Descendants of the bear-woman

It has been 12 days since I last stepped out of the flat. I am not “whipping coffee 400 times” yet, but my mind does go to random places. More often than usual at least. Among many other things, I have been thinking a lot about South Korea’s founding mythology, which is taught in school and is also celebrated as a public holiday.

Legends about Tangun [mythological first king of the Koreans] differ in detail. According to one account, Hwanung left heaven to rule Earth from atop Mt. T’aebaek (Daebaik). When a bear and a tiger expressed a wish to become human beings, he ordered the beasts into a cave for 100 days and gave orders that they were to eat only mugwort and garlic and avoid the sunlight. The tiger soon grew impatient and left the cave, but the bear remained and after three weeks was transformed into a beautiful woman. It was she who became the mother of Tangun. (Britannica, 2020)

What I find most amusing about this musing is that so many fellow Koreans, in their respective ‘caves’ in different parts of the world, are making the same reference to this mythological DNA 🐻 on Twitter. That’s right. Eat your heart out, Tiger King.

In-jokes [2]

Parasite edition. 🙂

“All look same” trope.

IKEA extra-large display cabinet.

The International Vaccine Institute chimes in.

Paddle when the tide is high [1]: banjiha Airbnb.

군면제 확정.

Paddle when the tide is high [2]: 짜파구리.

And I assume this 👇 is a joke too?

Thesis Psychosis [4]

Saw a YouTube video of this song on a random blog many years ago. I liked it, but after that blog disappeared I couldn’t recall for the life of me the singer’s name. So, the video became one of those things that I don’t think about at all most of the time but when it springs to my mind out of the blue I will do some obsessive searching for in vain and leave until the next time it happens. Or to be more factual, one of my many digital objects of procrastination.

Then last week it just came back – equally out of the blue. Not the very same rendition but I take it.

End of term – or a mirage of it

Everybody in my social media timelines seems to be doing a year-end round-up. I also did one in 2016, but this year I am just glad that there are still a couple more days left before the new term begins. As also mentioned below, I was really looking forward to the winter break this time around. A bit like this illustration that was posted on the Communication Research Methods page last week with no additional caption. Well, no caption was necessary.

Then the first comment that immediately followed was: “It’s a mirage! Save yourselves!” I am not sure if the artist intended it, but upon reading the comment it struck me that I was being all business-as-usual. At least one piece of writing that I have been wrestling with for long is kind of out of the way now. Yay. 🎉

Last bank holiday weekend of the year

This summer I went on and on about how unbearable the weather was. The scorching sun, the drought, and above all, the lack of air-conditioning in London, one of the most expensive cities in the world. Now looking out the window at the all-too-familiar rain and gloom, I feel as if it was all a dream.

Anyway, while staying dry and cozy in the house the whole day today, I have been watching a few YouTube clips I had bookmarked for later, including, but not limited to, Yuval Noah Harari’s interview with Al Jazeera (August 2018), Gina Neff’s OII London Lecture “Does AI Have Gender?”, and Zeynep Tufekci’s radio appearance “Why Online Politics Gets So Extreme So Fast?”. All insightful and also all interconnected (although this was not intended on my part). This post is, nevertheless, to record one particular remark by Harari that I found amusing. From 11:59 into the video above:

My personal impression is that all these science-fiction movies about robots becoming conscious and then starting to kill people and things like that – these are not about humans being afraid of intelligent robots. Actually these movies are about men being afraid of intelligent women because if you look carefully you will see that in almost all cases the scientist who develops the robot is a man and the robot is female, like in Westworld or in Ex Machina, and these movies are actually about feminism – about this male fear that “Hey, we’ve created this thing and now it’s becoming more intelligent and more powerful than us”.

As long as there is wi-fi [3]

Rough translation: This is the [traditional Japanese Qinghai wave] pattern on my hubby’s handkerchief, which my son saw and said, “Wow, full of wi-fi!” Children seem to see things differently.

S: Perhaps this is evidence that there was wi-fi in those days.

My authentic pie

I wrapped up 2017 with baking. Creating something in the kitchen is not my strong suit, but with an unparalleled sweet tooth, I did a little bit of baking when I finally moved out of the campus halls of residence and had my own kitchen in 2009. It has been a while since that phase.

At that time I discovered many grownup-sounding desserts (e.g. green tea muffins, prune brownies, and a Guinness cake with Bailey’s cream), but in the end, the ultimate fail-proof recipe was for a tarte aux pommes. And that’s what I picked this time around.

While waiting for it to be ready, I suddenly started to think about a talk I attended on 14 December: Algorithmic Authenticity by Wendy Hui Kyong Chun. It was a fascinating talk from beginning to end, but the particular bit that came back to me was her comment on how we as a society are obsessed with the currency of being authentic and believe/claim that we know when we see something that is not. What is interesting is that given this combination there now is a formula for appearing authentic. To paraphrase her words, the formula is to present a slightly less than best possible version. 😀

I thought it was spot-on. Her discussion was focused on the 2016 US presidential election, but the phenomenon is certainly not limited to it. Think about all those “no-makeup makeup” tutorials on YouTube, for example!

Against this backdrop, here is my authentic pie just before going into the oven.

2 apples + 1 egg yolk + 100g cream + 100g sugar.

190 degrees, 30 minutes.

Paying forward happiness

Let me start off my twelfth year of blogging on an indisputably positive note. In this age of misinformation and disinformation, I still feel that I am learning a lot on the internet. I now boil eggs perfectly every time thanks to a tip that I picked up on Twitter, for example. I also love hearing about little things that make people happy. Sound of Music style. There are numerous subreddits on that exact topic. There is also a Tumblr account called Things We Like, which used to have regular posts including one of my own a couple of years ago. One happiness hack that I will always remember was from a random stranger on Twitter: brighten your phone screen up a couple of notches in case you need an immediate mood booster. Yes, I have tried, and yes, it works.

Today I have discovered one such hack myself so I am sharing here – as a way of paying forward. WD-40 all door handles around your house. You will feel like your whole life is running swimmingly.