Long articles that are worth reading

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Re: Long articles that are worth reading

Postby parastexis » Sat Jan 07, 2017 1:50 am

https://journals.uvic.ca/index.php/cthe ... 14826/5697
this essay by Baudrillard was written 20 years ago but it's incredible how accurately it applies to today and genuinely changed my understanding of how political parties work or don't
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Re: Long articles that are worth reading

Postby Ques » Thu Feb 09, 2017 6:39 pm

found this while doing thesis trudging, felt like people here would appreciate

https://nplusonemag.com/issue-10/the-intellectual-situation/revolt-of-elites/#
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Re: Long articles that are worth reading

Postby rjbman » Mon Feb 20, 2017 10:01 pm

This fits about 4 different threads but I figured I'd post it here:

An all-female team of engineers in Gaza convert the rubble of war into the cement of rebirth
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Re: Long articles that are worth reading

Postby rublev » Sun Feb 26, 2017 1:42 pm

Robert Mercer: the big data billionaire waging war on mainstream media - Guardian

Robert Mercer very rarely speaks in public and never to journalists, so to gauge his beliefs you have to look at where he channels his money: a series of yachts, all called Sea Owl; a $2.9m model train set; climate change denial (he funds a climate change denial thinktank, the Heartland Institute); and what is maybe the ultimate rich man’s plaything – the disruption of the mainstream media. In this he is helped by his close associate Steve Bannon, Trump’s campaign manager and now chief strategist. The money he gives to the Media Research Center, with its mission of correcting “liberal bias” is just one of his media plays. There are other bigger, and even more deliberate strategies, and shining brightly, the star at the centre of the Mercer media galaxy, is Breitbart.


interesting...
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Re: Long articles that are worth reading

Postby Ques » Mon Mar 13, 2017 12:17 am

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Re: Long articles that are worth reading

Postby adiabatic » Fri Mar 24, 2017 4:32 am

Guided by The Beauty of Our Weapons, arguing in favor of debating as a truth-seeking technique.

Moderately representative sample:

Am I saying that if you met with a conservative friend for an hour in a quiet cafe to talk over your disagreements, they’d come away convinced? No. I’ve changed my mind on various things during my life, and it was never a single moment that did it. It was more of a series of different things, each taking me a fraction of the way. As the old saying goes, “First they ignore you, then they laugh at you, then they fight you, then they fight you half-heartedly, then they’re neutral, then they then they grudgingly say you might have a point even though you’re annoying, then they say on balance you’re mostly right although you ignore some of the most important facets of the issue, then you win.”


Most amusing sample (emphasis in the original):

Another SSC story. I keep trying to keep “culture war”-style political arguments from overrunning the blog and subreddit, and every time I add restrictions a bunch of people complain that this is the only place they can go for that. Think about this for a second. A heavily polarized country of three hundred million people, split pretty evenly into two sides and obsessed with politics, blessed with the strongest free speech laws in the world, and people are complaining that I can’t change my comment policy because this one small blog is the only place they know where they can debate people from the other side.
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Re: Long articles that are worth reading

Postby adiabatic » Fri Apr 14, 2017 6:02 am

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Re: Long articles that are worth reading

Postby eli7 » Fri Apr 14, 2017 8:28 am

This isn't a very intellectually stimulating article but my friends and I have talked quite extensively about gay loneliness and I think it's worth reading. It's not even that long I guess
http://highline.huffingtonpost.com/articles/en/gay-loneliness/
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Re: Long articles that are worth reading

Postby oucho » Fri Apr 14, 2017 2:54 pm

interesting article about how our online data is being used to profile us and influence elections
https://motherboard.vice.com/en_us/arti ... -trump-win
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Re: Long articles that are worth reading

Postby rjbman » Sat Apr 15, 2017 12:21 pm

Bit of a dump

You May Want to Marry My Husband: After learning she doesn’t have long to live, a woman composes a dating profile for the man she will leave behind.

Death of a Dystopian: Alt-right conspiracy theorists think that the government killed the aspiring Libertarian filmmaker David Crowley. The truth is far stranger.

A Bikini, a Toothbrush, and 44 Issues of The New Yorker: In which Summer Brennan attempts to catch up on a year's reading

Inside Alabama’s Auto Jobs Boom: Cheap Wages, Little Training, Crushed Limbs: The South’s manufacturing renaissance comes with a heavy price.

Inside the Strange Saga of a Cairo Novelist Imprisoned for Obscenity: Before it was published, censors approved Ahmed Naji's subversive novel 'Using Life' – so how did he end up in jail for what he wrote?

Yes, Your Dating Preferences Are Probably Racist

Most utopian communities are, like most start-ups, short-lived. What makes the difference between failure and success?

On the Milo Bus With the Lost Boys of America’s New Right: What happens when a movement of gamers recognizes they’re not players, but pawns?
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Re: Long articles that are worth reading

Postby Ques » Sun Apr 16, 2017 10:06 pm

eli7 wrote:This isn't a very intellectually stimulating article but my friends and I have talked quite extensively about gay loneliness and I think it's worth reading. It's not even that long I guess
http://highline.huffingtonpost.com/articles/en/gay-loneliness/


charydbis shared with me a response to this which i thought i might as well pass along

http://www.slate.com/blogs/outward/2017/03/06/gay_loneliness_is_real_but_toxic_gay_cultures_isn_t_the_problem.html

not that the first article was perfect, but i feel that this is an overly reductive response. anyone else have any reading reccs along similar lines/thoughts?
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Re: Long articles that are worth reading

Postby fun_yunchables » Mon Apr 24, 2017 5:41 pm

Hey, Computer Scientists! Stop Hating on the Humanities

opinion piece that i think isn't just limited to computer scientists
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Re: Long articles that are worth reading

Postby WussWayne » Sat Jun 17, 2017 1:31 am

A story on slavery in modern America
https://www.theatlantic.com/magazine/ar ... ry/524490/
I'd urge fellow users in developing countries (where middle class+ people tend to have live-in maids) to reflect on whether the people who live with them are paid a fair wage and treated well.
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Re: Long articles that are worth reading

Postby Ques » Sun Jun 18, 2017 7:27 pm

WussWayne wrote:A story on slavery in modern America
https://www.theatlantic.com/magazine/ar ... ry/524490/
I'd urge fellow users in developing countries (where middle class+ people tend to have live-in maids) to reflect on whether the people who live with them are paid a fair wage and treated well.


this whole article was imo really problematic and reinforced troubling narratives about slavery

see: http://www.aaihs.org/interrogating-the- ... lys-slave/
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Re: Long articles that are worth reading

Postby Ques » Sat Jul 15, 2017 12:32 am

a lot of people on here have probably already read this, but i just found Ta-Nehisi Coates' article on reparations yesterday, and it was absolutely foundational for my current understanding of the US's need for reconciliation with history

https://www.theatlantic.com/magazine/ar ... ns/361631/

i really liked this line and think it gets to the core of his point
"To celebrate freedom and democracy while forgetting America’s origins in a slavery economy is patriotism à la carte."


even if you don't agree with reparations––and he talks a lot about why most american's are so terrified of the subject––then this article is still worth reading for its excellent historical information and discussion of current-day racial issues in the US
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Re: Long articles that are worth reading

Postby Stolsdos » Sun Jul 16, 2017 6:23 pm

Dope paper I read the other day over the US media/government representation of the 21 non-repatriated US soldiers during the Korean War
21 GI Turncoats
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Re: Long articles that are worth reading

Postby Ques » Sun Jul 16, 2017 11:21 pm

Ques wrote:coates article


https://www.jacobinmag.com/2016/02/ta-nehisi-coates-case-for-reparations-bernie-sanders-racism/

I would also recommend this as a response to the coates article. it's a very nuanced disagreement that i thought was quite persuasive. i'd be curious to see what other people think?

Ultimately, the historical narrative that underpins the reparations claim, a view of history that emphasizes racial conflict as primary, white supremacy as hegemonic and immutable, and black politics as insular and unitary, can only leave us with a fatalistic view of political possibilities that neglects the rich, diverse history of interracial left political struggle.


Contemporary forms of oppression are not propelled by the need to subjugate black labor to the interests of Southern planters and industrialists, but as a means of managing a growing class of Americans who are not exclusively black but have been made obsolete by hyper-industrialization, the large-scale introduction of automation and cybernetic command, just-in-time production, and other strategies of flexible accumulation in US farms and factories.
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Re: Long articles that are worth reading

Postby rjbman » Mon Aug 21, 2017 8:26 pm

Great article about Lagos, Nigeria - The city that won't stop growing. Images really flow well with the text, too.
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Re: Long articles that are worth reading

Postby rjbman » Sat Aug 26, 2017 12:19 pm

St. Vincent's Cheeky, Sexy Rock - has me so very psyched for her new album
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Re: Long articles that are worth reading

Postby Ques » Fri Sep 01, 2017 3:11 am

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Re: Long articles that are worth reading

Postby deadkitty » Thu Sep 07, 2017 2:51 pm

https://www.theatlantic.com/magazine/ar ... es/537909/

great article that articulates really well a lot of stuff about like white working class anomia. p Must Read
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Re: Long articles that are worth reading

Postby fun_yunchables » Tue Sep 12, 2017 1:01 am

https://medium.com/defiant/a-lot-of-what-you-know-about-north-korea-is-racist-nonsense-a625256b51cc


semirelated rant below
Spoiler:
dunno how much is true/valid, but it's always good to know more sides to a story before pointing fingers. i certainly don't believe that the DPRK is without fault, but i also don't believe the crazy war-mongering image a lot of media has pushed it to be. western propaganda (be it conscious or otherwise) is very much alive. even things which may be unrelated (tv shows, movies, books, etc) push subconscious programming into minds (at least mine, from what i've realized) ― what is 'good,' what is 'attractive,' what is 'normal.' of course it's nigh impossible to avoid this completely, so imo the next best option is to consume media from several different global perspectives (not just western media! RT, Al Jazeera, SCMP, etc etc). also i think its a good habit to be skeptical of yourself and your potential biases — ask why you believe something is good, why you find something/someone attractive, why something is 'weird' or not normal!

*puts on tin foil hat*
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Re: Long articles that are worth reading

Postby Ques » Thu Sep 21, 2017 12:44 am

^^ if you want to look more into this i really recommend the writings of bruce cumings. i just read his book parallax visions, and in it he does an excellent job unpacking the history of the DPRK/USA relationship.

if you haven't read it already, i would also recommend evan osnos's big piece on the DPRK in the new yorker: https://www.newyorker.com/magazine/2017 ... orth-korea

if i knew how to bet on the pullitzers i'd put my money on this winning one
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Re: Long articles that are worth reading

Postby fun_yunchables » Sun Nov 12, 2017 4:49 am

https://www.nytimes.com/2017/11/10/t-magazine/asian-american-cuisine.html?action=click&module=MoreInSection&pgtype=Article&region=Footer&contentCollection=Food

goes into the politics of food a bit, which is very important to consider imo.

i particularly liked this paragraph, and the bolded is so true to things outside of food alone
But the question remains: Does calling this kind of cooking Asian-American cuisine deepen and contextualize our understanding of it, or is it just a label, like speaking of Asian-American art or fiction — a way of simplifying a complex story and making it a marketable cliché? The danger is fetishizing Asian features, a tendency that diminishes: If you are an exotic object or phenomenon, you may never become recognized or acknowledged as more. “White chefs are using these ingredients and saying, ‘Oh, it’s so strange,’ ” Tin Vuong, of Little Sister in Los Angeles, said. “It isn’t.” Instead of a historical matrix of Asian culinary traditions, “young cooks just see a big pantry,” Fukushima said. “Take a little bit of this, a little bit of that — there’s no soul to it.”


full text below spoiler
Spoiler:
Asian-American Cuisine’s Rise, and Triumph
On the plate, the egg looks like an eye plucked from a baby dragon. The yolk is the green-black of smoked glass, with a gray, nearly calcified halo, trapped in an oval of wobbling amber and emitting the faintest whiff of brimstone.

So begins the $285, 19-course tasting menu at Benu in San Francisco. The egg is a traditional Chinese snack, often called (poetically, if inaccurately) a 1,000-year-old egg, preserved for a few weeks or months in lye or slaked lime, salt and tea. It’s sold by street vendors, tossed into stir-fries and scattered over congee throughout China, parts of Southeast Asia and the world’s Chinatowns. To more than a billion people, it is an utterly commonplace food.

But to present it as an amuse-bouche at one of the most acclaimed fine-dining restaurants in the United States, to a predominantly non-Asian clientele, is radical. For despite America’s long, complicated love affair with Asian cooking, it is hard to imagine such a food, so alien to Western culinary ideals in appearance, aroma, flavor and texture, being served in this kind of setting, let alone embraced, a decade ago.

This, though, is the new American palate. As a nation we were once beholden to the Old World traditions of early settlers; we now crave ingredients from farther shores. The briny rush of soy; ginger’s low burn; pickled cabbage with that heady funk so close to rot. Vinegar applied to everything. Fish sauce like the underbelly of the sea. Palm sugar, velvet to cane sugar’s silk. Coconut milk slowing the tongue. Smoky black cardamom with its menthol aftermath. Sichuan peppercorns that paralyze the lips and turn speech to a burr, and Thai bird chilies that immolate everything they touch. Fat rice grains that cling, that you can scoop up with your hands. (As a child raised in a Filipino-American household, I was bewildered by commercials for Uncle Ben’s rice that promised grains that were “separate, not sticky,” as if that were a good thing.)

These are American ingredients now, part of a movement in cooking that often gets filed under the melting-pot, free-for-all category of New American cuisine. But it’s more specific than that: This is food borne of a particular diaspora, made by chefs who are “third culture kids,” heirs to both their parents’ culture and the one they were raised in, and thus forced to create their own.

Could we call it Asian-American cuisine? The term is problematic, subsuming countries across a vast region with no shared language or single unifying religion. It elides numerous divides: city and countryside, aristocrats and laborers, colonizers and colonized — “fancy Asian” and “jungle Asian,” as the comedian Ali Wong puts it. (She’s speaking specifically of East and Southeast Asians, who followed similar patterns of immigration to the U.S. and who are the primary focus of this piece.) As a yoke of two origins, it can also be read as an impugning of loyalties and as a code for “less than fully American.” When I asked American chefs of Asian heritage whether their cooking could be considered Asian-American cuisine, there was always a pause, and sometimes a sigh.

The Cantonese dim sum parlor Golden Unicorn, which has been operating for 28 years in New York City’s Chinatown. Credit Anthony Cotsifas
But this is what happens in America: Borders blur. When there aren’t many of you — Americans of Asian descent are only 6 percent of the population, a legacy of decades of immigration quotas and denial of citizenship — you find common cause with your neighbors. The term Asian-American was not imposed on us, like “Yellow Peril” in the late 19th century or “Oriental”; it was coined in the 1960s by Yuji Ichioka, a California-born historian and civil rights activist, to give us a political voice. If we call this kind of cooking just American, something is lost.

The rise of contemporary Asian-American cuisine began with Korean-American chef David Chang’s Momofuku Noodle Bar, which opened in New York in 2004 and was followed four years later by fellow Korean-American chef Roy Choi’s Kogi BBQ truck in Los Angeles. Their approach to cooking is typically, reductively, framed as an East-meets-West marriage of big flavors and elevated (i.e., French) technique — as if every Asian cuisine were hellbent on storming the palate (some, like Cantonese, are, in fact, renowned for their subtlety); as if culinary refinement were proprietary to the West.

But the history of Asian-American cuisine goes further back than that, to the first tearooms and banquet halls set up by Chinese immigrants who came to seek their fortune in Gold Rush California in the 1850s. By the end of the 19th century, despite Congress’s passage of the Chinese Exclusion Act in 1882 and attempts to condemn San Francisco’s Chinatown as a threat to the American way of life — “in their quarters all civilization of the white race ceases,” declared a pamphlet published by the Workingmen’s Party of California in 1880 — Cantonese restaurants were all the rage in New York. The food was cheap and fast, swiftly stir-fried in woks, a technique that remained a mystery for decades to most in the West. (One journalist, touring a Chinatown kitchen in 1880, did wonder if “the funny little things we saw at the bottom of a deep earthen jar were rat’s-tails skinned.”)

When outsiders came flocking in the 1890s, Chinese chefs altered and invented dishes to please them. This was less concession than calculation, capitalizing on opportunity. The work of immigrants — in food as in the arts — has always been dogged by accusations of impurity and inauthenticity, suggesting that there is one standard, preserved in amber, for what a dish should be or what a writer or artist with roots in another country should have to say. It’s a specious argument, as if being born into a culture were insufficient bona fides to speak of it. (Immigrants are always being asked to show their papers, in more ways than one.) The history of food, like the history of man, is a series of adaptations, to environment and circumstance. Recipes aren’t static. Immigrant cooks, often living in poverty, have always made do with what’s on hand, like the Japanese-Americans rounded up and shipped to internment camps during the Second World War, who improvised rice balls with rations of Spam, and the Korean and Filipino-Americans who, having survived on canned goods in the aftermath of war, eked out household budgets by deploying hot dogs in kimbap and banana-ketchup spaghetti.

Sometimes the nostalgia for this kind of food can be difficult to convey to those who don’t share the same history. At Bad Saint, a Filipino restaurant in Washington, D.C., the chef Tom Cunanan makes adobo with pig tails, a cheap, snubbed part of the animal that was treasured by Depression-era Filipino immigrants working in California labor camps. Diep Tran, the Vietnamese-American chef of Good Girl Dinette in Los Angeles, told me that she wishes she could serve a breakfast of nothing but baguette accompanied by condensed milk diluted with hot water, for dipping. “It’s refugee food,” she said. “Proustian, kind of like Spam. But people get upset; they think they’re being ripped off.”

Almost every Asian-American chef I spoke to — most of whom are in their late 20s to early 40s — came to the U.S. as children or were born to parents who were immigrants. (In 1952, the last racial barriers to naturalization were lifted, and in 1965, immigration quotas based on national origin — for Asia, 100 visas per country per year — were abolished.) Almost all had stories of neighbors alarmed by the smells from their families’ kitchens or classmates recoiling from their lunchboxes. “I was that kid, with farty-smelling food,” said Jonathan Wu, the Chinese-American chef at Nom Wah Tu in New York. “I still feel that, if I’m taking the train with garlic chives in my bag.”

Nom Wah Tea Parlor, which claims to be New York City’s first dim sum restaurant, opened on Doyers Street in 1920. Credit Anthony Cotsifas
So these chefs’ cooking, born of shame, rebellion and reconciliation, is not some wistful ode to an imperfectly remembered or never-known, idealized country. It’s a mixture of nostalgia and resilience. It wasn’t taught — certainly not in the way other cuisines have been traditionally taught. Graduates of the Culinary Institute of America in Hyde Park, N.Y., recalled that little time was devoted to Asian cooking; at Le Cordon Bleu in London and in Paris, none. One instructor took offense when Preeti Mistry, whose Indian-inflected restaurants include Juhu Beach Club in Oakland, Calif., likened a French stew to curry. Another told David Chang that pork stock, essential to tonkotsu ramen, was “disgusting.”

Neither does their cooking have much kinship with the “fusion” cuisine of the early 1990s, when non-Asian chefs like Jean-Georges Vongerichten and Gray Kunz began folding Eastern ingredients into otherwise Western dishes. (“Fusion” is another term that sits uneasily with Asian-American chefs. “I wouldn’t call myself ‘fusion,’ ” said Maiko Kyogoku, the owner of the idiosyncratic Bessou in New York. “To describe food that way? It’s an extension of myself.”) In spirit, Asian-American cooking is closer to other American-born cuisines with tangled roots: the Lowcountry cooking of coastal South Carolina, which owes a debt to slaves from West Africa who brought over one-pot stews and ingredients like okra, peanuts and black-eyed peas; and Tex-Mex, which is not a bastardization of Mexican food but a regional variant of it, cultivated by Tejanos, descendants of Hispanics who lived in Texas when it was part of Mexico and, before that, New Spain.

There’s also no one cultural touchstone or trauma that binds Asian immigrants: no event on a national scale that has brought us together. But part of what distinguishes our experience from that of other immigrants and people of color is the fraught, intimate relationship between our countries of origin and the U.S., which has been foe and protector, oppressor and liberator, feared and adored. In 1899, the British writer Rudyard Kipling urged the U.S. to “take up the White Man’s burden” in the Philippines after the Spanish-American War:

Go send your sons to exile
To serve your captives’ need
[...] Your new-caught, sullen peoples,
Half devil and half child.

This begot more than a century of American military intervention in East and Southeast Asia, and a history of conflicting images: Pearl Harbor and Hiroshima; the Vietcong in black pajamas and the American atrocities at My Lai; teeming refugee camps and smiling American G.I.s handing out candy, decade after decade, to throngs of dark-haired, starving children.

Any immigrant is an outsider at first. But for Asians in America, there is a starker sense of otherness. We don’t fit in to the American binary of white and black. We have been the enemy; the subjugated; the “lesser” peoples whose scramble for a foothold in society was historically seen as a menace to the American order. And yet we’ve also been the “good” immigrants, proving ourselves worthy of American beneficence — polite, humble, grateful, willing to work 20-hour days running a grocery store or a laundry or a restaurant that will never be “authentic” enough, to spend every dime on our children’s test prep so that they get into the best schools, because we believe in the promise of America, that if you work hard, you can become anyone. If you try hard enough, you might even be mistaken for white.

Among the children of immigrants, Asians in America seem most caught in a state of limbo: no longer beholden to their parents’ countries of origin but still grasping for a role in the American narrative. There is a unique foreignness that persists, despite the presence of Asians on American soil for more than two centuries; none of us, no matter how bald our American accent, has gone through life without being asked, “Where are you from? I mean, originally?” But while this can lead to alienation, it can also have a liberating effect. When you are raised in two cultures at once — when people see in you two heritages at odds, unresolved, in abeyance — you learn to shift at will between them. You may never feel like you quite belong in either, but neither are you fully constrained. The acute awareness of borders (culinary as well as cultural) that both enclose and exclude, allows, paradoxically, a claim to borderlessness, taking freely from both sides to forge something new. For Asian-American chefs, this seesaw between the obligations of inheritance and the thrill of go-it-aloneness, between respecting your ancestors and lighting out for the hills, manifests in dishes that arguably could come only from minds fluent in two ways of life.

Thus the kaiseki at Niki Nakayama’s n/naka, in Los Angeles, always includes a pasta course. Her slyly voluptuous “carbonara” of abalone livers and egg yolks is a homage to Tokyo-style wafu spaghetti with briny pickled cod roe — only here it’s capped with shaved truffles. At Tao Yuan, in Brunswick, Me., Cara Stadler takes tiles of goat cheese made by a local creamery and sears them, as is done in Yunnan, to approximate rubing, a sturdy farmer’s cheese. But instead of merely sprinkling the cheese with sugar or salt, she counters its meatiness with a bright grace note of mint and watermelon from summer’s height. A Caesar salad might be supplanted by a canoe of romaine, grilled for a hint of smoke and loaded with dainty jako (dried baby sardines) and quail eggs as anchors, as at Bessou in New York. Or, as re-envisioned by Chris Kajioka at Senia, in Honolulu, it might be a mossy cliff of charred cabbage — a wink at an iceberg wedge — dusted with shio kombu (shredded kelp boiled in soy and mirin), soaked through with dashi and ginger, and surrounded by daubs of heady green goddess dressing and buttermilk turned to gel. It’s not so much a salad as a cheeky biography of it by the barbarian at the gates, achieving the quintessence of an American classic through Asian ingredients.

And while Asian-American cooking may not be expressed in or identified by a single set of flavors, one thing that does unite such disparate traditions is an emphasis on textures. Indeed, if the cuisine can be said to have revolutionized American food, it’s by introducing unfamiliar mouth feels — crackle where one doesn’t expect it, slime in a country that’s always shied away from that sensation — into our culinary vocabulary. Justin Yu, who recently opened Theodore Rex in Houston, rhapsodizes about “the crunch that you can hear in the back of your head”; unrendered, gelatinous animal skin, “a fun burst of fat and softness”; broths barely skimmed, or with a spoonful of fat added “to coat the lips.” The maverick Katsuya Fukushima, of Daikaya in Washington, D.C., once turned natto — a gooey, slippery skein of fermented soybeans, with the perfume of castoff socks — into an earthy caramel over soft-serve. Like Latin-American food, which made Americans crave heat, Asian-American cuisine has made “difficult” textures not only desirable but as integral to food as flavor itself. That certain ingredients still make some Western diners squeamish is part of its provocative fun.

But the question remains: Does calling this kind of cooking Asian-American cuisine deepen and contextualize our understanding of it, or is it just a label, like speaking of Asian-American art or fiction — a way of simplifying a complex story and making it a marketable cliché? The danger is fetishizing Asian features, a tendency that diminishes: If you are an exotic object or phenomenon, you may never become recognized or acknowledged as more. “White chefs are using these ingredients and saying, ‘Oh, it’s so strange,’ ” Tin Vuong, of Little Sister in Los Angeles, said. “It isn’t.” Instead of a historical matrix of Asian culinary traditions, “young cooks just see a big pantry,” Fukushima said. “Take a little bit of this, a little bit of that — there’s no soul to it.”

Chang believes that food “has the potential to sort of show that we’re all the same.” But even he isn’t entirely comfortable with the ubiquity of kimchi. “Let’s say you spent no time in Asia, you just found a recipe on YouTube,” he said. “That’s appropriation. It’s not about skin color. You have to have a story, pay respect to what it was and what it means.” At the same time, it seems reductive to expect Asian-American chefs to make food that somehow reflects their personal “story.” On season three of “Top Chef,” Hung Huynh, a Vietnamese-American contestant, was faulted for cooking that was technically dazzling but lacked explicit reference to his roots. “You were born in Vietnam,” Tom Colicchio, the head judge, said. “I don’t see any of that in your food.” (It’s hard not to hear an echo of the trope of the inscrutable Oriental, whose motives can’t be deciphered, and the common criticism of Asian-Americans at school and at work as being overly cerebral and lacking feeling.) The strictures of reality TV do demand a baring of the soul, but not all Asian-American chefs want to work with Asian flavors — and when they do, it’s not always in expected ways.

Must every Italian chef make lasagna, every French chef coq au vin? Anita Lo, who closed her fine-dining restaurant Annisa in New York earlier this year, cooked there for 17 years without fealty to one region or cultural tradition. This puzzled some diners. “I had someone come in and say, ‘Where’s the big Buddha head?’ ” she said. When publications request recipes and she submits one without Asian ingredients, the response is often, “We were really hoping for something Asian” — or Asian-ish: Anything with soy, apparently, will do. “I send in Japanese, which isn’t even my background, but that works,” she said.

Corey Lee’s “Benu” cookbook is filled with stories: of his grandmother foraging for acorns; of his mother forcing him to drink a tonic of brewed deer’s antlers; of his father bringing home live lobster for his son’s birthday, and of the joys of eating tomalley (the wet gray-green paste that acts as a lobster’s liver and pancreas) on buttered bread. All suggest that Lee’s dishes, however rarefied, are also deeply autobiographical. But Lee demurs, the way a novelist might, fending off a critic’s attempt to find in his books correlations to actual events, wanting them to stand alone as fully imagined works of art. “There’s great pressure for chefs to have a story,” he said. “Maybe there’s no story beyond, ‘I want to serve this food and it tastes good.’ ”

It’s the eternal plea of the minority, to ask to be judged not by one’s appearance or the rituals of one’s forbears but for the quality of one’s mind and powers of invention. Certainly our country was predicated on the right to shed one’s past and be reborn, to come from nothing and work your way up; in this, Asians may be among the most American of Americans. But why is the choice always between exotic caricature or rootlessness? The philosopher Slavoj Zizek argues that the embrace of “ethnic” restaurants is merely “tolerance” of a “folklorist Other deprived of its substance”: “The ‘real Other’ is by definition ‘patriarchal,’ ‘violent,’ never the Other of ethereal wisdom and charming customs.” Too often Asian-American chefs are presumed to double as educators or ambassadors, representing an entire race, culture or cuisine.

In the end, doesn’t it matter — not to others, but to ourselves — where we are from? And no, I don’t mean “originally.” I mean the forces that made us: the immigrants who raised us, with all their burdens and expectations, their exhortations to fit in but never forget who we are; and the country we grew up in, that is our only home, that taught us we are “other” but also seems, in some confused, tentative way, to want to learn something from us.

For Asian-American chefs, this is the conundrum, and the opportunity. The foods of their childhoods were once mocked and rejected by their non-Asian peers (and by their ashamed or rebellious younger selves); then accepted in dilute, placating form; and now are able to command audiences who clamor for their sensations and aggressive flavors, and who might be unnerved if they knew exactly what they were putting in their mouths. What may be most radical about Asian-American cuisine is the attitude that informs and powers it, reflecting a new cockiness in a population that has historically kept quiet and encouraged to lay low. It’s food that celebrates crunchy cartilage and gelatinous ooze, that openly stinks, that declares: This is what I like to eat. What about you? Do you dare?
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Re: Long articles that are worth reading

Postby Ques » Sat Nov 18, 2017 2:12 am

Wesley Morris is one of my new favorite writers––this piece of his was groundbreaking for me, I highly recommend it if you're interested in reading about racism in the gay community, representation in film/television, and frank talk about penises in a non-phallocentric way.

https://www.nytimes.com/interactive/201 ... .html?_r=0

I thought this other piece was interesting in that it sums up how many people think about our current 'social justice' climate, has some novel points, and tries to connect many complex and disparate topics, while absolutely butchering the work of many nuanced theorists and activists. At the same time, it's still thought provoking and has started many fun and productive conversations in the spheres I live in, so I'll pass it on in case anyone wants to get similar results!

http://theamericanreader.com/jenesuispa ... e-leftism/

Lastly, this review of two parts of a biographical series on stalin was really fascinating. I would like to read something similar about Mao. Asks questions that are very pertinent today when we (if not we, I do, at least) see more and more leftist defenses of the USSR's practices in conversation and need to have painful conversations about democracy/communism/socialism and individual agency/structural causes of the way this revolution played out

https://www.newyorker.com/magazine/2017 ... -stalinist
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