No bias. That is the only way

When we talk about race and racism, when we talk about Black Lives Matter or discrimination or sociology or colonialism or oppression and assume we are talking about being mixed we fool ourselves. These are side topics. They are the lobster macaroni and creamed spinach. The coal face of being mixed is none of these things. The heart of being mixed is dealing with conflicting ideas. That is all. When we jump into colonialism and racism and so forth, as our starting engagement with being mixed we make a whopping and unnecessary error.

Who is to say mixed people can't be racist? Who is to say mixed people cannot ipso facto (by the very fact of their existence) be colonizers? Of course we can be. But rather than immediately suppose that being racist and being colonial is wrong, AKA borrow someone else's justice framework and apply it from above, I say going to basics is the only way. What are people doing today? Where are people truly at today? What are the fundamental conflicts that people have to juggle, the real ones, I mean the ones not that they will knee-jerk talk about but the ones they need to divulge?

Rather than be trigger-happy with value judgments I say that to be mixed everything has to come under question. That is the only way. That is the only starting block to begin this marathon.

No bias. That is the only way.




Interfaces and Stories

As Aaron Koblin, the data artist said, the 21st century is the century of the interface

And he's right. We have huge amounts of data sloshing around. It is growing geometrically and we know it. We throw around words and phrases like "algorithm," "data mining," "social graph," and the like as if we know what they mean. I don't really know what these terms mean exactly. I have an idea but, with exactitude I'm a little lost. Yes, we can analyze it all this data. Yes, we can make dashboards and build colorful analytic tools and record it and store it and make it watertight and immortal. 

Yet, data fundamentally only has value once it can tell a story. what we do with the data is what matters.

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Curd-Turd and the Best of All Cosmopolitans

The industry mythologizes the local. Heritage and tradition, it all reduces to local.

And before you are dazzled by the immaculate finishing, remember that part of enduring appeal of that watch is the association with non-cosmopolitan grittiness. It is the quaint image of the watchmaker toiling away at his workshop, squinting and suffering for his art. It is the hopelessly unscalable nature of the Swiss Alps, bucolic as they are, far from any port, a spaghetti of mountains and valleys. 

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Indulge in Soup, Restrain in Soup: The Curious Bothness of Soup

Whether you are operating in a Shanghainese or Cantonese, or some other food culture, a meal begins with soup because it prevents you from overeating. This is the Chinese way. To have an elaborately brewed broth, that may contain something exotic, or maybe its just the freshest carrots and pork bones available, seems to be an indulgence. But, then again it is just water molecules with flavor. 

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Indulgence or Restraint? Or Both?

This sets up a bit of a false choice here. After all, we are programmed to feast. It is a survival mechanism that when we haven’t eaten for awhile and suddenly come upon food we voraciously over-consume, our bodies notifying us that if the past is any indication, there aren’t any regular mealtimes coming up soon- so eat up. But evolution has a built in tripwire. Our ancestors who came across putrid, bile-smelling carrion likely did not consume it. Others that did may have gotten a mild case of diarrhea, or maybe an intestinal infection, conditions that are benign with modern medicine, but altogether another matter in the pre-historic savannah. Those who didn’t have a gag-reflex triggered by the sight of maggots might not have made it to pass on their genes. Even if you were starving, the tradeoff of eating something that would make you sick, and dehydrate you might not be worth it. Restraint is just as evolutionarily necessary as indulgence is.

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W.E.B. Du Bois's Curious Proto-Bothness


Du Bois, put it this way: “one ever feels his two-ness,—an American, a Negro; two souls, two thoughts, two unreconciled strivings; two warring ideals in one dark body, whose dogged strength alone keeps it from being torn asunder.”

In Booker T. Washington it was clear there was a heavy emphasis on the “self” in self-help. But in the integrationist leanings of W.E.B. Du Bois, one can’t help but think the enterprise of being black in a white America was fraught with irreconcilable differences. Du Bois often spoke of the “color line,” which was his characterization of the dichotomy, the stacked relationship in American between black and white.  The existence of intermediate racial steps like the awful-sounding “quadroon” and “octaroon” in the U.S. Census in the 1800’s betrays a stark binary. Nonetheless, the duality Du Bois and other black intellectuals grappled with conjures a Faustian one, where as Goethe’s Faust said: “two souls, alas, are housed within my breast.” It seems to be an implacable duality, one not easily quieted, one not easily realized.

When I think of bothness as it pertains to being mixed Chinese-Western, I imagine lumpy Cream of Wheat. It sounds strange yet the metaphor is clear. Bothness does not mean smoothness

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Horizontal or Vertical? More Lens to Understand Being Mixed

Which collection of stuff would you rather have: the first is broad, while the other is concentrated?

These are the two basic directions one can have in collecting anything. The items don’t have to be expensive; they don’t have to be particularly rare. The same question dawns upon every single collector: do I go wide or deep?

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Commentary on NYT Article: "Choose Your Own Identity"

Nice piece in the NYT today by Bonnie Tsui.

Using the latest Pew research on being multiracial in America (more to come on that) as a springboard, Bonnie Tsui talks about her Chinese-Western "Hapa"  5-year-old son in the SF Bay Area.

3 key takeaways:

  1. "Hapa" seems to be gaining popularity with mixed people with no Asian descent
  2. Mixed White/Asian people in America are almost twice as likely to identify as "White" than as "Asian" (60% to 33%)
  3. The ability for kids in the Bay Area to choose: 1) one or the other race 2) simply "other" 3) neither 4) both, is increasingly markedly. Seems the social space is actually keeping pace with the rapid demographic changes (i.e. 1% births in the U.S. in 1970 were mixed race, whilst 10% [and rising] of births today are mixed race), which is actually quite remarkable and a testament to what an open society America is.
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5 years: My Quirky Food Habit

In three weeks I will mark the 5th anniversary of a quirky tradition I’ve created for myself.

Every year I give up some type of food. It's not a cumulative giving up, whereby I'd slowly exhaust items permissible in my diet, never to return to them. I'm basically on an annual food rotation, cycling certain foods out during particular years.

I don't know exactly how this tradition started. That won't stop me from speculating a little later though. 

In 2011, I gave up beef for a year.

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