who did not feel threatened at all when I paid for them. Actually, in many cases I had more doe then them so I paid alot for many of my past boyfriends. Even now, in my relationship I am officially win the bigger chunk of the bread and spoil my partner with extravagant parties and gifts.

But let's try to understand some other points here. You pay because I give birth?
This is silly in many ways.
1. I do not give birth to the spawn of all the men I've dated and paid for my dinner. If you follow your logic, it would lead to "Since I paid you should give birth (to my child)"
2. As someone in the discussion at Jezebel pointed out, its not like we can pay for the guys dinners and they give birth.
3. Why is reproduction and financial contribution to a relationship even related??
Also for those who said men should pay for the dates since they asked them out- it seems that the they also assume that guys also should ask them out on the first dates as well. I really genuinely want to ask them, how many times have they asked guys out and what is that in proportion to how many times you've been on dates in total?
I believe that both parties should pay, and actually the party who is earning more or had more to eat should pay more because that would actually make sense.

The most important issue is that this type of thinking, that guys should pay for girls etc. re-enforces the view that men should be earning more. For example, in the recent case suit again Wallmart for its sexist corporate policies, it has been shown that Wallmart pays its male employees more because "they have families to support."

Thus, in no countries, yes even the gender egalitarian Scandinavian countries, is gender pay gap overcome. On average in Europe women earn about 1/5th less than their male counterparts.

Here are a list of European countries with their respective pay gap. For more information about gender pay gap and EU's response
I am not going to expand on why there is a gender pay gap. If you want, come to one of my gender wage gap classes. ;)

But one thing that is clear is that although many of these women mentioned above would be furious about men being paid more than women, but their minds are still stuck in Victorian times when they talk about paying for dates, and when the issue turns into relationship related.
I think alot of this comes from the fact that rationally we believe in equal rights for both genders but emotionally, it is hard to fully embrace the progressive views on relationships. This is because we've been socialised in a conservative way, not only by our parents but society and not to mention mass media and the film industry (which is very conservative). Chick flicks, romantic comedies, even childrens animation with any romantic connotation are all based on the idea of old fashion chivalry where men take charge, protect women physically and financially.
Thus it may be easier to promote gender equality amongst your colleagues and friends, when it comes to the intimate relationships with your partner you may loose that sense of progressiveness and fall into the trap of "romance" defined by others.

I'm not saying all women are like this, but many are and by no means am I completely exempted from this as well. It is a continuous fight, and if we want to win in the bigger front, we need to also be aware and alert in the homefront.

panic attacks

All throughout my life, or as long as I can remember, I had panic attacks during sleep. The first ones I can remember started as early as when I was only 6 or 7, and I still have them on occasions. They all share the similarity that they happen when I am asleep, and that despite the fact that the reason behind the attacks are associated to the various situations that were appropriate in that phase of life, the feeling of the attacks are the same. This great urgency feeling that I am not doing whatever I am/was supposed to be doing, that I failed to do what I was expected to do in the greater scheme of things, whatever that was.

When I was 6, and thus the first attacks I remember, was almost always during my naps. As this blog title shows I was quite insatiable. I wanted to do everything, and more than the rest of my peers. The only way to do that, at the age of 6 and also later on, was to skip some of the things one was expected to do. Since I was not a patient person, ever, I needed to fast forward or skip altogether some steps/tasks one needed to do. One of that was the afternoon nap. I carefully calculated, as a young child, that if I would skip my noon naps, than I could read all the books I wanted to read that day ( I was a voracious reader at that age, a habit I "overcame" during my puberty) AND be able to play outside with my mates. Ofcourse, despite my high hopes I was not able to do this, and I, with my ever heavy eye lid, feel hostage of the mid-day slumber fairy that forced us into the deep hazy pool of slumber. During these times I would have the panic attacks, and these were attributed to my want or need to play with my friends outside, and my inability to do so due to the fatigue that I have been infected with.
Even with the panic attacks, I would fail to tumble into the waking world. After a struggle with my urges to play and the fairy's spell of slumber, the spell would always win and I would only awake when it was too late to go and play.
However, I would always remember these attacks and always be dissapointed in myself that I was not able to fight the very simple urges of fatigue and sleep.

The second round of attacks came during my last years of high school. They happened when I fell into my food coma states after dinner (which would've been actually the fourth warm meal of the day). My voracious appetite for books and words had morphed into my appetite for food. These were quite clear to me as well. They had to do with the fact that I was living in a culture where a strict regime of not sleeping apparently was thought as the key to one's academic success. As it was known then at the time "4 fail 3 succeed". This meant that if you slept 4 hours a day(at night), you will fail your college entrance exam, and you will succeed if you were to sleep only 3. Thus were the great ideals that made korea into what it is...
Anyhow, if you are that age, eating great deal amount of food and not being able to sleep proper during nights, it does happen that you wake up at random times during your naps in frantic panic... "s*** I should be studying"

For awhile these attacks seem to go away, but came back occasionally - for example, when I was in Edinburgh - which seem to be linked with my brain not registering that I've actually moved a continent away from home. I also had them again when I started a relationship with my boyfriend in berlin, and till now on occasion.

However, they were now very irritating due to that my conscious had failed to link with the unconscious attacks on finding the appropriate reason behind these spells.

Now even worse, and the real freaky thing is that I do them without noticing. Apparently I also make very clear audible sentences while I have these attacks. Last one seem to come with a sentence "Hey! (insert name here)! Weren't you supposed to give me something?" - apparently I did this while looking at (insert name here) - and yes in the middle of the night. Luckily enough my partner is not known to be freaked out easily.

After a long thought, I am still quite curious... what is it. is it, a baby?? Is that what my body is doing? Attacking my partner that he hasn't gotten me knocked up already, that behind my back(or my conscious self)?
That would be quite funny though, if I had some sort of alter ego that comes out in very sporadic moments - while I have no control over my self (read sleep)- to express my inner thoughts. hmmm. ofcourse if this were to grow out of proportion, I would either end up schitzo or like this guy who I know, who ended up in the laundry room in the basement of his apartment complex totally naked not knowing why how and when he came down there in such manner.
Thank god that hasn't happened (knock wood)
The best i got till now is singing silly songs and accusing people of not giving me things.

Ofcourse there was this one time when I was sharing a room with another friend who talks in her sleep and we were having full on in sleep conversations until she started giving me too random answers that didn't fit right in my dream.... but anyways.

(half of this blog entry was written on the 5th of april, 2010 and the other half on the 23rd of July 2011)

Thursday, July 07, 2011

Amsterdam Insider's Tip: Drinks

So, I should be working, but I realised I haven't written anything in my blog for awhile. Thus decided to provide the world abit more of my good will and wisdom ;) before the year is completely over.
Also, I am terribly unproductive during the month of July - although my garden is growing like a jungle.

Anyhow, the first edition of Amsterdam's insider's tip is where to go drinking.
Abit background. I've lived in the Netherlands for 6 years now, but actually my trips to Amsterdam date back from when I lived in Edinburgh, but dated an Amsterdammer (which is btw what the rest of the Netherlands call a taller glass of beer)
Another background of why Drinking is put here as the first, is because Amsterdam is better in terms of drinking than food.(but food I will come back to later.)

Anyhow, here are my favourites in themes but first some rules.

1. First Rule
DO NOT DRINK neither at LEISEPLEIN nor Rembrandtplein.
Seriously, these are the most touristy places in Amsterdam and the beer sometimes cost twice as much as you would usually pay. Rather go to nieuwemarkt, jordaan, and really just anywhere but there.(having said this some places not smack inside these areas but in the surrounding areas are quite alright)

2. Second rule
Order a Vaasje otherwise you will get a fluitje - which is like a shot of beer.

3. Third rule
you DON'T have to tip waiters/waitresses at bars, and also when they bring you beer/drinks you would usually round it up. Don't change this culture by bringing your own tipping culture into this world - yes I am looking at you guys Americans!
(but ofcourse you can tip for good service)

So the thematic places.

Breweries and distilleries

*Brouwerij 't IJ : is the Amsterdam home grown organic beer at the East side, with their own traditional windmill!! They have one of the most delicious beers you can find, and hey you drink it from the source. It also has a nice terras(beer garden) right next to the waters. What else do you want? - the bars that are open right next to the brewery opens from 3~8pm so don't be late! Don't forget to try their sausages and cheese with the beer.

*Wynand-Fockink: is a liqueur distillery in the heart of Amsterdam. they have several different liqueurs starting from lemon, blue berry to some strange names, such as attic ?? The tasting room also opens from 3pm to 9pm, so go there early! The shots are about 1.5euros each and they really fill it up to the top!

For the hipsters/artsies

*Cafe Brecht: vintage furniture, all sorts of Germany beers and an lounge like atmosphere with a piano inside. IT looks like something out of Prenzlauer Berg. Also they have poetry reading nights. A Great place for book worms.

*W139: This bar/club gallery space which used to be a squat is a hipster central of Amsterdam. Every weekend it looks like someone threw up hipster all of the street. Very artsy group of people.

* Kriterion: A bar next to the student run artsy/alternative cinema Kriterion provide another alternative bar scene for students but also a wide range of people. They have DJs during weekends and it becomes quite crowded.

For the Punks
Go to squats - such as OCCII, OT 301, Joe's garage and Blijvertje.
Otherwise.. here are some alternatives.

* Sound garden: this is probably the only punkish bar in amsterdam. Yeah, Amsterdam doesn't do punk. There is a pool table and a wonderful beer garden next to the waters which draws alot of punkish alternative crowds but also very international crowds.

* Pacfic Parc: okay this isn't really punk, but still the closest you get to it. It has a nice outside area next to waters and has really good music events.

Terrases and water
Amsterdam is well known for having nice places to hang next to the waters.
Here are my favourites

* Noorderlicht: This is right on the NDSM island, which you have to take a ferry to get to. This looks like a converted green house that changed its function into a bar/restaurant. When the weather is nice, they have nice bbqs and really comfy couches just outside next to the water. This cannot even be counted as a terras since its just outside in the "wild" so to say. During the evenings they also have parties/djs and live music. however, don't forget the last ferry back to civilization leaves around midnight!

*Cafe Hesp: is right next to the Amsterdam Amstel River. Thus it has the advantage of having this massive terras next to the river.It also has its own brewed beer. Perfect place to catch that bit of afternoon sun while lounging next to the river.

cozy areas

There are loads of cozy bars around Amsterdam, in the centre.
however, here are some that are even extra cozy.

Cafe Langereis: This is smack in the centre but still has that extra cozy sweet living room feeling to it without having to pay for the extra costs.

Cafe Skek: This is a student run cafe/bar, which has music evenings during Thrusday to Sunday. Also has nice foods. Check out its cozy attic like room, where you really can fit 6 persons or so, and a window looking towards the stage area.

Cafe Zeppos: This place has a nice winter garden, with all the flowers and plants inside!
They also provide some nice food and good quality jazz music during weekends.

I strongly believe that too much choices makes one depressed as well, so I stop here but I must say that there are quite alot of places I haven't really mentioned but are nice... so try the others out as well!

Saturday, April 02, 2011

Inside job & the state of our society

This is must see movie about the causes and the state of affairs of the financial crisis, focusing on the US.
The key points of this movie are as follows.
* the financial crisis was largely due to very risky investments made by banks (on bad loans)
* the banks/financial organisations also made it so that they bet against themselves as well so that they make money when the loans defaulted
* the government institutions (assessment institutions and regulation institutions) that were set up to restrict the risky business transactions and secure private investors/loaners are "owned" by the banks and thus there were in fact no regulatory systems to hold the powers of capital back
* the government is largely "owned" by the banks due to that most of the people working for the government that advise on or make the policies are former chiefs of these banks and firms and/or still have interest in them
* even the economists in universities are bought out by the fact that they receive large sums of money for writing papers/analysis that favour the risky deals made by bankers and they serve and receive money for being in board members of the most fraudulent banks
* the bankers gained incredible amounts of money while the rest of society had to pay for it
* even now not a single one of these bankers have been prosecuted concerning the fraudulent deals that they made


This movie is down right scary. It shows how in this society when we deregulate so that capital can actually unleash its power how dangerous it could be. These bankers made billions of dollars while making risky deals which they knew could fail but would not affect their gains. One thing we must admit is that these are not horrible people - although I sometimes wonder how they could do such things and sleep at night or live without feeling utter guilt. I believe that once in that position, once in the race for more money and it is possible to do so, since there are not any bodies to regulate this behaviour, it becomes a matter of if I do not do it, the other guy would anyhow - why should I not make money out of this when they let the other guy do so.

The problem is that since capital indeed holds power to a incomprehensible amount, there is really no power that can regulate it. Capital holds power not only in politics(congress/lobbyists etc), but also information(news networks/economists in universities and research centres etc). Since everyone needs money and since it is rather necessary and helpful to do anything, such as run for congress...(especially due to that politics is now a PR game more than anything else)... banks literally own the world.

What the rest of the population is left with is one of the largest public cuts since the last Deregulation period in the 80s with Regan and Thather - only because they had to bail out these banks which made money through these deals.

let's just get more in detail and calculate this abit more.

UK 2007 bank bonuses was announced be 11 billion pounds. even in 2009 this was 7.3billion and 2010 7 billion.
For me, I think regardless of what you've actually done- even if you found cure for cancer- NOTHING can justify a 10 million euro bonus/year on top of your 1million salary. Seriously WHAT COULD YOU HAVE POSSIBLY DONE mr.banker? no you do not deserve it. Here is someone else's take on the problem with this.
Anyhow, many of these banks had to be bailed out with a 400billion pound injection
to save the deficit that came from these injections and bankruptcies, the national health service- the free health national health insurance system of the UK will have to cut 20 billion - which means cuts in staff and supply - which means that many will not be able to get the proper treatment they need.
This would essentially mean that many will eventually die and suffer tremendously- because they are cutting down a health system which already has problems of not being able to address the illness of individuals fast enough.
And let's not forget about the dramatic increase in inequality or the decrease in real wages of workers in the past few decades...

But wait. It doesn't stop there. In the most recent elections in the UK, the Netherlands, Germany which all took after the recession- ALL countries have had the conservatives win.
All of whom had announced massive budget cuts while not regulating banking systems nor excessive incomes which are not based on real production of anything.
Why are people voting for these conservatives?? I absolutely have no idea.

However, people are acting more directly as well..
Its good to hear there are things being done to stop this in some countries. But in general, not much is being done.

And in recent times there has been movement to think that perhaps we are at the end of a capitalist society perhaps as Marx predicted it, and capital has been let loose out of its reins and due to it, accordingly there will be an uprising by the people (proletariat)- such as the one we saw in Egypt, Libya, London...
Perhaps not, perhaps we are in the mist of being completely owned by big capital and the middle class will essentially collapse totally.

The catch also is that through this financial crisis everyone is put at a situation where one has to be working like crazy to save one's ass - thus does not have time to think about the true problems of society. For this reason, this movie really hits the spot that really needs to be hit in current society.

Here is something more just to get you thinking abit harder

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

You Decide

So readers, I don't know how many of you are out there, and will read this, but for some of you who've noticed, this blog will turn 5 years old on the 21st of January.

To celebrate, I will ask you the readers to send me any topic you wish to read about - or more so, that you want me to write about.
The deadline is till the 20th of January, 2011, and the post will be up on the 21st or 22nd or 23rd (depending on how busy and lazy I feel).

I know this may result in no suggestions, but hey, I am a optimist

Tiger mom or just crazy conservative mom?

So, I am guessing many of you read the WSJ article by Amy Chua on her new book on parenting, called the "Battle Hymn of the Tiger Mother".
Well, you should've known about it since it cause so much controversy and attention, including one blogpost that simple write "PS. You Suck" (most of the sentences start with "And Fuck you..")

The whole story can be summed up by these few lines
"Here are some things my daughters, Sophia and Louisa, were never allowed to do:
• attend a sleepover
• have a playdate
• be in a school play
• complain about not being in a school play
• watch TV or play computer games
• choose their own extracurricular activities
• get any grade less than an A
• not be the No. 1 student in every subject except gym and drama
• play any instrument other than the piano or violin"

abit harsh parenting techniques?
I have to say, regardless of whether or not it is painful to admit, my parent's parents and up to my parent's generation took this "Tigerness" as a rule of thumb guide to parenting. Although the intensity of it was not as strong as Mrs. Chua's - for example, i think everyone was allowed to have play dates and watch TV.
The whole point is that this Confucius parenting style which used to be hailed as a good parenting technique, is no longer the case for several downsides our societies saw due to it.

20 or so years ago, we all learned about the wonderful mother Shim Saimdang the great mother of scholar Yi I - how she cut rice cakes in the dark, while she made her son write Chinese calligraphy over and over again.... yeah, he achieved much. he became the great politician and spread Confucianism throughout Korea. (yeah, well done, go pat yourself on the back) This was THE way to raise your child, or so people thought those days.
This great tradition of raising your children was still seen when I was going to highschool - mind you this is 20 years ago. Yet, although there were strict parents, they were not that strict as Ms. Chua put it as it should be.

However, this is now not the case, and the reason is because the problems started to outweigh the benefits.

One of the reasons for this parenting was that this is an effective parenting technique when you have several children (like 7, which my dad's family had) and not enough time to actually respond to them as individuals. One of the core key element of Confucius teaching/parenting techniques is that you set the rules, children are to abide by it, and no questions asked. IF you have 7~10 children running around, perhaps it is easier to raise children as such. However, about 30~40 years ago, when people started having 1 or 2 children, this method ceased to have its perks due to that with this small number of children, it was easy to see them as what they were. Individuals.

In addition, this strict method actually decreased the much necessary technique of being creative. I remember although I was one of the best in art class when I was in the US, and was even toying with the idea of becoming an artist, when I came back to Korea that ambition went straight down the toilet. Why? because the teachers, using the same Confucius techniques, told me exactly what to draw, how to do it, and how to colour I should use etc. When I told them that is not what I want to do, they told me it was wrong and punished me either by giving me a bad grade and/or giving me (those days physical) punishment for talking back. That really killed the inner creativity of Korea, not just for me but for many of us. That is why we have one of the highest shares of technically skilled "artists" in the world, but we end up in sweat shops colouring in The Simpson's cartoon as designed by the Americans. This is why we hear all these stories of how in the prestigious music conservatories across the world, countless numbers of students from Asia come to study classical music, but fail to get admission. This is not because of their technical skills, which is far better than the other students, but their soul is missing, or they do not have any creativity in how they play. Having been forced to play an instrument for several years - without having a personal urge to do so, like Amy Chua is doing to her kids, - I can imagine why your piano playing will not sound joyful although technique wise it is perfectly played.(and yes, I don't care if your child played at a great concert hall, all I care is whether or not if she or he was able to enjoy that, feel the energy of the composer and was able to digest it as her own) With an even greater emphasis on creativity and uniqueness in this day and age, the strict top-down parenting techniques do not provide the necessary skills for the children of today and in the future.

Even if creativity was not a big issue, the strict parenting, especially of fathers, resulted in major family crises. Fathers were being left out of the family since he was always the (more) strict one, also combined with the crazy working hours of the Korean workforce, this meant that fathers after awhile were strangers to the family, no longer able to connect with anyone. Thus, in the past decade or so, there have been several courses offered in Korea for fathers to start getting in touch with their families and themselves emotionally.

The emphasis on education and high expectation on academic achievement led to one of the highest PISA scores and the (second) highest college graduate rate in the world. However, Korea also has one of the highest suicide rates in the world, many of which are Korean high-school students who believe they are worthless due to their low academic achievement, and others who under the strict parenting regime never learned to love themselves because of the fact that they did not achieve as much as they were told they needed to. Nor did they learn the skills to accept failure, not focus on it, but embrace other things that are still thriving in their lives.

So the fact of the matter is, we need to decide: do we want higher academic achieving non creative kids who killed themselves? or happy creative unique kids who are alive?

Why is Amy Chua and so many Asian American(other countries?) mothers applying such rules even when the "old country" has abandoned them? I think this may be due to the phenomenon that the Asian-Americans tend to latch on to the traditional values they knew when they (or their parents) left the country. Whereas the country itself changes in a very dynamic way and changes its values and norms accordingly. In addition, you have to understand that Asian-Americans are still minorities who are under racist societies. More than the Asians in Asia, they need to prove themselves that they are not second rate citizens, but that they are actually better than the majority. One way of doing that is to show that they can out-do everyone in the most commonly appreciated things, such as social position, income generation, education achievement etc. It is abit sad to see that even the second, third generations have to suffer from all this as well. Especially, when these achievements have really nothing to do with how happy or satisfied this person is. These are mostly attributions that are needed to show others what a great life you have and what others see as your achievements. All you achieve then is happiness through other people's eyes, but not of your own. But I mean, you won't make a statement by making well rounded individuals, or it is much more noticeable when you make rich or high educational achieving individuals.

Having said all this, one thing we must embrace about this tiger mother, is that she never gives up. Her efforts in supporting her children is endless and even when the child feels hopeless, the Mom is always there in 100% belief that her child has a gift for everything. Given in the right dosage, this is a wonderful thing to have as a child.(again given in the right dosage. oh yeah, the cynicism of (some and definitely my) East Asian moms are also fantastic to make sure you don't take yourself too seriously)

---ps. I must've written this in such a haste, because re-reading it, it is sooo full of grammatical and spelling mistakes, it is rather embarrassing. I hope you didn't mind (you the reader, yes you there, who is still reading up to here!)

Monday, January 10, 2011

Asian girls before and after make up

I don;t know about you, but the girl in the left is far more attractive and sexy to me

This site has a collection of asian girls before and after putting make-up on.
Jezebel wrote how surprising it is to see the uniformity of the ideas of beauty.
"In all three cases, individuality is stripped away to achieve a clear and cohesive standard of "beauty." Here, that apparently means anime eyes, kiss-pout mouths, and the general stripping of 10 years off of one's age.
Read more"

I agree with them somewhat, which is something I wrote here few years ago.

To be honest, the girls in these photos actually do not look all the same. There are some cute bunny girly types and the more sexy types. So, I do not completely agree.
What is sad to see and I must say is that most of them strip themselves of the intelligent looking unique characters of their own faces to put on the rather "bimbo" "cute" "innocent adolescent girl" face, which is popular in the East-Asian countries (I think these girls are Japanese but they could as well be from Korea, China, Taiwan and other East-Asian countries).
BTW - this is not to say that other countries are exempted from this uniformity of beauty standards and how women minimize their true beauty to make themselves more appealing in the dating market. (which is also in a way an insult to men and hinders any development towards cultivating a true culture of the sense of beauty). *sigh*
(for more before/after make up)

PS. after looking at more photos(especially of gallery 2), I retract my statement from saying "all of them strip themselves..." to "most of them". because some of them actually just look quite alright, and not gone through the process of bimbo-ing themselves.

Monday, January 03, 2011

Stop recycling.... Let's start REUSING IT!

I don't know when this happened, probably after these mass campaigns on ecological awareness of production processes and this new wave of eco-chic, but I am slowly becoming more and more aware of consumption and how ridiculous some things are.

In the past few weeks, what has been bothering me the most is packaging.
Although we only see the primary packaging (what the product is actually wrapped in), there is also secondary and transit packaging, which I will not even go into.
But even primary packaging. Half of all packaging is plastic and 25% paper/board, 10% glass. Of these, currently in Amsterdam, with the exception of beer bottles and a small portion of PET bottles, NONE of them are being re-used.(excluding the niche bio-market packaging that is being re-used in a much smaller scale).
Although we try to feel better about ourselves by saying we recycle it, but think about it again. These products/packaging are made so that they last (almost) a life time/forever. That is why plastic doesn't rot, because it was meant to be used forever! However, we don't. And the best we do is recycle it. But recycling is not RE-cycling, its DOWN-cycling.
When we recycle a glass product, it means that it is first smashed up, probably mixed in with non-glass products to make a not as good quality re-cycled glass product. Throughout this whole process we use energy and other natural resources. And apparently recycling wine bottles leave as much carbon foot print, as making a new wine bottle. - and let's not forget that not all glass products are recycled.(In Germany, the recycling country of the world, only 82% of glass products are recycled. In the UK, this is about 60%)

Now think about the glass products that we usually use.
Just to give you an example in my household, the bottles we have are predominately wine bottles and glass jars that holds things, such as pickles.
Wine bottles for example, are almost uniform in their shapes, and can actually be re-used just like beer bottles. Why are we not doing this? ( This post says that it has been due to technological problems, but also interests behind making new bottles. Fortunately enough there have been movements to change this, and businesses are being set up to re-use bottles.)

But still what really gets me going, is how Albert Heijn, the biggest supermarket in the Netherlands, where it really has a monopoly in supermarket goods, does not even re-use their own product packaging - for example the juice bottles. See, if it is your own product, you cannot use the excuse of "not same standard" nor the "takes more energy to take it back to the production field/factory" excuse.
They have the network and I bet you that their costumers are enlightened enough to bring the bottles back, even if it did not have a "statiegeld"-deposit for it!!

Just some of the EASILY reusable products from Albert Heijn.

So... Here is a little campaign I am going to start.
Go here: https://www.ah.nl/klantenservice/contact/overalbertheijn
Choose overige, for your onderwerp.
and write down
"Dear Albert Heijn, Hello. I am a very frequent customer of yours, but I have a complaint. I am wondering why you do not re-use your bottles and jars of your own products- such as the Albert Heijn Juice or Jam, and the plastic packaging - such as the Alert Heijn ready to eat products. Recycling takes as much energy and leaves as much carbon foot print as making new products. By not re-using the packaging, this puts me and many others off of buying the mentioned products. on the other hand, I will be more than happy to bring the used bottles, jars, cartons back to Albert Heijn for free, or will be willing to be charged "statiegeld"- deposit, when I purchase these products. I hope you listen to our plea. Best wishes, [YOUR NAME]"

PS. Ofcourse, when I tried this, the albertheijn site didn't work......!@*@#&@*!