Tag Archives: Twitter

#ImpeachTrudeau is a bot fairy tale.

Moose_funny

The day after I posted about voting for Justin Trudeau, news started showing up about the prime minister wearing brown face and black face. Now, Canada doesn’t have much of a history regarding black face, and brown face wasn’t historically used to dehumanize brown minorities, but it’s not a stretch to see that in both instances, they were both done in the spirit of humor mixed with some mockery. However, they were all done over ten years ago, and the prime minister now doesn’t demonstrate any racial animosity against colored minorities. Some of the government’s policies might still ignore the plight of minorities, particularly the First Nations, but there’s been no racial or bigoted aggression towards minorities, much like what we see in the United States. I mean, you don’t see the Trudeau government calling Mexicans rapists or banning Muslims and refugees.

It is quite obvious that whoever planted the stories sought to damage the Liberal’s election campaign by having them out now so close to the election. They to spread the Liberal votes to other parties and increase the Conservative lead in a very, VERY close elections. They hope for people not to vote for Trudeau due to his past racism, and in doing so open the window for actual currently bigoted politicians like Scheer to take power. And it’s annoying that it just might work.

What’s fascinating is how the whole thing was getting promoted in the media, specifically Twitter. Usual culprits like @TheHill kept on tweeting and retweeting the same story to generate outrage and retweets. What I noticed however is that as I was commenting and interacting with people online, especially via the New York Times and the Washington Post, most of my detractors were two-week-old accounts with names followed by long strings of numbers. Ex: Lisa_Lamplight10098723k21.

It’s amazing how many of the anti-Trudeau interactions I had came from what I assume are bots. The responses were very lifelike, probably taking cues from people’s responses. The script used is quite extensive, even taking into account accusations that they’re bots. Now, before I get accused of labeling people as bots when they are not. One big tell for bots is if their responses or hashtags don’t even make sense at all. For example, one hashtag I noticed was #impeachTrudeau. Now, I haven’t seen any news in Canada regarding impeaching Trudeau and yet it was being pushed by some people on Twitter. Looking into the accounts, most have no followers and are also retweeting alt-right and MAGA-related posts. Does the Russian propaganda machine smell something in the water?

It is good however that Canadians by and large seem to be unaffected by the scandal. Perhaps we have seen what happened with our neighbors and are more hip to the scam. Or perhaps at this stage of the game, voters have already made up their mind who to vote for. This is not the case with me, however. I was planning to vote for a more progressive candidate, but after this attempt to sabotage Trudeau’s campaign, I’m more inclined to vote for Trudeau, just to make up for the small losses. My friends can vote the other candidates. I know that’s not how one should vote, but I also recognize when malicious forces are trying to subvert our electoral process.

As for the offense of wearing black face or brown face… why do people keep doing this? And not just white people, Asians do it as well. And it’s most often in the spirit of mocking or making a cartoon of the other race. It might not always be intentionally malicious, but it is immature, hurtful, and demonstrates ignorance. The reason why Trudeau’s actions are forgivable is because he actually apologizes for them and the accusation that he is a virulent racist right now is completely inaccurate in its face. Also, Trudeau doesn’t get a complete pass as some of his detractors might claim. The fact that people are actually having a debate over this and he has lost some support is proof that he is not getting a full pass for his actions. This will still haunt him in the long run.

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Mohammed Bin Salman is a Fraud

Squidy

If an insect bit you, it committed what could be considered a crime against your person. It attacked you. Aside from being an irritant and bringing a general feeling of disgust, knowing that a six-legged creature that normally dwells in moist, dark, quarters brought its fangs to pierce skin, who knows what sort of diseases the creature has wrought with its violence. So what does a person do? Most people would quickly kill the insect with a strike of a palm or with a rolled-up newspaper. Others would swat the creature away, blame the act on its instinct or other innocuous causes and just move on. Afterwards, perhaps do something to prevent being bitten again.

A child however would sometimes be cruel. They would mete out punishment by slowly torturing the poor creature. Perhaps they would tear its limbs out one by one, or maybe slowly burn it with a magnifying glass.

This is how the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia does justice. It crucified a person in public in the holy city of Mecca. Though rare, it often uses capital punishment for crimes such as anti-government activism and homosexuality. It is abhorrent. As much as the west hates on ISIS and how violent they can be on what they perceive as transgressors, Saudi Arabia sees them eye to eye on many of these issues.

Canada recently sent out a couple of tweets calling out Saudi Arabia to release the activist Samar Badawi and her brother who were both arrested for speaking out against the government. Samar Badawi is famous for leading the fight for women’s rights in the country. She spoke out against Saudi’s guardianship system as well as advocated for women’s right to drive. Now, I’m not a big advocate for diplomacy via Twitter. It is a clumsy tool, and diplomacy is anything but clumsy. When Canada sent out those tweets, it publicly shamed Saudi Arabia for what it’s currently doing in terms of human rights.  And while they do deserve public shaming, I don’t think public shaming is something that diplomats should do.

But if Canada committed an error in publicly shaming Saudi Arabia, Saudi Arabia acts exaggeratedly by calling it an “attack on the kingdom,” what do you call their tweet in response? Didn’t their message with an Air Canada plane headed towards the CN Tower explicitly threaten a terrorist retaliation against Canada? Did it also not implicitly admit to being responsible for the attack on 9/11? And again, this was just a response over a call to release activists fighting for human rights. Don’t speak up for human rights or else we’ll send terrorist planes your way? Canada is dealing with a child.

And this child is aiming to hurt Canada through education and future investments. Cutting off current trade doesn’t necessarily impact Canada tremendously, but removing Saudi students from Canadian universities and cutting off future investments could hurt Canada in the long run. I’m glad that Canada doesn’t appear to be showing any signs of backing down from its stance, but I really hope other countries join us in standing up against this evil government.

Mohammed Bin Salman is not a reformer. People need to stop saying this. He is a young leader who inherited his position. Much like North Korea’s Kim Jung Un, he got infinitely lucky in the birth lottery. And while he tries to create a progressive Saudi image by having more foreign investments and recently allowing women in the country to drive, he fights Qatar, kidnaps the Lebanese Prime Minister, and arrests and holds hostage the country’s rich and political elites in an attempt to consolidate power. The country continues to crack down and arrest its own people for simply erring grievances against the government. It continues to punch down on Yemen, one of the poorest countries in the region, creating its own humanitarian crisis (I don’t know if Saudi Arabia has ever had to punch up in a military conflict). Mohammad Bin Salman is not a true friend of the west. He is Kim Jung Un with oil money. Saudi Arabia is attacking Canada as a warning to all other western countries who would choose to criticize the kingdom for its domestic and international abuses. Instead of military threats, their government will use their purse strings to punish other countries. They save physical violence on their own people as well as weaker countries.

As for the criticism that Canada should stick its nose to where it belongs, Samar Badawi’s brother is Raif Badawi, an author and an activist himself. Like his sister, he was arrested for his anti-government activities and sentenced to ten years in prison and 1000 lashes, fifty of which he has already received. His wife is a Canadian. The Canadian government is looking after its own. But even if this wasn’t the case, it should be the responsibility of every rational government to speak out when one of its allies or partners is violating human rights. A true friend and ally would want its allies and friends to be better. If you see your brother pulling out an insect’s legs one by one, you’ll put a stop to it and teach him a lesson about cruelty and kindness. This is what Canada did. And for that, we just got threatened with a 9/11 attack.

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Park Geun Hye Got Her

monster

The whole Korean impeachment thing has swallowed my wife whole. It’s everything she watches on TV outside of the occasional Korean drama. She follows it all the time on the Web and has even talked to me about the most unsteady conspiracy theories. There are even whispers about the President having AIDS, to which I say it should not be an issue because having AIDS does not affect one’s ability at their profession unless they are a sex worker. Concerns about this not only expose people’s ignorance but also their prejudice against people with the disease. It has made normally rational people irrational. Park Geun Hye has become the reason for all of the ills in the country. My wife even tried to drag me into an anti-government rally over the weekend. It consumed my weekend! And it will probably consume my wife for months to come long after the president is driven out of office.

The thing is, I used to be like her until I got tired of it. I still enjoy watching people yell at each other over politics. I still argue with people occasionally on Twitter about it. But I no longer see the point of the endless back and forth of talking points on the likes of Bill Maher’s show, MSNBC, and worst of all, CNN. You learn something about politics, but after a while, it’s just the same talking points against another talking point. It’s just the thrill of getting the last word in, saying it better than your political opponent. It gets very tiring. And as much as the Park Geun-Hye thing is a concern for my wife since she is Korean, following it religiously for every bit of development, even the scraps of conspiracy theories, does not make the process of impeaching her any faster. It doesn’t fix things that are broken. It just aggravates her to no end.

I remember writing a few months back that politics is my professional wrestling. It’s the endless drama I watch. I follow Canadian politics, but it’s not as absurd as American and now Korean politics. The thing is, just like professional wrestling back then, I try not to get too worked up when The Rock gets his title stolen by Triple H. I can simply walk away from it. Some people need to learn to walk away from politics now and then and not get worked into a frenzy. Listen to yourself before you start sounding like a talking point, or worse, a conspiracy theorist.

As corny as it may sound, instead of following things religiously, people should act. You want Park Geun Hye out? Then protest, support opposing parties, donate to groups, etc. Don’t just follow every bit of news, fake news, and non-news on the Internet as if that will help change anything. You don’t like Trump? Support the cause he’s bound to hurt. Same thing with Trudeau. Mostly a decent Prime Minister but his pipeline stance is not really to my liking. Support anything green.

I say these things now, but tonight, I’m meeting my wife and her friends for dinner. I’m sure politics will be talked about endlessly. And to preserve my sanity, I will reflexively reach out to my phone and look at my Twitter… where I will definitely find more politics.

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Killing Catholics

Rat_King

The problem with Twitter is that it’s a vortex that gets you sucked in to arguments where you’re trying to convince people who have no interest in being convinced. This happened to me last night for the better part of an hour, arguing about the Philippines and their outrageous leader, President Duterte. The last time I visited the Philippines was 2011. Back then, like many people, the country’s problem with poverty is quite apparent. But the problem is not only that. At the time, I also noted that the country had a tendency to elect leaders based on populist appeal, with several people banking either on their celebrity appeal or regional political dynasties. I also noticed that there is not much concern about the separation of church and state, and thus some, if not the majority of people, don’t mind if religiously-inspired policies affect them negatively. So last night, I ended up arguing based on the Filipino Catholic background, the pretense of doing the purge for law and order, and the two-tiered justice system when it comes to Filipinos and their worship of celebrities.

I always found it very ironic that the only Catholic country in the Philippines would openly insult the leader of the Roman Catholic Church, the representative of Christ in the planet. By condoning the extrajudicial killings, the president and his followers are going against the very teaching of Jesus Christ. Love thy neighbors, thou shalt not kill, etc. I’m not a theological expert, but I always thought that one of the foundations of the Catholic Church is the concept of forgiveness. And while many of the president’s supporters are quick to defend him and forgive him for his brashness and errors as a leader, they don’t extend that same spirit of forgiveness to victims of the killings. It would seem that the country is not as religious as many people would have you believe. After all, why would the country elect and give high approval ratings to a person who promised to kill several people and so far has made good on that promise. Duterte on his campaign had two major political goals: A) kill thousands of drug dealers and users and B) reform the country into federalism in order to spread the country’s wealth and resources among its different regions. So far, he’s only killed people. Killing people is not only against the Catholic Church, it also won’t put food on people’s plate.

Now, the president claims that he is doing things for law and order. He even mused about instating martial law to quell lawlessness. Forgetting the abuse of the Marcos regime and the horrors of martial law, his supporters say that martial law wouldn’t be a bad idea; after all, it is well within his rights in the Philippine constitution as the leader of the country. Looking at the Philippine constitution, it is well within his rights. Article VII, Section 18 states that he may take command of all armed forces and suspend habeas corpus to prevent or suppress lawless violence. That’s well and good. But the last time I checked, the Philippines is still quite orderly. There is no lawless violence. In fact, it is the president who is encouraging lawlessness with statements like, “Please feel free to call us, the police or do it yourself if you have the fun… you have my support. Shoot him (the accused) and I’ll give you a medal.” Article III, Section 1 of the Philippine Bill of Rights states that “No person shall be deprived of life, liberty, or property without due process of law, nor shall any person be denied the equal protection of the laws.” Yet, people conveniently shrug when people get shot without spending their time in court, examining evidence of their guilt, or facing their accusers. There is nothing lawful about this anti-drug campaign. And as for people saying that the murder are done by phantom “killers” and not by the government or the police, and that the president regrets such extrajudicial killings, let me quote that again, “Please feel free to call us, the police or do it yourself if you have the fun… you have my support. Shoot him (the accused) and I’ll give you a medal.”

When arguing these things, I got accused of being prejudiced against the Philippines, of seeing the country as some sort of backwards banana republic and not a sophisticated metropolitan society. The problem with prejudice is that it also applies to the poor and those with drug history. The killings only seem to apply to the poor. Doing a quick search on Google, it’s not that difficult to find Filipino celebrities with histories of drug abuse. I doubt if they would be affected by this anti-drug campaign. No one is gunning for them. Drug use is often brought on by poverty. And the prejudice against the poor leads to the rather nonchalant local attitude towards the killings. Crimes against the pretty people on this page (https://kami.com.ph/29157-filipino-celebrities-involved-illegal-drugs.html) would elicit national outrage, but there’s not so much outrage when the victims are poor, young drug users and their families have to deal with the aftermath.

The most inane argument I get is that I’m not a true Filipino; I’m not in the country and thus have no say in such things. I am not familiar with their problems. True, but I am also unfamiliar with the problems of impoverished family members of drug users. While my opinions might insult Duterte’s supporters, the unfortunate consequence of supporting Duterte is the murder of people. Their opinions and support kills people. One does not need to be a Filipino citizen to realize this. You don’t need to be in the Philippines to see the hypocrisy in regards to Duterte versus religion, the law, and prejudice. The thing is, I actually have high hopes for the country. There are even some things that I agree with Duterte about (his stance on contraception and birth control for one. And I actually think federalism would benefit the country. ). But this zeal for a strong man worries me. Civilization and law evolved as such. First there was the literal strong man in very primitive groups. This was the man who could physically implement his personal view of law and order in his small community. Then came more democratic tribes; this was when communities established rules and mores, and power was not centralized into one figure. Perhaps there was a council of elders and influential members of the community. Later on, law and order became more complex, and we now have the many checks and balances of current systems in different countries. This devolution to needing a strongman leader is a sign of a more basic urge, a return to a primitive way of looking at things, a need for simplistic solutions to more sophisticated, nuanced problems. This is not the Philippines moving forward.

Of course, with Twitter and the Internet, I find myself arguing against unmovable converts. The same goes with Trump supporters and proponents of Brexit. Ironic that in a platform which allows for the free access to different opinions, we all tend to gravitate to information and “facts” which reflect our own opinions. Perhaps, at the risk of sounding arrogant, this is Duterte’s supporters and the Dunning-Kruger effect.

And speaking of the Dunning-Kruger effect, but I believe true Canadians are immune to the Dunning-Kruger effect. It’s not that Canadians are smarter than the average person, but compared to our southern neighbors, we’re not as adamant with our opinions. We tend to be more pliable. Just as Catholics have an enduring place in their hearts for guilt, Canadians have an enduring place in their hearts for self-doubt. It is the part of us that says, “I believe this, but maybe I’m wrong.” So with that in mind, maybe I’m wrong about the Philippines. But for now, it looks like a total disaster.

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Bye Facebook

brother

Listen, Facebook. We have to talk. I can’t do this to myself anymore, and you can’t just keep trying to get into my life either. I know you’re scared. You don’t want to be Myspace, or god forbid, Friendster. But you don’t have to get into every aspect of everything. Not everything has to be a social network experience. Stop trying too hard. Stop trying to be everything. You don’t have to get into the news business, media streaming business, etc. The Occulus Rift sounds good. But isn’t virtual reality the exact opposite of social networking? You sound confused.

Why can’t you just be the site where guys stalk their exes? That’s good enough. I’m sure you’ll last long enough doing that. Look at what you’re doing to Microsoft. They’re trying to get into the social networking game and integrate LinkedIn to Microsoft Office. People are annoyed enough with LinkedIn. They don’t want it popping up every time they want to type something on Word Processor. Can’t people just use spellcheck without getting the latest job updates at Adobe?

And now they’re trying to meld the X-Box experience with the PC. They sound just as confused as you.

So yeah, sorry Facebook. I’m leaving you to my old relatives who can’t help but post several stories on their wall each day. I have no need for your “Tasty” recipes. You don’t have to remind me what I posted seven years ago. They’re not milestones. You don’t want my opinions on surveys either. I’m sure you can live without it. You don’t have to cater news for me nor remind me of birthdays and anniversaries. Those all just lead to shallow Facebook wall greetings anyway.

Friends can just keep on one-upping each other with their “awesome lives.” As for me, I’m out. I’m done.

Find me on Twitter, where everyone is bitter and constantly insisting that they’re right. Everyone’s a troll and they can direct message world leaders, celebrities and products. Yesterday, I was sending angry messages to Mt. Rushmore and Volkswagen. It’s a never ending argument where nothing gets resolved. It seems more like the platform for me.

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Bad Winnipeg Politics

Tim_Hortons

A friend alerted me to news regarding Jamie Hall, someone we went to high school with. I don’t remember much about him, but I knew enough to be surprised that he tried to be a politician. It takes a certain amount of courage as well as an almost wide-eyed zeal to serve one’s community, and these positive virtues are quite commendable, regardless of the cynicism that comes hand in hand with the profession. So it is a shame that Jamie Hall’s political career barely lasted twenty-four hours when tweets degrading women resurfaced and put a stop to his campaign. (http://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/manitoba/busby-on-hall-tweets-1.3476086)

What’s even more unfortunate is that somehow, the Liberal party’s vetting process didn’t catch what seems to be glaring red flags: He worked as a bar promoter. He penned a novel titled 7 Deadly Women. He has an active Twitter and Youtube accounts. They’re not sins of themselves, but they could be mined for anything that could be useful for rival candidates. And lastly, he dresses like a magician. He looks more like a pick-up artist at the Manitoba Legislature than a person trying to run for political office.

First off, let’s look at the comment themselves. He refers to his girlfriend as a “skank.” This could be excused as a personal term on a personal message not meant for public consumption. But then again, this is politics, and regardless of how his girlfriend feels about the term, it is still quite offensive. I could call my wife the n-word and she might think it’s the sweetest, most endearing moniker in the world, but that doesn’t make it acceptable especially if I’m running for public office.

This also isn’t the first time he’s used such demeaning terms. One of his offensive tweets (and there are quite a few) says, “If a whore screams in the bedroom and no one is around to hear it, is she really a whore?” Now, the tweet doesn’t really make much sense since I’m sure there are “whores” that could be quiet and “proper women” that could be noisy in bed, but his rather casual use of the term suggests comfort with the idea of certain women being “whores” and “skanks.” Now, he tries to explain his actions by saying that as a liberal, he’s always been against the idea of censorship, but there’s nothing offensive in the tweet “if a whore screams…” that mere censorship could cure. It is the idea within the tweet that is offensive. You could replace the term “whore” with “loose woman” and still come off as a misogynist.

He also uses such terms from a position of power and I don’t think he fully realizes how it looks from a political perspective when a white male refers to women as “whores” and “skanks.” Again, from a political and social perspective, it looks like he is punching down. I realize that there are some men, especially those in the men’s rights movement, who think that certain women deserve the label “whore” and that in many mays minimizing and/or objectifying women is a means of punching up, but that’s not how many women see it. That’s not how people in politics see it. Doesn’t this guy have a political consultant or at least someone with common sense who reads the paper? He explains that a lot of people talk like him, that he is not perfect and no one is. And it’s true, crude language doesn’t disqualify someone’s abilities nor does it negate their willingness to do good for the community. But it’s not one comment that shows a callous and rather immature attitude towards women, it’s several. And also, as political creatures, one has to look at such comments pragmatically whether they’re on his side or running against him. They are bad politically.

His explanation wasn’t much help either. I find that his CBC interview was more explanation than an apology, which is really the only thing that could’ve saved him. If anything, some of his explanations were more of an insult to the people who were offended. “My girlfriend is a strong, independent woman. She would not be sitting here in the studio next to me if I called her a skank.” First off, he did refer to his girlfriend as a “skank.” Perhaps it was in jest, but it did happen. He’s asking people to believe him instead of their own lying eyes. Also, to say that his girlfriend is “strong and independent” implies that those who were offended are not. Again, I don’t fully subscribe to this logic, but politically, this is a pretty bad explanation which could be easily exploited should he have decided to move forward. I dislike professional politicians as much as the next person, but that comment was amateur hour.

Now, I don’t want to be the word police. I think people should be free to say anything they want. The right to offend, to add controversial ideas and rhetoric in the marketplace of ideas is one of the greatest rights in Canada. However, people are not free from the consequences of their words. Hall is free to use the word “whores” and “skanks,” he is free to demean women if he wants to. Heck, I’ve been accused of misogyny a couple of times before myself. But as a political creature, Hall is not free from the consequences of his words. He should’ve known better, perhaps cleaned up his history or done a better job apologizing for it. The Liberal party should’ve known better as well.

The use of the word “whore” and “skank,” as well as his history of tweets don’t offend me. I really couldn’t care less about them. I’m not sure if I can outright label him as a misogynist based on a small sample of his language. What annoyed me is the lack of political savviness exhibited in the whole episode.

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What Passes for Conversation

Tommy_Prince

The problem with most issues these days is that people get married into their camps and more often than not would defend their worst members. It makes a lot of political/social debates disingenuous and quite unbearable when sides spend a lot of their energies defending their weakest links as if they were their strongest.

An example: a week ago, I’ve been called a “shitty, shitty person” because of my opinion regarding a rape activist who live-blogged her rape minutes after it happened. She’s an activist and thus an educator, so I don’t think this sets a good example for people. I believe victims should report their attack first and not have Instagram as their priority. I’m also particularly turned off by some facts regarding the case. I know a woman’s actions should never justify an attack, but the woman went to a foreign country and showered naked with a stranger in a hostel. After said attack, she posted the alleged attackers picture on the Internet. It appears she’s trying to convict her alleged attacker via social media. Not only that, her previous efforts at activism haven’t really garnered much media attention, and this appears to be a cry for attention. So much about it just sounds either foolish or disingenuous.

Now, many feminists and advocates would advise that people suspend all of their suspicions when it comes to rape victims despite Occam’s razor. I tend to agree, but I also believe in things such as innocent until proven guilty, and not showering with strangers in hostels. So the conversation in the Internet goes:

Me: Rape victims should report the crime first. Give social media a rest.
Commenter: Misogyny will even dictate to women how they should react after suffering rape. (Because apparently that’s exactly what I was doing, hating women and “dictating” to them how they should react.)
Me: New feminists define misogyny as anything counter to their message, no matter how ill-advised that message is.
Commenter: You’re a shitty, shitty person. (So much for a debate!)

This attitude is not unique to new feminists. You can also see this among atheists, religious people, and both sides of the political aisle. People will defend everything the likes of Dawkins and Harris say despite both men fueling Islamophobia. Same thing with the religious. How many times have people excused their actions “because of faith?” And while sometimes people won’t defend every fundamentalist on their camp, they would sometimes vilify everything on the other side, no matter how much it benefits them. Just look at all of the conservatives who rail against Obamacare.

I once joked that I’m now too old to follow professional wrestling, so now I follow politics for my drama. Unfortunately, I think a lot of people do so but with much more fervor and they’re not aware of how swept up they are in the whole thing. The drama consumes them (Going back to the wrestling analogy, they’re the fans who believe it’s all real). They get so entrenched on their own side of the argument that they fail to examine opposing point of views. Worse, they neglect to be critical of things happening in their camp. Just look at Fox News when they wonder why Muslim communities don’t condemn acts of fundamentalist Islamic terror, even when most Muslim communities actually do. The same Fox talkers turn a blind eye to crimes committed by Christians, like the uniquely American Christian anti-gay wave in Africa (“Kill the Gays” anyone?).

So yeah, good luck in finding an honest debate/opinion/report on any issue. Many of the major news outlets have their own slant, and the minute you voice an opinion, you’re bound to find some nut job just waiting to contradict anyone on the other side.

I guess what I’m advocating is not to be married to an ideology. I’m a Catholic, but I acknowledge the fact that Mother Teresa is a fraud and that the church has been covering up pedophilia. I like Dawkins, but sometimes he can either get petty or downright bigoted. I consider myself a feminist, but I’m not gonna jump into every feminist/rape bandwagon.

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Catching Up on All Things Old

pigman

So I’m just discovering the beauty of Twitter. Well, I had an old Twitter account which I used to follow people before but I’ve been very active with tweeting. But recently, I find myself tweeting thoughts and replies more often. It’s a great way to just put a thought out there. And it’s a bit of a payoff to see someone share the sentiment. I’m not gonna go crazy about it and start tweeting all of the time, but it’s good to put in my two cents with popular issues now and then, especially since I’m a bit of a news junkie.  (same thing goes for  Instagram)

My wife and I are enjoying Minecraft just now. She’s more into it than me, but I can definitely say that I now understand the appeal. When I first tried it out over a year ago, I didn’t really care much for the interface nor for the unappealing tutorial, but we picked it up at a discount and I’m now seeing why people have gone nuts over it. I’m actively trying not to spend too much time with it since it can suck up hours of your day easily. (Same thing goes for Clash of Clans and Nintendo 3DS)

My Christmas was spent playing mahjong, a game I haven’t played since my teen years. My grandmother taught us how to play mahjong when she stayed at our place back when I was in elementary school. She was bored and needed someone to play it with. Later on, my sisters and I would play it with our nanny, with real money. I taught my wife and her friend how to play. I’m rekindling my old love for the game. It’s good to have an indoor activity where we don’t have to stare at the television, even if it involves a bit of gambling. (Same thing goes for Monopoly)

I started reading more magazines, well, their pdf versions. There’s just something about reading a magazine that has all of the information right there instead of news websites where it’s one click bait article after another (no more loading!). With magazines, it takes a fair bit of dedication to devote space to an article, as opposed to some websites and aggregators that print out badly-edited articles about things that just happened to be popular that day regardless of how inconsequential they are.

I realize this has been a fairly innocuous first entry for 2016, but there’s been a lot of bad news in the headlines as well as with people around. Better to sit back, enjoy the mundane, and count our blessings. God knows, we have the rest of the day to be paranoid about our existence.

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Why, Richard?

protester

So this 14 year-old kid Ahmed Mohamed goes to school with a clock he made for a science project, shows it to several teachers, some of them say that it “looks cool.” Then one teacher gets nervous, thinks it’s a bomb and calls the cops. The school wasn’t evacuated, the cops say it wasn’t a bomb, and the kid was handcuffed anyway. Now, people are saying that this was a case of Islamophobia. And I would say yes, it seems patently obvious. I don’t think a box with wires sticking out of it in a school is any more menacing than a couple of people brandishing their AR-15s in a Walmart. Both are legal, only the second example is designed to elicit an example. Only the second example involves things that are actually designed to kill people.

And if you compare the incident to how predominantly white gun-carry advocates walk around the country unmolested, there’s a good argument that this is just as much as being a person of color in America as it is about being a Muslim.

I already talked about how Bill Maher sometimes loses me with his Islamophobia. It is one thing to be an atheist, but it is another thing to be an Islamophobe. The hysteria over the brown kid carrying a science project around school showed such an abandon of logic that I was hoping someone as intelligent as Bill Maher would not try to justify. I tend to be sympathetic to atheistic arguments, and I really don’t want to claim that there is religious persecution after many fundamentalist Christians cry wolf about their “suffering,” but when he said that people were reasonable to be suspicious of Ahmed Mohamed, this is exactly the type of light Islamophobia that results in children being handcuffed.

He is not alone in this either. Even Richard Dawkins tweeted that the kid was a fraud. He suggested that the kid passed himself off as an inventor and made a clock that suspiciously looks like a bomb. All of it just to get arrested, create a viral story, and later on get scholarship offers and an invitation to the White House. Bravo, Richard Dawkins. You’ve just become a Twitter nut job (at least in this case). There’s always the possibility that we’ve all been victims of this brilliant kid’s masterful hoax, but Occam’s razor suggests that it’s probably just a kid who made a suspicious-looking clock.

Steven Levitt once wrote about atheist books and the mysterious market for them. Who buys these books? There is a market for holy and religious books, after all, the religious need the books to enlighten themselves more about their faith. And the religious would never buy atheists books. At least, I imagine they won’t. Why would they? But what about atheists? If you truly don’t believe in the existence of God, then why buy a book to affirm your belief? You don’t need reinforcement on a non-belief. As Steven put it:

“So who is making these anti-God books best-sellers? Do the people who despise the notion of God have an insatiable demand for books that remind them of why? Are there that many people out there who haven’t made up their mind on the subject and are open to persuasion?

Let me put the argument another way: I understand why books attacking liberals sell. It is because many conservatives hate liberals. Books attacking conservatives sell for the same reason. But no one writes books saying that bird watching is a waste of time, because people who aren’t bird watchers probably agree, but don’t want to spend $20 in order to read about it. Since very few people (at least in my crowd) actively dislike God, I’m surprised that anti-God books are not received with the same yawn that anti-bird watcher books would be.”

I think Steven kinda brushed on the reason why anti-God books are selling recently. Conservatives hate liberals and would buy books that bash liberals. I’m guessing that some atheists actively hate the religious, or at least see them as intellectually inferior to some extent, and perhaps get some joy out of bashing them. Instead of adopting a liberal attitude about things and truly not caring about religion unless said religion affects them somehow, some atheists get trapped into a sort of game of one-upmanship the same way political parties do. Of course, this is not something truly unique to atheists. The same could be said about some of the religious.

And this is where Bill Maher and Steve Dawkins sometimes sink to. Yes, yes, religion is bullshit. But that’s coming from our “enlightened” bubble. Ethnocentrism is judging others based on their ethnic group, especially in terms of customs, language, and religion. Perhaps people find value in their religion in ways that I do not. Who knows? I’m not about to judge other people as long as it doesn’t affect me. Believe in God or don’t, just don’t make it my business. But when giants of the atheist way of thinking start bashing huge swaths of people, it sours the whole thing for me. It is lazy and misguided. The same way some current feminists are spoiling the movement by being hyper-sensitive, censorship-advocating, misandrists, some atheists are turning into outright bigots.

I’m not saying that the religious are being persecuted. I’m not, especially in terms of Christians in North America. But casual bigotry towards other religions makes cuffing children, not allowing refugees into countries, and outright bombing cities, a tad easier to do.

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Flowers Phone Alcohol… baba booey baba booey

flowers_tentacles_pitchers

I kinda missed out on the whole beer home-brewing thing. I feel like living in a small apartment, I’m not really equipped for it. Also, I’ll probably end up drinking a whole lot of bad beer. There’s already enough bad beer I could buy locally. I don’t need to make them myself. The same goes with wine. I don’t drink enough wine to start making my own. And though I know enough to know what bad wine tastes like, I don’t know about making my own bad wine.

I make an exception with Korean makkeoli however. Makkeoli is a traditional Korean alcoholic drink made from rice. It’s often referred to as rice wine, but it’s not really wine. It has its own unique taste and is quite easy to drink. The downside is that some brands of makkeoli leave drinkers quite gassy. Now, I don’t drink makkeoli often, but it is something that I enjoy with my father-in-law (a better alternative to soju).

I’m planning to try making makkeoli this month with my mother-in-law. She still knows how to make makkeoli, although the last time she made a batch was decades ago. Her daughters are taught how to make kimchee, and I often help out in their annual kimchee making tradition. But I noticed that none of her daughters were taught how to make makkeoli. My wife’s not interested, and I doubt if her niece or nephew would even bother learning about it. It’s just not very high on their traditions compared to kimchee. Alas, their family recipe (I assume there is one) is about to die off.

So I’m going to learn how to make makkeoli. My in-laws have a lot of space so it’s perfect for brewing. Also, this gives me another activity whenever we visit. Hopefully, I’ll end up with something worth drinking.

My phone is dying on me. I’ve had my phone for four years now. I’m not really too keen on upgrading since I only use my phone for calls, podcasts, Howard Stern, texting, Twitter, and the occasional net surfing. I don’t really need something too high end, and honestly, nothing out there has really been that exciting, in my opinion. I’ve had an iPhone all of these years, and I’m really considering switching to Android just for the sake of divorcing myself from iTunes. I like the phone, but I’m really not a big fan of the software.

That’s an understatement. I hate iTunes. I hate how it limits what the customer can do with their products.

The new iPhone is a tad too big. I’ve heard too many horror stories regarding Samsung phones. Also, their latest designs are kinda lame and gimmicky, in my opinion. The Sony phones are kinds intriguing, especially since I own quite a few Sony products that I can integrate into a whole ecosystem. But I’m just not sure yet. Anyway, we’ll see until my phone finally dies.

 

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