Category: Media of the Week

Media of the Week – Mar 19, 2023

Article: Why “No 5-7-5”?

For the past few months, I’ve been on-and-off self-studying Japanese. I only know a few phrases and Japanese is still really hard for me to read. But, on my way to rekindle my interest in Japan, I came across this article. I didn’t know that haiku is actually based on the number of characters (technically moras) not necessarily the syllables like I learned when I was young. And the emphasis on juxtaposition and evoking feeling was also really interesting! Haikus are cool, but I don’t think they hold a candle to Tibetan grid poems:

One of Gendun Chopel’s famous poems in the classic grid pattern. Words are arranged so that there is a syllable in each square and lines can be read in multiple directions. Credit: Tibetan History in Pictures

Article: Rewilding Your Attention

What makes something interesting? It’s a question I ask myself a lot. For me, a part of it is finding something different or unique. This article points out that it’s been increasing harder to find the off-beat and weird in an internet powered by algorithms. It promotes the idea of going against the grain of the normal internet and looking for things off the beaten path of the web – and I’m inclined to agree! That’s kind of the whole point of the Media of the Week series. I recommend checking out the suggested Marginalia Search Engine and the Weird Old Book Finder!

Movie: Osmosis Jones

The early 2000s were a weird time for movies and TV shows. I remember being really into Ozzy and Drix, the cartoon series that spawned from this movie. I watched it last week – weird, but entertaining. I really like the creative world-building.

Wikipedia: Flags of Japanese Prefectures

The emblem of Kaminokuni, Hokkaido is a stylized version of 上国. Credit: Wikimedia Commons

In my quest to become more creative, I’ve discovered a new avenue through which I can channel my artistic energies: fonts. Specifically of languages that don’t use the Latin alphabet. It’s a natural progression of my journey of creativity really – an amalgam of my love for language learning with a resolve to be a better artist. The ways Tibetan can be written – Kyug-yig, Phagpa (which is script the Planet Dorje logo is in), and Lantsa to name a few – are fascinating. My fantasy language is a Tibetan that uses Chinese characters like Japanese – བོད語 if you will. This article gives some ideas for what logos could look. For more, check out the lists of Japanese municipalities.

Media of the Week – Feb 5, 2023

Podcast: Scaling Green Hydrogen for a Global Market

After learning about Japan’s obsession with hydrogen fuel and taking an energy class this semester, I’ve been taking a deep dive into learning more about hydrogen as an alternative fuel. Theoretically, it’s a great stepping stone for the energy transition away from fossil fuels because it resembles traditional fossil fuels and it’s showing great potential. I learned a lot from this podcast (I’ve been listening to a lot of it recently); I thought the part about setting up hydrogen production in coastal desert areas to be particularly fascinating.

Article: We’re Not Who You Think We Are

This is a question I find myself grappling a lot when I enter Buddhist spaces: where are all the Asian faces? There is a huge lack of representation for Asian Americans generally but surely that shouldn’t be the case for an Asian religion? Personally, the attribution to white people crowding out the American Buddhist zeitgeist is only part of the issue. I think another equally pressing issue is the fact that Asian Americans occupy a space between being neither Asian nor American and tend to forsake Asian religion. If they do follow Buddhism, it is mostly cultural without deeper learning of the philosophies behind it. As an Asian American Buddhist myself, I have quite a few thoughts on this that might turn into a blog post in itself.

Wikipedia: Chiyou

No, this isn’t the goldfish that was dominating the Scarlet and Violet OU metagame. Chiyou is a legendary Hmong warrior-king who is honoured as a god of war. This page is rather sparse so I’ll have to do some more reading about him. I do think it’s interesting to learn how Chinese history is rife with warfare.

Movie: Moshari

I heard Bangladeshi cinema is still in its growing phase but this short film was really good. It isn’t terribly scary and I think the themes of family and protection are memorable. Great idea too. Moshari is the word for mosquito net in Bengali; who doesn’t like mosquitos?! It’s about time there was a mosquito themed(-ish) horror movie.

Rabbits of Pop Culture

Happy Chinese New Year! 新年快乐! This year is the Water Rabbit year according to the Chinese zodiac. In many horoscopes, those born in rabbit years are described as affectionate, shy, modest and conflict-avoidant. Growing up, I always thought the rabbit got the short end of the stick. Why couldn’t the Chinese be like the Vietnamese or Malays and choose a cooler animal as the fourth creature in the zodiac? And I know horoscopes are bogus but why is the rabbit description so lame?

Today I want to change that. There are dozens of famous rabbits from pop culture. I want to rate rabbits from my childhood and beyond based on their fighting ability to see if they really are as weak and helpless as the horoscopes suggest.

Energizer Bunny

Credit: Energizer

This lagomorph is easily recognizable from its pink fur and cool guy sunglasses. Known for its infinite stamina, the Energizer Bunny could easily tire out any opponent. Having fought against Darth Vader, the Energizer Bunny has experience against powerful foes. Also, war drums are popular instruments to intimidate enemies. However, with only drum mallets for weapons, it doesn’t have much offensive potential. The open batteries on its legs and back could also be exploited as weak spots. 2/5

Judy Hopps from Zootopia

Credit: Disney Wiki

As the first rabbit police officer, Judy Hopps clearly would make a good fighter. She has the skills and tenacity to take on opponents several times her size. Her persistence to achieve her dream of being a police officer are indicative of her toughness. 4/5

Trix Rabbit

Credit: General Mills

This guy is just a sucker for fruity flavours. The Trix Rabbit’s only real strength is his ability to dress up and fool anybody with his costume. Aside from his expert camouflage, I guess he has long arms? 1/5

Killer Bunny from Monty Python and the Holy Grail

Credit: EMI Films via Time

This rabid rabbit is the ultimate killing machine. Its diminutive size and appearance as a generic, harmless bunny mean it’s frequently underestimated. This rabbit clearly knows how to quickly and efficiently kill its opponents by the way it attacks the jugular. It murdered three knights in mere seconds. As Tim the Enchanter said, “That’s no ordinary rabbit; that’s the most foul, cruel, and bad-tempered rodent you ever set eyes on!” 5/5

Thumper from Bambi

Credit: Wikimedia Commons

Did you know that rabbits stamp their feet in real life? They do it when they’re scared. So really, Thumper is just a normal rabbit. I suppose he’s more courageous than his kin but a huge weakness is that Thumper will be smitten to paralysis upon seeing a pretty bunny friend. 1/5

Were-Rabbit from Wallace and Gromit

Credit: Wallace and Gromit Wiki

Although the were-rabbit is Wallace, it deserves its own entry on this list. This midnight monster absolutely ravaged the town. Not only is the were-rabbit immensely strong, but extremely fast – its burrowing can keep up with a driving car. I can’t think of any weaknesses except for the fact that the were-rabbit is solely driven by its appetite for vegetables. 5/5

Lola Bunny from Space Jam

Credit: Looney Tunes Wiki

Lola Bunny is the iconic female bunny and Bugs’s love interest in Space Jam. She’s tough and athletic which are good traits to have as a fighter. Plus, if things don’t go her way, she can use her flirting to stun her opponents. But basketball isn’t fighting – 3/5

2022 in Music

Music can be powerful in triggering memories. This is especially the case for me in 2022 because an important part of my journey to be more creative this year was to gain a better appreciation for music. This year, I especially wanted to expand my music tastes in foreign songs. In this post, I want to sum up this year by taking a trip down memory lane and review the 50 most influential songs I discovered in 2022 in chronological order.

Here’s the playlist if you want to listen to it while reading my post:

1: We Don’t Talk About Bruno

I watched Encanto last year on Christmas Day. I thought the movie was alright (would’ve liked it to be a bit longer but it’s Disney) but, like everyone else, I was hooked on We Don’t Talk About Bruno. With its catchy tune, different styles, and beautiful musical medley at the end, it’s hard not to like it (except for the fact that Luisa doesn’t get to sing!). Also, this edit of the song is perfection.

2: Deja Vu

I’ve been told my music taste is obscure Asian music and the most basic American pop with zero in-between the two. I guess this is part of the latter group. I don’t really have much to say about this song other than it’s my favourite Olivia Rodrigo song and I’m a fan of the music video.

3-7: Country Songs

I started listening to the country music radio station while driving this year. I don’t understand the hate to country music; there’s so much to like about it! There’s the emotion and sing-a-long quality to country music. The cowboy aesthetic really hits at my interest in Central Asian cultures. The lyrics about living a simple life appeal to my minimalist sensibilities.

I can’t end a section about country music without sharing my favourite meme about country songs:

Female Country Singers: My husband cheated on me so I stabbed him. Male country singers: BEER

8 & 9: Numb Little Bug & Bad Habits

More generic, basic pop music. Not much to say other than these songs played all the time at the gym. I don’t relate to the lyrics – I just think the songs are such earworms.

10 & 11: Fire in the Sky & Every Summertime

I was not a fan of Shang Chi but the soundtrack was definitely one of its redeeming qualities. Although I thought it was out of place in a martial arts Marvel movie, I really like the theme of love in these songs. These two are just great songs to play on repeat and feel good about life and living.

12: Sukiyaki

Can we have a moment to realize how weird it is that this song is called Sukiyaki in English? In Japanese, song is I Look Up As I Walk (Ue No Muite Arukou, 上を向いて歩こう) which captures the real sadness of the song. It’d be like if an American love song was called BLT in Japan. I actually prefer the English version by Nishida Hikaru over Sakamoto Kyu’s original but it isn’t available on Spotify. Regardless, this song is an all-time classic.

13: Wellerman

Just another catchy song; it’s hard not to sing along when you hear this song. Apparently, this song was popularized from TikTok but I found out about this song from this Chinese propaganda parody.

14: The Weather

You might remember I featured this song in one of my Media of the Weeks. This song is so good; I love the bittersweetness of the lyrics and the catchy tune. The gospel version just elevates that.

15: Sweetest Pie

l am such a big fan of Dua Lipa. She’s just so talented, beautiful, and thoughtful. I’ve listened to a few episodes of her podcast which has unlocked a new side of her that I didn’t know before. Although I didn’t initially like this song, it quickly grew on me. The more and more I listen this song, the more I appreciate Megan Thee Stallion’s rapping prowess.

16: Maitighar

I’m really surprised I never featured this song in my Media of the Week posts. Earlier this year in the spring, I had the opportunity to volunteer for an event at the Nepalese embassy in DC. I heard some great folk music and had to get recommendations. This was one of them.

17: Arirang

In my March 18th Media of the Week, I talked about the UNESCO Intangible Heritage List. One of the cultural elements I didn’t mention in my post was the Korean folk song Arirang. There’s something beautiful about the fact it’s sung in both North and South Korea and represents unity across the peninsula.

18: 一秒钟而已 (Yi Miao Zhong Er Yi)

It took me a really long to find this song and it’s still not quite the right version. The one I’m trying to find is more blues-y. Regardless, the title translates to something like “just a second” and it’s a song about missing your lover. There’s something about Chinese love songs that hits me harder. Maybe it’s like that quote:

If you talk to a man in a language he understands, that goes to his head. If you talk to him in his language, that goes to his heart.

Nelson Mandela

19: Sweet Dreams

If I had a go-to karaoke song that it palatable to a wide audience, this would be it. I sing this song to myself all the time. I’m a big fan of the 80s and that includes its music.

20: Red Sun

You probably remember that I included this in my Media of the Week a while ago. As someone who is a fusion of the East and West, I’m a big fan of music that is the same. If I was somebody who listened to music while doing work, I’d probably be listening to more of this type of music.

21 & 22: Sonido Amazonico & Lobos al Escape

Another couple of songs that are just instrumental. I talked about getting into chica music in this Media of the Week. When I mention that I enjoy listening to chica music to Peruvians, they’re really surprised that I know what it is. So I feel like I need to do my part in spreading chica music to non-Peruvians.

23: Special

This song was featured in a Media of the Week and it still resonates with me. I’ve struggled with being not good enough for a long time in my childhood and I sometimes still feel like that mediocre kid with no friends. Having support is so important for living a fulfilling life; not only do I credit all my successes to people who believed in me, but friends just add so much colour to life. I’m grateful for all my friends and the people who have believed in me.

24: Songs of Disappearance

Also featured in my Media of the Week, birds are just really cool animals. I don’t think we take for granted the fact that dinosaurs just roam around us – they’re just feathery.

25: Cold Heart

Like I said, I’m such a big fan of Dua Lipa. Combine that with my love for 80s music and you have a winning combo. There were days this year that I would just play this song on repeat.

26: Lhasa

Who remembers Shapaley from back in the day? You know, the famous rap about Tibetan empanadas. Shapaley is kind of a celebrity among the Tibetan diaspora and the song is universally known. His music was even featured in the Tibet Museum in Dharamsala. When I saw it, I looked him up to see what he was up to. Turns out, he has a new song. Although the song itself is a bit too chill for me, I really like the 90s aesthetic of the music video. Shapaley has been a big advocate for the Tibetan diaspora speaking and learning Tibetan so as a Tibetan learner, I appreciate him adding the lyrics to the song in the description.

27: Dro (འགྲོ)

When I was teaching English in Dharamsala this summer, I traded Tibetan song recommendations with one of my students (of course I did གྲོང་ཁྱེར) and found out about this song. I like it not only because the lyrics are slow and easy to understand but also the singing is so powerful.

28: Let’s Fall in Love

I’ve been trying to get into actually owning my own music (as opposed to using streaming services). For me, the easiest way to get into this was to collect CDs because I already have a CD player. One of the CDs I have in my collection is a jazz one with this song. It’s the first one in the lineup so I enjoy playing this CD.

29 & 30: The Beach Boys

It’s hard not to like the Beach Boys. And they were so influential. I like 80s music which means I automatically like its progenitor. After recently acquiring a Beach Boys CD, it’s one of my go-tos when I don’t know what to play.

31: 一无所有 (Nothing to My Name)

Cui Jian is an interesting character. He’s Korean-Chinese and is the father of Chinese rock. Having grown up in a liberal China opening up to the world and inspired by Western 60s music legends like The Beatles, John Denver, and Simon and Garfunkel, Cui’s music reflects this unique period of Chinese history with its American rock music with Chinese lyrics. In fact, this song was used as an anthem during the 1989 Tiananmen Protests.

32: Amarillo by Morning

Going back to the country theme for this year, I first listened to Enkh-Erdene’s cover of this song but George Strait’s original is such a country classic. I love fantasizing about living as a minimalist traveller like a ronin or cowboy.

33-36: The Baatar

After listening to Enkh-Erdene’s Amarillo by Morning, is there any more to say other than Mongolian and country music is a winning combination? I love The Baatar’s songs even I don’t understand a lick of Mongolian. American Western and Mongolian cultures work together because they’re similar in many ways – living out in the open wilderness, a love for horse riding, and just general grittiness. According to Deezer, The Baatar is my most played artist for the year. But even if that weren’t the case, if there were an artist to sum up this entire list, it’d be him.

37 & 38: The Grassroots

I found out about the Grassroots after watching Pachinko TV series (which is great by the way); the intro song is Let’s Live for Today. It’s such a happy song about love and life that is enhanced by the actors’ lively dancing. Again, it’s hard not to love 60s songs so naturally I became a big fan of the Grassroots.

39: London Thumakda

This was one of the signature songs of the night at a wedding I went to this fall. I like Bollywood and Desi songs but I wouldn’t say I go out of my way to look for them. It’s always nice to find a catchy Bollywood song. In the way that songs can help you relive certain memories, listening to this song takes me back to that wedding night and the nonsensical, but soulful dancing that followed.

40 & 41: Ana Moura

I don’t remember exactly how I found about Ana Moura but I found her somewhere when I was kind of getting into Portuguese culture this fall. Something about its loose connections to Asian culture, the unique pronunciations of the language, and relative obscurity compared to other Romance cultures appeal to me. I was even gifted an Ana Moura CD that has quickly become one of my go-tos. I don’t understand the lyrics but you don’t need to to feel the heart in her singing.

42: 孤独颂歌 (Gu Du Song Ge)

For someone who has been dedicated to learning Chinese for the past couple of years, I don’t like Chinese media. That might not be immediately evident from my discovery of artists like Cui Jian from earlier but I think there is a lot of low quality Chinese production. Every now and then though, you find a diamond in the rough like this catchy song.

43: It Wasn’t Me

Even though I don’t understand him, Shaggy is iconic. It’s hard not to sing along to this song. This song is definitely in the category of questionable lyrics made up by its super catchiness – like Pumped Up Kicks.

44: Tubthumping

Why is this song not called “I Get Knocked Down”? I rediscovered this song a few weeks ago and have been loving it. This is a song that activates you – either to dance or just make you happy. I also think the cultural mismatch in this song is interesting: in British English slang, pissing means getting drunk not urinating. But I guess after a long night of “pissing the night away” in the former sense, you’re going to have to do a lot of the latter too…

45: Wonderful Tonight

This year’s theme was creativity; I think next year’s will be love. As a human being and a Buddhist, I think I could do better in giving love to the world. Looking back, this year has had so many moments of love: receiving an extra big hug from a Buddhist monk, getting scolded that motorcycling wasn’t for me, taking classes in which the professor is passionate about teaching, motivating the next generation of swimmers, being a groomsman at my best friend’s wedding, and having a girlfriend who I really like (yay!), just to name a few. This is pretty explicitly about romantic love but I think the care and attention mentioned in the song can be applied universally to love.

46 & 47: Takanaka Masayoshi

After watching Penguin’s Memory, I was told I might like the City Pop music genre. I found out I really do – it’s like disco, but Japanese. Takanaka Masayoshi is the forerunner of City Pop – of course, he became popular in the 70s and 80s.

48: 热爱105℃的你 (Super Idol)

I was making awkward small talk with a family friend at Thanksgiving and the topic of music came up. He mentioned that he listens to this song while studying. I don’t know how you’d study to this song – I would just try to sing along and get distracted. You’ve been warned: this song is super catchy.

49: Stayin’ Alive

I watched Bullet Train recently and discovered this song. Not much to add other than the world needs more Asian covers of American music.

50: My Favourite Things

My mom is really into the Sound of Music so I’ve heard many renditions of My Favourite Things over the years. Kelly Clarkson has such a powerful voice (I didn’t know she was still doing music; good for her!) that bring its own flavour to this song.

Media of the Week – Nov 20, 2022

Movie: Penguin’s Memory


For anyone who grew up in the 2000s, you probably remember Club Penguin. I certainly remember playing Card Jitsu, taking care of my puffle, and trying to tip the iceberg. While Penguin’s Memory looks like a fan creation of the popular MMO, it was actually made more than 20 years before. The movie is really interesting; imagine a cross between Club Penguin and a Vietnam War drama and that’s pretty much this movie. It’s about a Vietnam war veteran penguin named Mike who has to deal with civilian life and PTSD after his service. The Club Penguin aesthetic is really the only fun thing about this movie but if you’re looking for something poignant with a hint of 2000s nostalgia, look no further.

Wikipedia: Kaktovik Numerals

Kaktovik Numeral System. Credit: Wikimedia Commons

I’ve been into learning about different scripts and fonts lately and I came across this numeric system used by some Alaskan natives. The Inupiaq language counts in a base-20 number system making conventional Arabic numerals difficult to use. Apparently a class of middle schoolers created this number system to make it easier for Alaskan natives to learn math. It’s an ingenious system for vigesimal counting and looks really cool.

Podcast: Nury Turkel

Anyone who has been keeping up with world news has undoubtedly heard about China’s Uyghur Genocide. Regardless of whether you have, this is a good podcast episode to get a deeper understanding of what is happening and why it’s happening. What Turkel said about how hair products made from shaven Uyghur hair is sold to Black Americans is harrowing and ironic. And just how widespread forced labour supply chains are is astounding. The CCP implementation to the Xi Jinping’s Document Number 9 reminds me of when Chairman Mao told the Dalai Lama, “Religion is a poison.” I appreciate Turkel having the strength to advocate about the injustices in China. Warning: this is not a happy episode.

YouTube: Insect Tier List

As a Pokemon fan and animal lover, I adore TierZoo. I love the combination of educational and entertaining. Despite what entomophobics will say, insects are really cool. I learned some interesting things from this video; I didn’t know that termites are more closely related to cockroaches than ants.

Media of the Week – Nov 13, 2022

YouTube: Asian American

Since the beginning of COVID, I’ve been getting into watching stand up. Of course, I also spent a lot of time getting in touch with my Asian culture. Logically, I had a great time watching this stand up special combining two of my favourite things. I haven’t travelled to China in ages but a lot of what Jim Gaffigan runs true based on my experience – lots of squat toilets, curiosity and adoration of Westerners, and toilet paper as napkins.

Report: MIT’s Banana Lounge

Credit: Iain Cheeseman/Twitter via Boston Magazine

I visited Cambridge, MA a few weeks ago and one of my good friends at MIT showed me MIT’s magnificent Banana Lounge to snag my favourite peeled snack. It’s just this little study space in the middle of campus with dozens of boxes full of bananas in the back. Of course, I had to learn more about this interesting concept. Turns out, there’s more than meets the eye. The Banana Lounge came out of a student-run project to improve campus life. This report talks about the costs associated with maintaining the Banana Lounge, why the banana makes the ideal snack, and the considerations for creating a welcoming common space. I definitely think more places could use a banana room.

Wikipedia: Hundred Family Surnames (百家姓)

As someone who is learning Chinese, I can’t believe I hadn’t learned about this sooner. The Hundred Family Surnames is a Chinese text of 507 Chinese last names and was used back in the day as reading practice to memorize the Chinese characters. One of my guilty pleasures is learning about names and I was amazed at how many surnames there are in this list. Some surnames are going extinct and what surprised me most was how many two-character Chinese last names there used to be. Of course, most Chinese people are familiar with Ouyang (欧阳) but there are so many other cool ones like Helian (赫连,) and Sima (司马). I feel like there should be a revival to bring back these rare names before everyone becomes a Zhang, Li, or Wang.

Media of the Week – Oct 23, 2022

TV: Someway

Some of you may have watched John Oliver’s segment about Subway or Johnny Harris’s video about Subway in Korean drama. If you haven’t…first, highly recommend doing so. Second, to get you up to speed, a strangely large number of Korean dramas take place in a subway. Apparently, what it boils down to is the fact that Korean TV isn’t allowed to have commercial breaks. Instead, Korean drama series have major product placement to get investment from big companies – of which Subway is a big contributor. In a parody of how much their restaurant and sandwiches get placed into TV shows, Subway decided to make its own mini TV series. If the name wasn’t enough of an indication of how good the series is, it’s certainly the best Subway advertisement I’ve ever seen.

Podcast: How Coal Maintains Its Political Hold on West Virginia

As someone who hopes to work in the sphere of environmental policy and law, I really liked this podcast episode. Appalachia is just an interesting region to begin with. But when you combine national politics and energy economics it goes to another level. The part about West Virginia’s change in definition of alternative fuels to include coal exemplifies why I think law and policy are so important in our world. They literally create the definitions for all the things that make the world work. I also really like the part about how corporations are working on their sustainability goals which makes West Virginia an even more unappealing location to set up business exacerbating the economic stagnation in the region. It makes me think about how much sticking to one’s culture can be entrenching in a bad way.

Song: Andorinhas by Ana Moura

In the past few weeks, I’ve been oddly been getting into Lusophone culture. I don’t know what’s gotten into me – I usually find European cultures to not be that interesting but something about Portuguese culture is slightly different. Maybe it’s the delicious food – pasteis de nata is utterly fantastic. Maybe it’s the slight connections to Asian culture – peixinhos da horta is the origin of Japanese tempura and there’s obviously the colonial connection to Macau and Goa. Maybe it’s just because I think Portuguese sounds like the cooler cousin to Spanish. Regardless, I’ve been getting into fado music, particularly Ana Moura. I don’t even understand the lyrics and I can feel the saudade.

Wikipedia: Tok Pisin

Pidgin languages are all super interesting and as an amateur linguist, I haven’t given them as much attention as they deserve. The lingua franca of Papua New Guinea, Tok Pisin is one of the few English creoles in the world. The vocaulary similarities section was particualrly interesting to me – just seeing how the different words are formed. Like how did grass get used for hair? Or using belong as the genitive article? Or how haus dok sik (Eng: House dog sick) is animal hospital?

Media of the Week – Oct 9, 2022

Now that my applications are turned in and my new schedule has settled, I’ve made my return back to Planet Dorje! Due to other obligations, I likely won’t be posting as frequently as before but I thought it would be nice to start with a Media of the Week (or should I say the past few months?)

Movie: RRR

Everybody has been talking about this movie and, personally, I think it deserves the hype. Watching the film, I wasn’t aware of it’s inspirations from the Ramayana and the Mahabharata or how the main characters are based on famous Indian revolutionaries. Regardless, it’s the kind of action film that energizes you and it’s very entertaining to watch even if you don’t know the full context behind the movie.

Music: The BAATAR

You might know Mongolian metal from the HU, but have you heard of Mongolian country? I stumbled on The Baatar from Enkh-Erdene’s cover of Amarillo by Morning. As someone who likes Asian culture and country music, Mongolian country is the perfect combination for me. I particularly like Nairsag Ulaanbaatar but you should check out his entire album. Growing up, I always preferred the Mongolian version of Om Mani Padme Hum over its Tibetan counterpart so I guess I have some more exposure to Mongolian music culture than most. Although I’ve only heard it sung, Mongolian is a beautiful language that I hope to learn someday.

Book: Himalaya: A Human History by Ed Douglas

It was so cool reading this book while being in the Himalayas (more about that trip in an upcoming blog post!). It’s probably the most comprehensive book about the Himalayan region I’ve read and I love how it touches on so many different areas of the region and aspects of its history. A small note, it does focus a lot on the European interactions and perspectives in the Himalayas. I don’t necessarily think that it’s a bad thing; Dharamsala and Darjeeling in India are famous Himalayan cities that were founded as British mountain bases and the British influence on the region is undeniable. But it helps to curb one’s expectations if you think this is going to be a bonafide Himalayan anthropology book.

Podcast: The Rodney Dangerfield Pronoun

A little known fact about me is I’m kind of an amateur linguist…or maybe that wasn’t little known because I love language learning. While they aren’t the same by any means, my interest in linguistics comes from language learning; with so few online resources to learn Tibetan, I was forced to read dense linguistics books to satisfy my desire to learn the language. However, trying to understand some of these linguistics books was almost like reading a foregin language itself. Over time, I gradually learned a good deal about linguistics from agglutination to Whorfianism.

Wikipedia: Duke Kahanamoku

Considering the concept of dryland didn’t exist yet, Duke is ripped!
Credit: Wikimedia Commons

As a swammer, it’s a shame I had never heard of Duke Kahanamoku until recently. He revolutionized freestyle by introducing the flutter kick and held the 100m free world record (1:00.4). After his swimming career, he dabbled in acting, water polo, and lifeguarding. I was recently introduced to the concept of the Hawaiian waterman: people who are proficient in water sports like swimming, free diving, and surfing. Duke Kahanamoku is the ultimate waterman. The way he was so successful even after his swimming career is so inspiring as a former swimmer.

Media of the Week – May 6, 2022

Movie: Everything Everywhere All at Once

This movie is amazing. Like the best movie I’ve ever watched amazing. Like I never have to watch another movie again amazing. I’ve been largely supportive of Asian American content, but this is the first one that I felt truly connected with. Michelle Yeoh and Ke Huy Quan’s characters reminded me so much of my own parents and their struggles. I also related to the themes of living up to your potential and destiny. I shed tears of laughter, sadness, and joy at various parts of the film, sometimes simultaneously. I’ll probably write up a full blog post on my thoughts on the movie because I feel like there’s so much to talk about. Go watch this movie.

YouTube: New Guinea – lessons from a cradle of agriculture and languages

I don’t know that much about New Guinea but I learned a lot from this video. I did know that it has amazing language diversity, but I’d never heard of the Trans-New Guinean language family. I’m still trying to wrap my head around the logistics of why high-altitude banana cultivation is better. Also it was really cool to hear about the connection between agriculture and language – it reminded me of the Tea if by Sea, Cha if by Land phenomenon.

Credit: Quartz

Podcast: The 5 Allies Every Man Needs

As Arnold Schwarzenegger said in his famous speech, “the concept of the self-made man, or woman, is a myth.” To achieve success, we always need help. This podcast episode provides an overview of the different archetypes that help us achieve success – the encourager, the playmaker, the facilitator, the rock, and the bruiser. I’d like to think I’m a playmaker, maybe facilitator type. Cool concepts and something I’ll have to think about in my friends.

Wikipedia: Great Translation Movement

China’s Great Firewall and the difficulty of the Chinese language allow the Chinese government to give one message to its populus and a completely different one to its foreign audience. The Great Translation Movement is to expose the Chinese government’s doublethink and hypocrisy by translating native Chinese content. This transparency is super important if you’re someone who believes in human rights or the truth. Some of the brainwashed content is so disgusting and egregious that it’s hard to believe they’re real. Please check out the Twitter account too.

Media of the Week – Apr 30, 2022

Music: Special by Lizzo

I’m an avid follower of Saturday Night Live but I normally skip the music performancnes. However, I usually make it a point to watch the music when the host is also the musical performer because I think it’s amazing how they manage to de both. I hadn’t known much about Lizzo (I know she wrote that DNA test song) but I’m a fan after watching her skits and listening to her songs. I was touched by this song in particular. She puts so much love and passion into the song that I really felt like she was speaking to me. I know I’ve struggled with feeling special and loved at times and it’s great that Lizzo wrote a song about that.

Article: US Olympian Andrew Seliskar Announces Retirement

Following a theme of touching media content, I don’t know how I only found about Andrew’s retirement this week (it was almost two months ago) but this article was very bittersweet for me. I swam and trained with Andrew at NCAP Tysons and the McLean Marlins. He was definitely the aspirational paragon in my swimming career – in terms of his carnal drive to win and steadfast work ethic in and out of the pool, he’s a god amongst men. It was an absolute tragedy that he didn’t get to swim at finals at Tokyo. While I’m sad he won’t be striving for the Paris Olympics, I wish him the best in his next stage in life.

Book: Woke Racism by John McWhorter

There are a handful of books I read each year that change my way of thinking and this is one of them. In America, there’s a lot of dialogue about race, mostly by the political left. John McWhorter says most of these people have the wrong idea – what he calls “woke racism” is more of a cultish religion than a coherent ideology. On the surface, he might just sound like your typical anti-woke contrarian, I do think he presents some meaningful arguments against this wokeness – namely his arguments that antiracism is performative and doesn’t contribute to any meaningful change to improve the lives of black people and this way of thinking demeans black people. Regardless if you agree with the principles at the end of the book, I think it’s worth a read for everybody.

YouTube: Why China is Building Their Own Europe

I had vaguely heard of this phenomenon before watching this video, but I had no idea of its scope. To me, this is an result of the hollowed-out Chinese culture that came out of the Cultural Revolution. The Chinese people have found European architecture as an outlet for the vacuum where their deep cultural heritage used to be. But, without any of the culture or history that makes these cities noteworthy, this all just seems tacky.

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