Wednesday, July 30, 2003

There is [no longer] even an attempt to separate church and state:

"I believe in the sanctity of marriage. I believe a marriage is between a man and a woman. And I think we ought to codify that one way or the other. And we've got lawyers looking at the best way to do that."

Now I'm generally not one interested in pursuing gay marriage because I think the institution of marriage is fraught with problems (socially, culturally, and individually). (In fact, I've had a little exchange on the matter recently at [tin manic's page] .) But I'm also supportive of gay rights advocates who are doing all they can to garner marriage rights and benefits for same-sex couples because, when it comes down to it, I think the practical, everyday aspects of things are important.

I'm just wondering how some fence-sitters think they can get away with their in-between position:

Senators John Edwards of North Carolina and Bob Graham of Florida said through spokesmen that they opposed gay marriage but supported extending health and other benefits to the domestic partners of gays.
Senator John Kerry of Massachusetts, who voted against the Defense of Marriage Act in 1996, declared himself against marriage but in favor of "civil unions" that would allow gays and their partners tax benefits, health benefits, hospital visitation and othe rights accorded married people.

Hmmmm.... separate but equal....

One of the reasons why my skin crawls to see the "gay issue" headed in tunnel-vision for gay marriage is that it seems like progressives (of any sexuality) are letting the discussion get deadlocked into a certain set of concerns. Fighting over the right to marriage, while important for gays, still leaves a lot of the major questions unasked (and unanswered) -- How should we best take care of the health of the American people? What benefits should accrue to people with children? What structures of child-rearing are we willing to sponsor with tax breaks, etc.? Is insisting on the nuclear-family or even child-rearing as the basic unit of society the best way to ensure the best lives for everyone?

I'm sure there are people out there asking these questions, much like the feminists a few decades did ago, but no one listens anymore. So the question is, how do you get people to listen? How do you set the terms of debate, or at least sway them significantly? How do you talk about things that will really change the way things work without bringing the world crashing down on you?

      >> 2:32 PM

Tuesday, July 29, 2003

I forgot to mention earlier the totally cool (geeky) thing I did while at the campus store. I wandered up to the textbook section and saw the books for the first ever class I am teaching on my own. (I've taught writing classes for the last two years, but those don't quite count since the goals and types of writing assignments are prescribed by the Writing Program, even though I have to come up with the actual assignments and daily lesson plans. And we're not allowed to assign books for students to read, really.) This class in the International Studies department is going to be a lot of work. But I hope it will be fun, too. Please please let my students be excited about what we'll be discussing in class....

      >> 7:14 PM

Yeah. Got my copy of [Anne Anlin Cheng's The Melancholy of Race: Psychoanalysis, Assimilation, and Hidden Grief] replaced at the store today. I was reading along yesterday and noticed that around page eighty, the book reset itself and repeated the first thirty or so pages (including the copyright page, title page, preface...). This would've been okay if the book then resumed with the next page later on, but it apparently treated the interpellated pages as pages eighty through one-twenty or so.

While at the store, I also picked up the [SpongeBob Squarepants Survival Guide] on my frequent buyer credit because I have this unhealthy obsession with ol' SpongeBob, even though I haven't seen the show very many times.

Gosh. All about books. Anything else going on in my life? Nope.

      >> 1:48 PM

Monday, July 28, 2003

Last week on TV some local news pundit railed against Congressional discussion about radio stations banning the Dixie Chicks from airplay. The pundit ridiculed Congress for calling this ban an abridgement of free speech. His major reason was that the majority of musicians don't get airplay on radios; an explicit banning of one group is therefore hardly discriminatory. I found this kind of strange that Congress would be having a discussion on the Dixie Chicks and free speech. A few clicks of the keyboard revealed some interesting context. The Congressional discussion, for example, was not simply about free speech in the abstract. Congress was not debating whether or not the Dixie Chicks should have the right to redress for being banned from the radio. Rather, it appears that the discussion was in fact part of a larger examination of [consolidation in the radio industry]. Of course, all this was lost in the pundit's rantings....

      >> 2:56 PM

Sunday, July 27, 2003

Erm. Wow. What an unproductive day. I got up this morning, read a bunch of web journals/logs. Redesigned this page. Took a trip to the mall with Rob. Came back. Watched Sabrina Goes Down Under and Sabrina Goes to Rome back-to-back on TV. (Hey, I think the wedding of Melissa Joan Hart is airing right now.) Dragged myself to the gym briefly enough to do a little workout before it closed. And now I'm back here. Days go by...

      >> 8:10 PM

Top Three Questions I Wish I Never Had to Hear Again
(or, what I've learned people still don't understand about the history and imperatives of Asian American Studies since I declared a focus on Asian American literature...)
  1. Have you talked to anyone in the East Asian Studies department?
  2. Is there a personal reason you chose to study Asian American literature?
  3. In an ideal world, would you still want to study and teach Asian American literature?

      >> 11:58 AM

[You're Never Happy, Are You?]:

We will have to pitch a show that has a radical feminist team of a therapist, political activist, philosopher/theologian, an historian, and a poet (?) in place of the hair stylist, foodie, decorator, clothes and culture mavens. Our team will enforce meaningful, internal, philosophical personal change, heart-felt behavioral changes in the man's intimate relationships, as well as committed engagement to his new-found values expressed in his affirmative actions within the political system, and resistance against the dominant culture.

YAY!!! That's a show I would love to see.

      >> 9:02 AM

Saturday, July 26, 2003

Sign downtown Chapel Hill

Wore this to happy hour yesterday. Got too many questions.

      >> 11:57 AM

Friday, July 25, 2003

[Am I here? Is this my hand?]:

Maybe someone should start the "See Me on TV" channel, where people assemble in large stadiums to wave at the camera.


      >> 3:45 PM

[Stop the Wedding!]:

But marriage—forget the "gay" for a moment—is intrinsically conservative. It does not just normalize, it requires normality as the ticket in. Assimilating another "virtually normal" constituency, namely monogamous, long-term, homosexual couples, marriage pushes the queerer queers of all sexual persuasions—drag queens, club-crawlers, polyamorists, even ordinary single mothers or teenage lovers—further to the margins. "Marriage sanctifies some couples at the expense of others," wrote cultural critic Michael Warner. "It is selective legitimacy."
. . .
The opportunity most tragically missed in the race to get gays into the marriage club is to unpack the "bundle" of rights and protections —notably health insurance—that now comes with the status and redistribute its contents to everyone. Marriage's sexual exclusion doesn't create unequal security in America. That's done by a system that loads responsibility for health care, child care, and disability support onto individual families and corporations. American reformers should demand what other industrialized democracies provide: tax-funded social benefits for every citizen. Even legal immigrant status needn't be dependent on whom you sleep with. French immigration officials consider that nation's civil-union equivalent as one of many eligibility factors—but not an automatic green light. That's unfair if married people get preferred treatment. But no intimate couple should. People form commitments to home and country through children, work, ideology, and community too.

We love Judy.

      >> 3:18 PM

[Much-anticipated time capsule yields wet crud]:

About 20 people assembled for the opening were crestfallen by the sight of the glommed-up newspapers, photographs, booklets and other material.

Awww. How sad. Which remind me. Sometime in elementary school, my teacher had us write letters to ourselves in the future. She was supposed to send them to us many years later. I don't know if the time has passed yet, though I have received nothing from myself. Would be cool to see what I wrote.

      >> 3:05 PM

On my way to work today, a white woman walked up to my car at an intersection with a bucket (ostensibly seeking donations for some missionary group). But when she walked up, she didn't ask me in English if I wanted to donate money. Instead, she said something in a language I didn't understand. When I looked at her with a puzzled expression and said excuse me, she asked if I were Japanese. Ummm. No. Then followed a predictable line of questions. Where are you from. California. Ah yes, but where is your family from? Japan? Korea? Taiwan. And then she said, "thank you," in Chinese before walking off to collect money from another car..... I must've missed the memo that says Asian people in the US like being spoken to in Asian languages, whether or not they actually know one. For the life of me, I'll never understand this obsession of other Americans to locate national/linguistic "origins" of Asians.

      >> 2:25 PM

Thursday, July 24, 2003

Happiness is pulling out your frequent buyer card with the bookstore and finding that you have $33.87 in credit. Chagrin is finding this out after you could have used it on the purchase you just made. But hey, this means I can buy another couple of books soon!

Yesterday I bought [Arundhati Roy's War Talk] and [Ann Cvetkovich's An Archive of Feelings: Trauma, Sexuality, and Lesbian Public Cultures]. I also picked up on my free book account at work [Richard Schweid's Consider the Eel] which has been taunting me for months. Now I own it. I own it.

      >> 3:08 PM

Sunday, July 20, 2003

[Signs 2.]

      >> 8:59 PM

A weekend in pictures

Some pictures from my weekend in DC. Friday -- a lovely dinner with [legalmoose] and [lioncub] at Raku. Then book browsing (bought a cookbook) at Kramerbooks next door. (No pictures from that day.) Saturday -- monument and museum hopping with Eric. Failed attempt to meet up with Joe. Many thanks to slon's parents for putting us up in their hotel for free.

Actually a picture from before we left for the trip.
The flower dropping pollen on my peace lily.

Getting rid of the water in my ear after a shower at the hotel.

Saturday, the Washington Monument.

Korean War Veterans Memorial. The wall with etched pictures. Reflective.

KWVM again. I think the statues are creepy.

Closeup of a creepy statue.

I really wanted to see the Lincoln Memorial.

Very cool.

Washington Monument, from the Lincoln Memorial.

Vietnam War Veterans Memorial. Most palpable sense of loss.

Dwindling walls...

Sculpture outside Hirshhorn Museum.

Clever sign inside Hirsshorn Museum.

Inside Union Station.

After a full day of walking, we really needed to rest our feet.

No reclining! On a bench in Union Station.
A man was lying on the sign when we first sat down.

This tree is 12' 6" tall. Thank you for your attention.

Street at dusk.

Stop sign at dusk.

Building on street corner.

Gotta love the circles in DC.

This means you can't park here.

Hmmm. Why does this child get a personal sign?

Scoop your pooch's poop, please.

Clouds Sunday morning on the drive home.

Weigh station.

Man asses and dumb fries, anyone?

      >> 7:21 PM

I love Rob.

I am a moody bitch.

      >> 4:28 PM

Thursday, July 17, 2003

Ahiru No Pekkle

I always find myself caught in the middle. Probably because I am very non-committal when people bitch to me about others. I find it hard to really side with someone in attacking another. Everyone has her own faults. In any case, I hope this battle between two people here doesn't get out of control. Worse yet, I hope they don't individually make me "choose" one or the other because, you know, while I like them both, I don't care enough to have to make that choice. Whatev.

Zadie Smith yesterday was wonderful. I'm not sure if I'd like her new novel The Autograph Man as much as I'm enjoying White Teeth, but I also liked a lot what she said about her current feelings about her first novel. She really writes very humorous novels, not necessarily something I'd initially like. But her humor is the kind that really exposes the contradictions of our everyday social interactions.

      >> 3:54 PM

Never fails. Whenever I plan on doing some of my own work while at work, someone plops some big project on my desk. I even brought my laptop to work (hey, as long as I answer the phones, I don't see why I shouldn't do my own thing). But now I get to make file labels, remove staples, and re-staple invoices. At least I'll be off tomorrow! Ha ha! Going to DC for the weekend. Joe's there for the weekend, so I thought it'd be a good weekend to make the trip and see other friends like Eric as well.

      >> 2:16 PM

Wednesday, July 16, 2003

Ha ha ha!:

Chalfens rarely made jokes unless they were exceptionally lame or numerical in nature or both: What did the zero say to the eight? Nice belt. (From Zadie Smith's White Teeth.)

      >> 12:54 PM

Tuesday, July 15, 2003

OMG! [Jann Arden] has an on-line journal! (Discovered via [homotextual.org].)

      >> 1:49 PM

Monday, July 14, 2003

[Prince William Stamps.] One of these came in the mail at work today.

I wonder if all the guys who work at the local Kinko's are hot. The guy who comes here every afternoon to pick up photocopying jobs is sooooo yummy.

      >> 3:43 PM

Sunday, July 13, 2003

Bush and lies. [Bush Aides Try to Put Out Political Storm on Iraq Claim.] Some of what's going on is remarkably absurd. One Republican senator on TV was trying to defend Bush by saying that at least he's come clean about the lack of evidence for the claim about Iraqi plans to obtain uranian from Africa. At that at least Bush isn't trying to quibble over the meaning of words. Huh? As Rob said, there is a VAST difference between what happened with Clinton and the Lewinsky affair and what is going on with Bush and Iraq. In the first instance, though the "credibility" of Clinton might have been thrown off, the sex did not lead to the invasion of another country. In the second, Bush's selective use of "intelligence" helped start a war. I think there's a slight difference there.

So since Zadie Smith is coming to [The Regulator Bookshop] to read from her new novel, I thought now might be a good time finally to read her first novel White Teeth. It's long. Or I'm a slow reader. Or both. I'm enjoying it, though. Her writing voice reminds me a bit of Rushdie's. Her characters are all wonderfully fleshed out with idiosyncracies and flaws. No untouchable heroes here.

      >> 2:29 PM

Friday, July 11, 2003

Yikes. The language of a subpoena actually says, "YOU ARE COMMANDED . . . "

      >> 1:50 PM

Over coffee last week, Jerma and I talked about the Supreme Court affirmative action decisions. She noted that missing from most conversations and debates was the idea of "equal opportunity," something now replaced by the much more ambiguous "diversity." It seems that affirmative action has become acceptable only to promote cultural diversity. Taken pessimistically such an approach suggests that allowing non-white students into schools of higher education serves the purpose of educating white students about other cultures -- native informants run amok!! The twin buzzwords -- diversity and multiculturalism -- have since the 1980s at least become double-edged swords in the fight for greater racial equality. Yes, it should be a positive effect of affirmative action programs that all students gain a greater understanding and personal experience with people who are not like them. But is that really the point of affirmative action? At its root, affirmative action is not really a program to effect greater cultural understanding in the general population (though it's hard to see how it could be successful without doing so), but rather it is a program that should increase access of underprivileged (racially coded) classes to institutions of education and power.

I was thinking a little about this idea of "equal opportunity" versus "diversity" yesterday when I saw in the [Daily Tar Heel] an article about the state approving a bill to give full four-year tuition to all graduates of the North Carolina School of Science and Math if they attend a college in the UNC system. The NCSSM is already a part of the UNC system though it is a high school. It is a magnet school, drawing students from around the state. The problem with this kind of bill, especially in light of the major budget cuts for the university system (the headline for that same issue of the Daily Tar Heel reads, "State Budget Stings Entire UNC System"), is that it continues to privilege those who have already "made it," those who already will have a healthy selection of top schools nationwide to attend and probably at least some scholarships to help fund their education, even if their families aren't already comfortably equipped to send them to college. Rather than fully fund these students so that they will stay in the state, perhaps it would be better to create more opportunities for those students in the state who haven't had the same opportunities in secondary schools.

      >> 9:25 AM

YAY! My paper proposal for a conference in Taiwan in November just got accepted!!!! (Still cool to find out even if standard practice seems to be accepting all paper proposals for many conferences.) Though, scary thing is that I noticed in the list of people whose papers were accepted one of the authors that I'll be writing about -- [Larissa Lai]. Hmmm....... But I also noticed Walter K. Lew, the poet, on the e-mail list. Apparently he is a graduate student in East Asian Languages and Comparative Literature at UCLA. Maybe this'll be one of those conferences where I meet cool people....

      >> 6:49 AM

Thursday, July 10, 2003

For shame! I just ran out of soy sauce. The marinated tempeh I'm making will be slightly more vinegary and slightly less soy saucey.

I was meant to have lunch with Kathryn yesterday, but being the unpunctual fellow that I am, I just missed her. We hadn't gotten a chance to confirm the lunch date, so after fifteen minutes, she left the restaurant. I arrived probably a minute after she left. As it turns out, I ended up having lunch with the production manager at the Press instead. He wandered in as I was waiting in line to order food. He has quite an interesting story. He was in the army as a Chinese translator, stationed for awhile in the Phillipines. The army ended up dismantling the Chinese spying unit there, though, so he spent most of his time there answering phones rather than using the Chinese he had been taught.

      >> 10:26 AM

Tuesday, July 08, 2003

Ha ha. We got the new copier/printer in at work today. Everyone's confused about how to use it. Luckily, I wasn't at the demo this morning so I can claim complete lack of knowledge about using the thing.

      >> 1:40 PM

Swimming is hard. My worst fears have been realized. For awhile now, something sort of lurked there in the back of my mind about one of the lifeguards at the pool. He looked familiar somehow.... Today, it suddenly became clear. He also interns at the Press. My worst fear is to have someone I know in other contexts see me half-naked at the pool. One of the main reasons I decided to fork out the extra cash for the gym in Durham was to avoid running into classmates and such at the school pool. Argh!!!!!!!!

There'll be a little get-together tonight at our place with a few friends to watch [Grave of the Fireflies]. Cleaning up (ever so slightly) for this evening has made me realize how unsuited our apartment is for entertaining. We really just aren't social creatures.

In other news, it is too hot to exist outside.

      >> 1:03 PM

Sunday, July 06, 2003

Couldn't sleep last night for some reason. Lay in bed awake from about 1 am until 3 am before getting up to read the first chapter of Zadie Smith's White Teeth. And then I turned off the light again and lay awake for another half hour at least before I finally fell asleep. I feel relatively rested now, but I think I had unsettling dreams and tossed and turned a bit the whole time I slept. I woke up upside down on the bed. At some point, I think I pushed Rob off the bed, too. Oops.

Yesterday was the sequel to my Fourth. Rob and I went to his mom's for another cookout. It was fun. We had grilled burgers. Played horseshoes and gin rummy. I CRUSHED them all in both games. Had an ice cube put down the back of my shirt by Rob's mom. Wrote a group letter to Rob's sister in the US army just south of Baghdad. Rob's family is silly and fun. There's his mom who loves to talk and play. There's his mom's partner, whom you'd find as the illustration for the word "curmudgeon" in the dictionary. And his born-again-Christian sister (the one not in the army) who is oddly still very OK to hang out with. It's clear she and Rob tease each other mercilessly all the time.

After all that, Rob and I finally went to see 28 Days Later and it was wonderful. Really not quite a horror slash movie, but has plenty of blood and gore of its own (kind of like Shallow Grave, come to think of it). I'd characterize the atmosphere of the movie as rather eerie and meditative. Sort of dwells on this impossible yet uncannily familiar scenario of a deserted, quarantined England. It clearly wants to deal with this age-old question of why men continue to kill men or when it is morally justified to kill other men, but I'm not sure it really offers any compelling answer other than blind, possessive self-interest -- though perhaps that is the most coherent answer available. But the central question that the movie dwelled on was what humans would do if they were pretty much the last people in the land (not quite the whole earth, but at least the whole island of Britain), abandoned to a horrible infectious disease. We get all the usual answers about what surviving is, how living is more than simple survival, how family and love figure into life, etc. etc. But I thought the movie was visually and aurally perfect. As Rob noted, the silence in this film works -- long, extended scenes without dialogue or background music didn't bog down. And it was certainly punctuated at various moments with sudden crashing and screaming and stuff. Made people jump.

Cranky morning

      >> 10:44 AM

Friday, July 04, 2003

The neighbors are setting off fireworks in the middle of the street.

Very full Fourth. I think I ate continually from about 5 p.m. until 8 p.m. A little get-together at a friend's place. I just wanted to lie down after awhile, but there were more things I had to try!

Dot duck.

      >> 9:21 PM

Thursday, July 03, 2003

      >> 11:06 PM

go to the

These words appeared on my doodle sheet of quadrille paper today. Huh?

      >> 2:36 PM

Wednesday, July 02, 2003

Yeah, so we watched [The Ring] late last night. I'd have to agree with the general consensus that it wasn't that scary. The first scene was great at building up suspense, though. Rob and I were cringing within a couple of minutes. But the suspense never built up to anything really scary in that scene. Overall, I think it's a great story, just perhaps not very well told. In terms of horror/ghost stories, it definitely calls into question some narratives of how evil comes about through pain and suffering. I like how the movie continues beyond what seems like a natural ending and changes what we think about everything up to that point. Unfortunately, the movie posits instead simply the unexplainable supernatural evil. And the actual ending was really weak. I'm interested to see how the original Ringu might be better as many claim....

Now I really have to see the gay porn parody [The Hole]. Before you're gay... you see the hole.... Heh.

Immature humor of the day: In the mail to the Press today, a letter from SCUTTLEBUTT.

      >> 9:54 AM

Remember when everyone and their mother had lists of the cds they owned on their homepages?

I love it when it's really dark outside during the day. Rain rain (don't) go away come again another day (too)!!!!!!

      >> 7:28 AM

Tuesday, July 01, 2003

SO SLEEPY!!!!!!!! [How Much Sleep Do We Need?]

In college, I considered a psychology major to do dream research. I took a class with [this professor], though, and lost interest in the field. Eh.

      >> 2:31 PM

OMG I AM SO BORED. Staring at the computer for nine hours a day is not so much fun.

      >> 2:14 PM

[Robert McCloskey, 88, of 'Make Way for Ducklings,' Is Dead]:

"He wanted to study them perfectly before he could make a book about them, so he made drawings of them in every position," Mr. Simont said, adding that the experience remained vivid in his memory. "Ducks start quacking at the break of day, very loudly and emphatically."

Have I ever mentioned that when I grow up, I want to be a children's book author/illustrator?

      >> 2:08 PM

My friend "Better Fangs :F?" is the coolest. She sent me [Spiker Colorz styling glue] and hand-made duck stickers from Japan. Now I can go to July 4th cookouts with colored hair!

[Terminator 3 review]:

Mr. Schwarzenegger, whose main contribution to American culture has been inspiring wicked parodies on "Saturday Night Live" and "The Simpsons," acts (if you can call it that) with his usual leaden whimsy, manifesting the gift for uttering hard-to-forget, meaningless catchphrases that is most likely the wellspring of his blossoming reported desire to seek elective office in California.

Mmm... leaden whimsy....

      >> 11:34 AM

[Heather Woodbury, "What Ever" (.ram)] Ummm. From [Farrar, Straus, and Giroux Publishers author audio clips].

      >> 9:15 AM

Cute picture of the day: [Webcam kissing].

      >> 8:02 AM

[BOX OF FLUFFY DUCKS!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!]

      >> 7:55 AM