Thursday, November 30

Don't call me Babe

And today's weird animal news: Boy eaten by herd of pigs.

This stuff is almost something out of a Guy Ritchie or some other heist movie. But it happened in India. Ganesh knows what else happens out there. I suppose I won't be munching on bacon real soon.

Monday, November 27

Identity through cuisine

I've been reading Fernando Zialcita's Authentic Though Not Exotic, a collection of essays about Filipino identity. I've had the book since summer--attended the launch and roundtable discussion and all--but it's only now that I found the time to read it. It's actually more like self-required reading, but anyway.

Zialcita's claim is that supposedly, many Filipinos are uneasy about the "authenticity" of their identity. Can we really be "authentically Asian" when we've had a lot of Spanish influence? Or are the "real Pinoys" those who had resisted colonialism? Or is the real Pinoy the ingenious lowland Christian Filipino who transformed the Western culture he received into something more palatable to his taste?

Those who are into post-colonial theory and all that blah will recognize this debate about identity except that Zialcita uses a different set of terminologies. It takes a while to get used to, but replace "syncretism" with "hybridity" and you get the drift. Also, he uses a lot of Arnold Toynbee, a name I haven't really heard since high school. But I like how he argues that there is no real Asia but a multiplicity of Asias and he uses cuisine to illustrate his arguments.

Anyway, I was a bit surprised to find the introductory essay serialized at the Inquirer website last week--around the same time I was reading the book. I suppose they're making like The Guardian now. So if you'd like to know more about how the only things we have in common with our Asian neighbors are sinigang and patis, and how we're all really bastards, i.e. tisoys, here's what the Inquirer has serialized so far:

1: "An Identity Under Question"
2: "A Demonized Influence"
3: "No Sense of Context"
4: "A Limited Menu of Binary Contrasts"
5: "Reductionist Interpretations"

And that's where my patience for linking ends. If you want to read more, you're on your own. But otherwise, this book was also previously discussed here.

Friday, November 24

Trash Princess

The Americans' strong fascination with Paris Hilton enabled the hotel heiress to turn herself into a brand that can be packaged, recognized and sold like toothpaste:
Why, if Paris says so much about us, do Americans—not just college professors and the commentariat but celebrity watchers and tabloid junkies—hate her so much? And why, if she is so offensive, is she so ubiquitous?
Replace "Paris Hilton" with "Kris Aquino" and we might have the same thing. Others might claim now that a boxer can bring people together, but I really suspect that Kris Aquino is the only thing which unites us Filipinos.

Thursday, November 23

American Englishes

I had to take a cab home tonight, and the cabbie had some really fierce views about Koreans and English. This mostly had to do with the accent that he found difficult to understand, and he claimed that he got at least one bunch of Korean passengers a day. But he noted that Filipinos chatted in loud (and I assume chirpy) English. "Pinoys speak real nice English. Especially those call center agents. You'd think they studied in America." I don't equate education with someone's ability to mimic an American accent, and especially on call center agents, but that's what the cabbie thinks. So there.

On the other hand, I found this quiz where you can figure out what sort of American English you speak--whether or not you have a call center training acquired accent.

Your Linguistic Profile:
60% General American English
25% Yankee
5% Dixie
5% Upper Midwestern
0% Midwestern


Monday, November 20

Gen X, 16 years later

Sixteen years after its initial publication, Generation X grows up and hangs up the slacker ghost. Or as Christine Smallwood writes in the New York Observer, it is inevitable that the rebel becomes the very thing he despises:
Mr. Coupland was the anti-McInerney. He was the one who rebelled against the culture of consumption, who wrote about “real” things, authentic things, like girls in vintage dresses and finding yourself in the desert. He didn’t know about Bolivian marching nights in Manhattan or … whatever else it was that Mr. McInerney wrote about. Mr. Coupland is Canadian, after all: He liked nature and worried about the nuclear threat.
But now, Coupland sells Blackberries, hides in his own private island, all of which is kinda preppy. Perhaps your McJob can buy you nice things after all. In a weird turn of events, Kurt Cobain is now the highest earning dead celebrity, surpassing Elvis and Dr. Seuss. What's the sense of rebellion then?

Wednesday, November 15

On Beauty and Numbers

In an article for the Washington Post, David Von Drehle asserts that beauty might not really be in the eyes of the beholder, but more likely, it is something biologically hardwired in humans. There's something called The Golden Mean, a ratio of 1 is to 1.618 inches, or phi--that provides symmetry that is necessary to achieve beauty. This symmetry can be observed on Leonardo Da Vinci's sketch of a man with limbs extended, Michelangelo's David, the bust of Egyptian queen Nefertiti, in the architecture of human DNA, or even in those supermodels who grace the covers of magazines hawking beauty products. What's interesting is that beauty is somehow a mathematical progression, something actually quantifiable, when through the ages we've always believed that it is based on perception.

Jack En Poy Extreme

A bunch of us were thinking of holding an Extreme Jackenpoy (aka Rock Paper Scissors) Challenge for the office party next month. It must be the easiest game there is: "Players smack their fists into their palms and count to three before making one of three hand signals: a fist (rock), flat hand (paper) or two fingers (scissors). Paper covers rock, scissors cut paper and rock breaks scissors." The game's origins is pretty much contestable, but it is generally believed that the game has been played for centuries in Japan. Even Ian Fleming's James Bond was made to play it in a movie set in samurai country.

Anyway, our plan was each participant will have a Php50 entrance and will have once chance to play. Winner of each set will compete with other winners until there's only one. But apparently, this is already old hat as the World RPS Championships were held last weekend in Toronto. There was a C$10,000 prize and hundreds of national champions flew in for the event.