Why We Eat What We Eat

Thorstein Veblen publishes Theory of the Leisure Class: an Economic Study of Institutions in 1899. He’s trying to figure out what makes people act like douchebags by studying their consumption habits. Like why Sara buys clothes at this store; Marty drives that car; Vivian drinks obscure coffee. Pre-test:

1. Who owns a Corvette?
a) Vascular Surgeon
b) The commercial plumber
c) The tenured college professor

2. Who owns most amount of clothes?
a) White trash girl living in trailer park
b) Old money girl attending exclusive boarding school
c) Middle-class girl living in middle-class cul-de-sac

3. What does middle-class woman eat on her birthday?
a) Surf and turf
b) Sushi and tempura
c) Raw oysters and beef tongue

4. What is upper-class woman eating Friday evening?
a) Cocktail shrimp and beef tenderloin steak
b) Acai bowl with quinoa, kale chips on side
c) Grilled beef tongue and fried shrimp heads

5. Who is most likely to have read a violent pornographic novel (eg. Georges Bataille, Pauline Reage, Marquis de Sade)
a) Upper-class woman, undergrad from Wellesley and PhD in Comparative Literature
b) Middle-class home economics teacher with enormous porn collection.
c) White trash who beats the shit out of his girlfriend.

1. b
2. c
3. a
4. c
5. a

Surprised? Oblique explanations in main text.

Why People Act Like Poseurs and Douchebags

For our purposes here, the only thing we need to take from Theory of Leisure Class is that imitation is the driving force of American capitalist consumerism. In Feudalism, social mobility is limited by birth and the serf works for subsistence, not social mobility. Capitalism, promising unprecedented (upward and downward) social mobility, makes imitation possible, accessible, and encouraged by the logic of economic growth.  “Keeping up,” as Americans put it.  The capitalist “Leisure Class” signifies not only Old and New Money, but anyone with discretionary income, or at least anyone with a credit card.

Whom do people imitate?  Those they *perceive* as just above them.  What do people imitate? The *imagined* sensibilities and habits of those they *perceive* as just above them. Pay attention to the choice of words: “perceive” and “imagined” because people from all social classes tend to have trouble at not only figuring out what those outside their social circles are thinking and doing, but also a person’s social status. That’s why the not-quite-middle-class teen thinks the woman with a deep tan and a tit job is high society. The Old Money woman thinks the young tow truck driver is being ironic when he’s not. The woman who reads The New Yorker has no idea who Jimmie Johnson is. The guy with collection of Jimmie Johnson autographs can’t imagine an Ivy League college professor who listens to Outkast and has tickets to Venus in Furs and The Vagina Monologues, both of which the Time and Oprah magazine reading home economics teacher with tickets to The Nutcracker Suite finds dirty and offensive.  Which is why all this imitation looks more like self-parody than “faking it till you make it.”

History of American Cuisine: Colonial Era


6. What’s most likely on the menu at a two year old casual fine dining restaurant in New York City that just won its first Micheline star?
a) Lobster alfredo with chantrelle mushrooms
b) Bone marrow with jerk spiced duck hearts
c) Wagyu tenderloin served with roasted rosemary potatoes

7. Who sucked the most dick by age 18?
a) Working middle-class Tina who attended Catholic school
b) Upper-middle class Siobhan who attended exclusive boarding school
c) Working middle-class Anthony who attended public school

8. Which family is most likely to own Emily Post books on etiquette and send children to etiquette school?
a) Conservative middle-class family, mom is homemaker, dad is bank manager.
b) Old Money family, mom is art curator, dad is opera singer.
c) New Money Google millionaires, Mom and Dad are executives

9. Who sucked the most dick by age 28?
a) Working middle-class Tina who attended Catholic school
b) Upper-middle class Siobhan who attended exclusive boarding school
c) Old Money Sarah who attended public school

10. What vehicle does single Korean man who runs with his parents an established Teriyaki store drive?
a) Toyota Camry
b) Ford Mustang
c) Porsche Cayenne

6. b
7. a
8. a
9. b
10. c

Seventeenth century, White Europeans from varied backgrounds started moving to The New World. The English soon became dominant, assimilating the Dutch and the Swedes after kicking their asses, but they couldn’t reach a deal with the French (Acadians in Nova Scotia) so the English told them to fuck off, relocating some of them to Louisiana where they begin Cajun culture. Point is, American cuisine began as variant of British cuisine, and in contrast to the French, who adopted Native American hunting and cooking methods and incorporated indigeneous ingredients into their diet, the Americans used Old World Methods to prepare New World ingredients and tried to grow Old World ingredients in New World climate, with mixed results.  Where reliable trade with British Empire was established, Old World ingredients were imported, making American (New England especially) cuisine intentionally British.

There were lots of regional variations that cut across socio-economic lines — American cuisine has never been monolithic —  with, for instance, upland Southern Rednecks eating possums and squirrels with cabbage and potatoes, and African and Caribbean ingredients and cooking methods influencing the pork based lowland Southern diet.  Pennsylvania Germans brought sausages, sauerkraut, and beer from the Old World. But colonial British mercantilist policies that limited American trade to within the Empire ensured that British traditions would dominate until the Brits began taxing alcohol starting with the Molasses Act of 1733 and the Sugar Act of 1760, and then luxury goods with the Quartering Act of 1763 and tea with the Tea Act of 1773.

The Brits soon learned that when you fuck with people’s alcohol and caffeine supply, there’s going to be a revolution. Americans began boycotting British goods and finally went native out of frustration with British laws. Whiskey had been looked down on by American high society types, who preferred Old World British goods and habits. Now Northern whiskey, made of rye (non-native European ingredient), was becoming fashionable, and Southern whiskey was considered patriotic due to its use of corn, an indigenous ingredient. Rum was out, as it was seen as a symbol of British power.

Another significant change was the shift from tea to coffee.  John Adams wrote to his wife in 1773: “Tea must be universally renounced and I must be weaned, and the sooner the better.” When word got out that a group of housewives in Massachusetts united to serve — as a fuck you to the Brits — only coffee, many were inspired to do the same.

It’s been said that you can tell a lot about a person by what he or she eats.  We can probably tell a lot about a nation by what its people eat.  Shifts in eating habits aren’t accidents and they’re an index of what’s to come politically. You can smell a revolution that’s waiting to happen.

Independence – Immigration Act of 1924

Independence achieved, Americans stopped shitting on French cuisine, which they had disdained during the seemingly never ending conflict between the British and the French. Before the War, cookbook writer Hannah Glasse, wrote in Art of Cookery: “the blind folly of this age that would rather be imposed on by a French booby, than give encouragement to a good English cook!” On French recipes: “an odd jumble of trash.” Those insults disappeared in the first *American* post-war edition of her cookbook, probably because the French had helped with American war effort. The French-American alliance also led to French chefs migrating to the States during the French Revolution, which would’ve been unthinkable under British rule.

Free from the constraints of British mercantilism, American cooks gained wider access to foreign goods.  As an expanding industrializing nation requiring more White people (1790 Act limited citizenship to White people) to populate conquered lands and to work in expanding factories, the US began to accept more and a wider range of White immigrants — now including many from Eastern and Southern Europe — who further diversified American culinary habits. By 1924, Americans are eating all kinds of peasant-redneck-soul food — pig’s ears, raw oysters, raw beef, possums, ram testicles, squirrels, chicken gizzards, cow brains, pig’s feet, and blood pudding.

I use year 1924 as a bookend because it marks the end of liberal immigration policies and the beginning of the modern kitchen.  Growing concern about the “Whiteness” of some European immigrants — Italians, Slavs, and Eastern European Jews — the Immigration Act of 1924 limited the annual number of immigrants who could be admitted from any country to 2% of the number of people from that country who were already living in the US. It was a way to ensure that the US remain a White, Anglo-Saxon, Protestant (WASP) nation, not overrun by Irish and Italian Catholics, Jews, Slavs, and other undesirable not-quite-White European “races.”  And by severing the flow of people and cultural habits from undesirable parts of Europe to ethnic US neighborhoods, the not-quite-White people of the US would finally lose their immigrant heritage and assimilate to become fully White and American.

And it was around 1924 that modern refrigeration was becoming common in middle-class America, which led to the rise to mass produced industrialized foods such as frozen meals.  Refrigeration in rail cars meant farms no longer had to be located near population centers and more land could be farmed, resulting in lower prices of prestige items such as beef.

The Federal government and academia were also getting involved in what Americans ate.  Nutritionists and home economics professors introduced a scientific approach to nutrition and eating. They began telling Americans which meals and cooking methods are safe and proper.

Modern American Cuisine

Why did some American ethnic and regional foods become popular nationally, while others remained marginalized or disappeared?

Test break!

11. Who sucked the most dick by age 45?
a) Working middle-class Tina who attended Catholic school
b) Upper-middle class Siobhan who attended exclusive boarding school
c) Old Money Sarah who attended public school

12. It’s 1973, in some middle to upper middle class suburb. What do the Johnson’s have in their kitchen?
a) A dead body, cut up, probably neighbor’s daughter
b) White Wonder bread, margarine, and Tang.
c) Pickled beets, sauerkraut, and offals.

13. Where has Old Money Sarah never eaten?
a) McDonald’s
b) Harold’s Chicken Shack
c) Red Lobster

14. Who lost a toe while on vacation?
a) Upper middle-class Ginger
b) Lower-middle class Tiffany
c) Upper-class Wes

15. Who spends the most on nails and tan?
a) Old Money Sarah
b) Upper middle-class Jimmy
c) Lower-middle class Tiffany

11. a
12. b
13. c
14. c
15. c

By 1965, the year immigration was liberalized, the US had finally developed a national cuisine and palate. Coca Cola, orange juice, hamburgers, fortune cookies, peanut butter, apple pie, fried chicken, hot dog, steak, pizza, french fries, spaghetti…these are some regional foods that went national (a few, like Coca Cola, went international).  Why not mutton, smoked salmon, collard greens, pig trotters, fried gizzards, baklava, gyros, Philly Cheesesteaks, and knishes?

Some food became less had because eating them was a sign of low status.  Offals (organs) and possum, for instance.  Perhaps fried chicken made the cut because it was special occasion food for the poor, and fried gizzards didn’t because that’s what the poor ate everyday.  Those who grew up poor traded liver, horse meat, and beef intestines for ground beef when they finally could.

Some food became more popular because they represented modernity and science. The middle-class household in 1970 drank space-age Tang to be modern, used margarine instead of butter to be health conscious, and ate canned soup to be family-on-the-move efficient. Now Tang is one step above kool-aid, margarine is for out-of-touch geriatrics relying on out-of-date info, and canned soup is for the lazy.

Other food and preparation methods became rare because of warnings from government agencies.  “You shouldn’t consume raw seafood or meat of any kind,” warns the FDA. So most stopped doing so, even as steak tartare was served throughout Europe, as it had for centuries, and sashimi throughout Japan, as it had for centuries.  You’re supposed to drink cow milk and eat cereal and bread and cheese…everyday “we’re told by USDA food pyramid. So we did, even though 70 percent of the people in the world are lactose intolerant.  “Cook poultry at 350 degrees,” taught the home economics teacher.  We did and learned to make overcooked and dry meat palatable by adding to it extra extra gravy.  “White meat is healthier than dark meat,” announced the nutritionist.  So we became one of the few nations in the world to prefer white over dark, even though dark is more flavorful and moister.  (And then we make white meat better tasting by frying it or drenching it in gravy, making it even more calorie dense than its dark counterpart). Americans were being taught to distrust their immigrant heritage, to become more modern (American) and less ethnic (backward). American cuisine was narrowing palates and limiting the range of cooking methods. American cuisine was becoming a disaster.

Thesis: government meddling and the loss of immigrant heritage fucked up American cuisine.

Postmodern American Cuisine

If Modernity is about living as one imagines one would in the future, Postmodernity is about living as one imagines someone had in the past.


The Japanese, not Julia Child, saved American cuisine.

It’s the 1980s and the Japanese are on a roll. Americans are starting to think the Japanese are going to take over the world.  They show up in Manhattan to buy all sorts of vanity properties, their cars run better than American ones, and they make Americans feel lazy, and stupid. One could smell the power shift when business between Japanese and Americans was conducted not at Peter Lugar steakhouse, but in a basement level izakaya.

The growing popularity of Japanese cuisine in the US during the 80s and 90s gave Americans an opportunity to reconsider everything they’d been taught about proper cooking and proper meals.  Sure sure, there were American servicemen who loved Japanese cuisine before the preppy douchebags got to try it, but these were working class types everyone ignored, not the preppies middle-class kids emulated during the materialistic Eighties. The preppies made Japanese food cool and eating it became a sign of sophistication and high social status.

Soon Americans are watching Iron Chef Japan. Eating raw fish. Now they’re trying eel and loving it. A few even develop a taste for natto and live sea urchin.  Everything Americans were told not to do they were doing when they were eating Japanese food. For some, it was exhilarating.  Trying “weird” food became a legitimate hobby, and a new brand of foodie emerged.

By the start of the 21st century, Japanese cuisine had gone mainstream and Japanese cooking shows like Iron Chef inspired American versions of them, transforming chefs into rock stars, Ivy League graduates into line cooks working to become chefs, and cooking into a hobby instead of a chore. Sushi was no longer for Wall Street pricks and Californian champagne socialists, you were not middle-class if you didn’t eat and like sushi (even though sushi is a small portion of Japanese cuisine, and not had very often in Japan). Soon we had Japanese food for the masses: conveyer belt sushi, all you can eat sushi, even Chinese people serving (disgusting) sushi.  And as Japanese food ceased to be the new in thing, White Americans, now accustomed to trying “weird shit,” became interested in rediscovering their European roots because being White wasn’t cool anymore.  More restaurants started serving dishes that would’ve been unthinkable in the mainstream 70s, from raw oysters to bone marrow, duck hearts to steak tartare; using cooking methods, such as sous vide, that freaked out health inspectors. Underground dinner parties featured beef tongue and shrimp head. Eating such dishes became a sign of sophistication and American cuisine was becoming not just an archetype of postmodern nostalgia, but also vibrant and challenging. For the first time in a long time, American palates and culinary repertoire were expanding and a new generation of American chefs wanted to show the world that there’s more to American cuisine than McDonald’s.

Why We Eat What We Eat

Some think that the standard middle-class American cuisine is based primarily on proper nutrition (as determined by government agencies) and ethical behavior (as determined by soft science academics).  It is not.  If it were, we’d be eating crickets instead of beef for protein and we wouldn’t let ourselves get suckered by the latest health fad that confers an ingredient undeserved powers and fucks up another nation’s ecology.  Some of us would like to believe our cuisine is *proper* because it justifies our personal preferences (built on habit) and confirms our sense of self as belonging to a righteous nation. Those unhappy with status quo want to make American cuisine *proper* — nutritious and ethical (eg. localvore movement) — so we can feel like we belong to a righteous nation.

If American cuisine is, as argued earlier, built on political intrigue, social maneuvering, and economic brinksmanship, then there’s a good chance that its present is an expression of our competing political beliefs and anxiety about our socio-economic future.  Reading the food we eat as such makes it possible for us to see ourselves as tools when we drink orange juice every morning for its Vitamin C content, douchebags when we order kobe burgers for the prized fat that’s cooked off, cranks when we promote acai berries as ethical superfood, and human when we binge on McDonald’s fries.

Perhaps in the end — weary of reading all those conflicting articles about what’s healthiest and what’s more ethical and what’s better for the economy and environment — eating well has less to do with what we eat than how we explore what’s possible to eat. If only God can determine the righteousness of a nation and its citizens, the best we can do is build a spirited cuisine that challenges and expands, rather than accepts and limits, our palates and imagination.








12 Years Old

Forgot about 11, was too busy to mention it.  Anyway, we made it to 12, Alive Juice Bar is the third oldest existing juice bar in the Puget Sound region, terrorizing customers since 2010!  The Soup Nazi Kitchen — terrorizing zombies since 2021 — is a bit over one year old.  Both have been in downtown Everett for a bit over a year, so this is a significant anniversary that marks a major move and build-out.

New logo design.  

We’re not completely settled.  In fact, we made a mess of the place today by moving in a bunch of stuff and it’s going to take us a week to sort out.  But we’re almost there — Soup Nazi Kitchen website should be up by end of the month.  And newly designed blade signs for Alive Juice Bar and The Soup Nazi Kitchen will be put up sometime this summer.  The patio is open and we finally have heat and AC, so sit some.  Free WiFi if you want to work, or browse our library full of books some people don’t want you to read.   There’ll also be a desktop computer workstation for customers to use.

Aliens for sale, $5 for small, $6 for large.  Available in grocery area. 

Always wanted a patio, now we have one!  An herb garden too!!!

Our toilet rooms are as creepy as ever.  

Elves Lives Matter mural.  

We’ve also settled on a workflow process so most everything is running smoothly now.

Cheers to all our new friends and enemies (enemies are important to have, you need a foil to create a good story and they’re better at motivating you than are most friends).  Actually, not much has changed, still mostly see old faces.  Eighty percent of the walk-in business are customers from Shoreline location.  Many moved to Everett area and some drive up to visit on the weekends.

     Old friends…

And new enemies…Doofus Doug Evans Dickhead, some minor league antifa loser who had been vandalizing the store.  His e-mail is doug.evans419@gmail.com if you want to send dick pics and such to him.  

What’s next?

Find labor, it’s been difficult.  International students are back, but there aren’t many at Everett Community College and many of them have on-campus jobs.  So we’ll wait until we find a few international students to hire.  Until then, we’ll keep limited hours during the week, but open most of the day during weekends.

Thanks for the support and we look forward to at least another 4 years in downtown Everett.  Remember to be rude, everyone, it’s more efficient.  xoxo

Masks on sale, $5

Our new logo! 

Why We Don’t Carry Wheatgrass (don’t read if offended by racist material)

Discussion about why we don’t name any ingredient a “super” anything and really really offensive material about Oprah and White people farther down. First, let’s get this wheatgrass debate settled.

We don’t carry wheatgrass, despite demand for it.  Here’s why:

From random uncredentialed guy writing on Skeptico blog: Wheatgrass is for Cows
Summary: Wheatgrass is for cows, not humans, as humans are unable to digest it as cows do.

But why should we trust some random guy on random blogsite?

From Webmd: Wheatgrass Claims
ummary: Review of independent peer reviewed studies of wheatgrass show that there’s little or no evidence of its purported health benefits to those who drink it.

But that’s just another website, the article isn’t peer reviewed,  and we don’t know if author left out studies in his review.  So let’s go with a renown Naturopath who is also an MD.

From Dr. Andrew Weil, MD (from Harvard),  undergrad in Botany (from Harvard); founder of Arizona Center for Integrative Medicine. Currently Clinical Professor of Medicine, a Professor of Public Health, and the Lovell-Jones Professor of Integrative Rheumatology at University of Arizona School of Medicine: Wheatgrass Does Not Deliver
Summary: Wheatgrass is bullshit.  Key quotes:

On benefits of chlorophyll: chlorophyll, the green pigment that gives plants their color, has no nutritional role in the human body, a fact that hasn’t stopped promoters from making extravagant claims for it. Secondly, there’s no evidence to suggest that wheatgrass or chlorophyll are substitutes for 2.2 pounds of vegetables. If you search the medical literature for “wheatgrass,” you find very few entries and none at all suggesting that it has any health benefits for humans.

Nutritionally speaking, wheatgrass simply doesn’t deliver on the promoters’ promises. I certainly wouldn’t recommend substituting it for any of the fresh vegetables and fruits in your diet. Spend your money on good, organically produced food, not on wheatgrass or other sprouts or grasses marketed as “super-foods.”

From American Cancer Society, which has provided funding to 47 Nobel Lauretes: Review of Wheatgrass
ummary: No evidence AND beware of supplements general, as actual amount of ingredient consumer wants varies. Person who made wheatgrass a health fad was a quack and batshit crazy.

In 1982, the Massachusetts Attorney General sued Wigmore for claiming that her program could reduce or eliminate the need for insulin in diabetics. She later retracted her claims. In 1988, the Massachusetts Attorney General sued Wigmore again, this time for claiming that an “energy enzyme soup” she invented could cure AIDS. Wigmore was ordered to stop representing herself as a physician or person licensed to treat disease. Although Wigmore died in 1993, her Creative Health Institute is still active. Wheatgrass is readily available, and her diet is still in use.

So what is it about human nature that allows so many people — the highly intelligent included, even Steve Jobs gets duped — to buy snake-oils like wheatgrass, to believe in bullshit?

Human Nature
If there’s anything to be learned from Cultural Anthropology (and there’s not much), it’s that as social structure evolves — feudalism to capitalism, for instance — social codes and archetypes from one era reappear in another in a different form. Example: Aunt Jemima, year 1900.  She’s loved by White people because she takes good care of them.  Mammy, the “house nigger” archetype. Oprah Winfrey, year 2000.  Same shit, different form.  Look at her audience — mostly middle-class White women. Oprah is their Mammy, telling them which books to read, which diets to follow, which causes to get worked up about. Only difference is that Oprah makes coin because she lives in a more advanced (or different) stage of capitalism than did those who represented Aunt J in minstrel shows a century ago.

Not saying those who don’t like rap (code) necessarily hate Black people.  Not saying those with Free Tibet stickers (code) dislike Chinese people or Asians in general.  Just saying it’s human nature to classify and differentiate, to codify and regulate identities. Telling people it’s socially unacceptable to call a Chinaman (archetype) a Chinaman (code) doesn’t mean people will stop thinking of or treat the Chinaman as a Chinaman, or a Wetback a Wetback, a Dago Wop a Dago Wop.  They’ll just find a more socially acceptable way to express difference.

The codes and archetypes evolve to reflect the aims and needs of the political economy. Slavery (code) in the US didn’t end because enough people *finally* recognized such bondage as immoral. You really think white abolitionists (archetype) gave a shit about “Negroes” anymore than they cared about the “free” Irish immigrants who lived a mile away from them in conditions, according to a University of Chicago economist, even worse than those of Southern slaves? Slavery ended because enough people figured out that it doesn’t work well with industrial capitalism. Slavery became immoral because it was becoming inefficient — less productive than wage labor — and not because the temptation to exploit other people in such a way had waned. Just because material life has gotten better and society more civil doesn’t mean human nature has changed. People are still scared and vain and will seek short-cuts to the Kingdom of Heaven by trying to create Heaven on Earth, with disastrous consequences.  People will forever do some fucked up shit to each other, with most justifying, rationalizing as good and just what they’ve done, from carpet bombing a village to interrogation by torture to massacre. Instead of burning the witch at the stake, now we post compromising photos of that bitch on Instagram.

History and Human Nature
Why is it we can laugh at or be horrified by instances of human depravity and degeneracy throughout history, yet not recognize our own sins and follies? We can laugh at Ponce DeLeon for being a dumbass for searching for the Fountain of Youth (AND believe in this story which likely isn’t true), yet we fall for wheatgrass, spirulina, weight-loss pills, cock enlargement pumps, reverse-aging creams, those metal bracelets that do whatever it is they’re supposed to do, and ionized water?

Medical doctors and scientists would probably blame low scientific literacy as the source of the problem.  Sure sure, most people don’t understand the scientific method or how clinical trials work or the difference between correlation and causation or how problematic observational studies are and what can be concluded from a mice study or what “double blind peer review” means.  But I don’t think a person needs to be familiar with any of the above to detect bullshit. We have built-in bullshit detectors.  We just don’t use them.

So why don’t we use our bullshit detectors? What makes it so tempting to hear only what we want to hear, to see only what we want to see in ourselves and others?  When do we become susceptible to believing fantastic promises that appeal to our vanities?

Part of it is how history is often taught, how we understand it.  “Those who cannot remember the past are doomed to repeat it.” Thanks for the reminder, George, but forgetting the past ISN’T the reason why history repeats itself. History repeats itself especially when it’s NOT forgotten. Guy sentenced to life in jail for vehicular homicide didn’t forget his three DUIs, he was just being human, a dumbass creature of habit.  And I’m not claiming “progress” hasn’t been made, I’ll take my toilet over whatever Jesus used. I’m saying that thinking of the trajectory of history as “moral progress”  — qualified by “if we study history” — makes us blind to ourselves, our Original Sin. Unable to see ourselves in Pol Pot, Hitler, Henry V, Catherine the Great, Stalin, Caligula, Judas Iscariot, we become arrogant, vain, self-righteous and self-satisfied.  “I would never have owned slaves,” the American Apparel clad college girl tells herself as she reads Howard Zinn’s People’s History. “I would’ve released them, then teach them how to read, to start a glorious revolution.” Twenty years later she’s living in a nearly Black-less neighborhood, and the closest she’s ever come to helping anyone Black has been her purchase of tunes from Aaliyah and a Richard Sherman jersey. How’s that for ironic living?

Superfood as Colonial Narrative
Is there an Anthropologist in the house?  We’re going to need one soon.

(Artistic license taken) “Acai berries for super duper healthy living AND to empower the peasants, save them from greedy capitalists!”  In May 2009, Bloomberg reported that the expanding popularity of açaí in the United States was “depriving Brazilian jungle dwellers of a protein-rich nutrient they’ve relied on for generations.” From Reality Check: “False claims include reversal of diabetes and other chronic illnesses, as well as expanding size of the penis and increasing men’s sexual virility.” Oops, we fucked up.

“Quinoa for super duper healthy living AND to empower the peasants, save them from greedy capitalists!”  From UK Guardian: “Ethical consumers should be aware poor Bolivians can no longer afford their staple grain, due to western demand raising prices.” Oops, we fucked up.

(From Runa website, word for word) Runa is a social enterprise supporting indigenous farmers and reforestation in the Amazon. Runa brews beverages from guayusa, a super-leaf from the Amazon …”  We should know how this “social enterprise” (social fucking enterprise!) is going to end.  But we get duped by the same message over and over again: Fountain of Youth! Bigger Penis! Save the Peasants from Greedy Capitalists! We fall for the same pick up line because it makes us feel good, and because deep down, we don’t give a shit about those jungle dwelling brown motherfuckers, which is why we can conveniently forget — no, ignore — what happened to them last time we tried to help them. We just like to believe we care about them, and that their big big smiles are for real when they take photos with us. It’s as if colonialism never ended. Instead of gold and guns, now the imperialists use superfoods to fuck things up in their own fucked up way.  The colonial narrative, that trifecta of: glory and riches, more pussy, and White burden, continues on in American grocery stores and on dining tables.

Here’s where an Anthropologist may be of help. Instead of studying  how superfood agriculture affects the environment and culture, instead of studying the Other, let’s study White people.  By White people, I don’t mean genotype or White individuals.  I mean White people as trope, as inheritors of a colonial legacy. As consumers of *all races* unwilling to recognize the colonial past in their post-colonial present. Let’s get to the source of the problem.

History and Human Nature Part II: Self Interest vs. Vanity

Most schools and media teach history as the story about good people as victims of bad people and that we have moral obligation to help the victims of present and past and punish the bad. Put simply, propaganda. The Aliens watching us from Alpha Centauri don’t see good versus evil, they only see people doing fucked up shit to each other, just as we see animals in the wild do fucked up shit to each other but don’t assign moral value to their actions.  That’s precisely the kind of story Thucydides wrote about in History of the Peloponnesian Wars. It’s a seminal historical text because it’s the first to be so cold, detached, impartial; because it isn’t a story about good and evil, it’s about *human nature* and how we can best protect ourselves from other people. It’s a story about how there are NEITHER victims NOR volunteers.  There are only competing self-interests that sometimes come in conflict with another.

Santayana’s “remember the past so you don’t make the same mistakes,” is an alluring way to read history because it appeals to our vanity. “Those bad bad people are them, and I’m me, who would never do that, I’m better than that” we’re led to think.  Really?  The only reason why the 19 year old girl who worships Ayn Rand (a Fuck You conservative) can declare herself a Communist (combo = psychobitch, guaranteed) without a hint of irony is because she doesn’t have the power to round people up and work them to death at a labor camp. And she’s too chickenshit to do anything more than tell her Facebook friends that that bitch is not her mom. Send her back in time — give her power, make her Catherine the Great — then we’ll see who she really is. There will be blood everywhere.

If Santayana’s version of history takes down the proverbial mirror we need to recognize ourselves in our readings of the past, reading history as the codification of identity and the study of human nature nails it back up for us to see who we really are.  With history as the study of human nature on repeat, every cheat, murderer, dumbass, fool, coward, and psychopath we read about becomes a story about our present condition, a reflection of who we are. It helps us recognize our own follies, our venality and arrogance, our total depravity. It may help us to smell present-day bullshit like this:

Ignored Since the 1950s – Is Spirulina Now a ‘Miracle’ High-Protein Super Food?

Imagine a plant that can nourish your body by providing most of the protein you need to live, help prevent the annoying sniffling and sneezing of allergies, reinforce your immune system, help you control high blood pressure and cholesterol, and help protect you from cancer. Does such a “super food” exist?

Yes. It’s called spirulina.

Which isn’t much different from bullshit from the past, like this:


The ingredients may change, but human nature remains.

The Vanity of Vanities
According to Socrates, there are two types of people: dumbasses who know they’re dumbasses, and dumbasses who don’t.  The former ask more questions and make fewer assumptions because of their insecure knowledge. The latter ask few questions and rely on belief, bullshit, and bromides to sustain their vain sense of self. The former go with what sounds right.  The latter with what sounds good.

Vanity is self-interest turned on its side, that desire for a sense of progress and self-esteem rather than actual improvement. Pay up and pop the pill to feel like effort and progress has been made, even though it’d cost less and be more effective to consistently eat diverse and balanced meals and to exercise daily.  Vanity and its dampening affect on our bullshit detectors, not poor science literacy, is what feeds the pseudoscience and anti-science industries. Michael Schulson, on the importance of keeping our vanity in check when thinking about the politics of science (from  Whole Foods: America’s Temple of Pseudoscience):

It’s that whenever we talk about science and society, it helps to keep two rather humbling premises in mind: very few of us are anywhere near rational. And pretty much all of us are hypocrites.

And dumbasses.


How to get kids to eat their veggies and to love their parents

Let’s back up so we can get to the source of the problem.  How do you get someone to fall in love with you?  Pick:

a) Be really really nice to that person.
b) Hire a witch, cast a love spell.
c) Get that person to do things for you.

Option A doesn’t work, it gets you either ignored or used because nice is cheap, it’s ineffective, it’s too easy to pull off, there’s too much of it around.

Option B comes with a lot of side-effects and it can get weird when the spell hits the wrong target so better not.

Option C works, not because “relationship experts” say so, but because it’s the option that requires the most work.  Life isn’t supposed to be easy.

Why Kids Don’t Love Their Parents
People assume their kids love them because they think it’s a law of nature for kids to love their parents.  Not so, according to the Story of Oedipus, that motherfucker murdered his dad and then fucked his mom.  This story endures in public consciousness because it reminds us of the uncomfortable truths we’d prefer to not think about, or to only consider academically. Deep down, and in spite of incessant bromides about self-love as the solution, we know we’re no longer in the Garden of Eden and we’re unsure of what to do about it.

What makes the Story of Oedipus so unsettling and compelling is that while every character in the story knew what was supposed to go down, nobody knew what was happening.  That’s the most terrifying kind of horror. If it had just been a story about some kid throwing a shit fit for getting grounded and killing dad and raping mom in the process, we’d treat it as a sad and tragic spectacle and assume the kid became a sociopath because he was molested by his football coach and his mom was a drunk who called him a “stupid, useless, cunt” one too many times.

Instead, it’s a story about funked up shit happening to good people who try their best as parents.  Oedipus was born to good parents who had to make a difficult decision — abort their only child to save the kingdom and themselves. So they left him for dead in the middle of nowhere.  Oedipus, luckily (or unluckily), was found and saved by someone and then adopted by good parents — king and queen from another kingdom. And he tried to be a good son — when a prophet told him that he’d murder his dad and fuck his mom, he exiled himself, not realizing that he would soon unknowingly encounter his birth dad.

Only encounter with birth dad, they squabble and Oedipus beats the shit out of him, killing him. First prophesy fulfilled and nobody realizes it. Which invites us to ask unsettling questions about ourselves: would I love my parents/children if they weren’t my parents/children? Would I hate them and want to kill them, as Oedipus did? Would my kid love me if she didn’t need me to survive?

How many of us are Oedipus?  How many of us don’t want to kill dad and rape mom, but do so anyway, without realizing it?

How to Teach Kids to Love Their Parents

The Story of Oedipus reminds us that we live in a cruel and lonely world and nothing should be taken for granted. We can’t assume there’s an unbreakable and spiritual love-bond between a parent and a child.  And whatever bond there is is sociological and ephemeral, love requires a lot of work and perseverance.  Check out the confessions section of Scary Mommy if you don’t believe me.

If love is an action and not a feeling, then like most actions, it has to be taught and practiced, it doesn’t just happen. Teaching a kid to love a parent requires the same effort as making friends or getting someone to fall in love with you, it’s the same dynamic.  To make friends, you have to figure out a way to get that person to do something for you so they become emotionally invested in you. Benjamin Franklin, from his autobiography, on how to make friends:

He that has once done you a kindness will be more ready to do you another, than he whom you yourself have obliged.[

Make the person do something for you. Make them invest in you.  Below is an example of how Franklin turned an enemy into a friend:

Having heard that he had in his library a certain very scarce and curious book, I wrote a note to him, expressing my desire of perusing that book, and requesting he would do me the favour of lending it to me for a few days. He sent it immediately, and I return’d it in about a week with another note, expressing strongly my sense of the favour. When we next met in the House, he spoke to me (which he had never done before), and with great civility; and he ever after manifested a readiness to serve me on all occasions, so that we became great friends, and our friendship continued to his death.

Take something away from someone if you want to make an enemy.  Give something away for free too often if you want to be used and disrepected. Have someone give you something if you want a friend.  Same dynamic when seeking romantic love,  according to random “romantic relationship expert”:

In fact, when people see you doing stuff for them for free, unsolicited, or uncompensated, their thought is never, “Wow, what a great guy! I should repay him in spades!” but rather, “Oh, that’s nice – it’s nice having nice people around like this who give me stuff. Thanks, nice person!”

Yeah yeah, I know your friend paid you back with food and drink when you helped her move.  That’s why you’re friends. You wouldn’t be friends anymore if she hadn’t reciprocated, right? Because it’d be disrespectful to not reciprocate.  Yet there are parents who keep giving and giving and giving to their kids while getting little or nothing in return; or the nice guy who keeps paying for dates and buying gifts but can’t get a commitment or even a make out session from his crush. Parents will then blame technology and culture for producing entitled, disrespectful and narcissistic kids; the nice guy will blame women for preferring assholes.  Both of which are lame excuses that prevents them from blaming the source of the problem: themselves.

Nice people are liked, but not respected, we learn from history and classical literature and political philosophy.  “Now that’s fucked up,” some of you are thinking, “I won’t play that game.” Fine, but don’t play martyr when disrespected because it’s a lot easier to play Santa than to empower someone to become whom she wants to be.  Kobe Bryant, one of the most disliked AND respected NBA players of all-time on what he wished he had done with his money when he made his first millions early in his career:

You will come to understand that you were taking care of them because it made YOU feel good; it made YOU happy to see them smiling and without a care in the world…While you were feeling satisfied with yourself, you were slowly eating away at their own dreams and ambitions. You were adding material things to their lives, but subtracting the most precious gifts of all: independence and growth.

“While you were feeling satisfied with yourself,” because Kobe’s been there, he’s done that. He knows a handout is the quintessential narcissistic douche bag act that’s neither effective nor an act of love precisely because it’s the easy thing to do to gain short-term pleasure at the expense of another person’s dignity and long-term happiness.  Kobe on how he wished he had treated people when he earned his first millions:

When your [NBA] dream comes true…you need to figure out a way to invest in the future of your family and friends. “I said INVEST. I did not say GIVE.

Invest means not giving girlfriend the weekend getaway she wants until she passes a section of the CPA exam she’s been studying for; no blowjobs until husband sets personal sales record for the month; no squeeky toy for dog until she learns a new obstacle course; no catnip until the cat catches that mouse.  This is how people and animals learn to perform at high levels. And that’s why it’s so hard to do so, why it’s easier to give than to invest: investing requires self-denial, patience, respect, and the ability to enter another’s spirit. Giving merely fulfills immediate needs, it’s like giving heroin to someone who is in pain, or candy to a kid so he stops crying.  Kobe on the effectiveness of investing rather than giving:

As time goes on, you will see them grow independently and have their own ambitions and their own lives, and your relationship with all of them will be much better as a result.

So how do we *teach* a kid to love his parents?  To begin with, teach the kid to become *emotionally invested* in the parents.  And it starts early, by drilling habits. Meaning, parents don’t tie a kid’s shoes, kid ties parents’s shoes and shines them.  Parents don’t spend money to entertain kid, kid entertains parents by memorizing and reciting parents’s favorite poems and performing their favorite songs. Parents don’t pay for kid’s pedicure and massage session just because, kid massages her parents feet every day after school to earn that right once a quarter. Parents don’t cook and clean for kid, kid cooks and clean for parent and if the food sucks, send it back, have kid redo it because that’s how it is in the real world.  Parents don’t take kid out to dinner to celebrate first job; kid takes parents out to dinner when he gets his first paycheck to thank them for the opportunity to have a job and for driving him to and from. Parents don’t pay for kid’s grand tour after college graduation, kid saves and saves and saves to send parents on all-expense paid vacation to thank them. Parents don’t buy their kids their first house,  kid buys parent a vacation home before buying their first. That’s how to teach a kid to not send parent to a decrepit rat-infested nursing home when parent turns geriatric.  That’s how to teach a kid that love is an act, not a narcissistic and impressionistic feeling.

“But they won’t do any of the above,” some parents are thinking. Then reject them, just as you should reject an abusive spouse or a friend who stabs you in the back.  Because when a kid takes and takes and takes and never gives only asks for more, that’s abuse, they’re learning how to be abusive and they’re going to be abusers as adults. Why put up with it? Why feed it?  Only people who suffer from Battered Spouse Syndrome put up with that kind of shit.


She knows, because she forgave him after she caught him fucking her sister.


She gives all her money to her daughter. Her daughter routinely calls her a “cunt” and tells her to “shut the fuck up” when asked to do the dishes.

How to Get Kid Who Doesn’t Want to Eat Veggies to Eat Them

Answer is the same as how to get a kid to love parents.  Back to the question asked in the beginning:

How do you get someone to fall in love with you?  (Or, how do you get your kid to love you)? Correct answer in bold:

a) Be really really nice to that person.
b) Hire a witch, cast a love spell.
c) Get that person to do things for you

Which is easier said than done.  It takes a lot of work to get a kid to be emotionally invested in parents’s well being by teaching and training her to take care of her parents the moment she can walk on her own. If she doesn’t get in the habit of doing things for her parents early in her life, she won’t do it when parents are late in their lives. Amy Chua (aka Tiger Cunt to some) knows that so she trains her daughters — even at ages 20 and 23 — to be her bitches.  Here’s a contract she wrote and had them sign when she sensed her daughters were going to take advantage of her generosity:

WHEREAS Amy Chua and Jed Rubenfeld are the owners of Apt. [XXX] at [XXX], and their children are not;

WHEREAS Children owe their parents everything, even in the West, where many have conflicted feelings about this;


In exchange for Amy and Jed allowing them to stay in their NYC apartment from June 1, 2016 to August 1, 2016, Sophia Chua-Rubenfeld and Louisa Chua-Rubenfeld agree to the following irrevocable duties and conditions:

1. To occupy only the junior bedroom.

2. To greet Jed Rubenfeld & Amy Chua with spontaneous joy and gratitude whenever they visit.

3. To make their (joint) bed every day, and not to fight about who does it.

4. To never, ever use the phrase, “Relax—it’s not a big deal.”

5. To always leave all internal doors in the apartment wide open whenever Jed, Amy or any company whatsoever (including relatives) are in the apartment, with an immaculately made bed in full view and no clothing or other junk on the floor of the bedroom in sight.

6. Whenever any guests visit, to come out of the bedroom immediately in a respectable state, greet the guests with enthusiasm, and sit and converse with the guests in the living room for at least 15 minutes.

7. To always be kind to our trusty Samoyeds Coco and Pushkin, who Sophia and Louisa hereby agree have greater rights to the apartment than Sophia and Louisa do, and to walk them to the dog park at least once a day when they visit, within 30 minutes of being asked to do so by Amy.

8. To fill the refrigerator with fresh OJ from Fairway for Jed on days when he is in town.

9. To keep the pillows in the living room in the right place and PLUMPED and to clean the glass table with Windex whenever it is used.

ADDITIONALLY, Sophia and Louisa agree that the above duties and conditions will not be excused even in the event of illness, hangovers, migraines, work crises or mental breakdowns (whether their own or their friends’).

Sophia and Louisa agree that if they violate any one of these conditions, Amy and Jed will have the right to get the Superintendent or a doorman to restrain them from entering the apartment; and to change the locks.

All of which are reasonable requests since they’re getting free rent in one of the most expensive real estate markets in the world. Tiger Cunt on above contract:

The fact is, we’re never off the hook as parents. Even when your kids are in their 20s, it’s still a constant balancing act. Are we asking too much of them or too little? Are we being strong and holding them to a high standard, or just being too critical? Are we teaching them by example how to live a happy, meaningful, giving life?

More importantly, she’s teaching them how to reciprocate and to not take advantage of other people’s kindness.  She’s teaching them how to be gracious. She’s teaching them how to love. She doesn’t hope for reciprocity and respect, she demands it.

From UK Guardian:

Food researchers at Ohio State University and Cornell University in New York found that children are five times more likely to eat salad when they have grown it themselves.

Children who are *emotionally invested* in the food in front of them are more likely to eat it. They don’t necessarily have to grow it — they can prep or serve it, for instance — they just have to be involved in the work of making a meal happen to become emotionally invested.


Her smile isn’t fake, she wasn’t forced to smile.  She grows and eats her veggies.


Third graders in Japan serving food to classmates. Even though they’re not smiling, they’re still happy.  Or maybe they’re not happy about having to drink milk because they’re lactose intolerant, as are most Asians.  Either way, they’re going to eat their veggies.  Unless the Washington Post reporter is lying.  If he is, he’s a dickhead.

How to Get Kids Involved in Making Their Own Meals

But some kids don’t want to be involved in making their own meals. Which brings us back to the source of the problem: kids who’ve never been trained to love their parents (don’t misread that, read it carefully). That’s where it begins.  A lot of people think that pain-in-the-ass kids are the way they are because their parents haven’t loved them enough, haven’t done enough for them.  No, look around, look especially at the middle-class fuck ups, they’re the way they are not because they grew up poor or their parents have neglected them or they weren’t loved enough, but because they’ve never had to do anything for their parents.  They never had to earn their parents’s love.  They never learned to love.

A child who doesn’t know how to love another isn’t going to be able to learn how to love eating veggies.  Such a child is accustomed to receiving love (pleasure) from his parents without having to work for it.  So why would he want to work at improving his palate when he’s been trained to receive pleasure immediately and often, without pain and effort? Getting such a child to eat vegetables is the least of our worries. There’s going to be meth addiction.

Love isn’t the solution, it should be the end result.  By making love the solution, it becomes the problem. Children don’t need more love, they need to learn how to love. Only when they learn to love will they be ready to experience how good a succulent bite of sausage can be when preceded with a crisp bite of lightly sauteed zucchini; and appreciate the effort put into loving them from those who love them the most.

Guadalajara and Guanajuato Trip Report

Guadalajara (pop 1.5 million), the second largest city in Mexico, looks and feels like a bigger version of East LA.  It’s dirty, tacky, doesn’t feel safe, and doesn’t have many street food options and vendors in general.  Pics:

Building next to University of Guadalajara and prominent cathedral.

Looks like East LA with a cathedral.

In Colonia Americana, one of the nicest neighborhoods.

Across street from tacky posh apartment complex in Colonia Americana.

I don’t recommend visiting it.  It’s ghetto but not ghetto enough — think Detroit (worth visiting for its spectacular ruins) — to be worth visiting.  Guadalajara is just a boring mess of a city –cars parked inside its main cathedral, crappy graffiti, faded, gaudy architecture intermixed with dingy architecture, and tedious neighborhoods.  Ramen — popular and ubiquitous — there was good though, better than what I’ve had in Seattle, except at Muto Izakaya in Lynnwood, my favorite.

Taiwanese beef noodle soup. This Japanese ramen shop includes dishes from Taiwan, Sichuan, and Wuhan. Ramen was invented in China, Japanese improved and marketed it.

Wuhan dry noodles.

Yummy pork gyozas made in house.

Taiwanese pork bao. Disappointing because it lacked two key ingredients that Mexico has in abundance — cilantro and nuts (peanuts in Taiwan). Wanted to see version with pistachios because there are many pistachio farms nearby.

This ramen place played J-pop from the 1980s, that was cool.


Guanajuato is amazing, it’s the first city I’ve fallen in love with.  I’m moving there in five years, part-time to start.

Flew into Guadalajara, rented a car and drove to Guanajuato, with stops at Lagos de Moreno (charming city of 160,000 founded in 16th century) and San Juan de los Lagos (nothing special, it just has the second most visited pilgrimage site, an image of the Virgin Mary — known for its miracles — in a basilica).  It’s a three hour drive without stops, we took eight hours with stops.

Guanajuato municipality, located in the center of Mexico, has a population of 200,000, and Guanajuato city proper has a population of 70,000.  It’s more vibrant than NYC, more romantic than Paris, is safer and cleaner than both, and is known as the most beautiful city in Mexico.  It was once a prominent and wealthy mining town, which is why it has an unusually high number of iconic architecture for a city of its size.  Check these out:

Juarez Theater, completed in 1903, is located in main plaza.

One of 23 churches. This cathedral was built in 1671.

Main plaza, Jardin de Union. Well manicured and trash free.

Typical colorful residential street.

View from high elevation (from hotel room).

Check out view from outdoor elevator at hotel.

Check out this roving party, “callejoneadas.” Didn’t see these in Mexico City.

Despite my comparisons of Guanajuato to NYC and Paris, it has a small town feel.  The roosters start at the crack of dawn, followed by the gradually growing chorus of barking dogs.  At 7:30am, the main cathedral bells ring, time to wake up.  Stepping out of the hotel at 8am, I saw a few heading to work with donkeys in tow and parents taking their kids to school.  Yet there’s enough population density so that like Mexico City (and unlike the sprawl that’s Guadalajara), street food is everywhere from 8am to midnight.

The quality of restaurants is high, from cheap eats to fine dining.  In addition to Mexican, I had French, Italian, Cuban, and I saw Argentinian and American cuisines.  Photos!

Grilled tuna at French restaurant.

French restaurant, beet salad and potato-leek croquettes.

Sangria and pina colada.


Carpaccio at an Italian restaurant.

A tomato soup-ish with feta cheese, olives, pita, and something I don’t recall breakfast at restaurant in my hotel.


Ceviche at Mexican restaurant.


Typical fine dining would run $60 for two, 1/3 of what it’d cost in Seattle.  Street food, 50 cents for a taco, $1 for a 16 oz cup of fruit (locals pay less than that).  No difference in quality and I prefer the experience in Guanajuato because there are doggies in restaurants there!

Doggies are allowed in restaurants (as is case in most parts of the world). Why not in the US?

Guanajuato also has lots of museums and art galleries for a city of its size, including one that houses Mexico’s Declaration of Independence; Diego Rivera’s house that’s been turned into a museum; one dedicated to Don Quixote; a mummy museum that has the smallest mummy in the world.

Six month old fetus is the smallest mummy in the world.

I went early March, and the weather was 45 degrees low, 80 degrees high, low humidity.  Which is how it is for 9 months out of the year.  There’s a three month monsoon season from May-July, when temperatures are 50 degrees low, 85 degrees high.

Guanajuato is magical.  Small-town feel, big city amenities, , not overrun with tourists, and great shopping.  There are lots of jewelry and leather artisans if you want something customized.  Local designers for clothing.  I didn’t see any trinket stores.  And the tourists and expats there come from around the world — I heard Japanese, Chinese, French, and Italian — instead of mostly the US and Canada (like San Miguel, an American suburb in the middle of Mexico), giving Guanajuato a cosmopolitan feel.

Let me know if you want to visit, I’ll tell you where I stayed, a place I highly recommend and is the best hotel I’ve ever stayed in, Casa Del Rey.  It has an outdoor pool heated to 90 degrees, awesome views, ideal location (not too loud, close to everything), an outdoor elevator, posh rooms, and everything works.  Be careful because most of the hotels in Guanajuato, from reviews I’ve read, look cool because they’re in old buildings (one is a castle) but don’t work well.  Like faulty plumbing, rooms with no windows.

Oh, forgot to mention, there are tunnels everywhere!  Check these out:

Traffic and pedestrian traffic go through them. Makes the city feel like an amusement park.

Tunnels were originally built to reduce flooding.  Creepy and fun!

Street art is everywhere too, even in residential neighborhoods.

Mural dedicated to city’s mining past. Outside doctor’s office in residential neighborhood.

In summary, Guanajuato is safe, clean, and manicured.  It has shopping that’s rarely found in the US, delicious and affordable cuisine, lively, fun, and family friendly nightlife, spectacular city-scape, and a plethora of arts. including international festivals that attracts artists from around the world.  I highly recommend it, check it out!


Frequently Asked Questions #25

Did someone call the police on the owner while he was in Mexico City?

What did he do? 
None of your business

Did he go to jail?
They didn’t catch him.

So is he a fugitive of Mexico?  
They didn’t catch him.

Is he moving to Mexico? 
Likely, to Guanajuato.  Part-time to begin, like 4 months out of the year.

When would this happen? 
Have 4 years left on this lease.  In 5 years?

What would happen to Alive Juice Bar and The Soup Nazi Kitchen? 
Sell this location and he was offered a space on a farm in Arlington.  It’s a seasonal farm (groceries, canned goods, pumpkins in fall) that’s been bringing in a lot of traffic since the pandemic so he’d be open seasonally.  Farm is on well and septic though, so there’s still a lot of work involved to get the space approved for a restaurant.

Construction and Re-Opening
How’s construction? 
It’s done, all inspections passed.  All that’s left are a few aesthetic details to finish.

When will you re-open? 
Aiming for Saturday March 19th.  Prior, will work on passing Health Inspection, which should be easy to do now that building inspection is passed.

Will you raise prices because of inflation? 
Maybe.  Will continue to play around with recipes to keep costs the same.  Delivery order prices have already been raised.  There’ll be new offerings if recession hits.

Will there be a grand opening?
No.  Owner isn’t a big party type.  Prefers quiet openings and gradual build-up.  Grand openings can create a lot of problems.

Will you expand hours? 
Yes.  Something like:
11-1pm M-F
4-11pm M-F
9am-6pm Sat-Sun

Expect weekday lunch hours.  Will expand hours to 8am-9pm seven days a week once labor shortage is over.

When do you think it’ll be over? 
Looks like the worst is over, more international students are returning to US.  Labor situation should be fine once Covid restrictions end, there’ll be more immigrants.


What new books is owner working on? 
A children’s book, If I were a dancer.  It’s been sitting at 95% done for two months, he’ll finish it before re-opening.  And The customer is always wrong: a guide to good customer service.  Aiming to have that one done before July 4th.  After that, he’ll begin: How to suck your own dick: an Alive Juice Bar guide to men’s health.

Um, what does sucking your own dick have to do with health? 
A man’s ability to suck his own duck is the ultimate sign of good health.  Beer belly means guy can’t do it unless he’s a freak of nature I need to see.  Need to be flexible too, which is another sign of good health.  Goal is to help every guy to at least improve his ability to suck his own dick.  Every centimeter closer to goal is an improvement.

The Soup Nazi Kitchen

Will it be open too? 
Yes, it’s been open before vacation closure.

I can’t find Soup Nazi Kitchen on Facebook, is it on there? 
It is.  But since the word “Nazi” has been banned on Facebook, name has been changed to Soup N-Word Kitchen.  Look it up!

Uh, Soup N-Word Kitchen?
Yeah!  Can you guess which N-word?

Are there going to be protests?  
Aiming for protests in April.

What are its hours? 
Same as Alive Juice Bar hours, until Alive Juice Bar begins opening for breakfast.

Mexico City (versus Paris): Trip Report

It’s not dangerous.  I saw women walking alone at night through dimly lit, low-traffic streets. I and others walked while staring at our insecurely held phones, which I would never do in NYC or Chicago, someone will snatch it and run.  Bank doors to ATMs are left propped open, no need to use a card to get in.  Didn’t see one car use a steering wheel lock.  Street vendors left their wrapped up wares outside overnight.  Check this out:

Vendors have left for the night, but don’t need to take their wares with them.

Catcalling has been banned since 2019, I didn’t hear one catcall during the week I was there.  No obvious leering either.  It’s a family friendly city and many of the tourists are families.  

The only situations you have to worry about are getting scammed and, from what I’ve heard and expect, pickpockets in crowded areas.  Carry small bills so you pay, say, 100 pesos for your 80 pesos taxi ride and tell the driver to keep the rest because if you give a 500 peso bill, you might not get change back.  And call their bluff if they threaten to call the police for not paying more.  I took a private taxi to the airport, we agreed to a price of 250 pesos, and the driver wanted more once we arrived.  Fuck that, just walk away as he screams “policia, policia!”  He’ll shut up once he figures out that you’ve called his bluff.    

It’s national policy to get tourists to pay more, even the metro vending machine won’t give you change — it’ll say “thank you for the tip” — if you pick the English language option and feed more money than the cost of your purchase.  And that’s fine, the minimum wage there is a bit over $1/hour.  Police officers make on average $6/hour, which may be why they frequently ask for bribes.  An airline pilot makes $25k a year.  Put simply, it’s a tourist tax.  Carrying smaller bills will allow you to control how much you tip, so you don’t tip $20 for a $5 ride.   

Or take the tourist transportation and guided tours.  It’ll cost 4 to 10 times more, but it’ll save you from feeling cheated and getting lost and confused.  Since I’m considering moving there, I tried to navigate the city as a local, which means taking public transportation and picking out my own street food and restaurants.      

Mexico City > Paris at 1/6th of the price    

I make this comparison because it’s commonly made by travel journalists and Mexico City, during the presidency of Porfirio Diaz (1876-1911), used Paris as the model for its development.  

Under the rule of Porfirio Díaz, Mexico City experienced a massive transformation. Díaz’s goal was to create a city which could rival the great European cities. He and his government came to the conclusion that they would use Paris as a model, while still containing remnants of Amerindian and Hispanic elements. 

Is Mexico City the poor person’s alternative to Paris, or is it better than Paris AND more affordable AND closer to home for those living in the Western half of the US?  


Both cities are similarly dirty, Mexico City because it’s hard to find public garbage bins there and Paris because Parisians are careless, lazy, piece of shits.  Mexico City is surprisingly clean, actually, for having so few garbage bins.  The ubiquitous street vendors make the difference, they do a great job of keeping their areas clean.  

Both cities have seemingly comparable number of homeless and beggars.  Parisian ones are spread throughout the city, while the ones in Mexico City are concentrated near tourist hotels.  

I saw one small homeless camp — two to three families living there? — in a nice neighborhood in Mexico City.  There were a couple of businesses running out of it, and everyone living there seems stable, drug-free, and productive.  This camp is slated for removal.  See below:  


Didn’t see drug use or needles on the ground anywhere.  Saw few instances of public drunkenness.  Paris, I’m told, now has homeless camps for asylum seekers and a growing drug problem.  Not as bad as in many major US cities, but it’s not visible.  

Didn’t see a street whore in Mexico City.  Saw a couple of sex shops on the outskirts of the city (where the poor live).  There are street whores in Paris, most of them are in the designated red light district.   

Murals and street art are similarly plentiful and intriguing in Mexico City and in Paris.  Below are some photos taken of street art in Mexico City:

At Zapata metro station. Don’t know what this is. Below is Zapata mural at eponymous metro station.

The one above is the entrance to some Peruvian restaurant I don’t remember the name of.  


Paris has the serene Seine River that runs through the heart of the city.  Mexico City has the Xochimilco canals, which I didn’t have time to see so I can’t compare.  The 37 bridges that connect the left and right banks of the Seine River is partially what makes Paris so picturesque and romantic.  The canals are tucked near the southern border of Mexico City, so it doesn’t affect the city’s cityscape as much as the Seine does for Paris. 

Both cities have grand boulevards, I remember Parisian ones to be posher — more upscale stores especially — and better kept. 

Architecture in Paris is more consistently European.  Mexico City’s architecture is more varied, a mix European — from Spanish colonial to Art Nouveau — Mexican Modernist, and rough and humble cement buildings.  Below two are from Zocalo Square, the historic city center.     

Above is Tepito, which is considered a poor and vibrant neighborhood.  

Overall, Mexico City has more iconic buildings and sites than does Paris.  Mexico City also has more parks, including the second largest park in all of the Americas.  This park houses a below average zoo (but good enough to host pandas), a magnificent castle that doubles as a history museum, and several world class museums, including one dedicated to pre-colonial history.  Chapultepec Castle below:


A basic “pastor” street taco — sliced pork, pineapple, onions, your choice of sauce topping — costs 50 cents.  My papaya, guava, alfalfa, and walnut street smoothie costs $1.50 versus the $8 Alive Juice Bar charges.  And they offer health add-ons like chia seeds and sugar-free granola.  Double the price for the same street food in a nice sit down restaurant.  Keep in mind that street food in Mexico City isn’t prepared according to US health code standards — there aren’t any hand-wash sinks and no gloves are used.  I’m cool with that as long as I’m near my hotel.  My stomach may have adapted to it quickly because I grew up on street food in Taipei.  I have a feeling that some of the restaurants would also not meet US health code standards, so plan accordingly.  Like, don’t eat a restaurant meal and go straight to a museum or a night club.  Eat just before you head back to your hotel.   

Typical tacos, beef tongue and pork.

The street food isn’t as varied as what you’d find in Asian cities (you can find escargot, french onion soup, and lasagna on the streets of Tokyo but not on the streets of Mexico City and Paris) but it’s much cheaper and easier to find — they’re on every other block — than in Paris, which I don’t remember having many street food options.  In fact, I don’t remember ever having street food in Paris, only in French Guiana, and that was a heart attack type burger out of a truck.  In any case, I’ve not been to a city with this much street food.  They have tortas, quesadillas, burgers, hotdogs, roasted corn, fresh juice, soft-serve, crickets, chips, nuts, dried fish, most of the popular items you can find at most taquerias.  Didn’t see street vendors serve cuts like tripe, beef tongue, and shrimp, and no ceviche.  The more expensive cuts are served in sit down restaurants. 

Mexico City attracts immigrants from all over the Americas, including, by some estimates, 700,000 Americans.  I had Spanish tapas and Peruvian food, both of which I enjoyed.  I saw Argentinian restaurants, and many American restaurants. Not just McDonald’s and Starbucks, also PF Chang’s, Haagen Daz, Prime Steak, Hooters, and many more that aren’t chains, serving everything from Texas BBQ to hippie American vegan.  Put simply, Mexico City is a great place to sample cuisine from all over the Americas (but not Brazil, didn’t see any?) and Spain.  There are some noted French and Russian restaurants I didn’t get to try.  There’s Chinese food, not a lot (Chinese were kicked out of Mexico during the 1930s) and I didn’t try.  Some nice looking Korean restaurants recently opened up, didn’t try.  Ran into a couple of small Asian markets too, I was told that Koreans have been moving to Mexico City to open businesses.  

Japanese food is everywhere, especially ramen.  One magazine went as far as saying that the best Japanese food outside of Japan is in Mexico City.  One ramen shop — Diego Ramen — had a line out the door every time I passed.  I tried a Mexican-Japanese ramen bowl at a cheap looking chain and it was sloppy and over the top flavor-wise, too much going on ingredient-wise.  (Next time I’ll try ramen at a highly rated restaurant).  Also tried an upscale Japanese restaurant and was disappointed.  They don’t pay enough attention to the texture and flavor of the rice and what’s the point of combining uni with foie gras other than to say that this shit is expensive even if the combination makes even less sense than putting foie gras on a burger?  And too many sushi rolls!  

Feta cheese overpowers broth flavor. Too many onions and cut too large, also overpowering the broth. Too much meat, ruining the balance typical of Japanese ramen.

I don’t think there isn’t a large enough Japanese population to help create a fusion Mexican-Japanese cuisine that’s well thought out, that combines Japanese minimalism with Mexican ingredients.  Every city outside of Japan that’s produced good localized Japanese food has had enough Japanese customers and chefs to work with.  I didn’t see Japanese chefs, cooks, and customers in the two places I went to and the other places I looked at.  And the chefs at some of the other upscale Japanese restaurants are American alums of places like Nobu Miami and Morimoto Las Vegas.  It’s like you’re getting inchoate Mexican versions of mid and upscale American Japanese food.     

Fried rice at an upscale Japanese restaurant? I expect minimalism and subtlety at Japanese upscale. This is more appropriate at a teppanyaki?

I did eat, twice, at what’s now my favorite vegan restaurant in the world, Plantasia.     

Their vegan version of eggs benedict. Kale cream instead of traditional hollandaise, the “egg” is some fried potato blend. This was tasty and only $6!

Chaliquiles, a traditional Mexican breakfast dish. Vegan, cost $6.

Mexican made kombucha. Check out eclectic and playful decor in background.

Based on my limited experience sampling food in Mexico City and Paris, I vote that they’re evenly matched, even though I have a slight preference for French cuisine.  

Sites and Sounds

Mexico City has the second most number of museums of any city (London has the most) at 170.  Paris has 130.  Both have enough to one busy for  years.  Museums in Mexico City seem to cover a wider range of topics, from archaeology to chocolate.  Never had a chance to explore the music scenes in either city.    

  Above is from Museum of Modern Art


One way subway ride is 25 cents in Mexico City.  It’s $2 in Paris.  Street taco is 50 cents in Mexico City.  A baguette is $1 and a gyro is $8 in Paris.  Sofitel Hotel in Mexico City is $250/night.  In Paris, it’s $350/night.  Dining out for two at a high end restaurant in Mexico City is $100.  Paris, it’s $400.  Ear buds are $5 in Mexico City.  Sunglasses for 50 cents.    


Mexico City feels feudal.  If you’re Amerindian, you’re going to be poor or lower-middle class at best.  If you’re Mestizo, you’re going to be poor to middle-class.  White people are middle to upper class.  My sense is that people don’t feel like they can rise above a certain level in Mexico, that they’re stuck in the socio-economic world they’re born in.    

The people, especially the poor and middle-class, hustle, unlike the chronically poor in the US and France.  People are industrious but not entrepreneurial in the same way East Asians are and Protestants once were.  Feels like street vendors are there to make enough money to survive, not to grow into something larger.  Whereas the Asian street vendors I saw growing up all kept moving up, first into storefronts, then expanding to multiple storefronts.  The notorious Tepito neighborhood and infamous marketplace, where anything is available, I’m told, is 75% owned by the Chinese and Koreans.  It’s not like Mexicans work less than the Chinese and Koreans, so I suspect the Mexicans lack the entrepreneurial vision of the Chinese and Koreans.   

Was told that because of corruption, it’s easier to do business in Mexico than it is in the US.  Paying someone off is easier than going through ridiculous bureaucratic hoops.  I — and others —  like that and this may be why it’s so much easier for the poor in Mexico City to start their own businesses.  I remember an article, from the Economist maybe, saying that a certain amount of corruption is good for the economy.  

I remember thinking of Parisians as lazy whiners with no entrepreneurial spirit.  I’ve been told that they’re even more so like that now.  Mexicans don’t whine much, even though they have better reasons to do so than Parisians do.  Oh, people of Mexico City are much more accommodating and helpful than the prickly Parisians.  And again, the poor in Mexico City work harder than the poor in Paris do, who are simply lazy and entitled, similar to the chronically poor in the US.       


I don’t think Mexico City will ever become a world class city.  It’s developing at too slow of a pace — only saw one building crane — to soon match cities like Shanghai, Tokyo, and Singapore.  And it doesn’t attract enough international talent to become a highly integrated global city like London and New York City.  But it offers under the radar gems, like perhaps in fashion design, which I’ll explore the next time I’m there.  Paris, meanwhile, has to me lost its world class status and attracts tourism because of its past reputation as one of the capitals of the world. 

So much of Mexico City seems a bit below average.  The museums are great, the food is good, but the subway system seem to have one major accident per year.  Its national airline, AeroMexico, performs (my experience) far worse than its counterpart Air France does, and a bit worse than a shitty American carrier like Delta.  Mexico City’s main airport is also below average, they’re unable to simplify a lot of processes and the first security checkpoint wouldn’t recognize accept hotel printed boarding pass, suggesting that there’s poor training and communication between different airport departments.  I’ve heard that their bureaucracy is torpid and bumbling.  Obsolete phone booths and free internet stations that nobody uses are everywhere.               

Still, I’m considering moving to Mexico.  Probably not Mexico City, I’ll check out smaller cities like Guanajuato.  Would I open a restaurant in Mexico?  We’ll see, I’ll probably work full-time as a writer, which is what I did before I got into the restaurant business.  I might open one in the US seasonally and move to Mexico for 4 months out of the year.  I also plan to check out Yunnan province in China as another part-time destination.  

Why am I considering moving?  I moved to Everett to get away from Seattle and if Everett turns into another Seattle, I’m out.  Fuck Covid, the more serious and contagious problem is of Americans overthinking everything, which results in all sorts of batshit crazy.  Fuck Americans and their stupid theories about stupid concepts like self-esteem.  I mean, I’ve encountered Americans who are chronically depressed because they had an ideal upbringing and feel guilty about it!  No me gusta that shit, I prefer to hang out with Mexicans who stay focused on food, family and fun…and that’s it.     

Frequently Asked Question #24

Store Hours and Hiring

When are you going to open for lunch during the week? Why are your hours so limited?
Spring 2022?  Labor shortage.

I know someone who needs a job, want me to hook you up?
Only if they’re International Students or immigrants. Maybe if children of immigrants.

Owner know that it’s not legal to hire International Students?
Owner is Chinese, so he’s very corrupt.

That employee looks kinda young. How old is she?

Hey, that isn’t just illegal, it’s child exploitation!
Yes. But he’s Chinese, so using child labor feels very natural to him. Don’t worry, he doesn’t feel bad.

What will your hours be once you’re staffed up?
9am-8pm Mon-Sun.

What about The Soup Nazi Kitchen?


Any new items?
Yes, vegan sausage meals and black bean bunless burger meals. Also want to do more with chickpeas and tofu.

Savory feta, tofu, and chickpea waffles. From Black Moon Koven in Juneau, Alaska. Black bean burger patties below.




What happened to your yam and kale chips?
They should be back this week. Beet chips too. Apple chips we’re replacing with dried mango.

Will prices go up?
Not yet and don’t know. Actually, we increased delivery order prices. Otherwise, waiting to see where labor and ingredient costs settle at.


Is it true that in kindergarten, the owner convinced his entire class that Santa Clause is a child molester?
Who told you that?

Is it true that owner was sent to therapy in 4th grade, where he made the therapist cry?

What did he say to her to make her cry?
He doesn’t remember, he only remembers asking her a lot of questions about herself and her childhood.

Did he feel bad about it?
Yes, starting sometime in 6th grade.


When is “How to go to school like an Asian” coming out?
Owner is uploading it to Kindle as I type this. Paperback version available by Christmas, hopefully.

Anything else coming out?
Three children’s books (rated G), “If I were a dancer” (est. Dec. 15, 2021),”If I were an alien,” (est. Jan 15) and “The dingo ate my baby sister” (est. Feb 1st).

Owner will also collaborate with Roxanne G., who just got out of prison for manslaughter she shouldn’t have been convicted for, on a men’s health book titled: “How to suck your own dick.” The premise is that a man’s ability to suck his own dick is the ultimate sign of his good health. Need to be flexible, have low body fat, and…

Can you not continue with details? I don’t want to know.

Are Vaccines Safe and Effective? (What We Can Learn from Japan)

According to Freakonomics Radio (Ep. 270, Bad Medicine, Part 3: Death by Diagnosis):

By some estimates, medical error is the third-leading cause of death in the U.S.

One of these estimates, from peer reviewed medical journal Studies in Health Technology and Informatics that’s found on NIH’s Pubmed site, states:

Recent studies of medical errors have estimated errors may account for as many as 251,000 deaths annually in the United States (U.S)., making medical errors the third leading cause of death. 


It gets better:

At the same time less than 10 percent of medical errors are reported.

So they implemented and tested an error reporting system and this is what they found.

This study describes the results of an investigation of the effectiveness of the implementation of the MEDMARX Medication Error Reporting system in 25 hospitals in Pennsylvania. Data were collected on 17,000 errors reported by participating hospitals over a 12-month period. Latent growth curve analysis revealed that reporting of errors by health care providers increased significantly over the four quarters. At the same time, the proportion of corrective actions taken by the hospitals remained relatively constant over the 12 months. 

People and institutions don’t change easily. That’s because — according to nearly every great philosopher (Rousseau excepted) and every enduring religion — people are born as fucktards and narcissism is our Original Sin. Narcissists hate to admit that they’re wrong.

So health care workers make a lot of mistakes. Which is to be expected because the practice AND study of Medicine is as much an Art (eg. Traditional Chinese Medicine relies more on intuition) as it is a Science (whereas Western medicine is evidence based). Medicine isn’t the same as Engineering. Engineering isn’t as complex as human physiology since there’s only one governing body of rules for Physics. In Medicine, one has to account for an individual’s genetic makeup AND personal history which makes proper health management difficult and thus incompetence likely. That’s why rogue General Practitioner Dr. Vernon Coleman argues that it’s better for your health to learn how your own body works than to trust doctors who just look to cookie cutter medical standards (eg. vaccines for all) without regarding you as an individual. (See Dr. Coleman’s book How to Stop Doctors from Killing You).

Add the considerable influence of American pharmaceutical companies to the mix and there’s going to be a lot of confusion and deadly mistakes.

Look at Nutrition Science as a parallel. In 1992, the USDA introduced to Americans the Food Pyramid. It looks like this:

Which led to the popularization of low-fat and high carb diets that may have enabled the obesity epidemic and raise the risk of heart disease by adversely affecting levels of blood lipids, LDL patterns, and HDL and triglycerides. So in 2011, they replaced it with My Plate, it looks like this:

Which is an improvement over the pyramid but still has recommendations that don’t make sense for a lot of people, like dairy for its calcium content (you can get plenty of calcium from cruciferous greens, nuts, and lots of other ingredients). Or the over-emphasis on lean meats, which from my observations, leads people to eat more sugary sauces and thus, more empty calories. Nutritionists don’t have an intuitive understanding of the emotional dimensions of how people eat because they don’t have to, they’re armchair chefs.

This essay isn’t about what the general public should and shouldn’t eat and which vaccines and pills to take and avoid. The point is, government and medical directives are always problematic. Don’t eat cheese and drink milk if you’re lactose intolerant. Listen to the sound of your your stomach and diarrhea, not to someone who doesn’t know you as an individual. Trust your intuition when it comes to your health. Whether or not taking a vaccine is a good option depends on individual circumstances.

What We Learn from the History of Medicine and Science Reform

First, medical advice is often wrong. During the Spanish pandemic of 1917-1918, doctors told people to smoke cigarettes because they thought it would help prevent infection. How many of you know someone who was prescribed meds (especially for depression and anxiety) and that didn’t turn out well? How did the opioid epidemic begin?

Second, great medical doctors, the ones who challenged the status quo, were at first mocked and dismissed as frauds. Take English physician John Snow, (15 March 1813 – 16 June 1858), a leader in the development of anesthesia and the improvement of medical hygiene. His findings led to advances in sanitation and cleaner water supplies which significantly reduced infection and mortality rates of diseases such as cholera.

There was a cholera outbreak in 1854. Snow was a skeptic of the then-dominant theory that diseases such as cholera and were caused by “bad air”.  Snow did on the ground research that few scientists bother to do — asking residents about their everyday lives — and correctly traced the outbreak to a well contaminated with feces. Still, after the epidemic subsided, government officials rejected Snow’s theory because the public was uncomfortable with the idea that disease can be transmitted from shit to mouth because back then, shit was everywhere.

It wasn’t until 1866 that one of Snow’s chief opponents realized the validity of his diagnosis while investigating another outbreak of cholera and issued immediate orders that unboiled water was not to be drunk.

Joseph Lister (5 April 1827 – 10 February 1912) was roundly honored in later life for his contributions to medicine. But his ideas about the transmission of infection and the use of antiseptics were widely criticized early in his career. In 1869, at the meetings of the British Association at Leeds, Lister’s ideas were mocked; and again, in 1873, the highly regarded and still in publication medical journal, The Lancet, warned the entire medical profession against his theories.

The Truth has always started as “fake news.”

Japan and Vaccines, What We can Learn

Here’s an article you can find on NIH’s Pubmed, A Review of Factors Affecting Vaccine Preventable Disease in Japan, published in peer reviewed journal Hawaii Journal of Publish Health (2014 Dec; 73(12): 376–381). It’s about why Japan is healthier than the US despite not vaccinating its citizens anywhere as much as the US does. Actually no, it’s about how American pharmaceutical companies can better infiltrate into the Japanese healthcare system. Excerpts from the article:

Japan ranks among the world leaders in the health of its citizens. The Japanese have the longest life expectancy and number of years lived in full health.1 Japan is among the leaders in the developed world in low obesity rates and low infant and cardiovascular disease mortality.24 The World Health Organization (WHO) ranked Japan first in overall health goal attainment among 191 countries in its most recent rankings in 2000.5

So Japs are the healthiest in the world. Yet the authors are confused as to why that’s the case because Japs don’t take as many vaccines as their peers do:

In stark contrast to these positive health indicators, Japan is also well known as a country with persistently high rates of vaccine preventable diseases (VPD) such as hepatitis B, measles, rubella, mumps, and varicella.68 The 2012–2013 rubella outbreak in Japan caused about 15,000 cases of rubella and 43 cases of congenital rubella syndrome.9 In June 2013, the US Centers for Disease Control (CDC) released an advisory against travel to Japan for expectant mothers who are not rubella-immune because of the risk of congenital rubella.

How can Japan have such a strong health record despite higher rates of preventable diseases? Unfortunately, the authors are so biased that they don’t consider why the Japanese are the healthiest yet get infected by preventable diseases at significant numbers. The way the authors phrase their questions and conclusions shows that they’re biased toward believing that vaccines are unequivocally good for public health. For instance, here’s how they phrase the data they collected about Japanese attitudes and government policies toward vaccination:

While no federal vaccination laws exist in the United States, all 50 states require certain vaccinations prior to the entry of children into public schools. However, there is no domestic legislation to enforce vaccination for children entering school in Japan. 

The authors point out that UNLIKE the US, Japan doesn’t force vaccination on its children. What’s the point of pointing this out? Read on about what some Japanese mothers think about vaccines:

In one study 33% of mothers reported an intent to fully vaccinate their children with 50% reporting a desire to vaccinate only for specific vaccines.54 In another study of parents who did not choose voluntary vaccinations, 39% worried about side effects, and 12.9% doubted the vaccine’s positive effects.33 Ten percent were motivated to acquire natural resistance to some voluntary vaccine pathogens…

In Japan, vaccination is a decision made by families, not the government. The authors, however, think Japanese mothers and health care providers are ignorant and need American education about medicine so they can improve public health. More condescending bullshit:

Health professionals may also have misperceptions of vaccines.55 Japanese medical providers do not always have a basic knowledge of vaccines such as the adverse effects, indication of vaccination, interval, or possibility of giving multiple vaccines on the same day.46 A qualitative study of Japanese resident physicians demonstrated low personal vaccination rates for measles and themes of lack of awareness of disease severity and fear of adverse effects

The authors make the conclusion that Japanese physicians are ignorant, that’s why they don’t get vaccinated. Even though earlier in the article, the authors tell you why the Japanese aren’t gung ho about vaccines.

In addition to the pertussis and MMR events, the Japanese government was sued several times in the 1980s and 1990s due to vaccine adverse events.19 Pressure by citizens and medical professionals led to the 1994 modification of the Preventive Immunization Law to make vaccination an individual responsibility instead of a mandatory act.17 Mass vaccination in regional Public Health Centers was replaced by vaccination by private physicians.

Put simply, the Japs found that sometimes the vaccine is more dangerous than the disease it’s supposed to eradicate. So the Japs were slow to introduce new vaccines, which the authors, whom I want to bitch slap for being morons, insist is a bad policy for Japan.

After the discontinuation of MMR and the change in the Preventive Immunization Law, new vaccines were introduced in Japan at much slower rates than in other developed countries. Between 1993 and 2007 there was a “vaccine gap”, and only two new vaccines were brought to the Japanese market (hepatitis A and a combination measles and rubella vaccine).19 In contrast, 17 new vaccines were introduced over the same time frame in the United States.19

Other precautions the Japanese have taken:

When two infants died within 24 hours of receiving DTwP in the winter of 1974–1975, the government suspended licensure of DTwP. Licensure was reinstated two months later with a change in the minimum recommended age from 3 months to 2 years as a precaution.

Which seems like a reasonable response. Whereas when kids die from a vaccine in the US, the parents get paid off to shut the fuck up (or else!) and it’s full speed ahead.

Even though Japan ranks number 1 in the world for health, the authors are arrogant enough to insist that the Japs are mismanaging their health care system and are ignorant about vaccines? The data presented in this article could’ve been used to question how the US mismanages its health care system and use of vaccines. Like what’s more dangerous, the vaccine or the infection, and how many vaccines is too much? How are these not legitimate concerns? The authors blew it, they could’ve asked what Americans can learn from Japan — the healthiest people in the world — about healthcare and vaccines. Instead, it’s yet another narcissistic call on how Americans can help others become more American. More patronizing bullshit (masquerading as cultural fucking sensitivity!):

Finally, Japanese parents may have attitudes towards vaccination that differ from many American parents, and providers should be prepared to address potential barriers to vaccination with cultural sensitivity.

But no “cultural sensitivity” for Americans who share similar concerns about vaccines as many in Japan do, they’re uneducated stupid rednecks who deserve eternity in a Covid infected fake-news Hell.

Are Vaccines Dangerous?

Is there controlled longitudinal safety data comparing vaccinated and unvaccinated groups that proves conclusively that vaccination is not associated with auto immune disorders, cancer, autism, depression, anxiety, chronic gastrointestinal issues, dementia, etc.? Please?

Who is Dr. Anthony Fauci?

According to Nobel Laureate Kary Mullis (1993, Medicine), Dr. Fauci is a fraud.

This video, BTW, is buried deep in Youtube’s and Google’s DO NOT WATCH pile. I found it using Duckduckgo search engine. UPDATE: they banned this video.

For those who can’t watch it:

“What is it about humanity that it wants to go to the all detail to stop and listen. Guys like Fauci get up there and start talking, and he doesn’t know anything really about anything, and I’d say that to his face. Nothing.

The man thinks you can take a blood sample and stick it in an electron microscope and if it’s got a virus in there, you will know it. He doesn’t understand electron microscopy and he doesn’t understand medicine. He should not be in a position like he’s in.

Most of those guys up there on the top are just total administrative people and they don’t know anything about what’s going on with the bottom. You know, those guys have got an agenda, which is not what we would like them to have, being that we pay for them to take care of our health in some way.

They’ve got a personal kind of agenda. They make up their own rules as they go. They change them when they want to and a smugly like Tony Fauci does not mind going on television in front of the people, face out, and lie directly into the camera.

You can’t expect the sheep to really respect the best and the brightest. They don’t know the difference, really. I mean, I like humans, don’t get me wrong. But basically, there is a vast, vast majority of them do not possess the ability to judge who is and who isn’t really a good scientist.”


What are you more bothered by, my use of a racial slur or the patronizing language used by the authors that’s passed off as “cultural sensitivity”?

Intro to “How to go to school like an Asian” (available on Kindle and Amazon)


Book Description
Curious about homeschooling?  Ever fantasized about swapping your kid for an Asian one, even if the Asian is a paraplegic?  Want to be Asian at school so you can win all sorts of awards, build robots named Tiffany, and get rejected by Harvard and Princeton but accepted at CalTech?  Did you write hate mail to Tiger Mom Cunt, Amy Chua?  Then this is the book on education for you!  The notorious Juice Nazi is back and ready to read your hate mail and death threats with his most offensive and triggering book since the banned on Amazon cookbook, How to Cook Like a Racist.  Here he breezily explains why Asians as the model minority isn’t a myth, it’s for real; why Filipinos, Indonesians, Thais, and Malaysians aren’t Asian unless they’re ethnically Chinese.  And why it’s better to commit suicide as a teenager than to become a lifelong heroin addict.  As a bonus, there are 20 exercises — lots of Math, of course — you can do to help you go to school like an Asian.  Ching Chong! 


Asians — not all Asians, I’ll define what I mean by “Asian” later — do better at school than do most other demographic groups (Jews are the exception). Take Asian Americans, they do so well that they’re handicapped when applying to top colleges in the US.

This is for 1995-2013, maximum score for each section of the SAT i s 800. 

Despite having the highest test scores (and grades, and the most impressive extracurriculars),[1] Asian Americans are accepted at the lowest rate for all racial groups. 

And not just in the US, Asians are similarly discriminated against elsewhere, such as in Malaysia, where the number of Chinese in universities is capped.[2] 

Asians are comparatively good at school

Why is that?  An “anti-racist” Marxist would explain Asian performance in school as the function of their economic wealth and pernicious stereotypes — Asians as model minorities to allegedly justify discrimination against underperforming minorities — that give Asians an unfair advantage at school.  That is, teachers are so racist that they subconsciously treat Asian students in a way (“Suzie Wong must be good at Math”) that gives them, but not Tyrone and Shaquana, an edge, especially in Math.   

Wealth has little to do with Asian performance — low-income Asian Americans score higher on the SATs than do high-income African Americans[3] — and there’s a chapter in this book on how ghetto Asian Americans overcome economic struggles to do relatively well in school.  The argument that some teachers are racially biased, that I agree with and have seen, though I don’t know how to measure its effect on student performance. From Yale University:

“According to new research by Cydney Dupree, assistant professor of organizational behavior at Yale SOM, white liberals tend to downplay their own verbal competence in exchanges with racial minorities, compared to how other white Americans act in such exchanges.”[4] 

In other words, White liberals — aka “the armies of compassion” — tend to be nicer to Blacks and Browns than to others, such as Asians. What are the consequences of such patronizing behavior?  Is it detrimental to Blacks and Browns? Is it an example of the “soft bigotry of low expectations?”[5]          

Why write this book? 

I started to write this book when the 2020 pandemic shut down Washington state schools.  Parents were freaking out about having to homeschool their kids.  I saw this as an opportunity to correct some of the bad habits learned in school and to make homeschooling less intimidating and an attractive option to parents.  As a business owner seeking competent employees, the bad habits taught in school have been pissing me off since 2010 and have turned me into an anti-school activist. I’m tired of teaching employees to unlearn nearly everything they learned in school.    

Why bring race — Asian, or “White Adjacent” as the Woke put it — into a book about education?  Why not be race neutral during a time when any mention of race triggers lots of people?  Several reasons.  To begin with, this isn’t a book about race, it’s about culture and how different cultures approach education, life in general really.  So by “Asian,” I mean Confucian cultures — think Japan, the Koreas, China, Vietnam, and not Indonesia, Thailand, Malaysia, and the Philippines (unless they’re ethnically Chinese).  I’m not writing about how Asians, as defined by the United States government,[6]approach education because of the diversity in lifestyle, mindset, and results among geographically defined Asians.[7] I am writing about how and why a cultural group does as they do educationally. My aim here, at best, is to give readers an opportunity to compare and contrast different cultural approaches to education.  

Yet perhaps a book on education has to be, and unavoidably will be, a book about race, especially in racially charged 2021. Here are a few news headlines that’ll give you a sense of the centrality of race in discussions about education and pedagogy:

  • From The Wall Street Journal, April 14th, 2021:  Asian-American Parents Sue New York City Schools Alleging Harassment, Racial Bias — Activists say Education Department’s diversity agenda often overlooks Asian students.[8]
  • New York Times, August 27th, 2021: New York’s Private Schools Tackle White Privilege. It Has Not Been Easy.[9]
  • New York Times, April 29, 2021:  Only 8 Black Students Are Admitted to Stuyvesant High School — Once again, tiny numbers of Black and Latino students received offers to attend New York City’s elite public high schools.[10]
  • USA Today, November 12th, 2020: Federal appeals court upholds Harvard University’s use of affirmative action policies[11]
  • Brookings, December 1st, 2020: SAT math scores mirror and maintain racial inequity[12]
  • NY Post, April 24th, 2021: How parents are fighting critical race theory in NYC public schools[13]

So, education in the United States is hotly politicized and entrenched in identity politics. That said, it’s not my aim here to make sense of it and to take a position on school admissions, curriculum, and pedagogy. I will not, however, avoid using common tropes — the legendary work ethic of Confucian Asians, for instance — to talk about American education, however offensive they may be to some.  And I will provide Asian inspired exercises that can be used as a supplement to whatever curriculum the student is learning from.   

Finally, I insert race into this book because I’ve wondered if American educators, particularly the neo-Marxist ones, are racially biased when they assess the quality of a curriculum and education culture.[14]  For instance, liberal American educators cite Finland’s education system as the model for the US to follow, but not Singapore’s, even though they score significantly higher than Finland does, especially in Math.[15]  Why is that?  Why not model — with adjustments to suit social and cultural particularities — after the best in the world, instead of the best Western European nation?  Singapore, after all, seems to be a better and easier model to follow since the US has more in common with them than with Finland.  Consider:

  • Singapore, like the US, was a British colony and is influenced by its British legacy[16]
  • Singapore, like the US, is a multi-racial, multicultural, and religiously diverse nation[17]
  • English is the language of business and instruction in Singapore, as it typically is in the US (despite not having an official language)

Whereas Finland is, relative to the US and Singapore, racially and culturally homogenous, Finnish educators don’t have to deal with the same problems — racial tensions and diversity, for instance — American and Singaporean educators have to work with. 

I’m not calling anyone a racist yet. For now, I think the American liberal’s fetish for all things Scandinavian (Sweden’s anti-lockdown approach to the Covid pandemic excepted) — its political and social systems, lifestyles, education curriculum — has more to do with their ideological and lifestyle preferences than from a fear of the Yellow Peril: Asians as a threat to Western liberal lifestyles. But sometimes I wonder if the American education system is reacting to a perceived threat — the Yellow Peril — rather than doing what’s best for American students.  For instance, American education’s move away from rote memorization (e.g., of multiplication tables, historical names and dates, poems and passages) to promote “creative education and students” coincides with the popularization (during the 1980s) of claims that Asians are high scoring automatons incapable of originality and the Asian education system, which relies heavily on memorization, stifles creativity. Meanwhile, I’ve had to train employees to memorize the multiplication table because they don’t know what 7 x 4 is when the cash register breaks down. These aren’t drop-outs either, they’re graduating from high school with like 3.8 gpas, and some are college graduates. They’re not creative either, if you trust my judgment.  That’s why I wonder if Americans are reacting to a perceived threat instead of trying to learn from those who are doing better. 

If Americans are trying to learn from Confucian Asians, they haven’t done a good job of it.  Americans don’t understand Asians.  Few Americans, including journalists and government officials covering Asia, can even speak one of their languages.  But Asians (especially the Chinese, less so the monolingual Japanese) understand and learn from Americans very well, just as Sun-Tzu recommends they do in The Art of War.[18]  According to Statista.com, for the 2019/2020 school year, there were 372,532 Chinese students in the US, and many of them were attending American high schools, public and private, day and boarding.  Some are attending American boarding schools as early as 5th grade.  Most of these kids graduate fluent in English and in American colloquialisms.  And most of them will NOT completely embrace American values, such as American worship (religious connotation intended) of democracy.  They’re in the US to learn about Americans and their institutions, not to be brainwashed. 

After finishing school and five years of working in the US, they bring back to China what they’ve learned about American culture, economy, education system…so people can decide what to incorporate into and what to leave out of the Chinese way of doing things.  Even China basher Tucker Carlson gave a shout out[19] to the accuracy of Chinese descriptions of a common American archetype, which you can find on the Urban Dictionary website:

Baizuo(白左,White Leftists)is a popular Mainland Chinese term coined for a specific subset of Westerners who are despised by most Chinese for their pretentiousness, hypocritical behavior and an overbearing sense of entitlement.

Baizuos are mostly characterized by their heavy use of political correctness and double standards to covertly advance their own material or emotional interests at the expense of others, while claiming otherwise from a self-assumed superior moral position. Some are truly non-malicious, but are too naive or lack the worldview to provide useful opinions or solutions to real societal problems.

Since most of these group is white (白)and left-(liberal) leaning(左), and thus the name.

Chinese guy: “Oh look, those Baizuos over at America are blaming us for not accepting their trash after our recent foreign garbage import ban. Don’t these fuckers ever understand they are responsible for cleaning their own shit instead of blame pushing all day long?– by Fap. April 28, 2019

Chinese people who know how to use words and phrases like “fuckers” and “blame push” aren’t just fluent in English, they’re eloquent in American.  The 2020 valedictorian from my high school is from Beijing and most who listen to his valedictory speech[20] would guess he’s as American as apple pie and fortune cookies.[21]The gap in cross-cultural fluency is outstanding.   

There are Americans who want to learn from Asians and not just dismiss them as inscrutable and unoriginal freaks.  Singapore Math, for instance, has been popular with American homeschoolers.  One of my aims here, then, is to help those who want to learn from Asians in a similar way to how Asians have been learning from Americans and Others.  That is, appropriate as needed, reject what doesn’t work, and focus on results instead of people’s intentions and feelings. 

Who the fuck am I to write a book about education?

I didn’t graduate from an elite high school (rejected from Deerfield Academy and St. Paul’s School). I wasn’t a star student at my second-tier alma mater, The Stony Brook School.  I did graduate from an elite college — The University of Chicago — but it was much, much easier to get into when I applied, no way they’d let my sorry ass in now. My grades were so bad at U of Chicago that I had to pay big bucks to get my grades high enough at a cash cow Master’s program to apply to PhD programs in Cultural Anthropology.  Put simply, I’ve never been the stereotypically high achieving Asian student, I’ve never lived up to expectations, mine or others.  I was the underachieving student who couldn’t consistently produce at the elite level. 

So why did I write this book and why should anyone read it?

This isn’t a follow-the-leader type of book.  This isn’t a memoir and you probably shouldn’t do as I’ve done.  It’s more anthropological, where I write out my observations about how Asians in general and elite students from all demographics approach schooling and education (schooling is not the same as education).  In other words, my primary purpose here isn’t to tell readers how to become superstar students. Rather, it’s to show why some are more likely to become superstar students, while others aren’t. And I’m not saying that one needs to be a superstar student to become a superstar in life.  Jack Ma, CEO of worldwide internet giant Alibaba and worth $50 billion as I’m writing this, was a terrible student, only able to get into one of the least reputable colleges in China. One of my former employers was a similarly bad high school student, and he became one of the leading vascular imaging scientists in the world, despite graduating from a low ranked college in China and  getting his PhD from a low ranked program in the US.      

That’s why part of me wants to show what it takes to do well in school, while another wants students to tell schools to fuck off. This tension — a love and hate of school — drives this book’s narrative and polemic.  This is a story about how to do well in school despite school, because there might be value in learning how to do well in fucked up environments. Most schools — up to the highest levels (PhD), are fucked up environments, just like anywhere else. Thou-Shalt-Not-Fetishize- Schooling, okay?               

Another consideration: what do you gain from a quasi-self-help and ethnographic book written from the perspective of someone who has never been a superstar in school or in life? I don’t know and would like to know.  Let me know via email: foodyap@gmail.com.  Address me with “Dear Underachiever” in the subject line. 

How am I qualified to write anthropologically about superstar students, the Asian kind in particular? I grew up and went to school with them in three countries — the US (mediocre and racially divergent scores), Singapore (highest scores), and Taiwan (higher than US scores).  Some were poor, some were Crazy Rich Asians, most were somewhere in between. They and I have attended schools ranked from below average to the best in the world.    

And finally, I’ve been a teacher.  I’ve worked as a University of Washington Department of Anthropology graduate teaching assistant in charge of leading discussion sections and grading papers.  I’ve taught test prep at Princeton Review.  I tutored and significantly raised the Iowa Test scores of Black 4th graders at a Catholic school in Harlem.  So I’ve worked with a diversity of students from a teacher’s point of view.  

In summary, this ethnography of Asian Confucian values is informed by my experiences as a student, my expectations as a teacher, and what I want from employees as a business owner.

Is this a how-to-be-Asian book? Not necessarily and it’s up to the reader. Keep in mind that the Confucian way of living life has its disadvantages, and they’ll be discussed throughout the book. 

Summary of Chapters

The first chapter, You are NEVER enough!, is an  introduction to the Confucian values that underpin Asian societies and how Asians understand themselves in relation to these values.  Chapter two, How Asian are you?, tests how Asian you are.  Yes, you need to score 100% on this if you want to go to school like an Asian, anything less is unacceptable and would be un-Asian.  Chapter three, The soft bigotry of low expectations, is a primer on the mindset that may be hampering those who want to do well in school. 

We explore the typical American mindset in chapter four, The cult of above-average, to understand why Americans don’t do as well as Asians in school and life in general.  Chapter five, the Cult of Self Esteem, considers how the American obsession with self-esteem fucks them up and turns them into dopamine addicts incapable of performing at the elite level.  In chapter six, Ghetto Asians, fancy results, explores how Confucian values, not income status, is what pushes Asians to the top of the class. 

Chapter seven takes a look at Anglo boarding schools, and asks why they’re considered the gold standard of secondary schools.  What can we learn from them about education and why are they so popular with Asians, the Chinese especially?  Chapter eight asks, Are Asians creative?, and if there is a trade-off between high academic achievement and creativity, as some American educators think.  Chapter nine shows you How to go to school like an Asian.  You’ll learn about how Asians approach learning and studying.  Chapter ten, How to go to school like an Asian, the details

takes you on an educational journey from primary school to post-college from the point of view of successful Asians.  You’ll learn when they start studying for the SATs, when they take it, how they choose where to go to school, which courses and majors they prefer, and so on. 

Advice to Asian students is given in chapter eleven.  The purpose here is to address some of the shortcomings of the Confucian Asian approach to education and life.  Advice to American students is given in chapter twelve.  The purpose here is to address some of the shortcomings of the American approach to education and life.  Chapter thirteen, Academics explained, delineates the main and a few minor subjects taught in school and how you should weigh each in terms of importance so you know how to better focus your study.  Chapter fourteen answers Frequently Asked Questions about Asians, particularly in regards to their achievements and mental health. 

Chapter fifteen is a Summary of contrasts between Asian and American beliefs and personality traits.  It’s a summary of the first fourteen chapters, really.  Chapter sixteen, a Comparison of Asian schools to American schools, shows how different worldviews produce different education systems.  What sort of school would you create for your students?  

The appendix has two sections.  The first are a few questions from China’s college entrance exam, aka the “gaokao.”  Do Asian tests require more or less critical thinking skills than American ones?  The second section has fundamental academic exercises that I think everyone should do if they want to do well in school and otherwise.  Each exercise — most of them are appropriate for primary to secondary school students — includes a section on Math and one on language. 

You can read each chapter independently of the rest of the book as long as you read the Introduction and Chapter one first.  That’s where “Asian” and “American” are defined, this book won’t make sense without those definitions. 

Send questions and comments to foodyap@gmail.com.  Address me in the subject line with: “Dear Underachiever.”  Enjoy! 

[1] From The Harvard Crimson, June 19, 2018, Court Filings Reveal Academic Strength of Asian-American Applicants to Harvard.  “SFFA’s documents also state Asian-American applicants typically garner higher academic and extracurricular ratings than do candidates of other races.” 

[2] Sowell, Thomas. “Affirmative Action in Malaysia.” In Affirmative Action Around the World: An Empirical Study, 55-77. NEW HAVEN; LONDON: Yale University Press, 2004.

[3] This is almost true of Whites in relation to Blacks too.  Consider these three observable facts from The College Board’s 2005 data on the SAT:

• Whites from families with incomes of less than $10,000 had a mean SAT score of 993. This is 129 points higher than the national mean for all blacks.

• Whites from families with incomes below $10,000 had a mean SAT test score that was 61 points higher than blacks whose families had incomes of between $80,000 and $100,000.

• Blacks from families with incomes of more than $100,000 had a mean SAT score that was 85 points below the mean score for whites from all income levels, 139 points below the mean score of whites from families at the same income level, and 10 points below the average score of white students from families whose income was less than $10,000.

[4] From Yale Insights, @ https://insights.som.yale.edu.  November 15, 2018, by Cyndney Dupree. 

[5] George W. Bush’s speechwriter Michael Gerson is credited with coining such phrases as “the soft bigotry of low expectations” and “the armies of compassion.”

[6] The US government defines “Asians-Americans” geographically.  That is, those with ancestry from Asia. 

[7] The Philippines and Indonesia scored well below the OECD average — 488 —  on the 2018 PISA (Programme for International Student Assessment)   test of 15 year olds.  Neither scored above 400.   

[8] By Lee Hawkins

[9] Michael Powell

[10] By Eliza Shapiro

[11] By Richard Wolf

[12] By Ember Smith and Richard V. Reeves.  Find at Brookings.edu

[13] By Dana Kennedy

[14] Conservative educators such as those from Hillsdale College and homeschooling families (who tend to be conservative) have embraced Singapore Math partially because Singapore has the highest Math PISA (international test) scores.  

[15] 2018 PISA scores for Singapore: Reading/549, Math/569, Science/551; for Finland: Reading/520, Math/507, Science/522.  OECD average is Reading/487, Math/489, Science/489.  30 points = one grade level, so Singapore is two grade levels ahead of Finland in Math. 

[16] See the highly regarded “Raffles Institute,” Singapore’s elite high school, founded in 1823 by the British.   

[17] Singapore has four official languages: English, Chinese (written), Malay, and Tamil.  The US doesn’t have an official language, but English is its de facto official language with other languages, Spanish especially, widely used in social and family life. 

[18] “If you know the enemy and know yourself, you need not fear the result of a hundred battles. If you know yourself but not the enemy, for every victory gained you will also suffer a defeat. If you know neither the enemy nor yourself, you will succumb in every battle.”

[19] Search YouTube for “Tucker Carlson Baizuo”

[20] Valedictorian Speeches Search YouTube for “Stony Brook School Valedictorian Speeches 2020”

[21] Fortune cookies were invented in the US by a Japanese American.  It’s a uniquely and quintessentially American invention, there’s nothing similar to it in China.