What Is Neutrino Cantonese?

Hey, Khatzumoto. I’m already dangerously well-informed about Neutrino 😉 and realize that I meet the criteria of someone who deserves to join. I don’t need any more info! Please let me in right now while there are still places left!

Education by Addiction

What if learning Cantonese could be addictive? What if it could as addictive as crack and crystal meth, as addictive as gambling, as addictive as men in white vests and cruel, heartless, emotionally volatile women? What if Cantonese could be like that?

Also, crack.

What if it could be as addictive as “World of Warcraft”? As addictive as email? Or Facebook? Or Farmville?

And what if someone had made it all addictive for you so you didn’t have to make it addictive for yourself? What if someone had built this casino of learning-Cantonese-by-addiction awesomeness for you, and all you had to do was walk in?

What if Chinese could literally ruin your life? Literally take your life and tear it a new one? A brand new, shiny, Chinese one?

I wanted to create something that would destroy your life 1. I don’t want you to have a “healthy” life, not because “healthy” is bad but because it’s usually just a euphemism for “mediocre”. Look closely at the people telling you to have a “healthy” life and you’ll usually (not always, but usually) find that they suck at their lives suck. I want you to be so good at this language that is scares people. I don’t want you to have a normal life. I don’t want you to have an ordinary life. I want you to have an extraordinary life.

When SilverSpoon 1.0 came out, I thought: if only people knew what to do, exactly what to do, in excruciating detail, then everything would be cool. I would spoonfeed every single day and that would be cool. And it was cool. Mission accomplished.

But it could be even cooler. New mission.

Enter Neutrino: SilverSpoon 7.0

Just because you know exactly what to do, that doesn’t mean you’re going to do it.
It’s possible to get overwhelmed, even by the visibility of the action of a single day.

So what if we cut this thing up into pieces so small, and so addictive, and so interesting and so easy that they were easier to do than to not do? Basically, take the spoonfeeding up by quantum leaps and bounds. Now, not only do you get spoonfed, but the food you get spoonfed has already been chewed up for you so it’s all blended like that Gerber stuff, and the spoon you eat from has had some crack sprinkled on it to get you hooked, and then the spoon gets put in your mouth, and then Neutrino takes your jaw and moves it up and down to help you chew.

No thought. No planning. No worrying. No fretting. No intelligence required on your part. Neutrino is there to be intelligent for you. It was designed that way.

Because, let’s face it. You’re smart. We know you’re smart. That was never in any doubt. You can follow rambling text like this; you’re a sharp one. But that’s just the thing: you’re too smart. You’re so smart, it’s like being dumb, because your intelligence is used to create worry and fear and ulcers and panic attacks. So you need something that can bypass your intelligence, your over-thinking, your over-calculation, and just get that spoon into your mouth.

You’re hard-working. But that’s just the thing: you’re too hard-working. You’re so hard-working that it’s like being lazy, because you use your hard work to cause yourself pain. You create yourself busywork 2. You work hard at hating yourself for not moving forward, for not being further ahead, for not being Doogie Howser, for being too much like Doogie Howser. You work hard at hating yourself for not being perfect and for not being 100% on the ball 100% of the time. You try to work so hard that you won’t even let yourself do a little and just move forward. You keep burning yourself out.

Neutrino has been created from scratch, from the ground up. It is a revolution rather than an evolution. In what is (as far as I am aware) a world first in the field of getting used to Chinese, it integrates principles from behavioral science and addiction psychology in order to create an experience similar to, well, gambling.

Yes gambling.
I believe in addiction. Not just in its power — which is obvious — but also in its neutrality.
I believe in easy. Because I’m lazy.
And, as always, I believe in hookers and blow. Gotta believe in the hookers and blow.

Nothing is wrong with things that are addictive. Something is right with them.
The addictive part is right. Everything else about them may be wrong, but the addictive part is just fine.

SilverSpoon-Neutrino harnesses the power of addiction and uses it for good, where good = “whatever, man, as long as it helps with Khatz’s hookers and blow” I mean “get used to Cantonese” .

Neutrino also includes the best of the elements of Old SilverSpoon, i.e. SilverSpoon 1.0. The first six weeks of Neutrino are the same as for Old SilverSpoon, during which you’ll be taken up a steady, unambiguous, sequential, linear progression of steps to acclimate you to certain tools and behaviors, before being unleashed on the more free-wheeling Neutrino world.

You deserve the best. At the very least, you deserve better than the crap that exists out there right now. I have seen that crap; I have seen what it does to people and it physically hurts to watch. I want you to succeed at getting used to languages. Perhaps it’s a small thing to want, but it’s a small thing with potentially massive consequences.

<<Apply Now (Spaces Permitting)>>

But why all this addiction and fun and games? Well, because there is a serious problem with Japanese classes…

The Problem With Cantonese Classes

I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: I made Neutrino because you deserve better.

I made Neutrino because practically everything else sucks. Hard. Especially classes. Classes suck. Even Cantonese classes (despite there being so few of them). Whether it’s college, language school or just regular school, classes suck. Hard. It’s a fact. I know it. You know it. We all know it.

But they have their strengths. They do. That’s also a fact.

In class, all you have to do is show up. Someone else makes all the choices. Someone else makes all the decisions. They decide both strategy and tactics. They even handle scheduling for you. They have the big and small picture in their heads, and they give it to you piece by piece. You just kick back and do your part.

So what’s the problem?

Well, at least half a dozen things are the freaking problem. Let’s list just a few of them:

  1. They suck.
  2. Hard.
  3. They’re so busy making all the choices and all the decisions that you’re left with zero freedom. That’s not convenient; it’s just lame. It makes you bored and confused and make you want to go home.
  4. They punish exceptional performance
  5. They force you to work at their pace
  6. They have crappy taste in, like, everything.
  7. Did I mention they bore you to effing death?
  8. You could do every little boring thing they say to do in a class and still not know any real Chinese. And what happens? “Well, Chinese is Asian and hard”, they say. The old “bait and switch”.
  9. They treat for-native by-native materials as an optional supplement to “learning” or an occasional a reward for “real” learning instead of as core artifacts.
  10. They don’t take responsibility for the results.
  11. Ultimately, they (=typical classroom teachers) have rock-bottom expectations of you and your ability; via a reverse Pygmalion Effect (Golem Effect), they communicate these low expectations to you, unnecessarily dooming you to low expectations of yourself, low self-confidence, low self-efficacy and poor results. They create a self-fulfilling prophecy of crappiness.
  12. The teachers who do have faith in you lack a system where having a system counts. They have a system of scaring and forcing you to do things, but no system to get you to fluency.

And that’s a bunch of bollocks because you deserve better.

You deserve better. And Neutrino gives it to you. Neutrino fixes all those problems and more.

Let’s play yet another little game of “what if”.

  • What if you could have all the benefits of a Chinese class with none of the drawbacks?
  • What if learning a language could be a series of short, fun, refreshing sprints, rather than some long, drawn-out endless marathon?
  • What if learning a language for real — to fluency, to high-level proficiency — could have a clear, meaningful, reachable, specific, quantified endpoint?
  • What if someone could tell you, down to the day, when you would be fluent, and then lead you every step of the way the way there, and make sure you actually got there, just like a physical roadtrip?

It took me 18 months to get to the point in Japanese where I could function like an adult — read documents, talk about technical stuff, do job interviews, all in Japanese. Now, different babies start talking at different times, but that’s a good ballpark figure: 18~24 months. 36 months if you really want some slack, but no more. Now, Cantonese isn’t Japanese, but being as it is that Japanese inherited its writing system and almost half its words from Chinese, I think you’ll agree that it’s close enough :P . The principle is the same.

We Know You’re The Prince of Japanese Tennis, But What Qualifies You To Handle Cantonese Balls?

I’ve achieved good results in Cantonese as well. Because my real time playing Cantonese has been less than for Japanese, I don’t go around getting confused for a native speaker that often. But I do and have done all kinds of grown-up stuff; I called the Hong Kong Immigration department on the phone to check on visa requirements and conducted the entire conversation in Cantonese, much to their shock. I speak to immigration at the airport in Cantonese and get confused and suspicious looks of: “why can you speak Cantonese if you’ve never been here before”. I even insisted that hotel staff only speak to me in Cantonese, which backfired quite humorously when I didn’t know how to say “guava juice” and they wouldn’t serve me any until I looked it up and learned how.

I am not better than you. I am not smarter than you. Anyone could do it.

So why doesn’t everyone do it?

Two words.

Tortoise math.

Smart, perfectionistic people cannot do tortoise math.

Tortoise math isn’t normal math. Tortoise math is the math of tortoises — you know, the kind that race hares.

The ability to do tortoise math and the ability to do regular math are completely unrelated.
Tortoise math requires a level of faith and emotional silence that you don’t have time for right now.

Smart people can’t do tortoise math.

You can’t do tortoise math. You’re too smart. You’re too clever. You’re too quick on your feet. You’re too emotionally unstable. Too perfectionistic.

Emotions. You feel lost. You feel overwhelmed. You don’t know if what you’re doing is right or even effective. And because the more you know the more you know you don’t know, you start to feel like you’ll never get there. You lose hope. You give up.

Emotions lead to a loss of momentum. And when you don’t have momentum, you have nothing. Loss of momentum kills the entire process of becoming awesome at Cantonese Chinese.

Let me repeat myself.

You haven’t had trouble becoming awesome at Chinese because you’re not smart enough. You’ve had trouble learning Chinese because you’re too smart. You use your intelligence to defeat yourself. I’m not just trying to flatter you here (I am kinda; this is sales copy; I’m trying to suck up to you to in order to sell you something; that’s just fact).

You’re too smart for your own good. You’re too smart to see and appreciate the blindingly small and obvious, because the small and the obvious are too small and too obvious to be intellectually interesting to you. You’re too smart to focus your energy; you’re too smart to do tortoise math.

You’re like Cyclops from X-Men. You have laser eyes. And your laser eyes (=mental power) are shooting death beams of powerful, misdirected energy all over the room and your life.

That’s why I’ve made you a visor. I want you to have this visor. I want you to have this thing that will focus your figurative laser eyes — your energy — onto the one teeny, tiny thing you need to right now.

I’m not smart like you are. I’m simple. I’m slow on the uptake. I do tortoise math. I do the obvious. And now I’m going to do tortoise math for you, so you don’t have to.

Learning Chinese is a matter of engineered inevitability. It is the inevitable result of heading in a certain direction. Like an idiot.

The problem is, you don’t have the time and faith to engineer inevitability for yourself. And you’re too smart to stay focussed.

So I’ve gone and done the focussing and engineering for you.

  • Are you inspired by all the information on AJATT but unsure how to start and what to actually do?
  • Do you feel overwhelmed by all the things going on in your life?
  • Are all these effing questions starting sound like a Xanax commercial?
  • Do you wish that someone could be there for you every step of the way, like a parent or big brother or Mr. Miyagi?
  • Do you wish someone else would do all the worrying and big-picture thinking and planning and strategizing for you?
  • Do you want the security of knowing you’re doing stuff that actually works, that you’re on the right track? Every day? Until you’re fluent? No leaving you alone?
  • Do you wish you could abdicate responsibility of handling the structure and scheduling of your learning, while enjoying the freedom of choosing the content?
  • Are you overloaded with good ideas but underloaded with action?
  • Do you just want clear, simple, straightfoward, easy directions and validation?
  • Do you want someone who won’t bait and switch on you, who’ll take responsibility for your fluency, for getting you there?

If that sounds like you, then maybe you need to be spoonfed. Maybe you need Neutrino.

Hold on a sec, though. Before I even tell you what Neutrino is, first, let’s get something out of the way.

Who Should Not Try to Join Neutrino

People who:

  • Don’t want to become fluent in Cantonese
  • Write their own operating systems
  • Sew their own clothes
  • Just generally like doing stuff without any help from anyone
  • Use Linux even in situations where makes better sense not to 😛
    • Oh, you know you love it when I tease you about your OS religion hahaha. I use Linux, too, bruv; I just don’t worship it.
  • Hate everything
  • Don’t know what “AJATT” stands for
  • Aren’t willing to let go and let Khatz (WTF?) 😛

Not everyone is cut out for being spoonfed. Not everybody wants to be spoonfed. Even if it feels and tastes great. And that’s fine. That’s mmm kay. Here. Here’s a hyperlink that takes you somewhere else.

OK. So I see you’re still here. Maybe you’re interested in finding out what this is. But, again, just to be sure let’s make sure you’re a good fit for this.

Who Should Try to Join Neutrino (If Places Are Available)

People who are:

  • Busy
  • Smart
  • Dilligent
  • Serious
  • Perfectionistic
  • Obsessive
  • Erratic
  • Disorganized
  • Inconsistent
  • Undisciplined
  • Have had several failed attempts at learning Chinese — keep starting and stopping, binging and purging (“bulimic learning”), three-day monk syndrome
  • Get overwhelmed easily
  • Have fast, reliable Internet access (duh 😛 )
  • Use Mac or Windows
    • Use Linux as a tool rather than a religion
  • Have $150~$250 a month available for purchasing:
    • Chinese media (books, music, movies, TV shows) and
    • tools (electronic dictionary, extra mp3 player, VPN access to Japan, etc.)

If you’re not most of those things, then Neutrino probably isn’t for you. It isn’t. I wish it were, but it’s not. Don’t waste your time reading the rest of this. Go do the other stuff you had planned for today.

OK, so it looks like you’re still here. It looks like you might really, really be Neutrino type. Let’s tell you what it is then.

Neutrino: What You Don’t Get

  • Actual Chinese books, movies
  • Supplementary materials — extra books (e.g. for hanzi stroke order), stationery
  • Equipment — mp3 players, DVD player, video game consoles

Neutrino: What You Do Get

Every day, Neutrino spoonfeeds you clear, detailed, chunked down, chewed up, simplified, minified instructions on:

  • What to do
  • How to do it
  • How long to do it
  • Where to do it
  • What to use
  • How to use it
  • What to read
  • What to watch
  • What to learn
  • When and where to learn it
  • How long to learn it for
  • What to buy
  • Where to buy it
  • When to buy it

In short, Neutrino manages and spoonfeeds all major areas for you, including:

  • Scheduling: easing you painlessly into awesomeness, with easy steps and funny, gentle reminder to keep you on track. Stop looking at me like that, they are funny!
  • Immersion: Low-effort, high-result immersion management
  • Procurement and Purchase Scheduling: What, where, when and how to get the media and equipment you need
  • Hanzi: target hanzi lists — exactly which hanzi to learn when; you don’t have to think, you only have to focus on what SilverSpoon spoonfeeds you
  • Vocabulary: Frequency-based target vocabulary lists — detailed instructions on specific words and word types to learn in the context of SRSing MCDs (a new SRS technique that’s even better than sentences)

You also get:

  • Special secret exclusive content, and
  • Tons of freebies

Neutrino focuses you on learning the things that real native speakers in real life know and use. None of that “les vacances au bord de la mer” 3 crap they feed you at school.

Nice Speech, King of Longwindia. So Just What is SilverSpoon-Neutrino?

  • Where Old SilverSpoon measured time, SilverSpoon-Neutrino measures choices.
  • Where Old SilverSpoon is about direction, SilverSpoon-Neutrino is about addiction.
  • Where Old SilverSpoon is about when and how, SilverSpoon-Neutrino is about here and now.
  • Where Old SilverSpoon is about effects, SilverSpoon-Neutrino is about causes.
  • Where Old SilverSpoon is about days, SilverSpoon-Neutrino is about atoms.
  • Where Old SilverSpoon talks, SilverSpoon-Neutrino whispers subliminal messages into your soul.

Old SilverSpoon showed, guided, prodded, instructed and mapped you to the crack, SilverSpoon-Neutrino is the crack.

You will never have to think again. You will never have to fret again. You will never have to plan again. You will never have to worry again.
At least as far as this language learn game is concerned.
All you need do is show up for your fix. And not even that: the addiction will make you show up.
That’s because SilverSpoon-Neutrino requires even less of you than Old SilverSpoon (as if such a thing were possible — yeah…pulled it off 😛 …you can thank me later )

Let’s Try That Again…
What’s The Difference Between Neutrino (SilverSpoon 7.0) and Old SilverSpoon 1.0?

There are far too many changes to list here or anywhere — this is something that needs to be experienced to be understood. But here is a brief description of some of the changes:

  • More customization, hyper-personalization
    • Old SilverSpoon was temporally customized — you got exactly what matched the day you were on. The scale of things was hidden from you This was an amazing step forward at the time, using temporal “blinders” to hide information from you to keep you calm and focused — but had two weaknesses. One was that time kept moving. The other was that even a day can be too much to think about.
    • Neutrino is moment-to-moment customized. You’re selecting and doing exactly what you want to do at each moment.
    • Days were one of the basic units of Old SilverSpoon. There are no “days” in SilverSpoon-Neutrino. It’s all about “atoms”. Tiny, atomic actions and semi-actions and choices. Everything happens at a granular, ultra-personal, atomic level (in fact, the project codename for SilverSpoon-Neutrino was “AtomSpoon”). Time does not exist. Now is all there is. You are the star.
    • So, for example, you can skip over anything and everything you can’t or don’t want to do at any time, but not have to think about it. In this respect, SilverSpoon-Neutrino is your mother, your nanny, and your secretary. She will bring it up for you later.
    • You can do only what you can and want to do at the time, but never get lost and never have to think or plan or consider or strategize or worry about how to backtrack so you’re on track. Deviation is built in, expected and celebrated.
    • You can never fall behind because there literally is no behind: there is only you and there is only now. It’s all about freeing you from all thinking about learning, so you can think about other things while learning takes care of itself. It’s everything that school is (structured), and everything that school isn’t (awesome, personalized precisely, exactly to and for you, your preferences, your situation)
  • The Addiction Engine
    • At the core of the software behind SilverSpoon-Neutrino sits a set of structures, algorithms and processes lovingly dubbed the “Addiction Engine”.
    • SilverSpoon-Neutrino integrates the best old 4 and new research on the nature of addictive, compulsive and avoidance behavior, wraps that research into a little ball, slaps you with it and leaves you literally begging for more. What makes gambling addictive? What makes fun fun? Why do we choose to do one thing and not another? SilverSpoon-Neutrino knows why. And it’s going to use that knowledge on you to devastating effect.
  • Gamification
    • While SilverSpoon-Neutrino itself is emphatically not a game — it’s something far more vast, powerful, intentional and sinister than that 😛 , it contains certain elements of games to add to the fun and…games. Experience points, friendly competition, school shootings 5, it’s all there. No Italian plumbers, though. Awww… 😛

As I said, there are many other changes that I won’t go into here. Like the Matrix, one has to see them for oneself. The good news is that many of the awesome parts of Old SilverSpoon remain the same and merge into SilverSpoon-Neutrino. Yes, I said “awesome” again. Don’t look at me like you’ve never run out of adjectives…

Fair Enough, But Version 7.0? Dude, WTF? Are You ON Crack? What Happened to 2~6?

The difference between Neutrino and SilverSpoon 1.0 is so large that it warranted a jump of six places. It’s really the difference between an airplane and a spaceship. Yes, I make spaceships now. Wait…

<<Welcome Aboard 🙂 >>

The Fo’ Shizzle Fluency Guarantee

Neutrino guarantees you fluency. Guaranteed fluency: if you’re not fluent in Cantonese at the end of 995 days of faithfully executing the simple, easy, quick, straightforward atoms spoonfed to you by Neutrino, you can have a full refund. No questions asked.

In fact, if you just decide partway through that you just don’t like it, you can have your money back. That’s how sure I am this works. That’s how freakin’ cool I am. Just an empty email to < refund at ajatt dot com > , with the following subject: “I want a refund, but I still love you. I care about you. I promise I’ll be back again.” will suffice.

Succeed or get your money back. Fluency or your money back. The days of messing around are over. The people who take your money to help you learn should take responsibility for the results. I mean, I’m almost perfect. But even I’m not all the way there. Things happen. If and when they do, you don’t have to pay for that imperfection.

However. While a freakin’ cool person, I am also a practicing jerk, so there is one condition: the hypothetical refund will only be processed after Day 995 of the process, regardless of the cancellation/request date. There are three major reasons for this:

  1. To give me time to skip the country with your money and head to my secret villa in Panama with my concubine 6, Esmeralda. What, I never told you about her? Two words: h ot.
  2. To discourage casual visitors and passers-by from clogging the system with their…casualness and endless billing processing requests. We’re not here to fool around; we’re here to fool around with Cantonese.
  3. To encourage people to be mentally prepared to play this game right through to the fourth quarter. In it to win it, remember? We’re breaking the pots and sinking the ships; we’re taking the option of quitting off the table until the end of the game. You can quit when you’re fluent. No more three-day-monking. Or, if we are three-day-monking, we’re doing it multiple times in succession 😉 .

Why 995 days? Because no two people are alike. Everybody is different. Everybody has a different natural pace and a different (artificial) schedules. Babies learn to talk to different times. And it doesn’t mean one baby is better than the other, that’s just how it is. No one looks back or looks down on (or up to) you because your time-to-first-word was 6 months different from someone else’s. In fact, no one even remembers any more.

You are an individual, not a number, not a drone. That’s why Neutrino is totally customized at the atomic level to you, the individual. Everything is designed so that no two Neutrino experiences are the same because no two people are the same. Having said that, 995 days represents an upper bound, it will likely take you much less time to get fluent, this is just the guaranteed time. I would not want to make it longer because I feel that part of my — and thus Neutrino’s — duty and responsibility is to you is to addict you to the learning process. It’s not a matter of “it’ll work if you stick to it”, it’s a matter of “it’ll work because it’ll make you stick you to it because it gets you hooked on it”.

So, while we’re at it, what does “fluency” even mean? Well, here’s a working definition of fluency:

  • Reading: Can read a randomly selected general interest (e.g. newspaper) article aloud.
  • Listening/Speaking: Can listen to a randomly selected 60~90-second audio clip from prime-time television and repeat the dialogue.
    • Express ideas directly or via circumlocution
  • Writing: Can accurately transcribe a randomly selected audio 60~90-second spoken exchange from prime-time television or radio.

To this working definition, we can also add some items based on Japanese Level Up‘s definition (65/80), because I think it’s a really good one:

  • Can understand Cantonese TV (95%), Cantonese News (95+%), Contemporary Novels (95%)
  • Can read and understand Chinese-only grammar/usage explanations and dictionary definitions — you use Chinese to learn itself: your Chinese is “self-hosting”
  • Don’t yet have a full background of Chinese culture, history, geography and social life in general
  • Can read, write and understand whatever an average Chinese high schooler can
  • Can read, write and understand whatever an average person in your field of expertise (e.g. college major/profession) can
  • On the phone and text chat, people occasionally (though not always) think you’re Chinese
  • Some Chinese people think you were raised in Greater China, or have lived here for 10+ years, or are of Chinese descent

<<Apply Now (Spaces Permitting)>>

Hmm…I’m Still Not Sure, Yo

That’s totally fine. No problem. Get your name on the waiting list and we’ll keep in touch. Future rounds of SilverSpoon will cost more (the price is always rising) and will have even stricter entry criteria (qualifications, prerequisites, time and headcount limits) than you’re looking at now. But the peace of mind may be worth it. I, for one, would rather you join when you’re more certain.


  1. I know, sweet, huh?
  2. You create busywork for yourself? I dunno…whatever 😛
  3. Vacations at the beach…if you “learned” French in the British school system, then you know what I’m talking about…
  4. because old research isn’t necessarily bad, sometimes it just goes out of style and gets forgotten; researchers get bored with it
  5. too soon?
  6. I don’t even know what this word actually means, but it definitely sounds lewd. Plus, the “hookers and XYZ” line was getting old…

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