Y’s picks this month

Not literally this month, but you know what I mean!

Rotten Apples
Like Rotten Tomatoes with a post-Weinstein twist.

Unpaywall
A new and legal browser extension to locate open-access versions of paywalled research papers instantly.

Library Extension
A Chrome extension that helps you find books at your local library while you shop for them online.

Fltgraph [플라이트그래프]
A crowd-powered travel metasearch engine that can help you pick a ticket as per your budget, not destination. 🙂 Comparable, in a sense, to Skyscanner’s ‘Still undecided? Explore our map’ service.

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Sliding boundaries

How the South Korean language was designed to unify (Ann Babe, BBC Travel, 18 December 2017)

Nothing in this article is new to me, but I still found it entertaining and thought-provoking to read. Perhaps the author’s self-reflection on her ‘in-between’ positionality resonated with me. Moreover, the article, especially the following passage, supports what I have long hypothesised.

There is no clear boundary between the word ‘I’ and the word ‘we’,” Choi writes in her book A Postcolonial Self. “As the usage of the words ‘we’ and ‘I’ are often interchangeable, so too is the identity of the ‘we’ often interchangeable with the identity of the ‘I.’ The meanings of ‘we’ and ‘I’ are negotiable not only in colloquial Korean usage but also in the consciousness and unconsciousness of Korean minds.”

In Korean there is this idiomatic expression of having a wide ojirap. Its literal reference is to the front flap of an upper garment, but what the expression actually means is that the person in question tends to get involved in other people’s affairs, for better or worse.

I am sure that every language on this planet has some sort of equivalent to a ‘busybody’ or a ‘nosy parker’. However, my hypothesis is that the Korean variant has its extra something, which is that the ‘ojirapper‘ genuinely thinks it is their own business when they are meddling in someone else’s, even if that someone else is a total stranger who happens to be in the same carriage of the train. To put it another way, in that momentary context, the boundaries slide, at least in the ojirapper‘s mind.

By the way, ojirap is an established word in the language; ojirapper, on the other hand, is a modern slang born and used principally online, and as you may have guessed already, its connotation is never positive.

The minefield that is being a woman [2]

A couple of days ago, I had an interview with a US journalist about recent developments on sexual harassment in South Korea. Our version of #metoo, if you like, which took place exactly a year prior to the Harvey Weinstein case. Those developments, often digitally mediated, appear to be empowering, as in “giving a voice to the previously voiceless“, but during the interview I found myself saying, even quite categorically, that speaking up and being heard are two different things and that seeing those courageous “silence breakers” in the US gaining public support and recognition is certainly encouraging but also a little ‘frustrating’ for victims of sexual assaults in South Korea, who had been saying the same thing all this time, if not for longer. I didn’t get to elaborate on this point as we diverged to other related phenomena such as the rise of a men’s rights movement, but by frustration I meant what Langton (2009) calls “perlocutionary frustration“, which may be experienced when one’s utterances are heard but not accepted.

I have been thinking a lot about global parallels in women’s life experience since I started looking into misogyny, online but also more broadly, in 2015, and the interview gave me extra cause for thought. Then, as if someone at SNL were telepathically in sync with me, they put on this delicious satire that summarises all. (My only complaint would be that the video is stingy with Leslie Jones’s dance moves.)

Lunching al desko

Sandwiches and actor-network theory? I had to click through. The subject is also directly concerned with me as I am a regular contributor to that £8bn-a-year industry. 8 billion!

Speaking of sandwiches, here is another one for my file. Evening Standard printed this article about ten days ago.

Estate agent says London’s millennials should stop buying sandwiches, holidays and splashing cash on nights out in order to afford a house

I was born too early to be a millennial, but that didn’t stop me from rolling my eyes. Tim Gurner and smashed avocado all over again. Then once again a pearl of wisdom was offered in response on Twitter.

Full of beans

A few age-related articles have flowed into my news feeds lately, including a New Yorker article “Why ageism never gets old“, criticisms against the (promotion of) the “Young Forty” discourse in Korea, and some essays on pedophilia culture such as this and this. They have come from different sources and different time points, so it feels like a coincidence, but is it? Or is this one of those moments where the gods of blogging are nudging me to write something? 

All that have sprung to my mind subsequently are feel-good news stories that seemingly defy the natural and social laws of ageing.

  • RT @AJEnglish By day, this 87-year-old Japanese woman makes dumplings. By night, she’s spinning records in Tokyo’s red-light district. Meet DJ Dumpling (12 April 2017)

Then it has struck me that these stories form a specific genre of its own. It is always Japanese obaasan. Always.

If you own the network,

Watched Kingsman the bank holiday weekend. A few minutes in I immediately realised why I didn’t when it came out three years ago – the same reason that I don’t see any Tarantino films – but I continued on this time.

This post is a side note as I felt that the film added evidence to my long-held theory. I am not sure if you have noticed, but every network owner depicted in Hollywood cinema is evil. You will see a good lawyer every now and then, like Matt Damon, and you will see a few good politicians too. When it comes to network owners, however, every single one is evil. I have watched enough telly in my life, so I can tell you that much.

Process of elimination

I find it harder and harder to stay engaged with elections, of which there is an abundance at the moment. Not only because of the bouts of the ‘gah, what’s the point of all this‘ feeling, but rather because there really isn’t anyone that I can bring myself to support.

I then came across on Facebook this video clip of Yanis Varoufakis on today’s French presidential election. The response in the comment box seems to be divisive, but I took some solace in it personally.

Vote for Macron, with the same energy and enthusiasm with which we are going to oppose him the day after he becomes President of France.

Greater than the sum of one’s many selves

Being an Asian woman living far away from her native land, I might have gained some experiential awareness of the ‘intersectionality‘ of identities, but to be frank it is only recently that I have started studying and reflecting seriously on the concept.

Once something registers in your mind, you realise you are in fact surrounded by it. There have been a few particularly memorable moments, personally.

# When the South Korean presidential candidate with the highest rating Moon (fashionably) declared himself a feminist but refused to support an LGBT-related bill, an activist in the audience cried out: “I’m a woman and I’m homosexual. […] Can you split my human rights into halves?

# danah boyd’s latest article ‘Failing to See, Fueling Hatred‘, which contains the line: “I grew up with identity politics, striving to make sense of intersectional politics and confused about what it meant to face oppression as a woman and privilege as a white person.

# Stand-up comedian Cristela Alonzo‘s joke: “As a woman I wanted to break that glass ceiling, you know. But as a Mexican I want to clean that shit too.

# Another joke I heard in 2009, with reference to yet another brilliant xkcd strip: “Does ‘All Asians are good at maths’ cancel ‘All girls suck at maths’ in the case of an Asian girl?

# And then the very today. Conversations on Twitter around a sweet viral video took a surreal turn as the Asian woman in the clip was automatically assumed to be a “nanny“, “oppressed”, or “emotionally abused”. Blimey.

+

# Julie Delpy rules Blackness “easier” than womanhood (Lola Jacobs, Vibe, 26 January 2018) […] “as if there are no Black women”.

“Suis-je bovvered?” [2]

❤ ❤ ❤

I don’t have much conviction about anything, but this—I believe this. On the internet those who bother are the last ones standing.

In any case, I am becoming more and more convinced that in the digital era, in which information is a product of collective definition, interpretation and construction, what matters most is activeness. In other words, the real digital divide will not lie along with age, gender or socioeconomic status, but will emerge between those who actually bother taking time out of their busy day to write/rewrite/overwrite on the Net and those who lurk.

Says who? Yours truly, 10 years ago. And it goes both ways.