On the Matters of, How to Read

This is for you, folks. You guys just had to bombard me with emails. Like I had to hit reply so many times, I won’t forward the exchange which prompted the update. But I can give you a piece, covering on what happened, how it happened, and perhaps what we can learn from it. And the things I would like to share with my future readers.

On the Matters of, What happened

On Thursday, —FYI, all Mad Tea Party articles are released on late night Friday— I was asked to “fix” the article as the comparison in the segment holds no value outside of political stir up. Which is baffling: the segment in question was about politics. I asked if there would be any particular metrics s/he prefers, and comparison to export was one of them. Knowing it wouldn’t work, I replied it will be a hardship to use a correct statistics for the metaphor. Obviously you can imagine what followed next. This isn’t exactly the first time Mad Tea Party is publicly responding. I was provided with series of backgrounds: how that particular stat is used by liberals in S. Korea, how that stat dragging down the piece, and how stupid it looks to the people in knowing.

On the Matters of, How it happened

It is hard to create a narrative that will put real-life politics into a universal framework. As many American presidents have eloquently put it, politics is all about size underneath. And you can’t say your measurement is accurate just cause you stared long enough into his nose. And I won’t mention how to do it “scientifically”, other than you have be ‘part of’ the experience, to quote Minority Report here.

In the case of Samsung in America, the framework is weirder than usual. We know both Apple and Google have been summoned or called by politicians in Congress, FBI, you name it they have it, and some other alphabet agencies. They have a lot of baggage with them. Simply comparing the revenue, especially when the entirety of Samsung Group generates less revenue than Apple, is doing justice to nobody. Like I said, no shits have been thrown on capitol hill in protest against Silicon Valley.

Comparing some other arbitrary numbers with local context were next up in the aisle. I chose GDP, as you can read it now. In the note segment, I’ve used total market cap and corporate taxes. We should also mind the fact that all three of the companies operate in largely different fashion under different banners. Again, these numbers are too arbitrary to encompass any of its significance, despite the fact they are statistically sound. All three of the companies make front page for dodging taxes almost every year, and Apple is a two time trillion dollar company with a rollercoaster stock price. On top of all of that, —this, I left out on purpose to tone down the politics— Samsung Group is a conglomerate controlled by a single family, no less.

Putting a number in this narrative was like explaining elephants to 6 blind men. It’s an awful strategy, but we need to start from somewhere. Ultimately, recreating a footstep is up to the readers. No matter how fairy godmothers bless the princess with “lips that shame red, red rose,” if the person hasn’t seen a single rose, it’s pointless. It’s not a question of whether lips are actually “rose red”, —it’s bright red— it’s called a metaphor, a simile, to be exact. I can go on and on and cycle through different numbers, but ultimately accepting a narrative is up to the reader.

On the Matters of, Why it happened

First off, I suspect s/he was not familiar with reading op-ed. You are not reading Financial Times, mind you. And had I been writing for Financial Times, I would be waiting for my article to be released on Monday morning, not late night weekend. That’s the right time for weekend comedy, the spiels.

Yeah, I’m also afraid that person in ‘knowing’ hasn’t read a single sci-fi since 70s. Mega corporation, or a mega-corp does not mean a “big company” in a literal sense. Like many of you have laughed on the subject, mega corporation is a sci-fi concept, often used in dystopian context, a corporation reaching for or actively controlling sovereignty or authority. Good examples would be OCP from RoboCop, Buy n Large from Wall-E, Weyland-Yutani from Alien, UAC from Doom, Ryan Industries from Bioshock, and Deus Ex, just Deus Ex. Mega corporation is a common enough trope in most sci-fi movies. You may not even have noticed them while watching, but hearing bad guys from RoboCop should give you some sense of what it is. Video games tend to give full blown support for mega corporations, Deus Ex really did justice on the subject. Augmentations of human bodies —no more Greek in sci-fi, I guess—were developed, widespread, and then ultimately hindered by private industries.

On the Matters of, Why Again

My personal favorite episode in this kind of ‘don’t publish my story, but you are an idiot’ story was Monty Hall problem. Of course, Mad Tea Party has no bearing on the issue. We didn’t exist yet. But when Monty Hall problem was first introduced, —the famous two goat and Cadillac problem— it had quite a different story. Again, this story is filled to the brim with salty behaviors.

When Savant first released her solution, the famous 2/3 solution, she got some backlashes, notably from professors and PhDs. Like car accidents, it’s either BMWs or PhDs. Not only they disagreed with her, many blamed failing Mathematics education in United States on her, or likes of her, on celebrities. They weren’t confused in anyway. Majority of them understood exactly what kind of problem is Monty Hall, but knowing that, they insisted she was wrong. More than half of the dissents, with some personal insults, came from universities and/or public agencies. One of them even said world will end tomorrow if these many PhDs would be wrong.

Savant knew, or perhaps hoped, that this people can’t be helped without physical proofs. On her third column, she asked her readers to physically run the simulations: if they have computers, —FYI, this is 90s— run the program, and if not, this will be a good study material for students. Schools after schools, labs and after labs, reported successful demonstrations of her solution. Still, her intuition was right; few people remained and said her feminine logics is not real, and few others said computers do not do math. At that point, I can see the salts flowing out of the mailbox.

The morale of the story is that these uncivilized professors and doctors kept their positions in their universities and agencies, some of them including a lab in US military. It’s easy to pressure a dissenting argument without repercussion. Because you are not cementing a counter-argument, you are slanting a person. Had you been making your own unique argument, no one would want to keep it private.

To give you my story, —too many incidents like this happened before to other authors— we had an article that discussed HIV-AIDS misconception. AIDS is a syndrome, as the name implies. HIV is the cause of the syndrome. The problem is, people loosely exchange both terms, much like disorder-addiction, and it often generates or enforces bias against the affected group. In this case, that group was HIV-affected community.

In South Korea, there was a clinic specialized in quarantine practice of HIV patients. That’s what they would be wanted to be called; my article pointed out that it is a kind of business which breeds on the widespread misconception in Korea, and that homophobic policies set by the hospital administration shows its inadequacy to deal with a contagious disease. The pictures alone were horrendous. Patients were not expected to be private, not a single minute, because the hospital believed all gays are sex addict. The privacy of the patients did not concern them, nor health, I believe till this day.

Then I had this emails —it’s always emails not the comments or another article— saying my sources must be biased; that I must have skimmed through only the most popular newspapers with the help of either the poorly translated English editions or online translator services (i.e. Google Translate). What s/he didn’t know was that I can read and write in Korean. I poured him with sources, and he started ranting —again, on emails— about how biased Korean media is. My sources included articles and op-ed from various political spectrum. Bias was already scaled out. Bias was not my concern, the people were.

The pictures were real. Several patients had already been hurt or died in the facility. Some were attacked, physically and sexually, and even raped by their caretakers. The administration had apologized for deteriorating standards in first few months, then threatened lawsuits for libel. In one of the many press conferences surrounding the rape accusation, the actual rapist —the caretaker at the time— admitted guilt for both rape and the cover up by the hospital administration. The hospital remains open today, with its director booming as an anti-homosexual speaker for Christian communities. Nobody answered for neither crimes nor death in the hospital. With, of course, people screaming fake news on mails.

On the Matters of, How to Read and Avoid

If something has Greek in it, it’s safe to assume whatever the original Greek word meant, it’s not what it is. A cyborg, for instance, literally means cybernetic organism. It has less to do with a tough guy asking for Sarah Connor, in thick Austrian accent; or just guys in metal suits with patrolling the city. In literal sense, cyborg includes anything with machine parts. But in common practice, if somebody says cyborg, we mean human being with machine parts, not trees with WiFi.

And if something has half-Greek and half-Latin, just google it. Mega corporation is an amalgamation of Greek and Latin words. It’s a made-up word. When I say mithril, I might be talking about Tolkien, but on the other hand, I might also be talking about a fiction which has Amalgam and Mithril as rivaling organizations. You can only get so far imagining what that word would mean. Made-up words tend to bear altered definitions, and many free dictionaries do outperform simple imaginations.

And as always, Google is your best friend. No Google? Try DuckDuckGo. Not an internet guy? Try OED. Not Oxford guy? Try Merriam-Webster. Prepare yourself with fallbacks. If you don’t know what a meme is, you might be behind in, well, both scientific and cultural trends. Screaming fake news doesn’t help anyone. Can’t trust media? Find something to work with, unless your brain is floating in a tank with wires, doing measurements.

The best practice always comes down to read a lot, watch a lot, play a lot, just do cultural activities a lot. We are living in a world where supposed future comes quicker and quirkier than many would imagine. You don’t have to write Utopia to actively participate on immigration and automation talks. Heck, the word utopia, in Greek, means nowhere. But I doubt I would get objections on the use of the word utopia to describe imaginary lands.

So here’s a homework for everyone for today. I’ve put enough parodies and references in this piece alone to write another piece. I’ve put at least one in each paragraph, except for intro. Do your best to find one and enjoy it. If you can’t, that’s fine. But it is universally acknowledged truth that a man in knowing knows nothing. That’s Socrates, not mine.

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