These are not the vampires I’m looking for

Saturday 3 December 2011, 11.00pm HKT


WHILE I’M ON THE SUBJECT of charm bracelets on another post, let’s take a little detour and have a look at what you’ve got in your veins.

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Interestingly, when it comes to charm bracelets, the Japanese often include a blood-type charm. This is not because their country is in constant danger from earthquakes, tsunamis and volcanic eruptions, which would make medical sense in having such charms.

It is because the Japanese believe in the insane theory that your blood says it all.

* * *

Compartmentalise the entire planet

(Photo: Antonia Reeve/SPL)

In Japan, whether someone is A, B, O or AB blood is a topic of everyday conversation. There is a widespread belief that blood type determines personality and temperament, with implications for life, work and love.

Blood-type personality theory (or blood-type humanics, as the Japanese sometimes like to call it) does much like what horoscopes do in Western culture.

In Japan (a.k.a. The Land That Gave Us Weird Since 1957), there is a frenzied obsession to know a person’s blood type. Celebrity profiles always have a blood-type label. Even anime character profiles are given their blood type. Buy an addressbook in Japan, and you’ll see spaces for blood-type entries. Job application forms ask for your blood type.

Even in everyday life in Japan and South Korea, you’ll notice the conversation somewhat revolves around blood type. People going on a date or meeting someone for the first time are liable to be asked, “What is your blood group?” You’ll notice the question cropping up quite a lot to kick-start smalltalk — as frequently as the question “What’s your nationality?” in Western culture.

“What’s your blood type?”
“The fluid type.”
(The author’s retort whilst living in Japan.)

Anyone from a schoolkid to a pensioner will never fail to ask about your blood type. Indeed, discussion of blood type is a key part of social interaction in Japan and South Korea.

The fact that three or four titles in the Top Ten list of bestselling books in Japan for any given year are about blood type will be enough for you to realise the level of this obsession.

Let’s compartmentalise the entire planet, shall we? Fall in line, and have a look at one of the more common interpretations:

Type O (‘The Warrior’)

Curious and generous, but stubborn.
You want to be a leader (or have leadership qualities). You keep striving until you achieve your goal. You are a trendsetter, loyal, passionate and self-confident, but you have a tendency to be too competitive.

Good traits: Confident, strong-willed, judgmental (i.e. good judgment), dedicated, self-deterministic.

Bad traits: Workaholic, insecure, emotional, stubborn, uncompromising, cold personality, over-confident, self-centred, vanity, jealousy.

Compatibility: O personalities are most compatible with other Os and ABs.

Famous Os: Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis, Elizabeth Hurley.

Trivia: You’re the original blood type. In prehistory, all Cro-Magnon people (precursor to modern Man) who lived around 40,000 BC were type O.

Type A (‘The Farmer’)

Sensitive perfectionists but over-anxious.
You like harmony, peace and organisation. You work well with others. You are sensitive, patient and affectionate. But you are stubborn too, with an inability to relax. In love, you are a traditionalist. 

Good traits: Obedient, careful, sympathetic, empathetic, self-sacrificing, polite, willing to compromise, honest, loyal.

Bad traits: Worrier, emotional, weak-willed, indecisive, introverted, antisocial, wishy-washy, nervous.

Compatibility: As are most compatible with As and ABs.

Famous As: Christina Applegate, George Bush Sr.

Trivia: As the Cro-Magnons evolved, they developed more society-building skills. That was when type A blood started appearing.

Type B (‘The Hunter’)

Cheerful but eccentric and selfish.
A rugged individualist who is straightforward, and like to do things your own way. You adapt easily to any situation because of your creativeness and flexibility. You enjoy being around people, and others love to be around you. With friends, you would rather listen first to all and then proffer up your opinion. However, you insist on being independent can be extreme sometimes and become a weakness.

Good traits: Cheerful, outgoing, optimistic, adventurous, active, sensitive, kind.

Bad traits: Forgetful, undecided, disorganised, noisy, spontaneous, prone to exaggeration.

Compatibility: Bs are most compatible with Bs and ABs.

Famous Bs: Paul McCartney, John F. Kennedy Jr.

Trivia: A high proportion of self-made people are Bs. Type B is traceable back to around 10,000 BC, the time when people began migrating.

Type AB (‘The Humanist’)

Arty but mysterious and unpredictable.
Cool and controlled, generally well-liked and always put people at ease, you are a natural entertainer. Being the most psychologically complex of all blood types, you can be technical and creative at the same time. Tactful and fair, and don’t need to be with others to be happy. Your weaknesses are being standoffish sometimes and having trouble making decisions, as well as being either too businesslike or too gushing in close relationships. It often seems as if you have one personality for the outsiders and another for the insiders.

Good traits: Sensitive, proud, diplomatic, discriminating, easygoing, sympathetic, efficient, learns quickly.

Bad traits: Short-tempered, complains, dependent, moody, brooding, selfish.

Compatibility: ABs are most compatible with ABs, Bs, As and Os (in that order).

Famous ABs: Thomas Edison, Marilyn Monroe, Jackie Chan.

Trivia: Fewer than 5% of the world population are ABs. Being the most recently evolved blood type, its history goes back to only around 1,000 years ago.

Most Japanese and Koreans have memorised this by heart. There are numerous permutations of the above according to astrological signs, climate at the time of birth, and various other brain-damaged parameters.

Interestingly, Japanese ABs do not admit to being ABs. It comes from a grotesque twist to the blood donor/receiver system: ABs can receive A, B, AB and O blood but can only donate to fellow ABs. Because of that, ABs are considered ‘selfish’ in Japanese society — giving nothing, taking everything.

This insane belief about personality through blood is not limited to Japan. It extends to the Koreans and, indeed, to the rest of Asia to a greater or lesser extent. Facebook in many Asian countries allows users to include blood type in their profile. But the obsession is strongest and most socially accepted in Japan.

* * *

Abruptly refused sex

In Japan, it is very common for people (especially women) to ask what your blood type is, and you get surprised looks if you don’t know it. (Ninety percent of Japanese know their own blood type, as do 90% of Koreans).

And you’d be surprised how abruptly you are refused getting laid, whilst more than halfway through undressed, the moment your blood type is known.

We’ll let that thought swim in your head for a few minutes.

(It’s kind of the same spiel in Hong Kong, where you get asked quite frequently about your income instead, and get dirty looks if you can’t say it — and abruptly refused sex if your income level becomes known and doesn’t match your partner’s expectations. But at least income level is a more objective parameter than blood type, honestly speaking.)

* * *

New and improved rubbish

The Japanese are really serious and stubborn in their belief that what you bleed is what you are. Never mind that this mumbo-jumbo crap is pure snake-oil sham science bollocks with a rovolting past. Never mind the scientific fact from 40 years’ worth of science research that blood proteins determine blood types and have zero connection with personality traits.

To cut a long story short, this insanity about blood-type personality originally started in the 1920s from Nazi theories about racial superiority, and the prewar militarist regime in Japan picked up on it for its own purposes. It got binned after the war, but came back like the walking dead in Japan in the 1970s when a Japanese lawyer-turned-TV-personality with zero medical background recycled the idea semi-seriously for entertainment purposes. People thought it was for real and never looked back.

See what I mean when I said Japan is ‘The Land That Gave Us Weird since 1957’?

The West hasn’t quite cottoned on to the idea that personality is linked to blood type. That hasn’t stopped the West from paying lip service to an equally absurb quackery — there is a growing belief that we should eat the diet that befits our particular blood type. That idea latches on to the objective fact that different blood types came about at different points in evolutionary time, and that prehistoric diets gave rise to those blood types (which is hogwash).

(Strange that we don’t hear about prehistoric lifestyle differences causing different blood types, no?)

* * *

The real deal behind the spiel

For the Japanese, the appeal of this insane theory is in having one’s self-image confirmed: to read this blood type has that personality is easier on the brain. There are lots of books in Japan and South Korea that piles definitions upon definitions of personality types by blood groups.

The real reason for the popularity of this insane belief in Japan and Korea is that it gives an illusion of diversity. The Japanese (and to a lesser extent also Koreans and Chinese) is a racially homogeneous society, probably more so than any other on earth. The four blood groups are fairly evenly distributed in the Japanese population, as they are also in the Korean and Chinese populations.

‘Japanese/Korean/Chinese diversity’ — such a contradiction in terms there ever was.

You may be a carbon paper copy, but racism carbon-paper-ises everyone

Truth be told, even the 50 or so ethnic minorities in China (diverse as they seem to be) are actually near-carbon copies of the majority Hans, genetically, physically and culturally speaking. There is more diversity in Duluth, Wisconsin, on a summer weekend than in China, Japan or Korea.

Believing in this insanity soothes the soul that one is not alone in being a carbon copy of a photostat — a colourless, odourless, tasteless, unthinking, straitjacketed cog in the wheel of society.

Ultimately, though, the idea encourages us to judge others by a common denominator without trying to understand them as human beings. It’s what I call common daemonator — blood type being that convenient daemon to blame everything on. It’s just another way of saying racism, except that blood type sounds as if it has just enough science to back it up.

* * *

Blood-type harassment

This nonsense isn’t harmless fun. ‘What’s your type?’ often turn out to be all too important a question in landing a job, getting a date, getting a nudist camp membership, and everything else in between.

Perversely, it’s socially acceptable for Japanese politicians to blame their political shortcomings on their blood type.

Some kindergartens in Japan divide up children by blood type for classes. Schoolkids get bullied by reason of their blood type. Sportsmen sometimes get customised training based on their blood type. Some companies hire or assign job duties according to the blood type of employees, and even group entire workforce according it.

In many parts of Asia, people are hired according to their blood types!

It’s no joke. It’s blood-type harassment or discrimination, and ‘bura-hara’ is the pseudo-Japanese term for this. Japanese law expressly forbid these practices, but they go on regardless.

Does your camera match your blood type? Only in Japan…

But the Japanese, as a First World country, is not totally brain-damaged. One Japanese blood-type manual says in its closing pages:

“Your type, after all, is what you decide you are.”

* * *

Do you know your own blood type? Check out the chart below.

* * *

So what has all this blood-analysis faggotry got to do with charm bracelets?

Nothing.

It’s just a cheeky writing technique sometimes known as constructive digression in which one fact (blood-type charms) is used to lash together two seemingly unconnected subjects (charms vs. blood type) into a single story where those subjects would otherwise not normally come together.

But many stories and writings are like that, in print and online, all over the place, down through history. If you don’t think so, you’re obviously not paying enough attention to your reads — or that you’re concentrating on something else. Either way, you’re not reading what’s in front of your eyeballs, okay?

I hope you like the cheekiness of it all.

© The Naked Listener’s Weblog, 2011.

Images: Blood-type charms via eBay ♥ Blood bag by Antonia Reeve at Science Photo Library ♥ ‘If there is no blood…’ via funz ♥ Sex Pistols button pin via eBay ♥ Cat sees lion in mirror via Let’s Think Big ♥ Carbon paper via Kishore Exports ♥ Blood-type cameras by Sushicam via Flickr ♥ Individuality demotivator via Drudge Report ♥ Blood frequency chart via InfoBarrel ♥ Thumbing nose from “Punch, or the London Charivari,” Volume 1, 17 July 1841 via Project Gutenberg.

Things to beguile the charmless (Part 1)

Saturday 3 December 2011, 5.21pm HKT


WORD NYMPH’s article “Charmed, I’m sure” has suitably inspired me to write about jewellery.

Charm bracelets — what else?

The Christmas/New Year/Hogmanay/boozing/cash-elimination holiday season is upon us. As Word Nymph points out in her article, charm bracelets have always been one of the most popular gifts to be had for any occasion. Very fetching they are too.

A vintage sterling silver charm bracelet with 45 charms, valued at US$450

PLUS POINT: INSTRUMENT OF REVENGE

A charm bracelet’s biggest plus point is that it’s going to be an heirloom for your descendants, who, in this day and age, are highly likely to turn out to be dogs, wogs and clogs  — who might just try to bump you off, get at the bracelet (and other baubles) and then flog it at the friendly local pawnshop for drug money.

But honestly, if you truly love your progeny, you really should leave something behind for them to convert into money for buying contraband. Did your ancestors leave anything for you to do that? There’s your answer.

Of course, your consolation is that future heirloom can become your instrument of revenge: what will be an instrument of revenue for your descendants, goes to prolong their drug-addled misery.

What it all means

Point blank, it means you’re loaded. The prices of those little dingly-danglies are not exactly to be sniffed at — which means you’d have to be ‘in the black’ in a serious way to own a charm bracelet with more than three of those buggers.

Now, on to a deeper, more cultured, more acculturated, more socioculturally meaningful meaning of owning (or wanting to own) a charm bracelet — regardless of your sex, mental condition and (importantly) bank balance.

(I’ll speak slowly since there are Ph.D.’s reading this.)

LOVE AND CONSIDERATION

In a way a charm bracelet encaptures the apparent thinking that must have went on behind the result. It shows your consideration for the person — that you actually cared enough about him or her (or yourself) to put the grey matter to work. (Or lack of, as the case may be.)

And since new charms become added to the bracelet from time to time to represent significant events in your life — remember that near-death experience from the drug overdose, or the Saturday Night Square-Up with transvetite goths at the local bordello pub? — the whole shebang grows along with you down through your sordid, drug-rotted years.

(People presumably grow with age in one way or another, though mileage may vary for some people.)

THE BACK STORY … IF YOU DON’T MIND THE EMBARRASSMENT

The vendor (where the above picture comes from) has a wonderful suggestion:

“My suggestion to you, if you know that your Mother or Grandmother has a Vintage Charm Bracelet — is to have [her] tell the story that [her] charm bracelet contains. And to have [her] do that in front of a video camera, this could be an incredible and easy way to gather and collect a part of her history, that might otherwise be lost.” (Link)

Of course, your mum’s or grandma’s back story could turn out icky. The charm bracelet could actually turn out to be payment for a bit of leg-over behind the steering wheel at the local park at night.

That’s because the thinking behind the charm bracelet can be a minus point too. Some of us (even most) have a talent for bungling the thinking department, resulting in some bizarre choices of charms, which don’t exactly advance the image of either the giver or the wearer.

Like, for instance, that time a friend of mine bought a rather unusual charm and bracelet for his whore girlfriend. Now, broadly speaking, an uncommon design means the item should worth a bob or two. Trouble was, my friend’s charm came in the shape of a satyr doing — how to say? — a cunning linguist act.

Yeah, viva la différence! and all that. Please, don’t go down that road just to be different.

An eclectic mix of 13 charms soldered onto the bracelet, including a spinning onyx and malachite set fob, articulated fish, and a large flexible skeleton

CAMELOT IS COSTALOT

Price can be a minus point too. Charms of fairly good quality and design aren’t expensive but they’re not cheap either (as you shall see in Parts 2, 3 and 4 of this story). Fortunately, you don’t have to buy one every year.

Not to put too fine a point on things, even an expensive charm probably costs a lot less than all the other bland, brain-damaged gifts combined that you had to buy for your ungrateful family and relatives for this holiday season.

Who makes the best charm bracelets?

TIFFANY vs. PANDORA

You could say Tiffany & Co. of New York City and Pandora A/S of Denmark are the Optimus Prime and Megatron of charm bracelet makers. (You decide which one is which.) Both companies are ‘the ultimate’ — they offer the most options of charms, bracelets and other doodads in different metals (silver, gold and platinum). Tiffany and Pandora charm bracelets are high class, high quality and high priced. But they great to have, and worth blackmailing people for.

Pandora bracelet with trollbeads

Pandora is perhaps best known for its twist on the classic charm bracelet. In year 2000, Pandora launched a line of bracelets that have a patented threading system that allows charms to be placed, added and rearranged easily and securely.

The basic Tiffany bracelet: highly recognisable, but highly counterfeited

Tiffany’s major problem is that its jewellery is one of most heavily counterfeited items in the world. Because most Tiffany jewellery is made in sterling silver, counterfeit Tiffs are not particularly expensive to fabricate, and further made more economical by the use of tin/silver alloys to give that platinum sheen so characteristic of Tiffany.

However, with a (genuine) Tiffany or Pandora on, you’ll never look cheap or ‘chav’ — you’ll invariably be seen as moneyed, if not anything else — though you could be laughed at as a moron if you wore their stuff ‘incorrectly.’

Tiffany and Pandora jewellery are not exactly easy wear. Both have a ‘pitch’ to them that makes it hard for most people to wear those baubles convincingly. It’s the same kind of deal with Ermenagildo Zegna and Hugo Boss suits, which are quite difficult for most men to wear well on the bod.

JUICY COUTURE

Juicy Couture (headquartered in Los Angeles) markets itself as a high-end but affordably priced clothing line aimed at the younger set. In North America and Europe, Juicy Couture is favoured by women in the 20-25 age band. In Asia, their customer base seems much older, around 25-40 — indeed, the tonier-looking bunch of 40- to 50-year-old women in mainland China would chance their looks on Juicy Couture once in a while.

I don’t know if Juicy Couture have charm bracelets, but I do know they have bracelets. (Not exactly a helpful observation, I know.)

CLAIRE’S AND ICING

Chances are, most Asians won’t have heard of Claire’s, Justice and Icing. These three store brands operate either wholly or mainly in North America, maybe with some European operations, but basically zero presence in Asia.

Claire’s is an accessory and jewellery retailer with 3,000 stores across 33 countries. Customer base is girls and young women. The company runs two store brands: the Claire’s brand itself and Icing.

Icing stores target young women between 19 and 28. Its merchandise has a higher price point and is more mature in flavour. Icing doesn’t offer licensed merchandise, so the stores carry less merchandise than most other branded storechains, and that helps it to create a less ‘overstuffed’ feel to customers.

The Claire’s brand is aimed at even younger females. Interestingly, Claire’s has done over 80 million ear piercings in its 25 years of operation, more than any other retailer has done.

JUSTICE

Justice is a brand of stores run by Tween Brands Inc. (previously Too Inc.). Justice sells clothes and lifestyle/personal care products at a value price aimed at girls age 9 to 14. Justice has no presence outside the USA, so it doesn’t count for the rest of us.

* * *

Continues in Part 2

One for the boys and what to get as a minimum

* * *

© The Naked Listener’s Weblog, 2011.

Images: Vintage charm bracelet with 45 charms via Fine Estate Sales ♦ Big skeleton charm bracelet via Welded-Bliss ♦ Pandora bracelet via shopenzed ♦ Tiffany bracelet via My Jewelry Planet.

Recap of November stories

Saturday 3 December 2011, 5.39am HKT


Recap of posts published in November 2011.

The 22 stories in November have been:

Novembah, movembah, schmobembah! Yee-haah! (Photo: Skinny-D)

Crosspost: Value of a college degree | 04 Nov 2011
A thread on Reddit really shows what the value of a college degree actually turns out to be in the real world.

*

Notes: Crime | 08 Nov 2011
Back-to-front causality.

Notes: Grammar and language fluency | 08 Nov 2011
Crank up your grammaticality, and your language will start running on fumes – a great way to crash-land, no?

*

Notes: Love of words | 09 Nov 2011
What happens today to people love words.

Notes: Explainology | 09 Nov 2011
Talking ‘-ology’ isn’t the same as explaining. A quick lifehack.

The pink slip | 09 Nov 2011
Some bullshit costs you a pink slip, or makes you give someone a pink slip.

Aside: Media | 09 Nov 2011
Choke on your syndications.

*

Keep calm: easy for you to say

Aside | 12 Nov 2011
How absurdly singleminded are you looking for things? Compare your results with The Naked Listener’s.

*

Man and men, a fine line of difference | 13 Nov 2011
When it comes to looking for ‘The Old Duke,’ ladies better your phraseology right.

*

Read my lips: When Chinese is too Chinese for me | 14 Nov 2011
How to you read something when only speak it? A quick workaround for Canto-mummers.

*

Coming to getcha | 18 Nov 2011
A picture post.

Alas, poor Yorick | 18 Nov 2011
Another picture post on the same day.

*

Notes: ‘Nothing really matters’ | 21 Nov 2011
When we’re dead and gone, the ‘Soochow dogshite’ we leave behind cannot be sorted out because only we know the ins and outs of it to have it sorted out.

*

‘It’s all bullshit. And then you die.’ | 22 Nov 2011
‘We knew it going in.’

Happiness | 22 Nov 2011
A quote from a movie.

*

Franglais chez Ikea | 23 Nov 2011
Beware of going all-in into another culture, as this French ex-lawyer alludes.

*

Bon-kyu-bon: the changing of the bibs, bobs and boobs of Asia | 24 Nov 2011
The womenfolk in Asia is busting out, and it’s more than because of a diet change.

Aside: Failure | 24 Nov 2011
Your fear is misplaced because you’ve misplaced your fear.

*

This is THE office | 27 Nov 2011
Annotated picture post of a productivity-geared office that looks deceptively funky.

Aside | 27 Nov 2011
An abject explanation as to why The Naked Listener is going to do things slightly differently.

*

So you complained that this isn’t in English | 28 Nov 2011
I could keep up with this attitude of mine longer than most bystanders could stand it, but would YOU appreciate it? Arrêt!

* * *

There had been two site updates:

* * *

And one page update:

© The Naked Listener’s Weblog, 2011.

Images: November author picture by Skinny-D ♦ ‘Keep Calm’ poster via Wikipedia ♦ Tokyo girl via The Tokyo Pimps ♦ French stop sign via pigeonographe.

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