HOW TO BE RUDE

 

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Chamber music concert, small hall, 400 seats or so, half filled. One piano, one violin, one cello, three Czech musicians playing Suk and Rachmaninov and Dvorak – pretty out-there programming for the mainstream Chinese audience.

Just as the musicians finished tuning, a lady in the front row let out a recording of their tuning sounds on her phone. She was recording the whole thing, but the stupid inconveniencing musicans just had to add two minutes of noise before her music, and so she had to get rid of that bit but ended up pressing the wrong button.

As it turned out, no one cared about some random trio written by some random Czech whose last name is one letter short of Suck. Phones were switched on from minute one, a sea of glittering messenger apps, people showing the backs of their necks as they bent over their tiny keyboards, typing shit, or staring blankly and waiting for the other person to type shit.

At least no one clapped between the movements.

The second item was Rachmaninov’s Trio Elegiaque, which was like riding a stormy sea on a dingy while high on anti-depressants and tackling two sharks at once. It was loud, emotional, tuneful – all appealing traits. A little girl in the second row started crying, which was strange, since the program note said that children under 12 were not supposed to be sold tickets.

People clapped the shit out of that one.

The second half was Dvorak’s trio Opus. 90, which was fairly demanding for the casual listener – weird structure, mood swings at a blink, and a misleading lyricism that makes you go ‘oh that’s kinda ni – wait what?’ about 30 times.

The audience didnt know what to do with their phones. Like attention-deficit little kids, fully grown adults were on – off – on – off their fucking messengers at a whim, furiously typing at the ‘boring bits’, then lifting their heads at the ‘good’ bits.

In this kind of high-freqency usage situation, instead of pockets and bags, people like to shove their phones between their legs, under their butt, to pull it out at a moment’s notice.

Concert chairs have these swingy seats that have large gaps at the back, and six, six, fuckin six times people dropped their bricks on the hardwood floor while music was playing – once at the end of a quiet movement, as the violinist was lingering on a whispering note. The cellist pretended to cough to stop himself from laughing out loud.

Sorry Dvorak. The pinnacle of your life’s work wasn’t enough to entertain this bunch. They’d rather spam emojis. They’d rather record the live music then listen back on tinny speakers than actually paying attention while it was playing. They’d rather tell friends that they were at the concert than listening to one.

This was not a display of ignorance. People don’t just randomly drop a chunk of money to listen to classical pieces no one has heard of – they all knew what they were in for. It was wilful disrespect.

Fancy-dressed women with Gucci handbags and glittering heels, men in suits and flat-as-board slacks – they can’t display the same level of etiquette as a row of music students in baggy jumpers and old sneakers. And when they are warned they just wave it off – the attendants know they’ll raise a scene if the issue is forced, and that’ll irreocably ruin everything for everyone forever.

Imagine spending 10 hours baking a cake for a group of friends, only to see them take a collective shit on it.

So rude.

Wait…this blog is just a rant and doesn’t say anything about how to actually be rude.

Not like anyone really needs instructing.

 

 

 

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How To Behave When Surrounded By Asians

Being Asian, walking the streets of a quaint little backwater Australian town that idolizes shiny steel balls and a nightlife that consists of getting drunk in a variety of faux-European settings, has always been an apprehensive experience.

It is hard to put into words what this experience is like, let alone describe it to those who inexplicably enjoy their nightly traipses along the same exact road, visiting the same exact shops, ordering the same exact decaf soy latte. Objectively, there isn’t that much to complain about. Whatever ethnic group one belongs to, it is easy to have a fun night out, quickly forget about the dozen homeless they’ve passed by, and return home at 7am reasonably satisfied.

That is, until one leaves this bubbled sanctuary and walks the streets of Shanghai, where it is not scantily-clad white girls that roam the streets half-pissed, but hot Asian women. It is difficult, then, to pretend that anyone, no matter how socially lubricated, can belong equally to both places.

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Anecdotal evidence suggests it is not easy being a western foreigner in an Asian country. Predatory street-vendors, unnaturally courteous metro assistants, indelible salespersons with unironed shirts and lit cigarettes next to no-smoking signs in a basement store that sells cotton bedding, rude policemen – they flock to non-Asians like empty-skulled 20-something kid-adults flock to memes, trying to legally take your money.

Those confident myths about the ubiquitousness of English is widely overblown; no one speaks English, and even if they do, most will not speak it to you outside a professional setting. And why would they? Come to the country, speak the language – that is what Australians have always maintained. No need to look so confused when they speak Chinese to you in excruciating, childish slowness, oozing condescension – this is what you would’ve done the other way around.

Wherever one goes, any non-Asian skin color is basically a label that reads ‘I’M RICH’ directly above ‘RESPECT ME DAMMIT’, drawing to it all the scammy deals and courteous disrespect one can expect. This labelling has nothing to do with how long one has lived here or how well one can speak the language – it has only to do with skin color.

In casual 2-minute interactions – going to the bank, eating out, getting drunk at a bar, premature ejaculation – who you are, what you are, and what rights and respects are afforded to you are determined according to skin color the moment two people meet.

Again, anecdotal evidence – but then again, no one cares about scientific evidence and opinions are facts.

None of this applies when one is Asian, however. The locals immediately and unconditionally accepts Asians no matter how they dress (four times in a week, women unironically dressed in maid costumes – not for any professional purpose but just casually – have been spotted. Did not take pictures).

It matters not when these camouflaged foreigners can’t speak Chinese, or always get lost the moron-friendly zero-barrier subway system. They rarely get accosted by the various locals, and even if they do, their lack of basic language skill is never met with derision. Somehow, they are spoken to with normal-speed, non-condescending Chinese even though they have the same chance of understanding it as a deaf kookaburra.

This is because these Asian foreigners have already been judged as ‘one of us’, despite them being no less foreign than everyone else. The basis is, of course, appearance alone. Without knowing anything about them, they have been accepted by the locals because they look the same.

Of course, when one is a rational human being with satisfactory intelligence, this sort of judgment rarely applies beyond first-impressions. It’s hard to hold onto one’s prejudice – one way or another – when the Asian guy you thought was a local can’t even use chopsticks and listens to a vaguely homoerotic band called One Direction, whereas the black guy you thought was from Zimbabwe has actually lived here for ten years and speaks fluent Chinese.

But most don’t get past first impressions. People don’t have the time nor the desire to get to know you; most just want your money and be done with it.

Easiest impression to make – the color of one’s skin.

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When an Asian guy walks down an Australian street, despite being as local as anyone could get without losing one’s cultural identity, one cannot escape the sense of constantly being judged from a distance, and whatever caricature that impression would form in the observer’s mind, it will not be ‘one of us’.

Which is cool. After all – as we’ve established – this happens the other way around as well.

Even when people, after forming such misconstrued first impressions, are unwilling to close that distance and properly assess the individual for who they are, it is still cool – they just might not give enough shits to get to know you.

Real social ramifications arise when there is time, and there is a structural need to get to know these ‘different’ people, to close that distance, yet due to fear and anxiety of admitting one’s own mistaken prejudices and/or the simple shyness of approaching a stranger, one does not.

Thus, the prejudices remain forever, cementing into caricatures – the defining of an individual with a few easily perceived visual or auditory traits – which then leads, unceremoniously, to racism.

(to be continued, cos 800 words is stretching it for avid readers of the 21st century)

How to Ignore People

 

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You, looking for friends.

 

Do you have a neckbeard admirer?

Does the success of your once close friends make hair fall out of your scalp before the age of 30?

Want to organize a party, but worried that a few individuals that you hung with in your couch-slumming weed-smoking KFC-eating cat-hoarding years might turn up and eat all your food?

Worry not my friends – just follow these simple steps, and you too can always enjoy the friendly company of people who think and talk and behave exactly like you.

 

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Mmm…stringy.

 

1 – Be like water, not cheese.

Stringing people along is the worst thing you can do.

If you smile amicably and nod when the fat guy with strong BO that you know from your previous place of employment invites himself to your party, chances are he will attend all your subsequent parties for the next 5 years.

On the same note, if someone you don’t give two shits about keeps asking you to attend miscellaneous activities that you typically associate with words such as ‘friends’ or ‘good company’ or ‘yeah sounds fun’, don’t act polite and say yes even though you want to say no.

Instead, just say no. Outright reject them.

When you pour water onto the ground and savagely set fire to it, it wouldn’t mind; it would just evaporate and be gone before you know it; but if you pour hot cheese, not only will it stick to your skin, your underwear, your figurine collection, your precious time, and your tarnished pride, it will also spontaneously combust.

Don’t be stringy cheese. Be like water.

 

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2 – Be a dick and a sadist.

The biggest barrier to saying no is, of course, not wanting to sound like a dick/stuck-up bitch.

What you fail to realize it, if you are a dick, it is much easier to hide the fact in a two-minute Messenger conversation that ends with ‘sorry, I don’t want to’, than having to endure an entire day/night in the same room as them, trying your hardest not to be a dick.

It will be a miserable time for both of you.

Instead, simply make it clear that you don’t want their company – without resorting to personal insults, of course. It is much better to offend them for ten seconds by saying no than it is to clearly express your severe dislike of their presence throughout the entire party/date/time together.

Don’t worry about hurting their feelings. You don’t really care.

In fact, cleanly and respectably rejecting someone will make them feel better in the long run, since you are eliminating their uncertainty, and there is nothing that stresses people out more than waiting for a yes/no that might never come. No one wants to deal with that shit.

So be a dick, and hurt their feelings a little bit.

(Unless they are serial-killer type stalkers, in which case you should purchase an illegal firearm and adopt a bulldog).

 

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Some guy.

3 – Be like Hannibal crossing the Alps, not Justinian I retaking Rome.

If you don’t like someone now, chances are you’ll never like them. Despite what people tell themselves, our impressions of others are formed quickly and firmly and are not likely to change from additional information.

Don’t waste your time thinking, ‘welllll I don’t really want to know this guy, but he might come in useful later, so it might be best to keep him around.’

Remember, Hannibal didn’t terrorize Rome by going ‘welllll I don’t really think I can conquer Italy, so I think I’ll leave a way out, just in case.’ If he did that, not only would he have lost every battle, the Romans would never have respected him.

That’s right, you can hate someone’s guts yet retain the ability to treat them like a capable human being. In fact, it is more likely to get a favor from someone who hates you but respects you, than from one whom you have little respect for yet is always hanging around.

Remember, Justinian I’s Roman Empire was not real. Just because you are sitting on Italy doesn’t mean you own it. In fact, instead of using brute conquest, if he exerted Byzantine’s power through diplomacy, when all the barbarians were fighting amongst themselves, he would’ve achieve the same thing, if not more. Instead, he conquered a piece of nostalgia to make himself feel good, and pushed his prosperous empire into centuries of war.

So the next time you think of going out of your way to get close to someone that you have no reason to, remember: Rome was sacked 12 times in a hundred years. That beautiful utopia exists only in your head.

Don’ Care, I’m Exhausted

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zzz

After an exhausting week at work, you come home at 11:32pm on the Friday night smelling like cheap pints and nutty sweat. Kicking off your work shoes as if they are slices of old margarita pizza stuck to your soles, you stumble over to the fridge to look for the leftover pasta. Turns out the fridge is empty – you ate the pasta for lunch today, since one small latte for breakfast doesn’t really carry you through the day – and you’ll have to sleep hungry.

The thought of having to make a run to the store terrifies you. Nothing is open, which means it’ll have to wait until tomorrow, but you were planning to stay cooped up in your bed all day browsing Reddit and eating pasta, and going out would mess majorly with that plan.

Desperate to avoid such a catastrophe, you yank all the cupboards open looking for the emergency muesli bar stash. But all the boxes are empty. You ate the last one last week and hadn’t replenished the stock.

Tea, then. Just tea. You still have teabags, since teabags are what you always buy despite already having four different kinds sitting on the kitchen counter. You brew yourself a cup of gingery lemongrass. It takes one sip for you to realise that all the delicious antioxidants are only making you hungrier. So you pour the rest down the drain.

Time to sleep.

2pm wake-up tomorrow. Plan: stay in bed and do nothing. Same for Sunday, except you’ll have to iron your shirts at some stage, and wash out some socks. You are pretty sure the washing powder’s run out, but one or two rounds of just water washing would probably be OK. If it stinks, it stinks.

You are too tired to care.

Flipping through Facebook in bed, you run into some cute animals, some political message thinly veiled as satire, and some random NGO’s campaign to raise money for some country you don’t care about. Graphic pictures of squalor and violence in some far-off place catches your eye. What a shame, you think to yourself. These people are so unfortunate, having to live like that. Wish someone can do something about it.

Not that you want to press the like button, even though you just liked that meme with the attac and protec – Like one of these, and a dozen more similar ones will pop up, then the whole feed will just be depressing stuff. Looking at memes and cats is just better. You are too tired to care about the other stuff.

Too tired.

You read a status from one of your friends that you used to talk to, and see that they’ve wrote something about marriage equality, and how everyone deserves to be treated with respect. You nod and click like. What a fantastic individual, you think to yourself; they have the energy to care even though they must be so busy with work and study and meme browsing.

Slightly motivated, you try to write a status of your own. Twenty seconds pass; nothing. You don’t want it to be too short – that might make you seem dumb and uninformed – but you also don’t want to put in the effort to make it long and detailed. Only weird unemployed people and political shills put that much energy into a Facebook post, you tell yourself.

So for the next hour, cozied up in smelly blankets and holding an empty teacup, you stare at the tablet screen, flipping through floor is lava memes and liking the ones that have the most likes.

This feels right. This feels like something you want to do after an exhausting week of work. Let the shills and the loud lesbians and the clickbaiters and the Trump haters post their memes. You just want to be entertained without having to think too much, since you are so exhausted.

And hungry.

Ah…why isn’t there pasta in the fridge? There should already be pasta in the fridge. Will someone please bring pasta and put it in the fridge?

Enlightened, you write that as your status – ‘can someone bring me pasta I’m starving’ – and it takes you a total of four seconds. For the next ten minutes you stare at the screen, waiting to see which people you find attractive are liking your status.

A total of two: your aunt and some guy who looks too ugly for you to know who he is.

The lack of attention makes you fume. People should care about stuff more. The lack of pasta is a serious issue! You are literally starving in your bed!

You cannot believe that no one cares. People these days are so apathetic and selfish. All they do is browse memes and watch Youtube. They never care about the real issues that impact the world.

Hmm…

That sounds like another good post.

Motivated, you post it as your new status.

Then you stare at the screen, waiting for the likes to stack up.

How to Abuse a Democracy, Plebiscite Edition

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Image from chadstjames.

A plebiscite means nothing.

It is not legally binding. It has the same importance as the opinion polls on your nominal breakfast news, for that is what it amounts to: a government-sponsored opinion poll.

The result of a plebiscite, no matter how decisive, will not change the law.

What it does accomplish is starting debates around issues that no longer require debate.

By pitching a yes-or-no scenario on a topic – any topic – it artificially legitimizes both sides of the argument.

Here is an example:

Plebiscite question: The Earth is Flat, yay or nay?

Rationally, in the year 2k17, this question should not even be posed. It is not a matter of argument or debate whether the earth is flat; overwhelming evidence exist that it is. Though there is always reason for doubt, we as human beings accept small margins or error as a matter of course – otherwise we’d never go outside, since going outside meant accepting the small chance that a car might run us over.

By affording this question a forum of discussion, we are artificially amplifying the validity of the ‘earth is flat’ argument. That miniscule chance of the earth actually being flat has been elevated to a fifty-fifty – a yes or no, which is not the odds our cumulative scientific evidence would suggest.

This forced balancing of the odds doesn’t seem like a big deal at first, but we humans, as do all living creatures, make choices based on the highest chance of success. By forcefully subjecting us to this equal-importance of the two arguments, the very act of posing the question injects uncertainty and confusion into our rational consciousness.

I.e., we start believing that there is a considerable chance that the earth might be flat, despite there is no good reason for thinking so.

Effectively, posing this sort of question to the public is the equivalent of forcibly injecting irrationality into our consciousness, making us believe that somehow both sides are equally valid when it is not so.

Let’s apply this to another question:

Marriage Equality, yay or nay?

As of now, the Australian Constitution definition of “Marriage” includes marriage between persons of the same sex, while the Marriage Act 1961 does not provide for the formation or recognition of marriage between same sex couples.

A plebiscite will change neither of these. It is not a referendum; it cannot change the Constitution. It is an expression of public opinion, which supposedly holds considerable weight in changing the law, but now, with the artificial equivalence of the two sides of the argument – instigated by the very asking of this question – will forcibly change opinions.

It is not a question that needs to be asked.

The ruling of the High Court on the definition of “marriage” means that the debate has already moved past the ‘Is this acceptable’ stage. Right now we should be on the ‘How to change the law to fit the Constitution’ debate, not another ‘Is this acceptable’ opinion poll, artificially posed onto the public in order to re-argue an established result. The earth is already round. No amount of debate will make it flat again.

Unless, due to this very plebiscite, public opinion changes.

Remember, debating a yes-or-no question makes both sides appear equally valid. People who don’t care one way or the other will be presented with what appears to be a mired debate, with good reasons to lean either way, when the debate itself should no longer exist.

So really, the very act of asking for a plebiscite on Marriage Equality – when plebiscites have no legal import, when the public opinion firmly established, when the High Court decision has already moved us past the whole argument – is effectively an attempt to change the established opinion.

So we all need to be careful.

Plebiscites are not the open forums they pretend to be. Frank expressions of our opinions will not be enough – answering the question is not at all the point of this exercise.

So don’t sit back after sending in your vote. Don’t be content with just expressing your own opinion, when those who still think the earth is flat are pushing as hard as they could to change peoples’ minds.

Writing A Love Letter

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What an archaic concept.

Nowadays we don’t need words. Just eggplant and giggle-face and you are good to fuck.

That’s about two step baser than a peacock fanning its tail and twerking.

If our grandparents had access to this level of instantaneous no-reading-required hookup, there’d be a lot more entitled middle-aged men around about now – contraception what’s that? – So we must be thankful.

Be thankful and grateful for the hedonistic freedom we have in the 21st century.

No longer are we required to make connections with one another, not when the ultimate expression of intimacy is the willingness to take things up the butt.

No longer are we expected to express our emotions in coherent sentences, not when sending a GIF of two pandas fucking in a forest of bamboo conveys the same horniness…more or less.

And with our sexual needs so thoroughly satisfied, there is no more reason to talk about how the other person’s life is going, how their weekend was, why do they seem upset etc., since the purpose of these menial conversations is to lead to more fucking, and we’ve already had enough.

Confronted by this truth – the truth that there are very, very few people out there who genuinely give a shit about anything we do or feel – our first reaction is to reach for our phones with the goal of hitting the next post-coital glow. It drives all that we do.

Because no one feels lonely in the middle of an orgasm.

Thus, we keep fucking.

It is what we are born to do, after all. And the more steps we can skip to get there, the better.

Then, we complain.

Complain that no one gives a shit when we are upset and need to whine about the world treating us unfairly, about the people we sleep with not being attractive enough to make up for their bitchery. Words, blocks and block of text, hours and hours of chatting and phone calls – we send to each and every person we sort of know in the hope that someone, anyone, cares enough to care about you.

But remember, these are words. Coherent sentences. Expressions of genuine emotion.

Archaic concepts.

But it’ll be OK. Don’t worry about it.

Just keep chasing the next fuck.

It’ll make everything better.