Three commercials to whiten skin

(Puti means white)

This is just a sampling of the type of beauty product advertising we see here regularly, and I don’t even have a television.

A while back the twitterverse was having a meltdown over an alleged beauty product commercial which supposedly valued white skin over dark. As it turned out the outrage was based on a falsified ad created by a SJW editing it to create an ad the company never made, but the company caved and apologized anyway. That sort of apology was the way to handle things fifty years ago, maybe. It’s a mistake today.

Anyway, I didn’t pay much attention until I read some American SJW’s comment that went something like, “I can’t believe they are still elevating whiteness as the beauty standard in this modern global era…”

This is a SJW who has never been out of her own country, and certainly never, ever visited any part of the wide area known as Asia (which could include India and most of the middle east). Nothing wrong with that, lots of people have never left their home country. And there’s nothing inherently appalling about not realizing your own country does not set the culture for the world. Its kind of endearingly human and we all make the same sort of mistake. But what tickles my obnoxious meter is the virtue signaling about living in a ‘global era’ while being completely ignorant about what a significant chunk of of the globe actually believes about beauty. The above commercials, the products on the shelves here, the comments people make in our hearing, these and other indications of the desire to have lighter skin are everywhere. It’s one of the first things I noticed when I turned on the television in our temporary lodging. It’s the first thing I noticed when I went shopping for deodorant for the first time. It’s literally *everywhere,* and yet this person imagines she knows what ‘global’ standards are and can criticize others from her imaginary knowledge platform, when in fact, she has no knowledge, only very western *assumptions.*

I’m not saying I approve or agree with the desire for whiter kin here. It makes me really uncomfortable. On a selfish level, it’s also kind of difficult to find a soap, lotion, or deodorant which I like, can afford, won’t give me a rash (I have sensitive skin), and which does not promise to whiten my skin. I have kind of given up on it, in fact. I focus on the first three and ignore the fourth now.

I spent most of my teens and twenties trying to have darker skin, after all. In my thirties I decided I didn’t care anymore, and in my fifties, I just want to not be splotchy, although I have found I like the BB creams that promise a ‘glow.’

But you know what else makes me really uncomfortable? Preaching and criticizing my Filipina friends who would prefer to have lighter skin. I can (and do) say “but you’re so beautiful!” and I can, and do, say, “You know how much money rich Americans spend trying to get darker skin?” But I cannot tell people they are not woke enough, I can’t shame them, because their beauty standard is lighter than mine. It’s not my place, and I’m having a hard enough time being my own conscience. I’m not going to be somebody else’s.

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Eating at the kerenderia

This is a kerenderia, a type of restaurant.  It’s informal.  There are some picnic  tables not pictured here.  This one is in a structure with a roof and 3 walls.  It shares the space with a car rental.  The menu is different from day to day.  Some of the food they cook themselves, some they buy and bring in. You can eat at the tables or carry out.

This is bangus, a really delicious fish.  We have it at least once a week at home, and sometimes for lunch as well.

The above meat was a bit of a mystery.  The lady at the kerenderia told me it was pork but she couldn’t think of the right English word to tell me more about it.  I didn’t want the other offerings that day (Pancit is a noodle dish palatable to westerners, but pasta is just not a favourite dish of mine, and I didn’t feel like eating tripe or fish).  I assumed it was something I wouldnt’ normally eat, probably an organ.  It was flavourful and very tender.  A couple days later it was on the menu again and I asked what it was and she told me ears.  It’s pig’s ears.


These are  bananas on a stick.  They are a different type of banana than you usually see in an American grocery store.  They have been coated in some tasty syrup and probably an oil and sugared and then broiled until crispy and carmelized on the outside and almost pastry like on the inside.  They are incredibly delicious.
Also, my sparkly nails sparkle.  I love the glitter.

This is what carry -out looks like, even when it’s soup.  The knots are easy to undo.  I remember this with our grocery bags when we shopped in Japan, too- they tie the bags in a way that you can easily undo them when you get home.  So convenient.

The entire meal pictured in the picture immediately above was maybe 3 dollars.

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Western Assumption: Kids Need Their Own Room

If you’ve read here very long at all, you already know that this is not a western assumption I share or value, and I have mentioned before how strangely ingrained it is.  I don’t mind so much that some parents *want* their kids to have their own room(s).  What I strongly object to is the assumption that this is the only way to go, the best way for everybody, the assumption that *of course* this is what we do, the presumption that there’s something wrong with *not* following this western pattern.

When we moved into our house here in the Philippines, the Cherub had her own room, because our room is too small for an extra twin bed, and she wets the bed too often and it’s too hot to have her sleep in ours.  But this was just not working.  We can’t find baby gates here and she gets up in the middle of the night and raids the kitchen and we don’t always hear her (partially because of the fans we have going, and mainly because we’re old).

So we had a small bed especially made for the space we have.  She’s a small kid, so she doesn’t need a full twin size.  It’s about the size of a camp cot, but more comfortable, and a bit shorter. It fits at the end of our bed and she sleeps in our room now and the night raids on the kitchen are mostly ended.

We have a new helper on Fridays.  I don’t think she’s worked with a foreign family before. I was showing her around the house and explaining what she would be doing.  There is still a bed in the Cherub’s room as we haven’t gotten around to selling it.  But the room is not much bigger than the bed is (seriously, maybe two feet larger on one side of the bed, and about two feet at the end).  I told her it used to be my daughter’s bedroom, and her eyes shot wide open and her mouth gaped and she blurted, “She sleeps alone here??? Not with you?”

You have to understand that for her to blurt that out that way to her new western employer signifies immense shock.  Huge.  This is a culture where you do not shame people unless you are in authority and they have done something wrong (or you have the backing of a community to shame somebody who has brought harm to the community). You don’t put people on the wrong foot, and you do not challenge employers.  She didn’t mean to do any of those things, she was just was so astonished she blurted out her surprise.

It’s not normal, it’s not a given, it’s not considered ideal or taken for granted that your disabled child would have her own room apart from a family member.  It’s weird.

I was amused, not embarrassed, and I’m always interested when I stumble upon those cultural assumptions, those things two cultures take for granted that are actually not as obvious as each culture thinks they are.


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Turing Machine

What is a Turing machine? “A Turing machine is an idealised computing device consisting of a read/write head (or ‘scanner’) with a paper tape passing through it. The tape is divided into squares, each square bearing a single symbol–‘0’ or ‘1’, for example. This tape is the machine’s general purpose storage medium, serving both as the vehicle for input and output and as a working memory for storing the results of intermediate steps of the computation.

The input that is inscribed on the tape before the computation starts must consist of a finite number of symbols. However, the tape is of unbounded length–for Turing’s aim was to show that there are tasks that these machines are unable to perform, even given unlimited working memory and unlimited time.”

Or read here:
You could say that the computer was invented twice – once by Charles Babbage and once by Alan Turing.
While Babbage’s machine was supposed to be a practical thing, Turing’s was just a machine of the mind. It was invented not to compute tables of numbers but to solve problems in logic and to probe the limits of computation and human thought. …
In Grammar and Torture we look at every computer science student’s nightmare – formal grammar – and meet the idea of a hierarchy of machines, ranging from the simple finite state machine to the Turing machine, which corresponds to different complexities of language, computer or human.
This is interesting but it also raises the question of what a Turing machine is and why did anyone ever bother to think up such an idea?
While a Turing machine does have connections with grammar and languages, it is so much more. But to start at the beginning…

There are some helpful illustrations in this explanation (click through to see them):

A Turing machine is a hypothetical machine thought of by the mathematician Alan Turing in 1936. Despite its simplicity, the machine can simulate ANY computer algorithm, no matter how complicated it is!

The Turing machine is hypothetical, an abstract mental model. But it turns out there exists something very much like a Turing machine in real life- it’s coded into our DNA.

“Had Turing known about DNA as a biological molecule
serving as memory in biological systems, carrying the instructions for life, he
may have grasped the remarkable similarity between DNA and his machine

The concept formed the basis of the digital computer and, as suggested
in [9], there is no better place in nature where a process similar to the way
Turing machines work can be found than in the unfolding of DNA transcription.
For DNA is a set of instructions contained in every living organism
empowering the organism to self-replicate. In fact it is today common, even
in textbooks, to consider DNA as the digital repository of the organism’s
development plan, and the organism’s development itself is not infrequently
thought of as a mechanical, computational process in biology.

(from this PDF file)

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Ordering Local Take-Out

At the end of the backroad to the school (or at the start, depending on perspective, I guess), there is a kerenderia. This is a special kind of restaurant- sort of open air, with a rotisserie grill for chicken, and pans of food sitting out at meal times. You can eat there or you can carry out. Carry out is dished into plastic bags (called cellophane bags here)

I got rice (the large center bag, IMO, enough rice for three people, but they meant it to serve one), a meat dish, two sweet bananas on a stick, and a muffin for just under 1.50, and the muffin was about .30 of that.

This is the meat dish. I don’t know what it’s called and I don’t know the cut, but I suspect intestine or stomach.  She told me it was karneng baboy, which is pork.

Sugary carmelized banana.

I(t’s not a normal banana.  It’s a bit drier and not as sweet as the regular lacatans, except for the added sweet to the outside.

The muffin, which she called a pie.  It was .30 (or 15 pesos). More about that below.

A friend asked me how I order when I don’t really speak Visaya and I don’t know what the food is.  Here’s what I told her.

First of all, Filipino people are the friendliest people in the world and really want you to be comfortable. Secondly, they speak a lot of English and understand quite a bit more. Thirdly, I have a few Visaya words, but this mainly only helps to make them even happier with me, you could get along without them. It’s 1 and 2 that would help you out the most. Fourthly, I don’t mind making mistakes and the culture is geared toward avoiding making anybody feel bad (this does have drawbacks in other situations, but it works okay here)

So I point and I say, “Unsa ba kini?” which is garbled ‘what’s this” and then they know enough English and I know enough Visaya that they can tell me the kind of meat it is, and at any rate, it’s nearly always going to be pork anyway. Although this time there was pancit (which I recognize), Tripe, which I know I don’t want, fish, and 3 kinds of soup which I didn’t want to carry back. So I went with this pork dish which was probably some kind of intestine or other organ judging by the small circles on the meat. I can understand the type of meat it is in Visaya, but the finer details of the other ingredients and the specific cut is mostly guess work.
Fifthly: It is a good thing that I have what one of my local friends calls a “Missionary stomach.”=)

So when I have gone down the row of pans and gotten some remote idea what’s going to be the main ingredient in each of them, I point and say kini, palihog (this, please), and hold up how many fingers I want it to serve (I get lunch for my husband, the Cherub, and myself).

This time the sales lady or owner  also told me she had some kind of pie. I didn’t understand her, except she was offering something extra, so I looked puzzled, she brought it out. It wasn’t pie- it looked sort of like a muffin. I can ask how much in visaya, so I did, and I went ahead and bought it because she was so sure I’d like it. I did. The inside was a kind of creamy coconut custard filling. I wish I had bought four so my husband and I could each have two. Instead I only bought one, so I ate it by myself.

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