Chink Speaks

Finally releasing my first album! Thanks to Enmanuel RomanAndré Giles ChávezHiroki Miura for rehearsing, performing, and recording these whacky songs with me! Also, huge shout out to Cristobal Cruz-Garcia who spent hours recording these songs in two studios! Gustaf Claesson was also a champ assistant at the second session at the Record Co. Xavier Puig thank you for joining us on”Raindance.”

Lisa did the awesome artwork for this album. She also wrote most of the lyrics for “Raindance.” There are lots of other cool paintings that will be upload on my website that I still need to finish….

Last but not least, thank you Renato for helping me compose and record “The Walk”!

Chink Speaks investigates time and space. Namely, the ways in which race, capitalism, and technology interact with our time and space.


Veganism, Christianity, and Capitalism

It’s great if you can be totally vegan. But, these are the facts: 84% of vegans and vegetarians return to meat. We live in a society that is built on cheap meat, factory farming, labor exploitation, etc. An individual can only do so much to alter such structural issues. This is why I actually think a utilitarian model of veganism is more effective than “animal rights.” Rights are derived from Enlightenment thinkers like Kant and Locke, who echo their Christian upbringing. Christianity, by this point, was shaped and molded by capitalism. They already had a conception of being “on time,” of the bureaucracy, and of the factory. There were “rules” that needed to be enforced, and they were “absolutely inviolable.” A recipe for disaster. Hannah Arendt rightfully pointed out the critical flaws of “rights” with regards to the Holocaust.

Nevertheless, I don’t think utilitarianism is the answer. There is no clear answer. This is a political and ethical issue. We require a radical departure from ordinary diet, which cannot be fully mapped out and imagined in the present. We are not going back to hunter-gatherer societies — or a vegan utopia that strangely resembles the present with capitalism and all that (I mean, they’re asking us to fight capitalism with capitalist consumption!) Just like our need to radically depart from capitalism, the patriarchy, and white supremacy, the future is uncertain and beyond our myopic imagination. It is not our fault that we have a stunted imagination. Neoliberalism did this to us. We were conditioned to be nostalgic over the future that never happened. We were conditioned to find the present fatalistic. It robbed of us our ability to imagine the future. Yet, it is up to us to dream and imagine. To live and eat differently. So different that it is unrecognizable, unintuitive. To this aim, we should merely use relics of the past like rights or utilitarianism as mere tools, rather than as ends in and of themselves.

Favorite Anime Shows


  1. Revolutionary Girl Utena
  2. K-On!
  3. Neon Genesis Evangelion
  4. Gurren Lagann
  5. Space Dandy
  6. Hunter X Hunter
  7. Monster
  8. Bakemonogatari
  9. Kyousougiga

My preferences changed over the years. I think I like shows that are lighter nowadays. K-On! was probably my turning point. Loving that show made me realize how much I have prevented myself from just enjoying happiness.

K-Pop vs. J-Pop

K-Pop vs. J-Pop. This whole debate has a much more sinister backdrop than many assume.

Japan was destroyed by WWII. During its recovery, Japan copied and adapted the West. Like contemporary China, Japan developed its economy through developing infant industries. These infant industries shamelessly took ideas from the West. Frequently, the West criticized Japan for “stealing their patents and technology.” They were derided as “copy cats.” J-Pop is the product of this general trajectory. Neither rock nor funk originated from Japan.

Does this mean J-Pop is worse? Hell no. J-Pop is amazing. So is J-Rock or their Jazz. Japanese culture is fascinating. Often, J-Pop is more interesting than K-Pop — and vice versa. My point is that the reasons why we enjoy J-Pop or K-Pop might not be so historically innocent.

For example, South Korea’s pop industry gained popularity through westernization. Early K-Pop groups were shamelessly designed after western acts. K-Pop also shamelessly borrowed from J-Pop’s adaptation of western influences. This is why early K-Pop groups look like Japanese visual kei.

Many cite J-Pop or K-Pop’s musical attributes as their reasons for success. But, those musical attributes cannot exist without their economic conditions. Both genres gained popularity as their countries became extremely wealthy. Their industry was built from the bottom through severe exploitation: boy bands and girl groups signed “slave contracts.” Many were, and are, forced to undergo plastic surgery. They are worked to death; regularly, artists collapse from fatigue, sleep deprivation, and malnutrition. Their bodies are closely monitored for the “ideal weight.” Cheap, exploited labor, coupled with large ambitions, yielded huge profit. Modern production, especially in the 20th century, could not be accomplished without modern equipments. Modern genres cannot be copied without exposure to such influences, which requires a modern economy.

Furthermore, the musical attribute argument assumes that Nepalese or Thai music is not good enough. Do you really think Asia does not have creative talent outside Japan or Korea? Frankly, we’re just looking for different takes on western genres, rather than searching for genuine beauty and creativity. To prove my point: why is traditional Korean music not popular? Is it less beautiful or creative than K-Pop? No, it’s because westerners do not understand traditional Korean beauty.

So what do we really mean by the success of J-Pop or K-Pop? Mostly, we’re talking about economic success. K-Pop, for example, became a hot topic after its widespread success in Asia and later in the West. But, it’s not any kind of economic success. Indian music is loved by many, but it’s not mentioned alongside K-Pop or J-Pop. What kind of economic success are we talking about then? Well, we are referring to the perception of “successful westernization.” Many Asian fans praised K-Pop for its successful take on western culture. For instance, China regularly talks about trying to “replicate Korea’s successful westernization.” If you’re successful with music that is not western enough, then you’re not praised alongside K-Pop.

In other words, we have internalized the white gaze. What is beautiful is what we perceive to be favored by the White Race. This is why it’s so important for K-Pop to be “recognized by the West.” Great success in Asia was not good enough. K-Pop leaders like YG and JYP have always wanted to be “recognized by the West.” K-Pop fans are always trying to spread K-Pop to westerners. J-Pop fans claim to be less concerned with the white gaze, but if your entire economy is a copy of western capitalism, musical genres, etc…. You just think you are less attached to your chains. Any fan of Japanese anime or music know, first hand, the vast influence of the west. This is the truth behind K-Pop vs. J-Pop: we are hostages to white money and the white gaze. J-Pop is the relic of such power dynamics, and K-Pop is its grotesque chimera.

P.S. I am not claiming that we should not copy the west. That the west are entitled to their “patents.” Fuck that. Germany, Britain, France, and the US all developed their economies the same way. They stole from each other, built up their infant industries, until they were large enough to participate in “freer trade.” European music is just a copy of American music — and vice versa. The problem is that we are practicing this uncritically, without even considering its racial and power dynamics. How must we go beyond such cycles, if we do not even understand why K-Pop or American Pop is the way it is? For example, the history of American Pop includes the exploitation of Africans and African Americans. This makes the whole picture even more complex. Reducing such complex issues to “cool music” is not acceptable.

Bernie Sanders, North Korea, Fear-mongering

Recently, Bernie Sanders has criticized Trump for talking up North Korea, accusing him of harboring admiration for dictators. Such criticisms are everywhere nowadays. I have a problem with Bernie Sanders’ approach to this issue. We were always at war with North Korea. Sanctions are not meant as a surgical blow against the leadership of any country, they’re meant as a general destabilizing strategy aimed at making life so unlivable, that in theory they might rise up against their leadership. It is considered by military experts as a “soft-war” strategy. In the course of US-SK military drills, the most advanced bombers in history, stealth B-2s and B-52s, carried out simulated nuclear bombing attacks right on North Korea’s borders. In 1994, Bill Clinton almost bombed a nuclear facility in North Korea. George W. Bush provoked North Korea by putting it in the “Axis of Evil,” and then pressured banks to freeze all North Korean transactions, including legitimate trade. Trump tweeted about nuclear Armageddon a few months ago. We were always at war.

Then, Trump met with Kim Jong Un. This is the greatest step towards world peace in my life time. Yet, Bernie Sanders’ priority is to lump North Korea together with Saudi Arabia and Russia, while perpetuating the stereotype that North Korea is irrational, violent, and dangerous. First, this doesn’t even make sense logically. Saudi Arabia was always on America’s good side. Just a few months ago, Trump was calling the North Korean leader Rocket Man on Twitter. They cannot be grouped together as part of a trend. Second, this same rhetoric was used by Bush to put NK in the “Axis of Evil.” It was also used in South Korea to drive up nuclear tension to an unprecedented level. Bernie Sanders is more concerned with the partisan politics of deposing Trump by calling him a dictator than world peace.

What makes this worse is that Sanders knows how his criticism is going to be received by the Liberal base. Rachel Maddow is selling conspiracy theories about Russia controlling this entire peace process. U.S. Democratic Socialists are spreading false memes about North Korea’s track record on denuclearization pledges (they didn’t drop out, because they’re crazy; Bush called them the “Axis of Evil” and didn’t live up to his side of the promise.) Political cartoons of Kim Jong Un as a chink with a tiny penis is spreading everywhere. Some Liberals are claiming that Trump should have criticized Kim at the summit; some even think he should have been arrested. It is dangerous for half of America to lose sight of the importance of this meeting.

Plus, there is no evidence that Trump is trying to be a dictator. Franklin Roosevelt celebrated Joseph Stalin as “truly representative of the heart and soul of Russia.” Richard Nixon, in a toast on his historic first trip to China, compared Mao Zedong and the communist leadership to George Washington and the other leaders of the American revolution. Ronald Reagan was equally enthusiastic about Rios Montt, the genocidal president of Guatemala. “I know that President Rios Montt is a man of great personal integrity and commitment,” Reagan said in 1982.

Do not lose sight of what is important. Do not let your base fall into jingoistic paranoia. Instead of merely criticizing this meeting, Dems should be adding to the greatest step towards peace. America is the most important piece of this puzzle. The US army is there, the sanctions are killing NK, and the US controls the South Korean military. America cannot be so divided on this issue. John McCain and many conservatives despise this deal. Dems cannot be another source of division. I have a sense that they want this to fail. I expected better from Bernie Sanders.


Scientists are not skeptics; they are theologians.

As Thomas Kuhn famously remarked in the Structure of Scientific Revolutions, “Perhaps the most striking feature of [normal science] is how little they aim to produce major novelties, conceptual, or phenomenal.” (Kuhn, 35) In fact, an extensive study by Bernard Barber reveals that scientists are intolerant of new discoveries.[1] Priestly never accepted Lavoisier’s oxygen theory. Kelvin never accepted Maxwell’s electro-magnetic theory. It took more than a century to convert scientists to Copernicus’ heliocentrism. Newton was not accepted for half a century on the Continent. There were good reasons for such resistance. Lavoisier’s theory could not cope with the proliferation of new gases. For a while, the phlogiston theory could legitimately claim that it solved many older problems better. For example, the phlogiston theory explained why bodies burned and why metals had so many more properties in common than their ores unlike Lavoisier’s. Copernicus’ theory was not more accurate than Ptolemy’s and it did not lead directly to any improvement in the calendar. It took time for the wave theory of light to be more successful than the corpuscular theory in resolving the polarization effects which were the principal cause of optical crisis. Throughout the 18th century, scientists failed to derive the motion of moon from Newton’s law of motion.

From reading the paragraph above, it is easy to assume that scientists were hesitant due to reasonable doubt. That is certainly a part of it. But, Kuhn’s book reveals a deeper truth about science: that it cannot function with deliberate skepticism. Normal science is an activity of puzzle-solving. After accepting a paradigm, normal science tries to articulate the theory through observation and research. Paradigm “forces scientists to investigate some part of nature in detail and depth that would otherwise be unimaginable.” (Kuhn, 25) Paradigms in their early states are always insufficient, as evident from the examples above. It requires faith from the first followers of the new paradigm to carry on the torch, until a generation of scientists verify through research and evidence that the new paradigm is better than the older paradigm. However, it is crucial to note that until that moment of total conversion, there is no way to resolve the conflicts between the two paradigms. They are both legitimate ways of making sense of the world, and, for a while, it is often the case that the older paradigm corresponds to facts better than the new one. The new paradigm might explain the anomalies that led the older paradigm to crisis, but it is not necessarily equipped with the means to explain many of the phenomena the older paradigm spent centuries researching.

In other words, verification or determination of theory by evidence is not a doctrine. Evidence only gets you so far. Imagine a person who keeps doubting their world view every time their sense data (evidence) contradicted it. That person would have rejected Newtonian mechanics altogether. Astronomers in the 18th century failed to derive the motion of planets from Newton’s law of motion. The evidence falsified the Newtonian world view, but these astronomers did not reject their theory. Instead, they hypothesized that, perhaps, there existed another planet that caused the mismatch of data with calculations. In other words, they postulated a non-observable entity to fit their calculations — an ad hoc hypothesis. Eventually, their telescopes detected the hypothesized planet and that is how they discovered Neptune. Evidence is not the only factor, and this makes convincing a scientist a difficult task.

Max Planck, surveying his own career in his Scientific Autobiography, sadly remarked that:

“a new scientific truth does not triumph by convincing its opponents and making them see the light, but rather because its opponents eventually die, and a new generation grows up that is familiar with it.”

A similar sentiment is echoed by Darin at the end of his Origin of Species:

“Although I am fully convinced of the truth of the views given in this volume…., I by no means expect to convince experienced naturalists whose minds are stocked with a multitude of facts all views, during a long course of years, from a point of view directly opposite to mind…[B]ut I look with confidence to the future, — to young and rising naturalists, who will be able to view both sides of the question with impartiality.”

Why is this the case? Kuhn explains this by pointing out that paradigms essentially determine the world view of an individual. Before Einstein’s theory of relativity, space was an absolute, immovable aspect of nature — and the world. In order to accept Einstein’s theory, one must begin to live in a world with curved space. Priestly regarded oxygen as dephlogisticated air, whereas Lavoisier called it oxygen. It is only in hindsight that we square these two incompatible world views. Can Newtonian dynamics really be derived from relativistic dynamics? With certain restrictions, it can resemble relativity, but we interpret that resemblance only because we know Einstein’s theory. Before Einstein, Newton’s theory was never interpreted it that way. In a Newtonian world, mass is conserved; in an Einsteinian one, mass is convertible with energy “Only at low relative velocities may the two be measured in the same way, and even then they must not be conceived to be the same.” (Kuhn, 102) It is not an easy task to convince a person who lives in a completely different world. This is why both Planck and Darwin believe that one can only convince the youth en masse, since they can be indoctrinated into looking at the world differently.

So far, we have seen that faith in theory and paradigm are large factors in the development of science. There are also other factors at play that might surprise some readers. For example, Copernicus’ work was influenced by social pressures like calendar reform. Medieval Philosophers’ criticisms of Aristotle, which led to the rise of Renaissance Neoplatonism, and other significant historical elements certainly had a part in the work of Copernicus as well. (Kuhn, 69) Many historians and philosophers argue that aesthetics played a role in Einstein formulating his theory of relativity.[2] It is certainly naïve then to conclude that science is a discipline full of skeptics, constantly challenging their most fundamental assumptions based on contradictory evidence. Science’s efficiency is based on its narrow scope of research and inquiry. In this way, science is structurally closer to theology than other disciplines.

Unlike other disciplines like art or psychology, research scientists are not concerned with the opinions of the public. Due to the importance of preserving the paradigm, scientists also approach their education ahistorically. Students are not taught to read primary sources like Newton’s Principia and its critics in a historical lens. This would allow the student to doubt the paradigm and experience the world from the viewpoint of a different paradigm. Science cannot exist or function without a paradigm; therefore, it is more important to indoctrinate the students into accepting the paradigm first. This is why science textbooks are treated like doctrine, whereas in philosophy textbooks are of secondary importance. In science, key figures and their texts are interpreted in an ahistorical lens; in other words, from the viewpoint of the current paradigm with cherry-picked excerpts in text books.

“Many scientific curricula do not ask even grad students to read works not written specifically for students. The few that do assign supplementary reading in research papers and monographs restrict such assignments to the most advanced courses and to materials that take up more or less where the available texts leave off. Until the very last stages in the education of a scientist, textbooks are systematically substituted for the creative scientific literature that made them possible. Given the confidence in their paradigms, which makes this educational technique possible, few scientists would wish to change it.” (Kuhn, 164)

The Bible is similarly interpreted by theologians as their primary source of indoctrination. Like scientists, theologians operate within the paradigm of trying to understand divinity. Despite their structural similarities, there exist stark differences between theology and science. Their methods of research, equipment, and fundamental assumptions are all drastically different. But, it is interesting to note their structural similarity, given the recent attack on religion from New Atheists and popular scientists.

For the perceptive reader, this question might dawn upon them: “why do science popularizers perpetuate the lie that scientists are skeptics?” or that “science is an accumulation of theories and evidence.” I believe the reason is political. New Atheists like Richard Dawkins, Steven Pinker, and Sam Harris are trying to spread a secular version of neoliberalism. Their outdated enlightenment thinking naturally leads to accepting a neoliberal, imperialist, and colonial narrative that deems feminism, Islam, and activism for social justice as “anti-science.” They disguise their patriarchal, capitalist, and imperialist politics in the name of Reason and Science. This is precisely what happened in the 19th century. Another reason is that science needs to regard itself as cumulative. It cannot anticipate an upcoming revolution. That would be unhealthy for the narrow and efficient practices of normal science. In order to proliferate puzzle-solving, they must approach their discipline in an ahistorical manner: as if they had always been operating under this paradigm. God cannot be questioned, even if the definition of God had changed. It is essential that you never reject God. Every conflict, therefore, is regarded as happening under the same umbrella.

Thomas Kuhn, The Structure of Scientific Revolutions

[1] Bernard Barber, “Resistance by Scientists to Scientific Discovery,” Scienc, CXXXIV (1961), 597-602.

[2] Engler, Gideon. “Einstein, His Theories, and His Aesthetic Considerations.” International Studies in the Philosophy of Science, vol. 19, no. 1, 2005, pp. 21–30., doi:10.1080/02698590500051068.




After Virtue

We are in a moral crisis. The unending arguments over abortion, health care, and gun control are symptoms of the flaws of modernity according to the philosopher Alasdair McIntyre. Modernity is a fragmented version of Aristotelian ethics; it demands an individualist worldview, despite the fact that our culture and vocabulary reflect a communitarian heritage. What this means is that our endless arguments stem from the fact that we lack a shared conception of the good; in other words, our moral systems are incommensurable. For instance, the central conflict between Kantianism and Utilitarianism is not that either is logically inconsistent; rather, it stems from the fact that each theory has a different conception of the good.

Both theories, in their best versions, follow logically from their stated premises; the problem is that these premises are merely stated. After realizing the heterogeneity of pleasures, the great utilitarian Henry Sidgwick concluded that moral beliefs couldn’t be argued and must be merely accepted —just trust your intuitions! Immanuel Kant argued that a rational agent is logically committed to the rules of morality in virtue of their rationality; in order to practice reason, one must possess the freedom and well being necessary for rational agency. This led Kant to the conclusion that one is entitled to such freedom and well being. Although it is logically necessary to possess such freedom and well being to practice reason, it does not necessarily lead to the conclusion that one is entitled to them. This is merely asserted by Kant. According to MacIntyre, Utilitarianism and Kantianism’s fundamental premises are merely stated in this way. This is why the arguments between the two are endless: they are fundamentally incommensurable.

After Virtue is primarily a diagnosis of this moral crisis. It analyzes various aspects of our culture, language, and society to demonstrate that modernity is indeed a fragmented version of Aristotelian ethics; furthermore, it argues that the inventions of modernity such as emotivism and individualism are the root causes of our moral predicament. One of the most striking features of the book is its analysis of modern social roles. The defining character of modernity is that of a bureaucratic manager. A manager pretends to be effective and morally neutral; a manager adjusts the means to ends in the most economically efficient manner. Plus, managerial expertise requires a set of law-like generalizations to justify the manager. Unsurprisingly, one can easily spot the manager: Liberalism pretends to be effective and morally neutral, Liberalism privileges economic methodologies and conceptions, and the Enlightenment fetishizes law-like generalizations. The most interesting aspect of the manager, in my opinion, is McIntyre’s discussion on the fetishization of law-like generalizations.

This fetish is particularly apparent in the social sciences; they present themselves as providing law-like generalizations, despite the lack of evidence and predictability that is characteristic of those fields. Unlike most scientists who follow the Enlightenment, McIntyre contends that the worth of a scientific discipline is not determined by its predictive power. He believes that this is the wrong criterion by which to judge the success of the social sciences, because their subject is vastly more complicated and unpredictable: language, groups of persons, entire nations, and the global market. They cannot make predictions and generalizations that are nearly as strong as those made by Physics or Biology; even the strongest arguments have counter-examples.

For example, two of the most famous studies in sociology do not follow the Popperian model of falsification. First, James C. Davies’s famous thesis in 1962 generalizes Tocqueville’s observation that the French Revolution occurred when a period of rising and, to some degree, gratified expectations was followed by a period of set-back when expectations continued to rise and were sharply disappointed.  Second, Rosalind and Ivo Feierabend (1966) generalized that the most and least modernized societies are the most stable and least violent, whereas those at midpoint in the approach to modernity are most liable to instability and political violence. There exist many counter-examples to both: Russian and Chinese Revolutions to Davies, and Political Violence in Latin America to Feierabend’s. Nonetheless, such counter-examples do not refute their status as salient generalizations in Sociology. There exist no counter-factuals that ultimately refute a generalization.

This is not a fact that cheapens these disciplines. It merely reflects just how complicated human beings are. We are intentional beings that can choose one act over another. Choice creates unpredictability. All of this is then further complicated by the fact that we are social and linguistic beings. We have to figure out how complex beings interact with each other unpredictably in complex structures like the market, the state, and language. It would be impudent of Social Scientists to expect the law-like generalizations one encounters in Science. This is why McIntyre argues that it is wrong to expect law-like generalizations regarding sociology, politics, and so on.

Why is it then that we fetishize such law-like generalizations? As I briefly mentioned above, it is tied to the philosophical framework assumed by modernity; that is, modernity’s attachment to the ideal of the bureaucratic manager. Under the bureaucracy of modernity, moral beliefs are treated as inconvenient features of persons that function far better when they are managed by an “efficient” and “economically practical” bureaucracy. The manager justifies their position by insisting that they have law-like generalizations regarding human nature and social institutions; furthermore, they boast that they can provide an efficient governing of a pluralist society without privileging one good over another. However, modernity does, in fact, assume a set of goods that are disguised as morally neutral; the philosopher Michael Sandel lays out a number of such goods in his great book, What Money Can’t Buy.

Modernity cannot make law-like generalizations, yet we obey its tenets without much argument; we argue within the confines of modernity that were designed to be endless. McIntyre suggests that we look to the past for answers to our problems. Across several chapters, McIntyre sketches the moral framework of past societies ranging from the Greeks to Medieval Christians. What they all had in common was a shared conception of the good. Such goods like prudence, justice, and courage were achieved through the virtues that are human qualities acquired through practice. Furthermore, they recognized that a person is embedded in a social context: I am a son, a citizen, and a musician. Personal identity is a narrative that unifies one’s life from past to present, and my narrative is embedded in other narrative such as family, school, and friendship.

The problem of modernity is not only that it brings about endless arguments, but also that it is incompatible with our ordinary intuitions. We come from a past, in which our obligations and personal identity are constituted by the social context to which we belong. My community consumes most of my actions and thoughts; I act and think as a student and a family member, rather than a rational agent with his or her individual interests. When we judge a person’s character, we judge them by, more or less, a table of virtues, rather than whether they follow the categorical imperative or whether they pass the utilitarian calculus. The project of modernity is doomed to fail, because it cannot dissipate our communitarian past with its endless arguments and managerial fetish.

After Virtue turned out to be far more damning in its criticism than I anticipated. For the numerous Kantians and Utilitarians out there, this will be a group of pointed criticisms; one will not only find attacks on Kant and Sidgwick, but also criticisms of Rawls and Nozick. Indeed, this book is highly political; it analyzes Marx and Weber within the framework of the book’s communitarian argument. For my Marxist friends, this is not an easy read. Despite McIntyre’s admiration of Marx, he believes that Marx and his followers ultimately fall under the same moral framework that he takes down in this book. This is very much true in my own experience. Marxists have great criticisms of the managerial and bureaucratic aspects of Capitalism and Liberalism; yet, their solutions to Capitalism always end up Kantian or Utilitarian. It is either to follow an abstract principle of universality, or “to achieve communism by any means necessary.” What this suggests is that the faults of Capitalism and Liberalism are not merely economic and political: the error is modernity itself. By rejecting the Aristotelian system of virtues, any project is destined to fail no matter what social or economic structure they adopt. Undoubtedly, this is McIntyre’s deadliest gesture, because it indicates a deep pessimism about the project of modernity as a whole. As he discusses Trotsky’s later writings and his pessimism towards a communist future, McIntyre asks us to not fall into pessimism —it does not logically follow that we have no way out! But, the reader comes away with a dreadful feeling that we might never resolve the moral crisis; Aristotle has been dead for thousands of years.