December 30, 2017

Whining about "whining."

I am so tired of Pajama Media stuff like this.
One of the nice things about being a writer in 2018 is that SJWs will continue to find new and absurd ways to get their feelings hurt. Even if nothing else is happening, I can always count on a group of SJWs providing me with something to write about. This time, a horde of them provided me a gift by taking to Twitter to express their dismay at a photo of chopsticks accompanying a New York Times story about a new Japanese restaurant....
The NYT deserved the ribbing it got in tweets that were not "whining" but well-aimed gibes like:

The phrase "inspired by Asia" — which really is ridiculous — was in the NYT restaurant review. Asia's a big place. And the photograph is ludicrous, and to mock it is not to be an SJW or an absurdly easily hurt snowflake.

Where is the diner supposed to sit, and how do you eat that steak without a fork and a big knife? It reminds me of the May 6, 1990 entry in David Sedaris's diary:
A man at the IHOP tonight lifted his entire steak with his fork and held it before his mouth, chewing off hunks of it.

62 comments:

rhhardin said...

Asian diners use their swords on the steak.

Gahrie said...

The author and the photographer were trying to create feelings, not convey facts. You of all people should understand and approve of this.

Gahrie said...

Plus...couldn't this post be described as whining about whining about whining?

BarrySanders20 said...

Confucius say man with only 1 chopstick go hungry.

tim maguire said...

I follow links to PJMedia, I do not go directly there. They are far less substantial and less interesting than I expected when they first formed.

BarrySanders20 said...

Confucius say man who fart in church sit in own pew

Oso Negro said...

If we were to draw a Venn diagram of the mockery, we would see that mockery of SJWs is overlapping with mockery of cosmopolitans in this case. Big city folk love nothing better than to learn a little something about a foreign culture and then lord it over rubes who are less informed. In the rare event that the rubes get to take the cosmopolitan to say, a shooting range, the reverse is also true. In general, SJWs are also cosmopolitan, and deserve as much mockery as possible. They will be defeated with laughter or with bullets. Better laughter, wouldn't you agree?

jwl said...

I taught English in South Korea twenty years ago, the chopsticks on left sticking up, that is bad etiquette because it represents death.

I remember a couple of Koreans that I was eating with getting flustered when I left my chopsticks standing up in my bowl of rice because it meant that either I or someone close to me was going to die soon.

BDNYC said...

Whining about whining about whining.

Crap, am I whining?

John Lynch said...

Don't read PJM? It's boring.

robother said...

To "Asians," a steak is just a really big potsticker.

traditionalguy said...

At the fancy Steak House the other night , the fancy waiter asked me if I wanted the fat trimmed off of my Delmonico/Ribeye steak. That made me feel awkward to be a Fat Eater, but if I wanted no fat, I would have ordered the filet mignon. Another social rule to consider?? so I hesitated, but said no I like the fat. The fancy waiter then approved of my choice. Good waiter.

rehajm said...

I'm so tired of all the whinging about whining.

rehajm said...

Talk about your cultural appropriation:The United States exports millions of chopsticks to China. Your chopsticks are from Georgia y'all.

tcrosse said...

There are Food Stylists, who prepare food for photography, not necessarily for eating. They have a bag of tricks for making food look more attractive for the camera. McLuhan said that color photography has done more for food than eating has.

Ann Althouse said...

"The author and the photographer were trying to create feelings, not convey facts."

Yeah, I know. The feeling is: What a stupid photograph.

Ann Althouse said...

We're gonna whine so much you may even get tired of whining and you'll say please, please Althouse, it's too much whining! We can't take it anymore!

Ann Althouse said...

"There are Food Stylists, who prepare food for photography, not necessarily for eating. They have a bag of tricks for making food look more attractive for the camera...."

But these styles go in and out of style, and that photograph looks like something for a new edition of "The Gallery of Regrettable Food."

Oso Negro said...

Blogger Ann Althouse said...
We're gonna whine so much you may even get tired of whining and you'll say please, please Althouse, it's too much whining! We can't take it anymore!


That's pretty funny. Much less subtle than your usual written humor.

john said...

Well, it is named the "Jade 60 Asian Steakhouse", even though the write-up is titled "Upper East Side’s fancy Chinese food war is back on".

So that's a Chinese steak you're looking at.

Ann Althouse said...

I'm not whining about whining about whining.

I criticizing the use of the word "whining" to refer to things that are not really whining. The word is losing all meaning, and it's a cheap criticism.

The fact is, the tweets about the chopsticks were funny and lighthearted. I've complained about people on the right and the left having an inadequate sense of humor and sense of lightheartedness. They think other people are just outraged and grimly grousing when that's not a fair characterization at all.

Michael P said...

As much as I would like to like PJM, they have devolved into a right-wing version of clickbait and hyperbolic articles, with a lot more outrage than actual coverage. Their whining is much of a piece with the left-wing whining they complain about.

It has gotten to the point that I wish Instapundit didn't live on their server: I have JavaScript off on my phone, and I am not about to whitelist pjmedia.com because of the junk on the rest of their site.

MayBee said...

"jwl said...
I taught English in South Korea twenty years ago, the chopsticks on left sticking up, that is bad etiquette because it represents death. "

Exactly! I've lived in Hong Kong and Tokyo. I should say, "I've lived in Asia". Sticking your chopsticks like that (like a tombstone) is really not to be done.

Michael K said...

I prefer "Whinging."

Ann Althouse said...

"Well, it is named the "Jade 60 Asian Steakhouse", even though the write-up is titled "Upper East Side’s fancy Chinese food war is back on". So that's a Chinese steak you're looking at."

1. The article says the steak part of the menu is NOT intended to be like the Korean and Japanese steakhouses in NYC. It doesn't even say that it's not Chinese. What it's not is not Korean and Japanese. What is is American.

2. The other items like dumplings are said to be "Asian inspired" and not specifically any area of Asia (though the word "Jade," to my American ears, implies China). I'm reading "Jade 60 Steakhouse" to mean it's a type of restaurant that evokes 1960, when there was no authentic Asian food in the US at all. So it's supposed to be sort of ridiculous and retro. Retro-American.

3. That might be that sort of ironic "hipster racism." But it might be making fun of old Americans, which is always okay. So much room for misunderstanding. Maybe one day will have self-compassion about all our misunderstandings (such as the idea that Jesus was 6 feet tall and many of the other subjects I've been writing about).

4. In this context, the placement of the chopsticks is exactly right: It says, this isn't authentic. This is Americans laughing at ourselves. Join the fun.

Anonymous said...

That looks like a serving plate, not a dinner table. It is also possible that the dishes with chopsticks are meant for the table and the server will cut the meat before customers get to eat. That usually happens in a barbecue joints, but I do not see why it should be limited in that setting.

Having said that, I assume there is a "dramatization" of the serving plate for whatever the author/cameraman/editor felt like saying about that restaurant. But I do not see what the big deal is either way. Maybe Chopsticks are simply a decoration. Is there anything wrong with that?

Ann Althouse said...

I only go to PJM because it's linked on Instapundit, which I read every day. I do feel there's something to insiderish about the linking Instapundit does with low-value stuff at PJM, but I know some people at Instapundit feel that way about Inst. linking to me.

Sean Gleeson said...

I agree that the NYT photo, and its “inspired by Asia” phrase, deserve mockery. There is no reason to suppose that tweets pointing out these risible errors are ipso facto from SJWs.

But the HuffPo article that the PJM story linked to, that definitely had the reek of SJW moral preening.

“The paper issued a statement agreeing with disgruntled readers, but many people felt the original article reflected a cultural blind spot that might only be resolved by putting more people of color into top positions.”

“Many people felt.” But none actually expressed this feeling in a quote, so we have to trust that the writer must have sensed these millions of feelings like Obi Wan Kenobi or something.

Then “only be resolved“ — resolved? So this is not merely a funny mistake, but a serious crisis to be resolved. How?

See, I would have guessed that preventing these silly mistakes would involve assigning particular food stories to writers and photo stylists familiar with the featured cuisine. But that’s not it at all. There is only one way: “putting more people of color into top positions.” Of course.

As bad as the NYT story was, the HuffPo article is many times stupider.

Saint Croix said...

A man at the IHOP tonight lifted his entire steak with his fork and held it before his mouth, chewing off hunks of it.

I used to eat at a restaurant called The Press Box that had 2 amazing things:

circle fries (which are way better than ordinary fries)

and a Strip Steak sandwich.

The sandwich consisted of a 10 ounce New York Strip in a french baguette. It wasn't cut, it wasn't chopped, it was a steak in a french baguette. And it's a sandwich, so you eat it the way you eat any sandwich. You pick it up with your hands and bite into it. But since the steak wasn't chopped or cut, you got to rip into the steak with your teeth, caveman style.

Awesome. Way cool.

Ambrose said...

NYT could have said "inspired by the Orient" - but that word was banned a generation ago. Asia is a substitute, albeit a poor one because people will point out that Asia is large and includes many non-Oriental places and cultures. But here we are.

tcrosse said...

I'm reading "Jade 60 Steakhouse" to mean it's a type of restaurant that evokes 1960, when there was no authentic Asian food in the US at all

It's at 116 E. 60th Street.

Annie C said...

The photograph just made me hungry. Sausage gravy and biscuits coming soon.

What are those green artichoke heart looking things in the upper bowl?

tds said...

Food arrangement on the photo seems indeed to be inspired by Asia, but strangely not by usual chopsticks etiquette. Source of the inspiration in the photo below:

Hair sticks

Fernandistein said...

SJWs will continue to find new and absurd ways

I sure hope no scantily clad gold-diggers had their butts pinched !

Speaking of inappropriate, are chopsticks used to eat Prisoners of fat baked Comedy ?

Charlie Currie said...

I don't know what kind of person would look at that picture and see sticks...all I saw was steak. Must be the glass half empty crowd.

Marcus said...

1. "Whining". My Irish mother would say, "Stop your whingeing" or "don't be such a "whinge bag". That was usually her _only_ warning when I whined about something inconsequential.

2. David Sedaris. I have read and/or listened to all of his books. I am currently reading his essays published in The New Yorker, hunting them down. Though sometimes his writing can be depressing, I devoured his "Diaries" and laughed out loud in places where he described what was going on. I wanted to point this out to readers in case they think you stumbled upon his diaries and read them surreptitiously. A great book that starts slow, but becomes a delight that you do not want to end.

John said...

There is no H in winning.

No Hillary either

John Henry

rcocean said...

Usually if you see Asia or Oriental in the name of Chinese/Japanese Restaurant its bad news.

And of course, you can eat steak with chopsticks. You just have to cut it up first.

tcrosse said...

In NYC a lot of Chinese restaurants are pitched at Jews. There are more of them than Chinese in New York.

Ray said...

I agree with the idea sjw keep on doing crazier and crazier stuff. The content at pj media varies. Roger Simon is A+.

One of the authors is suspended by Twitter and no idea why. Bridget Johnson.

Angel-Dyne said...

AA: But these styles go in and out of style, and that photograph looks like something for a new edition of "The Gallery of Regrettable Food."

I was thinking about this earlier this morning, looking through an old (1986) "coffee table" cookbook. Even accounting for changes in style, the food in older cookbooks often looks very unappetizing, even in the swank-iest publications, due, I assume, to the limitations of the photography/printing technology. Exquisitely "styled" and expertly photographed, it always seems to have a sickly greenish cast, regardless of light source. I understand that food photography is a difficult art.

And yes, the "inspired by Asia" headline was really stupid.

Angel-Dyne said...

Marcus: 1. "Whining". My Irish mother would say, "Stop your whingeing" or "don't be such a "whinge bag". That was usually her _only_ warning when I whined about something inconsequential.

My all-time favorite parental response to whining was my Irish Dad's "...and the people in hell want ice water".

Eric said...

Which culture is being insulted by the obvious implication that all of these course are eaten simultaneously?

Paco Wové said...

People getting their irony wires crossed.

Clearly, the photographer added the gratuitous and pointless chopsticks as a way of emphasizing "See? This obviously American food says it's Asian! Get it? The irony!" But the hypersensitive readers saw the chopsticks and immediately thought "That oblivious bumpkin photographer thought those chopsticks were appropriate! Oh, the outrage! Minorities hardest hit! Give us money and powerful jobs!" In vain the photographer protests, "No, man! I'm cool and hip and ironic, like you!"

Thus does cosmopolitanism eat itself.

EDH said...

Instead of Althouse "hillbillys" maybe it's Althouse ham and eggers?

D.E. Cloutier said...

Subj: "Is it live or is it Memorex?"

We see more fake news these days. Now we need more fake food from Japan.

Wiki's definition of fake food: "A model or replica of a food item made from plastic, wax, resin or similar material. These models are commonly used in restaurant street displays in Japan to represent the dishes available inside."

Link with photos:
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fake_food

dwick said...

Don't get me started on Althouse stuff I am so tired of...

I Have Misplaced My Pants said...


A man at the IHOP tonight lifted his entire steak with his fork and held it before his mouth, chewing off hunks of it.

David Sedaris is a glorious bullshit artist and some percentage of what he says is either made up outright or wildly exaggerated. That said, occasionally my kids will talk me into going Cici's Pizza, which for those of you who don't live in Texas is the world's cheapest and shittiest pizza buffet, and I have been amused and appalled at seeing people holding their pizza aloft and gnawing at it while walking from the buffet to their tables.

One of the Pants marriage's favorite memories was the year we had Thanksgiving at the Cracker Barrel. That was an experience for the ages.

Bad Lieutenant said...

Food looks korrekt but not awesome, chopsticks styling is affected which is the source of all lameness, writer/fotog --> rube(s), racism claims overblown, pjm entitled to popcorn. The green is overdone bok choy. Don't go. Resto should sue or protest lameness but perhaps better to suffer quietly than fight with NYT. Either way they close within a year, which is a pity because the dim sum show some talent, but that photo murders them.

tcrosse said...

There are some really disgusting food commercials on TV, which makes me glad we don't have Smellovision.

Karen said...

Actually, the tweets could have whined a bit more. The upright chopsticks poked into the veggie dish are absolutely forbidden in polite Japanese society (not sure about the rest of Asia) since that signifies death.

Real American said...

Mocking isn't whining.

Balfegor said...

I've seen some of the comments/complaints saying that the placement of the chopsticks is similar to funerary rites in China/Korea/Japan. I can't speak to China -- maybe people in China stick chopsticks in food like that during their funerary rites -- but at least in my family, we don't do it that way in the Korean rite (I specify, because there are some differences between Korean jesa and Chinese practice, e.g. we place odd numbers of food on the altar, but apparently Chinese use even numbers or don't care.) When we place chopsticks on food during the memorial rite, we stir up the food slightly, and place them neatly (oriented towards the memorial tablet/photograph), not sprawled like in the photo. here is a video of a jesa ceremony (look from around the 3 minute mark for how they place the chopsticks). The whole idea is that you place them as if the dead could come and eat the food on the altar. You even avert your eyes so they can "eat" in peace without everyone staring at them. Would you serve your father or your grandfather with the chopsticks like that? The photo above has almost no resemblance whatsoever to the memorial rite. Similarly, in Japan, when they talk about putting the chopsticks in the rice pointing up, it's literally pointing straight up together, and specific to rice. It looks like this.

Now, that's not to say it's not a little unseemly to leave your chopsticks sprawled out like that. I can't point to anything specific, or anything anyone told me growing up, etc., but I'd feel like it was a little rude to sprawl my chopsticks out like that, especially if I were serving food. But all this business about how it's offensive because it looks like the memorial rite seems like nothing so much as a bunch of wholly assimilated Asian Americans grasping for some half-remembered cultural traditions purely so they can claim to be offended.

Or are there other photos I'm missing? Is it really just this one with the chopsticks pointing out of the broccoli dish and the, um, steak (which is weird, yes, just not offensive).

MayBee said...

Balfegor- thanks.
The woman who taught me was definitely not a wholly assimilated Asian American, but a 60-something well cultured Japanese woman. Perhaps she told me (and others!) what she told me because it was easier to explain to non-Japanese people.

jaed said...

the food in older cookbooks often looks very unappetizing, even in the swank-iest publications, due, I assume, to the limitations of the photography/printing technology. Exquisitely "styled" and expertly photographed, it always seems to have a sickly greenish cast

I suspect that's inks aging over time and that it looked better when the book was brand-new.

Henry said...

Funerary rite? I thought it was just offensive because the chopsticks were placed with the the item that didn't need chopsticks, in a "look at my prominently displayed chopsticks" kind of way. "Is that a chopstick in your steak or are you just happy to see me." "Of all the gin joints in all the towns in all the world, mine has chopsticks."

And not really offensive. Just cluelessly inept.

Kind of like Pajamas Media.

The whole SJW name-calling thing is pathetic. It's like a Pee Wee Herman comeback, but without the insight and sophistication.

Balfegor said...

Re: Maybee:

I think it may be slippage between the words used to describe the thing and the thing itself. You say "like a tombstone" (or perhaps a memorial tablet - 霊位/神位), which is actually exactly correct. It's just that the photo I see at the top of the post (with the two chopsticks stuck in the food but splayed out) looks nothing like a tombstone or a memorial tablet. In contrast, if you look at the photo of the Japanese ceremony in the chiebukuro link, the two chopsticks are tight together and stuck vertically into the rice, so that it really does look like a 霊威. The spoons stuck in the rice in the Korean jesa (Koreans typically use spoons to eat plain rice, unlike Japanese) are also stuck in perfectly vertically, mirroring the appearance of the 神位.

That's why I stuck in the caveat at the end of my comment, incidentally. The photo that keeps getting attached to these comments (on twitter -- I wasn't really focused on the comments in this thread) just bears so little resemblance to the memorial rite, that I wonder whether I'm not seeing the same photo everyone else is. Or again, maybe Chinese stick their chopsticks in haphazardly when performing the memorial rite? I mean, sticking your chopsticks in like that for your ancestors just seems disrespectful.

On a related note, the Japanese memorial rites are different from either the Korean or the Chinese. The latter two are Confucian, albeit modified for local practice (e.g. the odd vs. even number of fruits) and modern technology (e.g. using a photo rather than a memorial tablet), and people mostly follow the practices set forth by the 12th century Neo-Confucian scholar Zhu Xi. The Japanese follow many of the same rites, but in heavily modified Buddhist form. E.g., the Confucian memorial services on the first and second anniversaries of a death (the 小祥忌/sosanggi and 大祥忌/daesanggi, also referred to as the "three years mourning") are instead called the 一周忌/isshuuki and 三回忌/sankaiki, and are performed as Buddhist rituals similar to but not identical to the Confucian ritual practice. Confucian practice mostly just survives as a kind of substrate within Japanese Buddhism. There's a couple Confucian temples in Japan (I say "couple" but the only one I know is the Yushima Seido, in Tokyo) but organised Confucian practice is minimal.

Balfegor said...

Re: Henry:

Funerary rite? I thought it was just offensive because the chopsticks were placed with the the item that didn't need chopsticks, in a "look at my prominently displayed chopsticks" kind of way. "Is that a chopstick in your steak or are you just happy to see me." "Of all the gin joints in all the towns in all the world, mine has chopsticks."

Here's an article linking a bunch of twitter users connecting the photo with funerary rites, e.g.

"1. Which ancestors is this table for"

"I'm glad the chopsticks are placed like offerings to the dead. I'm sure my ancestors will be excited to eat steak with chopsticks."

"So, who died?"

As I've indicated in this thread, it's like the people suggesting this placement is reminiscent of a funerary rite have never actually participated in a funerary rite. Or the Chinese (or Vietnamese, etc.) just do the rite very, very differently.

Balfegor said...

Sorry, I keep slipping between "funerary rite" and "memorial rite" -- I really mean "memorial rite" in almost all instances (Korean jesa is my mental model, since my ancestors are Korean, although I've flipped through translations of Zhu Xi's manual on family rites, and am generally familiar with Japanese practice). Ancestor worship. I'm talking about when we worship our ancestors.

Balfegor said...

Also, the term for memorial tablet in Japan isn't 霊威, it's 霊位. Kanji conversion miss - they are both pronounced rei-i. Should probably have said 位牌(ihai), which I think is actually more correct.

Henry said...

@Balfegor -- very interesting. I wonder if once one person started riffing on the idea, others joined in. But someone knew at least enough to start that riff.

Henry said...
This comment has been removed by the author.