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Author Topic: The Ten Commandments According to Obama
rollainm
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I'd just like to mention that Empire of China Restaurant down the street has excellent Mongolian chicken. And fried rice.

Oh, and the spring rolls are simply delicious.

[Smile]

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Raymond Arnold
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quote:
I can't come up with a word for what you mean because I haven't a clue what you might mean by calling my story a "hypothetical situation". My best guess was that you were accusing me of making it up, but you say that wasn't your intent. I don't have a second guess. Its not my responsibility to clearly communicate your ideas.
Not that this is my fight, but I thought it was pretty clear what he meant given the original context. (Confabulation actually doesn't make sense in the original context but makes sense in his point a few posts later. Anecdotal sounds more correct but it wouldn't have quite been proper usage).

In the original statement ("Your hypothetical friends would disagree with my friends"), I think he's saying a) if your friends were to HYPOTHETICALLY meet with his friends, they'd disagree, combined with b) he can think of reasons why you may have misinterpreted what your friends meant. Given that anecdotal evidence isn't that useful to begin with, your conversation with your friends might as well be hypothetical from his perspective. (This is still not quite the right use of the word, but it's close enough and fairly obvious enough that I don't think it merited an attack on his english and a page of multiple 5-paragraph arguments focusing on the notion).

Is his statement technically wrong? Well yeah, but I know what it's like to reach for a word that means something specific and accidentally grab something that "feels" correct even if it's actually not. (i.e. when people say "I was literally going to kill myself if he did not stop singing," they actually mean "virtually" but everyone knows what they meant.

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kmbboots
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The Rabbit, this confabulating has gone far enough. You don't have any Chinese friends. Mucus knows all of the Chinese people and all of them agree that we suck.

I don't know why you keep insisting on what is clearly a delusion. You must be mad. (You haven't been using any imported toothpaste, have you?)

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Raymond Arnold
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Also, while this whole thread is sufficiently bizarre that people can probably isolate the ridiculous context, this is precisely the kind of argument that I think makes the forum intimidating for newbies. What are they supposed to think when they see two people talking about food, and one person uses the wrong word and then gets totally chewed out for "failing to communicate properly?"
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kmbboots
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Raymond, it isn't so much that he used the wrong word as that he is pretty much calling The Rabbit a liar.
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Raymond Arnold
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except that he specified that that's not what he meant, and while there may be history here I don't know about, looking at the last two pages by themselves I see Rabbit making one claim and Mucus making a counterstatement that Rabbit's claim isn't as meaningful as Rabbit thinks it is.

I don't know if Mucus is BSing the "chinese people will agree with you out of politeness" thing (whether true or not, it does seem like the sort of statement that allows for blanket "oh I know what I'm talking about and whatever you say must be wrong" kind of reasoning). That is the point with which Mucus could be calling Rabbit a liar, and if that's what we're worried about then that's what should be focused on, not a word used in an offhand remark.

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kmbboots
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The claim that Mucus knows more about conversations for which he wasn't present among people he doesn't know than someone who was there is pretty insulting however you look at it. "Confabulation" means that she was making it up. I know that slamming western culture in general and Americans in particular is important to him but this is a bit silly.
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Mucus
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quote:
Originally posted by kmbboots:
Raymond, it isn't so much that he used the wrong word as that he is pretty much calling The Rabbit a liar.

Only if you completely ignore the very next post which starts with:

quote:
Originally posted by Mucus:
... I don't doubt that you had lunch with a Chinese colleague and I don't doubt that you "think" you got agreement with your points.

But I also know that you're dead wrong and the description of a Hong Kong native that would claim that the food in Toronto outranks that in Hong Kong itself is so foreign to my experiences, the best explanation is that your perception of events has totally separated from the reality of what happened.

I'm effectively stating that I believe that The Rabbit believes in good faith that he/she heard what was stated and simultaneously stating that I accept that he/she met with a Chinese colleague. Plus I'm providing an explanation that explains what happened without assuming that Rabbit is lying.

Personally, I was wondering how hostile The Rabbit was because, you know, we're resurrecting a two month old thread with a direct named challenge to me. This is something that I did not state because I don't know what is going on.

But I do know that your mind reading of my motives is simply wrong.

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kmbboots
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If not lying than delusional. Or stupid. You and she have had different experiences with different people. With all the people in the world, it is entirely possible that both of you are right about your own experiences.
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Mucus
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Raymond Arnold: Your interpretation of my post is correct, although I do not know why confabulation does not make sense in the original context.

Otherwise, just some general clarifications.

quote:
Originally posted by Raymond Arnold:
I don't know if Mucus is BSing the "chinese people will agree with you out of politeness" thing

I understand your doubt and I knew that point would be controversial so I provided an impartial link.

quote:
That is the point with which Mucus could be calling Rabbit a liar ...
No, the point of the article is that Chinese people may use white lies out of politeness but that they do not consider it actual lying.

In other words, far from accusing The Rabbit of lying, I am hypothesizing that the Chinese colleague may have done what The Rabbit may consider a lie (but probably should not).

quote:
Originally posted by kmbboots:
"Confabulation" means that she was making it up.

Yes, but the emphasis is on *unconsciously*. I picked the article that I linked to for a reason. It states that everyone may confabulate at times in order to make sense of the world.

quote:
Originally posted by kmbboots:
If not lying than delusional. Or stupid.

Ummm, no. The article states that perfectly healthy individuals may confabulate. It restates this twice.
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kmbboots
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Why is it that you are more of an expert on The Rabbit's friends than she is?
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vonk
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I greatly prefer American Chinese food to Chinese Chinese food. I'm a big fan of no heads or feet* in my food (with the exception of soul food). Vietnamese food on the other hand I enjoy a lot.

*distinguishable as heads and feet anyway. If you chop it up and don't call it heads and feet it's another story.

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Mucus
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quote:
Originally posted by kmbboots:
Why is it that you are more of an expert on The Rabbit's friends than she is?

Why do you think that it is necessary to be an expert on The Rabbit's friends in order to give only one example of a way in which The Rabbit may have miscommunicated with them?
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rollainm
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Mucus, have you considered that while your suggestion of The Rabbit's friend's intentions may not be considered presumptuous or otherwise offensive by Chinese standards, by typical American cultural standards it is? You are essentially claiming to be a better judge of the motives of her friend - whom you've never met - based on a broad cultural generalization. Do you not see how this can come off as being offensive?

quote:
Originally posted by Mucus:
quote:
Originally posted by kmbboots:
Why is it that you are more of an expert on The Rabbit's friends than she is?

Why do you think that it is necessary to be an expert on The Rabbit's friends in order to give only one example of a way in which The Rabbit may have miscommunicated with them?
And here again. You are presuming fault in her communication skills.
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Mucus
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Good grief
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Raymond Arnold
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quote:
You are essentially claiming to be a better judge of the motives of her friend - whom you've never met - based on a broad cultural generalization. Do you not see how this can come off as being offensive?
Mucus never claims know what Rabbit's friends were thinking. He merely states a way in which Rabbit may have been misinterpreting them, and because his own experience deviates significantly from Rabbits, he finds it more likely that Rabbit miscommunicated with her friends than that he is wrong. For the most part, I honestly think he communicated that fairly politely, whether or not his opinion is rooted in cultural chauvinism.

I don't know who started the argument and where the burden of proof lies, but claiming that either side has any particular moral high ground at this point seems profoundly silly to me. I also think that, by American standards, "Rabbit might be misconstruing what his friends said" is far less offensive than "Mucus is lying and delusional and stupid." Although that line was said by a third party who you (Rollainm) have not specifically condoned.

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rollainm
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You are right, Raymond. I shouldn't have said "know". But even the suggestion can easily be take as offensive when it implies greater trust in a generalization than in The Rabbit's communication skills or honesty of her friend. Let me be clear, though, that I'm not trying to dogpile you here, Mucus. I do understand where you're coming from, your frustration with these responses, and why you've reacted the way you have.
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Raymond Arnold
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If Rabbit had been discussing something far more personal or important with her friends, I'd consider this insulting. Given that this should be a fairly low key discussion about which food is better, and that Mucus did provide a link to back up his argument, it seems to me that if Rabbit feels Mucus is being unfair, a proper response would be either "um, I think I know my friends just fine, thank you and have a nice day," or to go back to said friends, talk to them some more about this discussion and clarify that Mucus' generalization doesn't apply here.

But getting indignant and offended and launching into a full scale attack on Mucus seems way out of proportion to me.

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The Rabbit
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You know, my original contention was simply that I know Chinese people who don't agree with Mucus and I gave some examples to illustrate that.

I may being missing Mucus' point entirely but he seems to be saying that I'm either making up these stories, have seriously misunderstood the what my friends said or my Chinese friends are all liars. And since he knows nothing at all about the events in question except what I have said, I can't see why he would doubt their accuracy other than that he's found me to an insufferable liar in the past (which I don't think is the case) or that he finds it unimaginable that anyone Chinese would disagree with him on this issue.

And that is an extremely arrogant assumption, hence my telling him to get of his high horse. If he had claimed that my Chinese friends aren't representative of the majority of Chinese immigrants that would be one thing, and it might even be true, but insisting that my stories couldn't possibly be true is quite another.

But even this is a digression from my original point which I believe was

There isn't a single decent Chinese cheese. [Big Grin]

[ October 01, 2009, 11:35 AM: Message edited by: The Rabbit ]

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Mucus
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rollainm:
Thank you, I appreciate it.

And in response to your initial question, no, I did not consider it (and I personally have little reason to think that this is due to any cultural difference).

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rollainm
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Raymond, I haven't commented on the correctness of The Rabbit's response to Mucus, but I don't think it really has anything to do with my point anyway.
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Mucus
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quote:
Originally posted by The Rabbit:
... he seems to be saying that I'm either making up these stories, have seriously misunderstood the what my friends said or my Chinese friends are all liars.

Seriously, the way in which you're using the word "liar" actually makes me wonder more about whether a miscommunication occured, not less.

I will add two more quotes from that linked article (my italics)
quote:
This makes her a fantastic “undercover foreigner” in the sense that she can hang out with Chinese people and they’ll treat her more or less as a cultural insider. She reports that the number one complaint her Mainland friends have against their foreign friends is that foreigners too often think Chinese people are lying to them, when they’re actually being extra considerate to the foreigners.
quote:
Chinese typically express more of their meaning through nonverbal signals than Westerners do – especially Americans. We all make regular use of both verbal and nonverbal forms of communication, but comparatively, Americans are more “tuned in” to the words; Chinese are more tuned in to nonverbal channels.

A style of communication that especially emphasizes nonverbal signals makes it easy to clearly communicate a meaning that is different or opposite of the words’ literal meaning. To Americans, who focus relatively more on the literal meaning and fail to “hear” many of the nonverbal cues, this can easily look like lying.

quote:
Originally posted by The Rabbit:
... unimaginable that anyone Chinese would disagree with him on this issue.

Not unimaginable, merely the best explanation (i.e. the most probable) Remember, I said:
quote:
Originally posted by Mucus:
... the best explanation is that your perception of events has totally separated from the reality of what happened.

quote:
There isn't a single decent Chinese cheese.
Of course not.
We're like lactose intolerant (in general, not specific) and if you really think about it, milk in the way we consume it is pretty weird anyways.

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The Rabbit
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quote:
If Rabbit had been discussing something far more personal or important with her friends, I'd consider this insulting. Given that this should be a fairly low key discussion about which food is better, and that Mucus did provide a link to back up his argument, it seems to me that if Rabbit feels Mucus is being unfair, a proper response would be either "um, I think I know my friends just fine, thank you and have a nice day," or to go back to said friends, talk to them some more about this discussion and clarify that Mucus' generalization doesn't apply here.
Be fair Raymond. Yes I responded by returning arrogance and thinly veiled insults with more arrogance and thinly veiled insults. The wasn't the most polite thing to do. But its also evident that many people have misunderstood my tone in this discussion. This whole discussion started off as mockery of the OP. The entire thread has been sort of a parody of more serious discussions. At least that's how I perceived it. I'm sorry if other people took it much more seriously than it was ever intended.
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scifibum
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I think Mucus has been entirely serious, and if your tone was meant to be comedic/parodic, it didn't come across that well, but was also mismatched against Mucus's efforts (as I perceive them).

(Not that I think Mucus thinks this is of vital importance, just that I think Mucus has approached this soberly.)

I don't think Mucus meant to insult your intelligence or doubt your honesty. Just to frame an interpretation of your experiences in a way that makes sense within the context of his own experience and study, which otherwise seems too dissonant.

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scifibum
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BTW, wanted to check:

quote:
The best brie is made from unpasteurized milk and is not legal to sell in the US.
I have seen raw milk cheese for sale out in the open in a grocery store. Probably about a month ago.

Which is more likely?
1) Some kinds of raw milk cheese are illegal to sell in the US but not others.
2) The store was selling contraband cheese out in the open.
3) The cheese was mislabeled.
(edit:)4) It's not actually illegal to sell raw milk cheese in the US.

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TomDavidson
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*nod* I think Mucus was quite legitimately and sincerely offended by the assertion that Chinese food was both better and more diverse in Canada than in China, with little loss of "authenticity." He has been contesting that point since it was made.
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The Rabbit
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quote:
Of course not.
We're like lactose intolerant (in general, not specific) and if you really think about it, milk in the way we consume it is pretty weird anyways

Not an excuse. The lactose content of cheeses is typically very low. In fact, it has been postulated that lactose intolerance is why cheeses were developed in the first place. The process of making cheese separates the milk proteins (which nearly all adult humans can digest) from the lactose which many adult humans can not digest.

And drinking milk isn't objectively any weirder than an awfully lot of the things people eat. Fermented eggs? Rotten cabbage? Plants that are poisonous unless they are properly pre-processed? Poisonous insects? Honey? Tree sap? Tree bark? Live maggots?

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Raymond Arnold
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I more or less agree with scifibum. I realize this started out as a joke, but over time the humor became less apparent until it was pretty much indistinguishable from an actual debate. And because I didn't think Mucus had been particularly unfair to begin with, the irony of responding to a silly point with a huge analysis ("Sincerely, Summer Glau") lost its humor.
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Mucus
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scifibum, TomDavidson, Raymond Arnold
Thank you.

quote:
Originally posted by The Rabbit:
Not an excuse. The lactose content of cheeses is typically very low. In fact, it has been postulated that lactose intolerance is why cheeses were developed in the first place.

I've heard a quite different theory. In short, herders and nomads (what would have been called at the time barbarians) did not have access to food as regularly as an agricultural society. Thus, they started to consume milk from their animals. This consumption lead to them to become mutants that could consume milk in adulthood. However, not having proper storage for that milk, they eventually let it spoil, leading to the development of cheese.

Thus, a non-mutant society which has largely skipped this nomadic phase (indeed, stigmatizing it) would not easily develop cheese.

quote:
And drinking milk isn't objectively any weirder than an awfully lot of the things people eat. Fermented eggs? Rotten cabbage? Plants that are poisonous unless they are properly pre-processed? Poisonous insects? Honey? Tree sap? Tree bark? Live maggots?
Well, personally I consider those things pretty weird too. Don't get me wrong, I quite enjoy some of them, but they are "weird" and non-obvious cultural developments which in part explains why different societies took them on at different rates.

However, I think there is a special place for milk (and by extension cheese), not on a binary classification of things that are weird or not weird, but on a (understandably debatable) floating point line of weirdness. The poisonous and spoiled foods are relatable in times of famine or lack of food, you gotta do what you gotta do. I have heard of peasants that during the Cultural Revolution were reduced to eating tree bark given the lack of real food.

Consider though, while it is reasonable for children to drink their mother's milk, we do not generally drink our mother's milk, nor other humans's milk which would reasonably be considered to be similar. Not even a monkey's milk.

No, we grab cows, goats, camels, and suck on them. But then get this, rather than drink it fresh, sometimes you spoil it on purpose. Oy.

(And don't get me wrong. I love cheese, especially on pasta, although I'm not picky about it)

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scifibum
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It actually seems to me that drinking milk from herd animals reflects a lack of hunger. You are getting a little bit of nutrition instead of killing and eating the whole animal. In famine, you kill the milk cow.
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Mucus
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Well, it is not quite a hunger issue and it wouldn't be a cow to start with. It would be a horse or a goat. And rather than let the milk go to waste, you're eating it.

But a big point of going to an agricultural way of life is to gain a much richer and more regular source of food and thats what the herders and hunters would need to compete with.

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The Rabbit
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quote:
I don't think Mucus meant to insult your intelligence or doubt your honesty. Just to frame an interpretation of your experiences in a way that makes sense within the context of his own experience and study, which otherwise seems too dissonant.
Between you and Raymond and Tom and and rollaim, I really am starting to feel like I'm being unfairly dog piled here.

Mucus didn't say I had likely misunderstood or misinterpreted my friend until quite far into this discussion. He called the story I reported "hypothetical". When I said I couldn't figure out what he meant by hypothetical unless he meant I was making up the story, he still didn't clarify by saying he thought their had likely been a miscommuncation or that I had interpretted my friends polite conversation too literally. Instead, he said that hypotherical was the right word and I was "Dead Wrong about what my colleague had said. When I insisted that hypothetical wasn't the right word, he told me to come up with a word myself, and when I further insisted I really didn't know what he meant unless was accusing me of making the story up, the word he picked was "confabulation", which to my ears is just another synonym for "made up" . Was it really irrational of me to presume he was accusing me of making the whole thing up, of lying to make a point in this discussion? Was I really that far out to react as through he had insult my intelligence, my sanity and my integrity?

It was only after being pressed, not only by me, that he even mentioned the possibility of misunderstanding or the cultural differences between what is polite in China and the US as a possible reason to believe I might have misunderstood. Up until that point it was a simple of matter of "I know Chinese people so well that I know your story can't be true".

I really had no intention of offending Mucus. If Mucus is seriously offended by the claim that some people, even some Chinese people, have a very different opinion on the Chinese food in Toronto than he does -- he's the one who needs to take a few steps back and get some perspective.

I think I understand where Mucus is coming from. I understand why it would be irritating and offensive to have some one try to "teach" you something about your own culture. And I agree that Mucus' opinion on Chinese culture should get more respect than the opinions of your average American. But Mucus also needs to recognize that he is not the only Chinese person I've ever talked to. He isn't the foremost expert on China I know personally. When he says things that contradict what I have heard from China experts and Chinese immigrants I know personally, I am going to point it out. If he expects to place more weight on his assessments on China than Blayne's or my own, that's completely reasonable. But if he expects me to place more weight on his Chinese opinions than the opinions of other Chinese people I know in real life, he is being unreasonable. If he is offended by my truthful reporting that what I have heard from other Chinese people contradicts what he is saying, he's just out of line.

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scifibum
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Oh, I think all Mucus meant was "dead wrong" was that Toronto has better Chinese food. Since you pretty much got behind this opinion he was saying he emphatically disagrees with you.
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The Rabbit
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quote:
Originally posted by scifibum:
Oh, I think all Mucus meant was "dead wrong" was that Toronto has better Chinese food. Since you pretty much got behind this opinion he was saying he emphatically disagrees with you.

I suspect that it is easier to see it that way when you are not the one whose veracity is being attacked. But beyond that, I never actually claimed Toronto had better Chinese food, I claimed my Chinese colleague had expressed that opinion and Mucus seemed to be rejecting there was even a remote possibility a Chinese person might hold that opinion.

Furthermore, if you are correct about Mucus' intent, using the phrase "dead wrong" about something as utterly subjective as "better Chinese food" goes beyond hyperbole.

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The Rabbit
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quote:
Originally posted by scifibum:
Oh, I think all Mucus meant was "dead wrong" was that Toronto has better Chinese food. Since you pretty much got behind this opinion he was saying he emphatically disagrees with you.

And furthermore, you made it quite clear earlier that you think I misinterpreted Mucus' intent. I'm willing to accept that. But my question, as I tried to state in the previous post, is not about what Mucus actually meant, it is about what he actually said.
And given what he actually said, do you really think his intent was clearly communicated and that it was completely irrational for me to understand his words as an attack on my truthfulness?

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Raymond Arnold
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Yeah, the "Dead Wrong" part was the one point where I did feel Mucus was pretty rude and was probably the point that exacerbated most of this.

quote:
Was it really irrational of me to presume he was accusing me of making the whole thing up, of lying to make a point in this discussion?
I didn't think your initial reaction was irrational (I think you jumped the gun a bit criticizing his grasp of the english language but I understand why you felt under attack at the time), but he did keep trying to clarify that he was having trouble finding a particular word with particular nuance: that there was probably a misunderstanding that was neither your fault nor your friends, but which nonetheless led to you having an incorrect belief.

He tried a number of ways to explain this, each of which made sense to me, and then found the word confabulation which was pretty close. But rather than see the nuance he was going for, you focused on the "made up" part, and that was where it looked as if you had become so focused on the perceived insult that you had given up on actually understanding what Mucus was trying to say. By that point I couldn't imagine Mucus saying anything else to try and clarify his point, so that's where I decided to try and help him out.

I didn't mean to end up counter-dogpiling you. But I think if you were to take a step back and look at this from a neutral perspective, you wouldn't see Mucus' remarks as nearly so insulting.

The point that I think IS important, which I touched upon a while back, is that this is precisely the kind of debate that, no matter how silly you're intending it to be, ends up looking very intimidating to a newbie. In the "whatever happened to Hatrack" threads, everyone bemoans the decline of the forum and how "certain posters" are making things worse, without realizing that they have contributed as well. You are generally one of the more thoughtful and fairminded people here, but I think it's important (for everyone) to realize how easy it is to transition into an intense, aggressive argument - even when it is not anybody's fault, and be able to realize when its happening and take a step back.

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scifibum
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It's probably unfair of me to weigh in and then decline to engage with follow up discussion, but...I just don't have it in me to re-read and reassess in order to respond with sufficient thought to your last couple of posts, Rabbit. I'm sorry. I can see things from your point of view, I think. I didn't mean to dogpile on you, FWIW.
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Raymond Arnold
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Fake edit: I can see how if you had misinterpreted the initial dead wrong statement that Mucus' attempts to clarify would have seen far less sincere. I'm not sure whether I think the Dead Wrong statement was poorly communicated or if it just happened to combine with the bad use of "hypothetical" to make it seem that way. Either way I did think it was unnecessarily inflammatory.
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The Rabbit
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quote:
Originally posted by scifibum:
BTW, wanted to check:

quote:
The best brie is made from unpasteurized milk and is not legal to sell in the US.
I have seen raw milk cheese for sale out in the open in a grocery store. Probably about a month ago.

Which is more likely?
1) Some kinds of raw milk cheese are illegal to sell in the US but not others.
2) The store was selling contraband cheese out in the open.
3) The cheese was mislabeled.
(edit:)4) It's not actually illegal to sell raw milk cheese in the US.

Here is what I could find.

quote:
According to federal law, raw milk cannot be transported across state lines with the intent of human consumption. Unpasteurized cheeses are actually legal, as long as they have been aged at least 60 days in an environment held at 35 degrees Fahrenheit (1 degree Celsius). During the aging process, the cheese becomes more acidic, killing most potential sources of bacterial infection.
Am guessing that the two most likely explanations.

1. The cheese was aged more the 60 days so it was legal in the US.

2. The cheese was locally made and your state has more lenient regulations than the federal guidelines. Unless it was imported from outside the US or transported across state boundaries, it doesn't have to comply with federal law.


From what I understand, Brie in France must be aged under 5 weeks. So real French raw milk Brie isn't legal in the US.

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rivka
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Unless it's made here, presumably.
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The Rabbit
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quote:
Originally posted by rivka:
Unless it's made here, presumably.

Well it isn't real French Brie if its made here. There might be a pretty good facsimile of french brie made some where in the US. But pretty much by definition, if its made here it ain't real French Brie.
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Jhai
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Stepping in a bit late here, I'd like to point out that Mucus hasn't actually addressed the core argument that The Rabbit posted last page - which is that basically there are areas of the US which have a high enough and diverse enough population of Chinese to support top-notch resturants.

The statistics Mucus used to guesstimate the relative spread of Chinese citizens in the US don't really prove his point, either. Immigrant populations in the US are not often found within cities, except in the case of NYC. Instead, they're found in the suburbs around cities. Thus, there aren't really that many Chinese immigrants in San Francisco proper. But there are certainly enough Chinese immigrants in the whole of the Bay Area to support a few world-class Chinese restaurants.

To support with anecdotal evidence, I grew up on the border of Sunnyvale & Cupertino, and the closest two shopping centers to my home were entirely dominated by Chinese/Taiwanese grocery stores, restaurants, and shops. There was one British pub at one, and a dance studio at the other, and every other store had its sign in both Chinese & English - or just Chinese. My high school Chinese friends - all of whom were 1st-generation immigrants from Taiwan, Hong Kong, or mainland China - said to a one that the Taiwanese noodle shop around the corner from my house served better noodles than they had ever had back home. We went at least once a week for a late lunch after class once the oldest of us got a driving license.

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Raymond Arnold
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quote:
Well it isn't real French Brie if its made here. There might be a pretty good facsimile of french brie made some where in the US. But pretty much by definition, if its made here it ain't real French Brie.
There is a certain irony here, and I can't tell whether it was intentional.

I would like to say (perhaps a bit late) that I like American Brie fine but don't think it's the best thing in the world, which probably means I'd make a good test subject for Samprimary's earlier hypothesis that an American who thought Brie was "alright" would be impressed by French Brie.

I do not like Swiss or goat cheese in the slightest.

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The Rabbit
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quote:
There is a certain irony here, and I can't tell whether it was intentional.
Not really. I am unaware of any standards that restrict what can be called genuine Chinese cuisine. But France has all kinds of laws that define very specifically what foods can be called genuine french X, and to be called Brie, it doesn't simply have to be made in France -- it has to be made in a particular region of france. In fact the difference between Camembert and Brie is solely the region in which they are made, which results in very subtle differences in the milk, the bacteria and the molds. And these in turn result in subtle differences in the cheese which cheese connoiseurs will tell you are noticeable. In France, the distinctive characteristics of food that come from the subtle differences in soil, water, yeast, and bacteria that are unique to a given region, or even a given vineyard or cheese factory, are really important. That is why the typical grocery in France offers so many different cheese.

Maybe there are foods like that in China. If so, then I can see justification for claiming that you can't get authentic X outside of a specific regions of China. But if that's true, it hasn't been argued yet.

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Raymond Arnold
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Fair enough.
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The Rabbit
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Oh, I should also add that simply because something isn't "real French Brie" does not mean it isn't as good or even better than "real Brie". I'm completely willing to entertain the possibility that someone somewhere in the US is making a soft raw milk Brie style cheese that is very good. And if someone reported that a French friend thought the Brie style cheese made locally somewhere in North America was even better than the authentic French Brie, I'd very interested in trying a sample of the cheese.
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rivka
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quote:
Originally posted by The Rabbit:
But France has all kinds of laws that define very specifically what foods can be called genuine french X, and to be called Brie, it doesn't simply have to be made in France -- it has to be made in a particular region of france.

Ah, I knew that was true for wine, but didn't realize it was true for cheese too.
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Mucus
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quote:
Originally posted by The Rabbit:
Not really. I am unaware of any standards that restrict what can be called genuine Chinese cuisine. But France has all kinds of laws that define very specifically what foods can be called genuine ...

Technically, this is less an indication that there aren't standards for what is called Chinese cuisine rather than simply that mainland China isn't exactly a nation of laws, for the obvious reasons. Thus, on the whole, it hasn't really got around to this kind of thing.

I know Japan is starting this kind of thing and I expect that China will eventually too, for better or for worse.

quote:
Officials in Tokyo, concerned that diners around the globe are getting a less-than-genuine taste of their nation's cuisine, are devising a sort of bureaucratic Zagat guide that will confer a stamp of authenticity on restaurants that meet the government's standards.

In California, where Asian cuisines are mixed and matched in a blender of ethnicities and subcultures, the plan could be a recipe for contention. Only about 10% of the state's 3,000 Japanese restaurants are Japanese-owned, with many now operated by Koreans, Chinese and Vietnamese.

That has left some local restaurateurs wondering whether nationality could become a litmus test for authenticity.

That said, I'm fairly dubious about the idea that trying to enforce these kind of things is really a good thing.
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Mucus
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quote:
Originally posted by Jhai:
But there are certainly enough Chinese immigrants in the whole of the Bay Area to support a few world-class Chinese restaurants.

As I said, I think I can accept the idea that there are two metropolitan areas in the US that have a sufficient Chinese population to at least be arguably in the same ballpark as Toronto.

But there are two different assertions that are of interest after resurrecting the thread.

quote:
Originally posted by The Rabbit:
... you can very frequently get better Chinese food in North America than you find in China.

This is the one I found the most dubious. First, if we're accepting of the fact that there are only 2 out of 52 states that even have food that is even debatable to be in the same neighbourhood as Toronto or Vancouver, then this is pretty hefty. It means even any backwater province in China has better Chinese food than 96% of America and that is without even bringing out the heavy hitters like Hong Kong, Shanghai, or Beijing.

This to me is not frequent. It means I could say something like "you can very frequently travel by high-speed rail in the US" or I can frequently buy Betamax videos in stores. I can understand the relative nature of this though.

On the other hand, a "few world-class restaurants"? Sure. No problem.

quote:
He said this was both because better quality ingredients are available in North America and because one can find foods from all regions of China in north American cities where as in China one tends to find regional dishes only in their region.
First, I don't accept the premise that better quality ingredients are available in North America. Chinese food evolved with ingredients that were available in the area, ingredients that even now tend to be exported in great quantity to support overseas demand. But shipping cuts into freshness and Chinese food relies on freshness.

For example, high standards for freshness explain why wet markets survive in Hong Kong while even less fresh supermarkets can shut down in New York leaving whole areas with little fresh food.

quote:
New York may be a foodie paradise, but it’s also full of food deserts. So says the city’s planning department, which last year reported that some three million New Yorkers live in neighborhoods with few fresh food options. Traditional groceries and supermarkets have shut down, to be replaced by fast food and drug store chains.
...
The government’s involvement in turn reflects a cultural value. As I toured the wet markets with my 20-something translator and her 73-year-old grandmother, the older woman explained: it’s the freshness that supermarkets couldn’t beat. Hong Kong’s Cantonese cuisine (much lighter than what you’ll find in most American Chinese restaurants) depends on fresh ingredients, and local standards are high. The grandmother pointed out what “fresh” meant: live fish, not chilled; poultry still warm from slaughter; vegetables not wrapped in plastic.

Marketing studies back up this explanation. They also note that wet-market standards of freshness will likely survive the recent privatization, even if some of the markets do not.

http://freakonomics.blogs.nytimes.com/2009/03/11/food-deserts-a-guest-post/

Sometimes it simply means that certain local foods do not get exported because they are not optimal for long distance transport.
quote:
This little town, a 90-minute train ride west of Shanghai, is a world away from Georgia. There's no Peachtree Street, no peach pie, no peach ice cream. About all Yangshan has are the juiciest, most delicious peaches on earth.
...
Yet in an age when Australian lamb and Kobe beef from Japan wing their way around the world, most Asian fruits remain thousands of miles from U.S. kitchens.
...
In the U.S., peach technology produces a very different product. "It's unfortunate that many of our peaches are bred to have superior shelf life and exterior color," says Karen Caplan, chief executive of Frieda's Inc., a Los Alamitos, Calif., high-end distributor of imported and domestic produce. "The growers don't focus on flavor. They refrigerate them in transit, put them on the shelf, and they go mealy."

"The whole fruit industry in this country is about decorating stores," says John Driver, a Modesto, Calif., apricot grower who sends his fruit to farmers markets around San Francisco. "They're looking for size, color and hardness, but people don't want to eat the things."

http://online.wsj.com/article/SB10001424052970203946904574300192082040918.html

I could probably find more, but thats what I have come across in recent memory.

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malanthrop
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We've gone past cigarettes and moved on to soft drinks as the demon of national health, next is cheese. Cheese lovers, get ready to pay your fair share. [Smile]
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