BS people believe about urbanists

Originally, an urbanist means an expert in urban planning, someone who asserts that an ideal city prioritises walkability and transit-oriented and mixed-use developments, provides extensive and safe bike infrastructures and decreases use of air-polluting, noise-polluting, space-consuming, traffic-congesting, wallet-draining and live-taking cars.

They believe such approach maximises financial health, social cohesion, liveliness, environmental sustainability, physical health and connectivity.

Anyway, in recent years on the internet (in communities which I encounter, at least), the definition has evolved to someone who actively advocates for what the urban planning experts propose. An urbanist can be an online content creator who makes urban planning content that is accessible to the wider audience; even though not all of them have the credentials, they often cite studies.

In this blogpost, I am going to focus on the latter definition of urbanists. And when I use the word “you”, I am referring to car and suburbia nuts.

So, let’s talk about your accusations of us… and how they are actually projections.

First projection: anti-progress

You believe we have unreasonable hatred for technology and wish humanity retreat back to cavemen lifestyle.

False.

We believe true futurism requires consideration of long-term sustainability of anything we do in our lives. In urban planning context, we want cities to be sustainable to our physical health, mental health, finance, social cohesion and natural environment in the long run.

Basically, when making decision about adopting new methods and tools, we have to consider not only their benefits, but also their drawbacks. If there are more drawbacks than benefits, then we shouldn’t adopt them, regardless of how old or new they are.

Meanwhile, your idea of futurism is all about unquestioningly adopting and celebrating new technologies. You cannot comprehend that new does not always mean better, that the old ways can be better sometimes.

Electric cars – a favourite of fake futurists – are still space-consuming cars. They will still congest traffic and they will still cause cities to sprawl. And we can see how bulky those Teslas are.

And they still cause air pollution anyway. Those batteries require rare minerals which can only be obtained through mining. Don’t forget asphalt also has emission, which may be higher than ones of fossil fuels.

You are the kind of person who want your world to resemble a sci-fi one, not realising what the fi stands for, not realising sci-fi works are often cautionary tales against tactless use of technologies. There is a reason why sci-fi is only taught in arts and humanities classes.

Oh, and green tech won’t save the planet either. But, do you know what does? Decreasing your consumption.

You embrace green tech because you want to justify your wasteful lifestyle and put some or most of the blame on poorer and less developed countries, even though they emit less emission despite being far more populous.

And yes, even American-style suburbias are far from green. In the US, most cities emit far less CO2 than the suburbs. It makes sense when you realise suburban dwellers use cars more than their urban counterparts and suburban yards and sidewalks aren’t always lush with trees. Don’t forget that they are often devoid of native plants and biodiversity.

Your idea of futurism does not put humanity a few steps forward. It brings us a few steps backward.

Second projection: Anti-efficiency

You believe we hate cars so much, we would rather deprive everyone of efficient transportation.

False.

Cars are the least efficient mode of transport. Cars have maximum passenger capacity of five and, often times, there is only one in each. There is a significant amount of space taken for five people or less; God forbids if your car is American-sized.

Meanwhile, even though most bikes can only carry one person each, they take very little space. Twenty bikes take less space than ten cars.

Buses and rail transports are indeed bigger than cars. But, they can hold far more passengers. A bus (that is not fully seated) can hold around fifty people. A metro train can hold around a thousand passengers maximum.

And you expect me to believe that making most people drive is the most efficient way?

I don’t know how you can see those wide, congested roads and still believe that. Houston’s Katy Freeway has 26 lanes and it has one of the worst congestions in Texas.

Yeah, I know pedestrian spaces, bike lanes and public transports with right-of-way can be jam-packed. But, their flow of traffics are constantly moving, unlike car roads which can come to a standstill for minutes or even hours at a time.

Oh, and considering most of us never advocate for complete ban of cars, we still allow cargo vehicles to roam. In fact, if most people don’t drive, those cargo vehicles are far less likely to stuck in traffic.

Even then, cargo versions of bikes also exist, believe it or not. No, I am not talking about ones with small woven baskets on the frontside. I am talking about ones with cargo containers as big as the bikes themselves.

I have had many repairmen coming in and out of my house. I have seen the size of materials and tools they bring. Most of the time, if they live in a place where cargo bikes are in abundance and it is safe to cycle on the streets, they could have definitely used them to do their jobs.

Third projection: Financially and economically irresponsible

You believe that we hate cars and sprawling suburbia so much, we would rather destroy the city’s finance by having expensive transit systems and destroy the economies by shutting car factories down.

False.

I am not going to pretend transit systems are cheap to construct and maintain. But, do you know what else isn’t cheap? Car infrastructures.

Believe it or not, roads also require lots of money to build and maintain. The more they are used by motored vehicles, the quicker they deteriorate and the quicker they deteriorate, the more they need resurfacing.

Unless car users pay their fair share of road tax (corresponding to the weight of their vehicles, as heavier ones cause even more damage), car infrastructures are expensive and unprofitable things which are heavily subsidised by the states.

Sprawling, car-centric urban developments in general are also financially draining. They have low population density while having facilities comparable to ones in dense urban environments. Expensive to maintain while generating little tax revenue.

Don’t forget that city highways cannot be constructed without the destruction of neighbourhoods, which would definitely ruin livelihoods. With fewer lands available, their prices would increase; if you live in a place where people from all over migrate to, the living cost would be suffocating.

If car factories are closed, those workers will still have jobs, anyway. I mean, how do you think bicycles, buses and trains exist? Appear out of thin air?

Public transit tickets are definitely far cheaper than the prices of car fuel, maintenance, insurance and tax. Therefore, car-dependency also punish people for being poor.

Fourth projection: hating just for the sake of hating

You believe we are just haters who hate car-dependency and sprawling suburbia for no reasons. You believe that if we have experienced the joy of owning cars and living in a sprawling suburbia, we wouldn’t be haters.

False.

We hate car-dependency and sprawling suburbia because we have experienced them.

We have experienced living and commuting in places where cars are king. We know how it feels to walk and bike with high chance of getting hit by cars. We know how it feels to use unreliable and uncomfortable public transit. We know how it feels when those fucktarded motored vehicles are the only viable options.

You remind me of religious zealots who think religion detractors have zero experiences with religions, refusing to acknowledge that many of them grew up in religiously oppressive environments.

Oh, and despite your inexperience living and/or visiting places with good walkability and public transit, you love looking down on walking and public transit.

You don’t know how nice it is to not be financially burdened by cars and not dealing with incompetent and angry drivers. You don’t know how liberating it is to live a very mobile life while car-free. You think walking and transit experiences in your car-centric hometowns are universal.

Fifth projection: unnaturalness

You believe what we are advocating is “unnatural”. You believe humans aren’t meant to live in concrete jungles and stacked atop of each other (in the form of apartments), where cables used by trolley buses and trams are lingering above us.

False.

Give me scientific evidences that humans are innately not meant to live in dense cities. If there is one paper that shows the negative effects of city living, how do you know the results are applicable every person? Have you considered the individuals’ medical and cultural backgrounds? Have you considered…. the urban design?

Believe it or not, just because a statement feels right to you, that does not mean it actually is.

Every single man-made thing is unnatural. Your beloved cars, single-detached houses, malls and wide roads are unnatural. If you truly care about living “natural”, then you should also denounce those things as well.

Don’t forget that your beloved, sprawling and American-style suburbs are even more destructive to the natural environment. Not only they take a lot of natural spaces, they also have yards which mostly consist of chemically-maintained grasses and, as mentioned before, lack any native plants and biodiversity.

Sixth projection: unrealistic expectations

You believe that we are being unrealistic with our expectations. You believe the car-centrism and sprawling nature of cities are innate and therefore, there are limits to turning car-centric cities to be more walkable, more bike-friendly, more transit-oriented and more compact.

False.

If you take a look at old photos of American cities, you would see they were almost as compact as their European counterparts; they were walkable, bike-friendly, compact and equipped with trams.

Basically, they were never intended to be car-centric and sprawling; I mean, this makes sense when you remember America has existed long before the automobiles. As Jason Slaughter from Not Just Bikes loves to say: American cities weren’t build for the cars, they were bulldozed for the cars.

If it is possible for us to spend lots of time, money and energy turning walkable and compact cities into the exact opposite, I don’t see anything unrealistic about the vice versa.

But, do you know what is realistic? Believing that your wasteful lifestyle is sustainable in the long run.

Seventh projection: tyranny

You believe we want to ban cars entirely, force everyone to ride bikes for everything and ban single-family houses with huge yards.

False.

When we say car-dependency, we are not referring to the mere existence of cars, we are referring to a situation in which everyone uses car to do literally almost anything, from shopping groceries to going to work and school. We want everyone to have alternative options. Very few urbanists actually support complete ban of cars. Some of us – excluding me – actually love cars.

In fact, car lovers should oppose car-dependency. Not only you are far less likely to get stuck in traffic, you are far less likely to encounter grumpy drivers who always hate driving.

And eliminating single-family home zone with mandatory minimum size requirements is not the same banning big single-family homes with big yards. You still can have them. But, others are allowed to have different kinds of housing and to run businesses within their premises.

We actually want freedom. But, do you know who don’t? You do.

You are the one who want your cities to stay car-centric. You are the one who love dismissing complains about poor pedestrian, biking and mass transit infrastructures and think the complainers should grow up by buying their own cars.

You are the one who want to keep the single-family house zone. You insist residential neigbourhoods must be exclusively reserved for big single-family housing with big yards, with no room for smaller and more affordable housing and small businesses.

You are comparable to religious zealots who think shoving their beliefs down everyone’s throat is a form of religious freedom that benefit everyone. Having only one option is not freedom.

In fact, you love mocking cyclists who got killed by entitled drivers, whom you always let off the hook. You do more than just normalising deaths by cars, you also celebrate “executions” of anyone who are unwilling or unable to drive.

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Where is the hype for ‘Drive My Car’ ?(The unsophistication of film snobs)

I remember when excited film nuts were hyping Bon Joon Ho’s Parasite and how happy they were when it won Best Picture at the Oscars. At the time when I started writing this, people were hyping Everything Everywhere All At Once and many celebrated its eleven Oscar nominations.

Parasite is a dark comedy satire that loves emphasising its messages through “hidden” visual clues and metaphors. EEAAO is a genre-bending film that provides a refreshing take on the multiverse. They have genuinely interesting premises.

Some MCU bashers who love the two movies often compare them – especially EEAAO – to Marvel films. They love reminding Marvel fans about the existence of quality cinema.

But, for some reasons, they didn’t hype Drive My Car. I found it baffling.

It was released in 2021 and won many awards, including Best International Feature Film at the Oscars in 2022. Meanwhile, Parasite was released in 2019 and won Best Picture at the Oscars in 2020 and EEAAO was released in 2022 and got nominated in 2023. Basically, it was not in direct competitions with any of the two.

So, why didn’t they hype it?

Well, I have one observation: they are not as sophisticated as they think they are.

Yes, the other two films indeed represent quality cinema, there is no doubt about that. But, they still bear traits of mainstream and commercial cinema: action-oriented, (relatively) fast-paced and visually striking. Traits which Drive My Car lacks.

In fact, not only it is dialogue-driven and slow-paced, it also has a very modest storytelling style; the acting is very deadpan and the story is straightforwardly told, without any symbolism (as far as I am concerned). It also keeps referencing Uncle Vanya, a play which many people – including myself – aren’t familiar with.

Yet, despite what I said above, the film still manages to be rich in emotions. It is a good example of less is more. If I – someone who cannot consider himself a film snob – can appreciate it, then actual film snobs should appreciate it even more.

But, what if they are unable to?

They have expressed what kinds of films they love to watch… and it is very telling.

They love filmmakers like Steven Spielberg, Quentin Tarantino, Francis Ford Coppola, Martin Scorsese and James Cameron. They love films like Jaws, original Star Wars trilogy, Pulp Fiction, the first three Terminator films, the first Jurassic Park, the earlier Indiana Jones, the first and second Mummy, Lord of the Rings and the earlier Alien and Predator films… which “coincidentally” also happens to be films they grew up with.

They won’t mention directors like Luis Buñuel, Andrei Tarkovsky, Ingmar Bergman, Robert Bresson, Atom Egoyan, Robert Altman, Shane Carruth, Jan Švankmajer, Sergei Parajanov, Frederico Fellini, Abbas Kiarostami and Yasujirō Ozu. They won’t mention films like Taste of Cherry, The Sweet Hereafter, 3 Women, Mirror, 8 1/2, Persona, An Andalusian Dog, Primer, The Color of Pomegranates and Tokyo Story.

They love the exciting, fast-paced and nostalgic escapism of mainstream and highly-commercialised Hollywood films. But, they don’t seem to appreciate the oblique, dialogue-heavy and/or calm-paced storytelling of non-Hollywood arthouse films.

Basically, they are basic bitches who criticise others for being basic bitches. Pot calling the kettle black, alcoholics calling stoners addicts, neocons calling Putin supporters warmongers. They don’t have the pedestals to bash the other side. They are each other’s equals.

Being basic is not bad in itself. But, being a hypocrite is.

Oh, and if many/most of the films and directors they praise are also the ones they grew up with, there is nostalgia bias. They cannot expect us to believe it is just a mere coincidence.

Nostalgia is also not bad in itself. But, let’s not pretend your feeling is objective.

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MCU films kill movie stars…. and how is that supposed to be bad?

Seriously, how?

When I was a much more unsophisticated film consumer, I watched films because of their premises, they were adaptations of certain source materials and they were sequels of films that I liked. I was not star struck by the actors.

As a teen, I started taking more heed of of my sexual attractions and I did find some actors more attractive than the others. But, I still didn’t watch films because of the actors. Still wasn’t star struck by them.

When I was around 19, I started exploring cinema beyond the mainstream Hollywood. Apart from the aforementioned ones, I also added a new reason for me to watch a film: the director. Nowadays, I already have three personal favourites.

And this was when I started to bewildered by the concept of a “movie star”.

You are watching a film and yet, instead of focusing on the story and maybe on how its execution, you choose to focus on your favourite actors, even though they are supposed to be the characters they are depicting instead of being themselves; that’s literally what actors are hired for.

Yes, I do know some actors perform better than the others; I have certainly caught myself fawning over their sublime performances. But, it still does not make me star struck for multiple reasons.

Good acting skills aren’t unique to specific actors, the most acclaimed actors don’t always give their best performances and, most importantly, the most popular actors aren’t always the best performers.

It should also be noted that some actors are famous for portraying characters with similar traits, over and over and over again.

I don’t think this is necessarily bad. If they are actors who always perform characters specifically made for them and cannot be performed by anyone else, then I can see why people watch films just for them. I am thinking of the likes of Rowan Atkinson, Jackie Chan and Charlie Chaplin, whom we never expect to have a wide acting range (even though they may have it).

But, most actors aren’t like that. We expect most of them to have an actually wide range instead of simply performing their public personas.

Okay, if you love them solely for their public personas, then why bother watching their films? I mean, you can simply tune in to any of their media appearances, including their interviews and any shows they guest star in.

Heck, we are in 2023. I am certain some of your favourite movie stars have become Youtubers as well. You can definitely watch their videos.

My point is people love to bash MCU for supposedly showcasing filmmaking at its shallowest… and yet, they often have nothing but the shallowest arguments.

First, Martin Scorcese – supposedly one of the most acclaimed directors of all time – argued MCU films are not cinema; he made his own definition of the word “cinema” and act like it is the most objective one. Basically, if I didn’t know who uttered the words, I would assume they were uttered by a snot-nosed and self-righteous teenager.

Then, we also have Quentin Tarantino – another supposedly acclaimed director – who thinks MCU films are bad because they kill the movie stars.

I mean, there are lots to criticise about MCU films. The extreme commercialisation, the lack of risk-taking and the excessive amount of jokes. But, he criticises them because they kill celebrity worship, something that actually deserves to be killed off?

He is a fucking film director. He should be focused on the stories and how they are executed. But, for some reasons, he thinks upholding celebrity worship – something of no value – is just as important. Are you fucking kidding me?

I don’t know if they are desperate with their criticisms or they genuinely believe they are onto something.

But, one thing is certain: their simps will take their words like the gospel, regardless of the profundity or lack thereof. Because status trumps everything.

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Oh, and there are times when I actually watch films solely for their actors.

Those films are called porn.

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Voting conservative

So, you are a woman and/or a person of minority background who votes conservative. Why?

Is it because you want equal rights?

If equal rights for women and minorities have always been the status quo, then I understand. But, we know damn well that is not the case. Even if inequality was not as bad as or was more complicated than people think it was, you cannot deny it has been existing for a long time.

If women and minorities are given less opportunities, more likely to be horribly represented in the media and, in the worst cases, more likely to suffer from injustice, then I don’t know what to call it other than inequality.

Yes, liberals and leftists have their issues with tokenism and false promises. But, you cannot expect me to believe conservatives have a good track record of supporting pro-equality policies.

If they do, then why do the anti-feminist, anti-LGBT+ and white supremacist crowds form the majority of their voters? Why do those demographics love them so much?

And why don’t those conservative politicians seem to mind?

Is it because you are an actual proud conservative?

Okay, that’s understandable. I cannot blame you for voting candidates who share most, if not all, of your stances. But, if your politics is the one that keeps you as a second-class citizen (including in a social sense), you have to acknowledge there is a problem.

Because of it, you need to rethink about your relationship with conservatism. Maybe you create a new brand of conservatism, maybe you leave conservatism altogether, I don’t know. But, one thing for sure: getting disenfranchised by your own politics is not something to be content with.

Why are you opposed to obligatory representations? If it is because of the infantilisation and tokenism, then I – a left-leaning person – am 100% agree with you. But, you should observe your fellow conservatives’ reactions.

Are they really angered by the forcedness? Or are they angered by representations in general?

If they think it is okay for white actors to portray non-white characters that are based on real people, but it is unacceptable to turn fictional white characters non-white, it is the latter.

If they react by making racist responses (like they did to black Little Mermaid), it is the definitely latter.

Is it because you want to be loved?

Regardless of their politics, if someone “respects” you only after you start affirming their beliefs about “your people” and/or you are willing to do anything they tell you to, then they still don’t see you as a fellow human being.

They see you as a human-shaped tool which they can exploit for their political agendas; for the gullible and hateful ones, nothing affirms prejudices better than the insiders’ so-called “exposés”. Not to mention they have an added bonus of appearing tolerant, with you as their usable token.

I don’t know the exact ways to stop the hate. But surely, your common sense should tell you putting fuel into the fire won’t extinguish it.

Is it because you are against equal rights for “certain others”?

I don’t know how anyone of marginalised backgrounds think they can afford to grab each other’s throat. If your idea of empowerment is depriving “certain others” of equal rights, how are you different from the bigots who keep doing the same to you?

You know what’s funny? Even though you vote for politicians who are also definitely against your equal rights, you will keep blaming those “certain others” for your poor quality of life… and you will keep failing to see the irony.

In this case, I am thinking of feminism-appropriating reactionary transphobes and any LGBT+ people who don’t know what the T stands for.

It also applies to far-right-voting LGBT+ people who think anti-LGBT sentiment in the west mostly comes from Muslims, as if Muslims dominate the western establishments.

Is it because of inferiority complex?

You may hate being a woman. But, you will always be one, regardless of how many anti-women policies you support. And, even if you genuinely end up identifying as a trans man or non-binary, conservatives will always see you as a woman.

You can definitely leave the religions you grew up with. But, it is baffling how a person can bash a religion and its adherents and ensure their images are 100% negative by pandering to bigots’ preconceived beliefs…

… And yet, they claim they still identify with the religion and its community. Why? Why do you still wanting to belong to a community that you help dehumanising?

If you don’t know which group I am talking about, I am talking about so-called Muslim reformers living in the west.

You may hate belonging to certain ethnic or racial groups. You may leave the associated cultures. But, your lineage will stay the same. You can hate being Chinese, stop speaking Chinese and stop embracing anything Chinese. But, you will always be of Chinese-descent.

It is one thing if you genuinely cannot identify with your ancestral heritage. It is another when because you believe every person who can is a lesser human being.

You may hate your Queerness. But, sooner or later, you have to accept it is determined by nature and nurture, two things you have no control over.

If you hate being Queer and think it is a choice, why did you choose to be one in the first place? Why did you choose an identity which you consider optional and repulsive?

Is it because you have actual grievances about your communities?

If yes, then I am on board with you. I believe anyone – regardless of how marginalised they are – deserve to be scrutinised for the problems they are causing.

Obviously, if you want to confront and fix any problems, you need to try your best to be factual, you must have the ability to see the shades of grey and you must consider the different perspectives (without committing false balance, of course).

And yet, instead of forming alliances with fellow members of your communities who know the intricacies of the lives within, you choose to do so with people from outside the communities who believe in stereotypes about “your people” and actively fight against your equal rights.

They don’t care about facts, they only care about their own perspectives, they take oversimplifications to an extreme and, most importantly, their idea of “progress” is wiping the likes of you from existence.

That makes me question the legitimacy of your grievances. Maybe they were never legitimate in the first place and you are just suffering from self-hatred.

Or maybe, you are just a fucking idiot who think aligning with bigots is “tough love”.

Once again, I have the western-based so-called Muslim reformers in mind.

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‘Everything Everywhere All At Once’ isn’t that confusing

*spoiler alert*

I admit it is far from the most escapist film ever.

It is a comedic, psychological, absurdist, action-packed sci-fi film. Its story starts as one before splitting into two main branches that symbolically paralleling each other. It depicts existentialism, nihilism, generational gaps and identity crisis of children with foreign-born parents.

It is an undoubtedly highly-thematic, idiosyncratic and cerebral film that cannot put into any boxes. It is definitely not for everyone. In fact, I am surprised by its box office success.

But, is it really hard to follow?

In the beginning, we see our main protagonist Evelyn Wang struggling not only with the IRS’s audit of her laundromat business, but also with her strained relationships with her (supposedly) meek and naive husband, demanding father and queer daughter who seems detached from her ancestral heritage. The story starts branching out when someone from a parallel universe approaches her.

The film mainly focuses on two branches. One is a continuation of her earthly struggles story. The other one is about her fight against a powerful being – a parallel universe version of her daughter – who wants to destroy the multiverse, with the help of her husband’s parallel universe version.

There are lots to take in and I have barely scratched the surface by not detailing the minor but still consequential stories and discussing the film’s loaded themes. But, the plot is still clearly laid out for us.

In both main stories, you can easily determine the introduction, rise, climax, fall and resolution. Even though the parallel universes overlap with each other, we still can tell which is which. They are linearly and unambiguously depicted.

I have watched arthouse films where the lines between the past and present and between the physical and metaphysical worlds are blurred. I have watched arthouse films where the stories are partially or entirely conveyed through unexplained and seemingly-random imagery.

I have watched Shane Carruth’s Primer (hard to enjoy his works after knowing what he did), a time travel film where the characters speak with lots of technical jargons and create paradoxes so complex, you can’t discern the different timelines from each other.

There are many films with plots open to interpretations, where you are required to figure everything out yourself. But, Everything Everywhere All At Once is not one of them. If you simply pay attention, you would know what is going on.

Unfortunately, I have encountered something like this before.

I have heard people complaining how the 2009 Sherlock Holmes film has a very complex mystery, even though it is overwhelmed by the many action scenes and the explanations barely use any jargons.

While watching La La Land in the theatre with me, my sister overheard another filmgoer’s confusion about what those fantasy sequences are supposed to be, even though it is blatantly obvious they depict the characters’ fantasies.

Some Harry Potter fans complain the film adaptation of Half-Blood Prince is boring and has nothing going on, even though it clearly has things going on… in the forms of calm-paced and dialogue-driven scenes.

Basically, some people are unable to understand a story if it requires slightly more efforts and isn’t 99.9% escapist.

I don’t know if they are that stupid or just lazy. I hope it is the latter. I already have many reasons to be cynical.

The last thing I need is to have another one.

Oh, and one more thing:

If you watched the trailer and/or saw the weird poster that I use for this blogpost prior watching the film, why did you expect it to be “normal”?

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“You should ‘go out’ more”… part 2

A while ago, I wrote a blogpost about how people keep suggesting me to “go out” and encounter opposing worldview NOT because they care about me, but because I refuse to appease to their preconceived beliefs; they want to discredit me, but aren’t able to.

I just realised “going out” also means leaving one’s comfort zones. Once again, I see this as a good thing. You won’t know what you love or hate, what you are good or bad at, unless you try something new.

But, just like the previous case, they don’t care about my well-being. They want me to leave my comfort zone NOT because I am too comfortable inside (which is unfortunately true), but because they want to shove their interests and agendas down my throat.

They want me to do sports, automotive hobbies and any “adventurous” activities like indoor climbing because they themselves love those activities and/or they have a shallow and arbitrary idea of masculinity.

They want me to do group activities because they are zealous extroverts who think introverts like me are damaged, poor souls who must be cured from a horrible mental illness that is introversion.

They want me to consume certain music and films because they want to eradicate tastes which they consider as “uncool”.

How can I be certain those are not baseless accusations?

Well, first thing first, the “new” activities they join have always interested them since forever.

They do new sports because they have always loved sports. They do automotive activities because they have always loved any car-related things. They do things like skydiving because they have always been adrenaline junkies.

You never see them doing calm-paced activities like reading books, visiting museums, having a stroll in the park, learning “useless” or niche knowledge like history, religion or urban planning. Definitely not voluntarily.

They join group activities because they have always loved big social settings; they love them so much, they helped spreading COVID-19. You never see them being voluntarily solitary.

Everything they consume is popular and trendy. You never see them interested in discovering new styles of music and films. They are proudly basic.

Overall, their idea of leaving comfort zones is doing things that they know they will enjoy.

They also don’t take no as an answer. If I try their suggestions and I don’t enjoy them in the slightest, they will harass me to try them again. They won’t stop until I enjoy them.

With those information in mind, it is evident that they criticise my lifestyle NOT because I am too comfortable in my comfort zones, but because I am too different for their liking.

Somehow, my ‘peculiarities’ personally offend them.

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It should be pointed out that their interests are far more mainstream than mine, at least in where I am from.

Sports – whether spectatorship or actually playing them – are undeniably popular all over the world. While they are not the popular, automotive hobbies and adrenaline activities have notable presence in many Indonesian cities, including my hometown. And I certainly don’t need to explain about pop culture. No matter how uninterested you are, you would still get involuntarily exposed to them.

Meanwhile, mine are much more niche.

I stood out as a teen because I preferred oldies, some of my favourite films are unorthodox arthouse, bibliophilia is almost unheard of (I used to read a lot more books) and there aren’t any mainstream platforms where one can discuss social science, humanities and the arts beyond the basic facts; I am also interested in urban planning, a topic which is growing in popularity yet still a niche, even online. If you are uninterested or aren’t being forced to study them, you wouldn’t get exposed to any of them.

I can argue they should be the ones who try embracing my interests instead of the other way around. But, I am not that conceited and I am self-aware enough to realise I need a lot to learn in life.

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Being basic: not a sin, not something to be proud of

Basic is a pejorative slang word which means preference to anything that is mainstream and inability to enjoy anything niche and are of acquired tastes.

I think it is appropriate to extend the definition to one’s lack of interest in any highbrow and heavy topics. You prefer to keep the conversations simple and light.

Obviously, there is nothing inherently wrong about any of those. Being basic does not harm anyone. Being the opposite does not help anyone either.

Besides, ‘basic’ is relative. In the US, you would stand out if you love spices and fermented seafood. But, if you live among Indonesians who love both, you are basic.

Your ‘sophistication’ may be unimpressive in some places. It may also be something you involuntarily grew up with, instead of something you voluntarily and diligently learned to love; if you did learn to love it, it is possible you had the means to do so.

You cannot be too proud of it when the opportunities were handed to you.

But, I also hate how some people are proud of being basic; they even have the gall to look down on anyone who aren’t. Seriously, what is something to be proud about that?

If you love only purely escapist entertainment, it means you cannot enjoy anything which has the slightest negative emotions as they are enough to remind you of reality.

If you enjoy only chicken nuggets, vanilla ice creams and the likes, it means your tastebuds are limited to salt, sugar and grease.

If you enjoy only the latest pop songs, it means you cannot enjoy unpredictable melodies, more complex music arrangement and/or you are not open to different or new sounds.

If you enjoy only Hollywood blockbusters, it means you cannot enjoy motion picture works with more slow-paced, more complex and/or more offbeat storytellings.

If you enjoy only light conversations and small talks, it means you refuse or are unable to contemplate about the convoluted nature of the world you live in.

To sum them up, you refuse or are unable to comprehend complexities, be reminded of reality while being entertained, take new tastes into consideration and appreciate the beauty of silence and calmness.

Again, there is nothing immoral about the things I mentioned above. You shouldn’t be condemned for having traits that harm no one.

But, those traits reveal your incapabilities, not your capabilities. They are not strengths, they are weaknesses. Celebrating ‘basicness’ is the celebration of ineptitude.

Maybe you are thinking of contentment. You love yourself despite your inoffensive weaknesses. If that’s what you mean, then I am on your side (and I can definitely relate).

But, if you insist it is not contentment and you genuinely love yourself because of those weaknesses, then you can go fuck yourself.

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How to catch a groomer (and virtue signal)

*puts on a mask*

What is grooming?

It is an act of creating emotional bond with a child in order to sexually exploit them later on. But, we know you don’t care about that.

What you care about is making sure queer people remain discriminated against; you don’t want them to grow up feeling empowered and you don’t want them to have allies.

But, we know anti-queerness has become less and less accepted. You cannot call them slurs and openly endorse anti-LGBT policies, let alone incite violence against them. The only method left is to slander them.

You have to literally frame everything LGBT-related as literal child grooming. Whether adoption of children by same-sex couples, queer representations in children’s media or the teaching of queer history at schools, you have to frame them as not only sexually inappropriate for children, but also symptoms of sexual abuse.

You don’t even need solid evidences of grooming. All you need to share articles about queer topics and like-minded people will eat it up. It does not matter if the articles do not mention grooming or affirm its existence. People will only read the headlines and assume the content affirms their beliefs.

If someone says the sexual abuses committed by queer people are isolated cases and not an epidemic, accuse them of trivialising the victims’s sufferings, even though that is not what the person is doing. You have to frame them as complicit for not exaggerating the issue.

And, there is a bonus: people will hail you as courageous heroes who defend those vulnerable children…

… Despite the fact that you couldn’t give less fuck about them.

You never bat an eye about sexual predatory parents, teachers and clergymen. If anything, you only see children as nothing but exploitable assets, as shown by your fellow anti-LGBT crusaders.

Killing two beloved pet dogs with one bullet…. and blaming it on those dirty Queers.

*takes off the mask*

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The existential dread of bootlickers

In places where police brutality is rampant, cops are comparable to domestic abusers. They wrongfully arrest and kill citizens and then try to gaslight everyone that life is better with their presence, despite evidences to the contrary.

I don’t know how to compare bootlickers here. Are they Stockholm syndrome sufferers? Domestic abuse enablers? Both? Neither? I can’t say. I am more comfortable to describe them from an existential perspective.

When non-bootlickers are in trouble, they either call the police for help and expect to be disappointed (and may get brutalised as a “bonus”) or they don’t bother at all, accepting their fates as their problems eat them alive.

Some are hopeful; while they are distrustful and even hostile towards cops, they still believe institutional reforms are possible. Others are cynical; they see the authorities as inherently evil entities and no amount of reforms will cut it.

Meanwhile, bootlickers believe humans are destined to worship the authorities. Whether the cops violate human rights or not, they don’t care. What they care about is ensuring cops receive unquestioning obedience from the masses. They believe worshipping the authorities is the meaning of life.

For them, not bootlicking means feeling naked and frail in this treacherous earthly realm… and they believe non-bootlickers make them experience those feelings, even though those “strong” cops are still in power.

They cannot comprehend that some non-bootlickers want the cops to stay exist, but with drastic structural reforms. They cannot comprehend that it is more complicated and grey than simply bootlicking vs lawlessness.

They disregard the fact that those “strong” cops are their fellow human beings, meaning they are also at life’s mercy; as mankind’s solace, they are inherently impotent.

I also don’t know how to deal with the existential dread. But, I am certain putting my trust on violent men in uniforms is not the way.

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Note: Bootlickers and non-bootlickers are not comparable to theists, agnostics and atheists.

The former’s contention is about cops’ worth in our lives. Meanwhile, the latter’s is about Gods’ existence.

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No, Ayam Geprek is not the ultimate Indonesian dish (not yet)

Yes, I have to commend Indonesians who actively promote our cultures to foreigners. I also have to appreciate foreigners who genuinely love our cuisines without any desire to pander to validation-hungry Indonesians.

But, I also need to criticise them for overselling ayam geprek.

In a previous blog, I talk about how Indonesians are clumsy in translating certain words and act like Indomie is the only existing instant noodle brand. But, I find theayam geprek problem to be more infuriating.

While the origin is unclear, it is believed to be created in the early 2000’s. It started gaining national popularity in the mid 2010’s. Basically, it is so recent, I would be surprised if there are younger Millennials and older Zoomers who consider it a comfort food.

Nasi goreng, mie goreng, bakmi, soto, bubur ayam, sate, those are dishes which evoke strong nostalgia among many Indonesians. Personally, I would also add ayam goreng lengkuas, ayam pop and ayam penyet – three other variants of fried chickens (yes, there are others) – to the list.

I am not a hater. I actually love the dish. The texture of crispy batter and succulent meat mushed together, the heat level customisation, the additional salted egg sauce or melted cheese, I love them all. If I am okay with having my stomach scorched, I would definitely eat it.

My problem is that people – both Indonesians and foreigners – use it as the introduction to Indonesian cuisine. It gives an impression of deep-rootedness, like tempura and sushi are in Japan, even though it is an ongoing new trend.

Yes, I know we are talking about food here. Such misperception, as annoying as it is, won’t cause harm to anyone. But, misleading nonetheless.

Talking about religion and politics, however, would actually be consequential. Misperception would cause certain phenomena to appear more or less entrenched than they really are, giving societies undeservingly negative or positive reputations.

People – again, both Indonesians and foreigners – have also screwed up when talking about politics and religion in Indonesia; as a nation, we seem either more progressive or more backward than we really are.

If you cannot be trusted to represent trivial facts, you cannot be trusted with the more consequential ones. I don’t care if I sound petty.

Just wait for the next few decades. If ayam geprek is still popular, then it has achieved traditional status.*

But, even if it already is, it makes a bad gateway dish.

It is unbelievably spicy, even for the spice-loving locals. Unless you are a hardcore chili lover or an adventurous foodie, the extremeness of the introduction will put you off.

Just stick with nasi goreng, mie goreng, bakmi and bakso; they are easy for foreigners to enjoy or, at least, tolerate. Imagine being introduced to Japanese foods and, instead of starting with tonkatsu, gyoza, ramen and tempura, they want you to go straight to natto and anything involving raw fish.

You will find the entire cuisine off-putting.

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*Note: decades may sound like a relatively short time for something to become traditional. But, the longer something stays popular, the more deep-rooted it will become.

Besides, tinutuan – also known as bubur manado – is considered a traditional dish, despite being created (allegedly) in the 70’s or 80’s.

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