I remain cynical about cynicism.

I want to live in the Both/And world. It is a great place. A secular land of milk and honey. It is where legends will be made. It is the world where things may have binary roots, like the zeros and ones in software code (maybe not much longer with quantum computing around the corner though), but have positive sums, that people can gain without someone else necessarily losing.

The Both/And world likes abundance, where more and more information is available and cheap, where storage and distribution are afterthoughts. It is a world of multiple roles, multiple careers, of crossovers and mashups; it is valuing thoughtfully remixed work as wholly original. This is the Both/And world and I love it.

We have all these dichotomies: black/white; fat/thin; rich/poor; young/old. You can’t blame a cynical person for saying “you can’t have it all.” Around the corner though, there is a creative and reliable person. Crossfit challenges one aerobically and anaerobically. I have seen people lose weight and gain muscle. To quote Voltaire: we mustn't let the perfect be the enemy of the good. I do think the world can be messed up. I do believe there is a crooked timber in people. But that is not to say that if someone does well, they necessarily cannot do good. And to foreclose that possibility is to live in a dark place. I remain cynical about cynicism.

Chefs don’t just make tasty food that they always have, for the expectation today is to dine with a chef who knows the underlying science underpinning her or his gustatory creations. We expect a chef to scoff “too easy” at allergies or fine-tuned dietary restrictions; we expect them to tempt us with new textures and flavors, and synthesize all these new requirements into cuisine, and present it to us as if we were at the theater. The greatest fear of Hong Kong parents is that their child enters the wrong profession, (the mandarin for which is ru cuo hang). The concern centers on getting all the details right, whereby you have the right grades, academic pedigrees and credentials...But what if you do everything right by precedent, and by consensus... but unwittingly enter a sunset industry? 

Detail and context is important.

Detail and context is a cornerstone of this both/and world I'm talking about. The dream of any architect is to erect a building that gets right the threading, fastening, pouring, cladding, of course. But can people get in and out? That is the question. To achieve detail and context is the dream of dreams. It is the fable of the forestry guy who knows trees, the legend of the electrical engineer who gets the physics. 

"My Daughter's Face is 97% Korean"

"My daughter's face is 97% Korean" are Jason Calacanis' words. He is the investor/entrepreneur/blogger behind mahalo.com, launch.co and many others.

In a blog post and a series of follow up tweets on race, Jason Calacanis confronts mixed identity head on. Ostensibly talking about gender roles, and Silicon Valley social inclusion, he abruptly goes headlong into race:

 "Now, there’s some truth to me not being able to speak about race. I haven’t experienced racism myself, except when standing next to my wife (who is Asian). I had no idea people were as racist toward Asians as they are — but they are. That makes me sad for my mixed-race daughter, who looks 97% Korean and 3% Irish — let alone Greek or Swedish (sorry, Dad).

But she’s going to live in the post-race world we’re shifting to. Her kids will probably share six or seven heritages — enough so that no one will matter. And that’s awesome."

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Absurdity and Discovering "Bothness"

But the older I get the more I gravitate to the absurd.

Indeed, it is absurd for people to tell you what you are not. To be so sure, to be so callously dogmatic about something--anything, to presume an entitlement to make decrees is absurd. I admit I can't profess I am 100%. On the other hand, no one can say I'm 0% Chinese. I'm somewhere in-between. But there is something remarkable going on here. And I don't want to miss it.

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Haitian Bloodbath: Instructive for Being Mixed Today?

"In the extreme case of Haiti, mixed people were hard up against black emancipation, ready to work with the colonial government to extend the fruits of the French Revolution to their “mezzanine” class. On the other hand, some of them were shoulder-to-shoulder with blacks, on the frontlines of the first-ever successful slave rebellion. Of the latter, there were characters like Candi, the “bloodthirsty mulatto,” who loved nothing more than to “pull out the eyes of the Whites with a corkscrew."

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Hedging is Generally Good in a Cultural Sense

Lil’ Wayne is unhedged to Jay Z’s hedged. The danger is being a Lil’ Wayne who is too steadfastly a hardcore gangsta rapper. He has the “back the ‘f’ up” diamond-grill-mouthpiece. He has the menacing lyrics. He abuses drugs, including codeine cough syrup[i]. He gloats about his time in prison; he gets into mean confrontations with people. He is a true gangsta. The dirty secret is that his fanbase includes a lot of wannabes. It includes a lot of types who enjoy the voyeurism of being a Lil’ Wayne acolyte. I suspect Lil’ Wayne knows that he'd be better off developing more boutique cred, like Jay Z, in addition to his curriculum vitae in street cred. But Weezy just can’t help but be pushed, and goaded and socially pressured by fans and commentators alike to remain one-dimensional, and as a consequence a fringe performer in the broader pop-rap-electronic oeuvre today. 

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