Asian steoreotype

From Overheard at Cambridge,

A said to B: For Asians, a B is like a F.
C responded: Are you talking about grades or bra size?

This post made me think for awhile. Speaking from a Singaporean perspective, I can say that that is somewhere true. Many people are here on a scholarship, and they need to get an A to remain here.

I heard that scholars under A*Star have to get a first class each year otherwise they’ll get a warning letter the first time, and get sent back the second time. For these people, getting a B is truly like getting an F.

Having gone through the Singapore education system, I have learnt that grades are the main metric used to judge one’s success.

Somewhat a personal point of view. Grades are like clutches. I often like to contemplate what it’s like if I suddenly didn’t get good grades. I feel like if I didn’t get good grades, I am nothing; good grades was all I have. If not for good grades, I am merely a nobody. [Reminds me of the song from the complain choir singapore: Cause if you’re not the best, then you’re just one of the rest] It’s not the thought of being a nobody that scares me, but the thought that the effort I put in, the sacrifices I made, the opportunity cost of striving for good grades are all wasted that frightens me. It’s the fear of putting in everything you’ve got and realizing that it’s not enough. All the ‘could have’s and ‘what if’s makes it scary. All the nights that you could have been partying and socializing, with the result of strengthening ties with people have been spent holed up studying.

Surely one can argue that it’s the journey and not the end. But like music, the process of noodling with instrument may be rewarding on its own but only through publicizing and releasing the work can an artist be validated.


It’s not a problem unless you have a solution

I remember watching Up in the air and there was one quote that stuck – “It’s not a problem unless you have a solution”. The new employee pointed out that the current system has a problem. The boss then said that unless she has a solution, it is not a problem. And implicitly, the current course of action is probably the best unless you have a solution.

Personally, this struck a chord in me because it describes my modus operandi in social situation. Although there are many times I feel that things could be better, I do nothing because I don’t have a solution to effect the change required.

However, this philosophy goes awry when it is adopted to some hard sciences.

A friend once commented that if a problem is not really a problem unless someone has a solution, then many inventions would not have come about. We’re working on an assumption here. Problem -> complaint -> solution by someone else. Sometimes we do not have the authority, but the solution doesn’t have to be something executable by the suggester. It can be a suggestion for someone else to work on. For example, when someone complaints about the restaurant, he does not expect to tell the chef how to cook. When a child complains that he is hungry or cold, we do not expect the child to give suggestions on how to solve the problem because we think that the child may not possess the know-how and we as caretakers would know better.

In certain domain this philosophy is advised.

Is copying people’s work ok?

I know a guy who dislikes 9gag because the content are simply copy-and-pasted from somewhere else and credits are given to the 9gag author.

His main beef is that people at 9gag are getting credit for simply copy and pasting from somewhere else. I personally don’t see a problem with that. It is not that I do not respect intellectual property, but I think the content were anonymous to start with and it’s purpose was to spread. Take jokes for instance. A lot of jokes are anonymous, in a sense that we don’t attribute an author to it, although someone must have invented it. Jokes have also evolved and migrated over time, so a blonde joke at one place will appear somewhere else as a joke about another group.

However, that analogy falls short because his argument is not against the spreading and evolving of jokes, but rather giving credits for a work that is copied somewhere else. So the argument on jokes falls short because we don’t usually credit someone for the jokes he told. We usually see it as a carrier of the jokes, but not the ‘creator’.

A better analogy would be sites like reddit. It serves to provide links to interesting articles filtered by millions of people by category. It is quite common to see people quoting reddit as their source instead of the original site. Is there are problem with that?

I think that sites like 9gag serve as a content aggregator for internet memes. I admit that some of the contents are merely copied from somewhere else without giving credits to the original author but I also want to point out that some of the contents are, in my opinion, original work from the contributors. There are memes that are in direct response to older memes,

Secondly, given the vast amount of resources online, it is very hard to give credit where credit is due. This is because, like the case of jokes, most of the ideas are anonymous. I believe that if the original author wanted credits for his work, the people that are propagating the memes would gladly give credits. After all, there is nothing to lose by crediting the original author; they should be grateful for the author for coming up with such a good idea.

Question: Where does compilation books like “Damn you, Autocorrect”

XinYao: Singapore folk songs

I finally found a link today to watch “that girl in pinafore”. I think it’s a great local production, very authentic on the fronts of  the story line and Singlish, and it touched on the issue of xinyao, as analysed by this article. It made me feel so nostalgic that I went to research a little more about xinyao.

Xinyao, a term for Singapore folk songs, is composed and sung by Singaporeans about the life in the country. The movement started in mid 1980s and was popular in the 1990s but it started to die down come the millennium.

This genre is usually characterized by clean acoustics and ballad style lyrics, and that makes it a great way of learning the language. I now can understand and appreciate that my primary school teacher used these xinyao songs to enrich the learning experience. My favourite songs are 一步一步来 which sings about how life and expectation change as we grow older, so we should take life one step at a time and 细水长流, which talks about friendships lasting a long time and how it change over time. I think it’s very appropriate for me to take a second look at these songs about 10 years after I was first introduced to it. It is very nostalgic and very fitting, because like in the songs, I feel like I am starting a new phase in life and can ‘feel’ the songs.

If my non-Singaporean friends asks me to show them something uniquely Singapore, this will definitely be on the list.

Link for the film, if it still works:

Might be better to break it into smaller 7 minute chunks like this website does:

What we lose as we grow older

Growing older sucks. This is a brief personal reflection on growing up.

0) We start judging others and stereotyping people. In contrast, there is no such rascism in a kid’s world. But society change our opinion and behaviour as we grow up.


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1) We have to put on masks and personas just to avoid judgement. A child can be him or her self because no one will judge him or her, you can fully express yourself and if people don’t like it, they shrug it off as “you’re just a kid”. When a child smiles, you can see its purity.

2) We can no longer speak our mind, because we worry our words might offend someone and ruin the relationship. Instead of saying “I don’t think that’s a good idea because x”, people now say “In my opinion, x, but it might just be me, (so please can we still be friends?)”.

3) We have to observe social etiquette and read between the lines. Passive aggressiveness and sarcasm spring into mind.

3) You lose support, or have to work hard to maintain one. Being young means your parents, your friends, and people around you are more willing to support you in various decisions. As you grow older, people have other priorities in life and you seem to be left by the wayside. Sure you still get support from family and close friends, but those can no longer be taken for granted.

4) We have so many ‘balls’ to juggle – work, love, hobby, exercise – that we have less time to pursue our dreams. A child have all the necessary infrastructure and support in place so they can focus on perfecting their skills.

I’m not saying these are bad things. I think this is a natural course of life, which stems from mammals taking care of their young and teaching them skills until they are mature enough to care for themselves. This explains why human have the innate desire to care about the young (A lost wallet with a baby photo is more likely to be returned). As we grow older, we are expected to be able to take care of ourselves and to fit into the society we live in, hence the hoop jumping.