Louvre Abu Dhabi, an Arabic-Galactic Wonder, Revises Art History

via NYTimes

The Louvre Abu Dhabi is a fabrication, too. It isn’t an official Louvre franchise. For the equivalent of $1.15 billion, the museum has temporarily leased the Louvre brand. It can use the illustrious name for 30 years and borrow works from the Louvre and a dozen other French state institutions (the Musée d’Orsay, the Centre Pompidou, the Bibliothèque Nationale, etc.) for a decade. This will give the new museum time to assemble a permanent collection — the acquisition process is well underway — and create its own version of a global art history.

And what does that history, currently fleshed out with loans, look like? Item by item, pretty sensational. And how does it read as a narrative? The narrative is engagingly well paced, but — and this is true of every encyclopedic museum I’m familiar with — sugarcoated and incomplete.

Did Airbnb Kill the Mountain Town of Crested Butte

via Outside

This wasn’t politics with a capital P; it was something far deeper. One woman described how, in 2008, “after both of my long-term tenants walked, VRBO made the difference for me—it made me able to make my mortgage payment.” STRs, she suggested, were a symptom of a larger problem: “This is the middle class hanging on by its fingernails.”

The article does not pretend that there is any clear solution nor blame anyone. This is one of many documentation of the housing issues that various communities worldwide face when short-term rentals spring up in the competitive housing market.

In Singapore, short-term rentals are mostly illegal, with the assumption that renters want to rent for less than a month. This article gives a more precise explanation of the laws surrounding short-term rentals. That being said, while there are still places in Singapore that do short-term rentals, I think that the owners will only get caught when neighbours complain to the authorities. Shhhh.

Phone loss

It was a dark and stormy night. /wry face

I tucked the phone into the skirt pocket, opened the compact umbrella, wrapped the billowing skirt around myself and hurriedly trotted home.

With less than 5 minutes left to home, I checked the pocket to make sure the phone was still inside. Yes it was.

Reached home, reached into pocket… Nothing.

As I half-heartedly searched through my pouch, the other half called the phone.

First call: A couple of rings.

Second call: Straight to voice mail.

We sprang into action.

  1. Suspend and order new sim card
  2. Order new phone
  3. Put iPhone into remote wipe mode
  4. Change email password, set 2-factor authentication via SMS to other half’s phone. Check to make sure it works.
  5. Change a few other important passwords.

Once that was all done, other half nodded and said, “it could have happened at a worse time”.

I smiled.

A. Despite it being a relatively packed social engagement week due to the festive period, we would always be travelling around together, so I could rely on him to be my point of contact and for GPS.

B. I was already in the market for a new phone and we had set aside budget to purchase one.

C. I could truly disconnect over the weekend. Peace!

It has been a full 3 days of no phone. I have had no phone whilst being at retreats, but not while living “daily” life. It has been great! When out travelling, I stare idly around, taking in people and scenery or chatting with the other half more.

Fun fact: When phone-less, only 5 people were personally informed. Others found out from my Facebook post and other half posting to 2 (friends) group chats.

Future of food delivery in Singapore

As a long-term, strategic thinker, I’ve occasionally shared predictions of various issues. More often than not with the other half because he challenges my predictions and we have a great discussion.

Reading Seth Godin’s blog post on training our instincts made me decide to write down these instincts.

Food delivery has seen a surge of popularity in Singapore, with big players like FoodPanda, Deliveroo and UberEats. However, I do not think they will become as huge achieve as large-scale market penetration on a scale of Uber or Grab.

Setting the backdrop of Singapore

Food is a MASSIVE part of our culture. The food scene is extremely varied and diverse, from low-end cheap hawker food to high-end fine dining, all showcasing a variety of cultures and tastebuds. Totally spoilt for choice. Eating out with friends can be affordable and there is no tipping culture. Why is this important? It means that gatherings with friends can frequently and easily happen outside, no need to gather in anyone’s home in order to “eat cheaply”.

Most people in Singapore live in houses with not that much space for large gatherings. Thankfully, not yet the way of Hong Kong’s cramped housing.

Affordable eating out + small homes = eat out frequently

Reasons why people would utilise food delivery services despite the above:
1. Food you want is too far away
2. Order large quantities of food
3. Too lazy or busy to go out and eat

All of the above does not occur on a daily or frequent enough basis for a majority of the population such that they would repeatedly use food delivery services on a B2C level. For companies that are located in hard to reach places, they would have arranged for catered options or something similar for employees already.

A psychology professor explains why humans are cruel

via Vox

But our desire to do well socially can have an ugly side. If you can earn respect by helping people, that’s great. If you can earn respect by physically dominating people with aggression and violence, that’s destructive. So a lot depends on our social environment and whether it incentivizes good or bad behavior.

Consider the rhetoric of white supremacy. White supremacists know about the humanity of Jews and black people and whoever else they’re discriminating against — and it terrifies them. One of their slogans is, “You will not replace us.” Think of what that means. That’s not what you chant if you thought they were roaches or subhuman. That’s what you chant at people you’re really worried about, people who you think are a threat to your status and way of life.

Ultimately, we need better ideas, better ideologies. We need a culture less obsessed with power and honor and more concerned with mindfulness and dignity. That’s the best we can do to quell our appetites for dominance and punishment. Am I optimistic that we can do this? Yeah, I am. But it won’t be easy.

Fostering bridges different people

via The Guardian

About 100,000 young people go through the fostering system every year. In recent years an increasing number of these have been child refugees from Muslim-majority countries such as Syria and Afghanistan, many arriving here traumatised and in need of care.

“We estimate there is a shortage of 8,000 foster carers,” says Kevin Williams, chief executive of the Fostering Network, “and there is a particular shortage of Muslim foster carers.”

Once the children were asleep, Sajjad headed out on an urgent shopping mission. “We are Muslims and we’d never had a Christmas tree in our home,” says Riffat. “But these children were Christian and we wanted them to feel connected to their culture.” So he bought a Christmas tree, decorations and presents. The couple worked until the early hours putting the tree up and wrapping presents. The first thing the children saw the next morning was the tree.

“I had never seen that kind of extra happiness and excitement on a child’s face,” remembers Riffat. The children were meant to stay for two weeks – seven years later two of the three siblings are still living with them.

So much love! More info here and an article appealing for more foster parents, in case anyone is looking for more information on fostering in Singapore.

Rumi’s Garden – well worth patronising

via Rumi’s Garden

Rumi’s Garden is an “online store specialising in contemporary and reclaimed vintage heritage crafts from the Muslim world.”

A friend posted their link and an image of the product purchased on Facebook praising their service. In this era of influencer marketing, a genuine heartfelt review speaks volumes.

Curious, I clicked through and headed to Rumi’s Garden About Us page.

One of the biggest struggles we as Muslims face today, is a major schism and internal conflict when it comes to integrating the vast intellectual tradition and heritage of Islam into our daily lives. The reasons for this discord are many and complicated, but they have left us disoriented – to the extent that we are no longer able to understand ourselves through the lens of our own tradition. On the contrary, we have become a people with very little intellectual independence and we seek to understand ourselves through the lens of the other; a lens, that on many levels, is integrally opposed to our own worldview.

As Muslims, it is important for us to become familiar with our brothers and sisters in faith from other religions, because they too face similar obstacles to ours. Furthermore, since other religions are far older than Islam, we can learn much from their experiences both past and present. Learning from each other’s traditions serves a higher purpose than a mere interfaith dialogue – it grants peace within and around, to those who seek it. It grants acceptance, which goes above and beyond tolerance. It grants us a new way and opening into how we can understand our own religious tradition.

I was blown away at the insightful and humble text. Text that everyone, regardless of faith, can live by.

Of Menstrual cups and reusable menstrual pads

Was idly walking around a shop with Friend A when we chanced upon the Freedom Cup. She casually wondered aloud how it was used and I excitedly said “oh I’m wearing it now!” Too much information indeed. On hindsight, I would probably have said the same thing to an acquaintance because that’s how excited I am about making sustainable choices!

That started a really long conversation on my reusable menstrual products journey that began about 3 years ago thanks to a chance conversation with a Canadian friend (bless her!).

Friend A encourage me to share more about the products that I’ve used and am exploring so here goes!

Menstrual Cups (in chronological order of acquisition)

  1. Diva cup
    Can’t recall exactly why I chose this cup or that it was the only cup available at the supermarket, but it was the first cup that I used. The other half helped me purchase it in Canada, then brought it over to Singapore. This cup served me very well, i.e. no leaks, for 1+ year before leaks started occurring. Usually cups can be used for 5 years or even longer, so I was surprised and assumed that my body had changed.

  2. Super Jennie
    By then, a Singapore company started selling menstrual cups, so I purchased the Super Jennie (Large). Why Large? I thought that perhaps my flow was getting heavy, hence the leaks. Sadly, after a few months, a micro tear occurred in the Super Jennie. I realised it when a slight sharp pain occurred when wearing the Super Jennie. Closer inspection revealed the micro tear. So this cup was retired.

  3. Freedom Cup
    Not wanting to spend lot after splashing a bomb on the Super Jennie, I discovered the Freedom Cup, SGD30. Sadly leaks still occur. Research revealed that some women simply just leak no matter water, so I felt resigned to it.

  4. Me Luna
    After watching Amy Nix’s Youtube video reviews of the Me Luna, I decided to purchase it. Gut feel told me that quality-wise, the Freedom Cup was just a temporary solution and Amy gave a fantastic review of the Me Luna. Also, I’m doing regular pilates now, so decided to get the Me Luna Sport which is stiffer.

Tip: Due to US regulations, the Me Luna is more expensive from the USA site. I checked other international sites in Asia for cheaper shipping, but they did not have the Me Luna Sport available. Purchasing it from the Europe site meant shipping costed approx SGD11, bringing the total bill to approx SGD33. CHEAP!

Also it was shipped out the day after the order was placed. Efficient!

Reusable Menstrual Pads

Amy Nix has many fantastic youtube videos of introducing people to menstrual pads, how to wash them, why they are better, etc. I binged watched them. She explains clearly, logically and concisely. She clearly explains the pros and cons of products while bearing in mind that the products might not suit some women and takes extra care to highlight their unsuitability.

Thanks to her, I started considering reusable menstrual pads for my leaks. I had previously purchased and used Period Underwear, but it was definitely more pricey and I wanted a cheaper alternative.

  1. EcoFemme Reusable Cloth Night Pad
    On Amy’s advice, the first purchase was a night pad because it’s better to “withstand” the heaviest flow first to test one’s suitability to cloth pads, then purchase the rest of the cloth pads.

This pad convinced me of what Amy had been repeating in her videos:
a. Cloth pads do not smell
b. Cloth pads are more comfortable than disposables

Unfortunately, the length of this Night Pad is insufficiently long, so I hunted online for longer lengths.

  1. Yurtcraft from USA
    Amy highlights her love for Yurtcraft pads in many of her videos. However, Yurtcraft’s shipping fees to Singapore is… very high. I’m also not a fan of the brightly coloured styles. Putting this link here in case anyone else would like to try!

  2. Sweet Touch from Taiwan
    Googling around led me to Taiwanese makers of cloth pads. Sweet Touch’s prices are similar to Yurtcraft, but with cheaper shipping. I’m currently deciding between Sweet Touch and the next maker, Cherry P.

  3. Cherry P
    I really like Cherry P’s subtler designs. The pricing is slightly cheaper than Sweet Touch, which adds up when one has to purchase multiple pads. As Cherry P’s international shipping charges is not very clear, I’ve dropped them an email to clarify, then will decide who to purchase from!

In Japan, you can pay an actor to impersonate your relative, spouse, coworker, or any kind of acquaintance.

via The Atlantic

His 8-year-old company, Family Romance, provides professional actors to fill any role in the personal lives of clients. With a burgeoning staff of 800 or so actors, ranging from infants to the elderly, the organization prides itself on being able to provide a surrogate for almost any conceivable situation.

“I always ask every client, ‘Are you prepared to sustain this lie?’”

“There is nothing more that I want. I’ve met so many clients. I’ve played so many roles with them. By doing my job, their dreams come true. In that way, my dreams come true as well. I feel fulfilled, just being needed.”

A trip through the shadowy, surreal world of an academic book mill

via Slate

LAP Lambert, I learned, is the print equivalent of a content farm: a clearinghouse for texts that generate tiny amounts of revenue simply by turning up in search and appearing to be legitimate, published works.

So, naturally, I replied to Holmes, telling her I was interested in hearing more.

LAP Lambert’s real plan finally became clear: They make money not by selling arcane tomes to readers, but by selling the books back to their authors after they’ve already signed away the rights. The company isn’t technically a vanity press, because it doesn’t charge authors publishing fees, but its model is essentially the same. Getting an author to buy tons of copies (presumably to give or sell to family and friends) guarantees enough profit that it’s willing to sell the books at a lower price.

In case you ever received an email…