Friday, April 30, 2004

[First Person: The Unacknowledged Profession]:

She asked to see a copy of the novel, as if I couldn't be trusted, as if I were guilty of teaching barnyard pornography.
In North Carolina, however, a teacher who lodges a complaint about an administrator does not get much satisfaction. The assistant principal's actions are indicative of a certain attitude that persists in North Carolina and in the South in general: If a parent complains or if test scores are low, the teacher is suspect. Indeed, the teacher is guilty of some egregious lapse in judgment.

I'm trying to find out what the approved reading lists for high school US literature courses are in North Carolina. Having no luck so far. If anyone can help me, I'd be most appreciative. I've found information on goals for the junior-year English course focused on US Literature, but no recommended books list or anything that even mentions specific books. :(

      >> 3:28 PM

More ranting about students

Argh. Yet another student complaining about his B-. Maybe he should've done more on his last paper assignment. A two-page paper is hardly going to be adequate for fully addressing a five-to-seven-page assignment. And a student in my international studies class who has missed two deadline extensions for papers e-mails me this morning to say she hasn't had a chance to e-mail them to me. Well, sorry, but you have a D+ in the class and there's nothing more I can do about it.

I think I'm going to put the following statement in my course policies/syllabus from now on:

There will be no complaining about end-of-semester grades. If you want to challenge a particular grade on a paper assignment during the semester, you must do so in a one-page statement detailing how your paper meets the criteria of a higher grade according to the scoring rubric we discuss in class. This statement must be typed, printed out, and handed to me within a week of when you get back your paper.

The crappiest thing is how my students this semester are actually trying to make the argument that I should bump up their grade because of their GPA. What the??? Grade inflation much?

And just to gripe about disciplinary expectations, this is again one of those deals where they would never think to ask a math professor to give them that extra grade boost simply because they are "so close" to a higher grade. It's this stupid, persistent understanding that grading essays is entirely arbitrary while grading a math proof isn't. Clearly I have not done a good enough job explaining to my students how their writing should meet certain criteria in order to receive the grade they think they deserve.... Grrr.....

      >> 10:42 AM

Thursday, April 29, 2004

Crap-o-la. Am sitting here in office avoiding grading final exams. A student from one of my other classes is now complaining about his B-. He thinks his grade should've been rounded up to a B. Whatever. He's pretty much written all C papers. He should be damned happy that his final grade came out to a B- what with all the grade inflating that converted his C papers to a B-.

      >> 10:49 PM

[What's wrong with Curves?]:

In 2003, Heavin and his wife gave away $10 million -- 10 percent of their company's gross revenues -- to charities. At least half of that money went to three Texas organizations to fund "pregnancy crisis centers" supported by Operation Save America -- the same organization that blamed the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks on God's retribution for abortions and whose purpose, as described on its Web site, is to "unashamedly take up the cause of pre-born children in the name of Jesus Christ."

Gah. I noticed one of these that just opened up near my grocery store here. Evil. This is another example of how feminist movements' work to empower women has been co-opted by scary fundies to fund bad stuff.

Can't seem to shake this lethargy in my limbs today....

      >> 3:41 PM

[Thais Fear 'Militant' Revenge]:

Angry and grief-stricken villagers buried their dead Thursday a day after Thai police killed more than 100 suspected Islamic militants, and the government braced for revenge attacks amid allegations of excessive force.
The widespread killings happened as police repulsed coordinated insurgent attacks at dawn Wednesday across Thailand's Muslim south. Bands of about 20 people each raided about 15 police outposts and checkpoints in the provinces of Yala, Pattani and Songkhla.
Security forces shot and killed 108 alleged militants, including 32 holed up in a mosque. Five police were killed in fights with the suspects, most of them teenagers armed with knives or other bladed weapons.


      >> 3:16 PM

[You are strange and off-putting.]

      >> 1:00 PM

Wednesday, April 28, 2004

[Wanted: Really Smart Suckers.] Augh! This article on the awful job prospects for humanities PhDs is the pits. I actually find people who decry the state of the academy by telling "promising" students not to go to graduate school to be annoying. I totally agree that people should be well aware of what they are getting themselves into in terms of job prospects and all, but this insistence on warning away people seems to totally miss the root of the problem. It isn't that there are too many people interested in the academic job but that graduate programs are admitting far too many students than can be sustained by the job market. Often these graduate students do take the place of cheap labor as staff of required composition courses. (Here I'm speaking of English departments, of course.) But wouldn't it be more useful or transformative to do something about how departments work than simply to decry the awful situation of graduate students? This is why I think graduate student unions are very important and should always struggle for more pay and benefits (and recognition by the university). Focusing on the conditions of labor and how to make things better for all involved is much better than simply telling prospective graduate students that the whole system is messed up and to stay away. And yes, part of the problem is a culture of undervaluing certain jobs while extolling them, as one of the scholars of "contemporary theory" cited in the article notes. But how this happens and why is what needs to be understood rather than simply accepting things as they are (as if immutable).

I also have a problem with faculty who tell graduate students in a wholesale manner not to go into a particular subfield of their discipline because they think too many people in the department work in it. Hello? Isn't the point of going to a particular department to find lots of people who work in the subfield you want to enter? Anyways, this issue is again something that should be addressed more at the level of explicitly talking about what it means to be a specialist in a particular subfield and what the issues are in order to engage them (and change them) rather than simply to acquiesce to some amorphous, all-encompassing force out there.

      >> 1:27 PM

Tuesday, April 27, 2004

There was a beautiful moment of light rain and bright sunshine this afternoon. I love it when rain clouds butt up against clear skies.

I have this seemingly endless pile of papers to grade. They should be somehow taken care of by tomorrow morning, though, when I submit semester grades for the composition classes. Then I get to tackle the exams I gave today for the international studies class.

[Student fights to campaign in election as 'queer guy']:

An openly gay student is fighting to campaign in his high school election with posters that read: "Gay Guys Know Everything!" and "Queer Guy for Hunt High."

Saw this story on the evening news last night. Quite odd. I'm not sure what to make of it. What does this student think he will gain by campaigning as the queer guy? I do agree that the high school principal shouldn't have banned this student's campaign posters, but I'm still trying to figure out why the student thinks campaigning this way is useful. Shock value? Being "true" to himself? Hmmm.... Not politics as usual....

      >> 5:42 PM

Monday, April 26, 2004

I can't wait to see [Robot Stories]. Mmm... shirtless male robots.... This film seems to explore those edges of humanness that sci fi allows in its more exciting modes.

In "Machine Love," humanoid robots are portrayed by Asians of mixed ancestry while normal humans are portrayed by mono-racial actors. Writer/director Pak, who is half Korean and half Caucasian, portrays the android I-Person "Archie."
. . .
Archie’s human office mates are often rude to him, and exclude him from social conversations and gatherings. They decide to leave him without a shirt so that his interface connections are easier to access. When no one is looking, two female employees take the opportunity to feel him up. As they purr sarcastic sweet nothings into Archie’s ear and rove their hands over his chest, Archie’s eyes search the walls and the ceiling for some hint or explanation as to why this is happening to him, and why he feels humiliated by it.

It is always a bit disappointing to read reviews (and director commentary) on films made by non-whites that insist on the "universality" of themes. Why are books and films authored by white people still considered relevant for "all" people but books and films by people of color aren't? Whatever. It's like we either have to identify with the books and films or else we must exoticize and distance ourselves from them (as work that applies to those other people). Isn't it more interesting to consider how films do the work of identifications and distancing rather than to assume an easy either/or scenario?

      >> 7:21 PM

Oh great. It's begun to rain heavily outside. And I didn't bring an umbrella out with me. Sigh.

[Preparing for Surgery: Elite Medical Team to Separate Conjoined Twins in June]:

Conjoined at the abdomen and chest, twins Jade and Erin Buckles were delivered by Caesarian section at the National Naval Medical Center in Bethesda last February. During the next several weeks, washingtonpost.com will follow the emotional and physical challenges the Buckles family faces as an elite medical team prepares to separate the babies in a complicated and rare surgery at Children's National Medical Center in the District.

Is it just me, or is it weird that following the surgery of these conjoined twins is a "human interest" story?

      >> 1:47 PM

Sunday, April 25, 2004

Whoops. Accidentally started playing Final Fantasy VII this morning. It consumed five hours of my day. I did manage to pry myself away from the PS2, though, and read some from [Music and the Racial Imagination] as initial research for the conference paper I'm giving on racial/cultural belonging for Asian Americans in American popular music. Then I made it to the gym for a bit. Swimming is hard. Now listening to [Chops] and catching up on news....

. . .

[Abortion Rights Rally in DC]:

The event was the first large-scale abortion rights demonstration in Washington since 1992 and was also promoted as a march for wider access to reproductive health services and a right to privacy.

Hells yeah. Though I'm not sure the party-line rhetoric is quite true. Even if most Republicans are anti-choice, I don't get the sense that Democrats are particularly staunch defenders of choice on the whole, either. And this insistence on the right to privacy, while not bad, seems to miss an important aspect of abortion rights as crucial to the health of the social body. Religious conservatives, for example, forcefully argue that abortions tear apart the fabric of family and society. An argument could be made more strongly, I think, that abortions allow women and their families to maintain healthy relationships.

Karen Hughes, an adviser to President Bush, appeared on CNN today to provide a counterpoint to the anti-Bush sentiment on the Mall. She praised the president on his "very strong record for women," saying he has employed more women in senior-level staff positions than any other presidential administration.
She also said that abortion-rights activists were moving against what she said was popular momentum, particularly since the terrorist attacks of 2001, in favor of anti-abortion policies.
"I think that after September 11, the American people are valuing life more and we need policies to value the dignity and worth of every life," she said. "President Bush has worked to say, let's be reasonable, let's work to value life, let's reduce the number of abortions, let's increase adoptions. And I think those are the kinds of policies the American people can support, particularly at a time when we're facing an enemy and, really, the fundamental issue between us and the terror network we fight is that we value every life."

Bull! Shit!! Clearly the problem of associating feminist practice simply with women in office. There are plenty of anti-feminist, misogynist women both in and out of positions of power. And I really can't believe that this Hughes is making the argument that anti-choice = patriotism via 9/11!!!! Why do conservatives seem so adept at this kind of illogical articulation of political stances to moral and affective fields? As crazy as it sounds, maybe some pro-choice activisits need to be spreading the message that supporting abortion-rights is the ur-American symbolic struggle against the primitive Islamic terrorists who are attempting to take away our hard-won, enlightened Western culture. Where's talk of how much more progressive America is regarding women? Where are the head-shaking observations of Muslim women in burkas, confined to homes unless accompanied by a male relative? Why isn't this rhetoric being mobilized to support abortion rights? (I know, I know. Totally problematic. Would never work.)


Ha ha. From [the AP article] on the rally:

And feminist Gloria Steinem accused Bush of squandering international good will and taking positions so socially conservative that he seems -- according to Steinem -- to be in league with the likes of Muslim extremists or the Vatican.

Go Gloria!

      >> 5:47 PM

Friday, April 23, 2004

I hate people who always have to go against the grain of things just for the sake of disagreeing. I just read this article on [William Hung] that is soooo stupid. Because basically the writer Oliver Wang agrees that the celebration of Hung is inextricable from "racist love," but then he tries to say that we really shouldn't be hatin' on him because Hung is really such a courageous guy to face up to the laughter/humiliation and persevere. No. No. First, Hung not only perpetuates certain emasculating stereotypes of Asian/American men, but he does so without a sense that he is perpetuating that discourse. Wang turns criticisms of Hung's cluelessness around to suggest that this is a good thing. Huh? Since when is being ignorant of how people see you a good thing? Second, Hung's "I have no regrets" comment is really not something we should celebrate. It is exactly what people pick up as the "strength" of Hung in doing what he wants despite sucking at it. Sure, we do want to encourage people to have fun with singing, dancing, and performing even if they aren't talented. But what are the implications of celebrating someone who has no talent by giving him a recording contract and all this media attention? Are we really championing the "common person" so much as mocking this particular person who doesn't understand that he isn't talented? Third, fuck Wang for his snipe at critics who note Hung's complicity in perpetuating the dorky Asian male stereoype. What's up with the ad hominem attacks? But the implication, of course, is that Wang himself is SO secure in his masculinity that he doesn't have to resort to attacking Hung. Whatever. Loser.

      >> 3:39 PM

Thursday, April 22, 2004

Woo hoo! Last day of teaching. So exhausted. It's been crazy here at work, too. Weird people wandering in and babbling incoherently, then getting flustered and trying to wander around the Press to find someone else to babble at. Luckily, there were two of us at the front desk (we only overlap for an hour each day -- she works mostly in the mornings and I in the afternoons), so I was able to devote my attention just to him to figure out what he wanted while the other receptionist answered the phone and helped the other visitors who came in. It's always an on/off thing at work -- either there are constant phone calls, visitors walking in, and miscellaneous office machines breaking down, or there is nothing happening and I can play my SpongeBob game in peace.

It's hot and sticky here. Not nearly as bad as it'll be in just a few weeks but still bad enough to make me complain constantly.

[Downelink.com] is the networking site for downe-ers. I just found out today that "downe" is the new "gay." I'm not sure yet who uses the term and what it is meant to address differently than "gay" or "queer." Would like to find out, though, especially since I hear (through a listserv) that the term seems to be what queer Asian American youth are using. I personally prefer "quasian" as a hybrid of "queer" and "Asian" with overtones of "quake" (in fear, as the awesome power of earthquakes, etc.). Anyways, I would love to find out the origins of "downe" and how people use it. I could only find a little info/discussion on a [livejournal community].

      >> 2:20 PM

Wednesday, April 21, 2004

Grrr. Have been in snippy mood all afternoon. Maybe it's coffee withdrawal?

[Witness tells how she learned transgender teen was male]:

"I thought I felt a penis," Brown testified. Brown then screamed and ran into the hallway shouting, "I can't believe this is a f -- ing man. I can't believe it. I can't cope with this," she said.

I can't even describe how sickened and utterly beyond comprehension the events in this article make me feel. There must be something wrong with me that the kinds of emotional responses that are so seem so visceral or common for others is completely beyond my understanding. Why do people respond so violently to transgendered people? Why do people feel so invested and connected to binary gender identifications? It just makes no sense to me, and I really don't want to understand that other logic at all.

      >> 4:20 PM

Tuesday, April 20, 2004

Media Digestion

[William Hung as Buckwheat?]:

Hung's fans are blind to all of it, e-mailing me such thoughts as, "Can't you just leave well enough alone?"
Or my favorite: "Can't you just take things at face value?"
Sure. Why look deeper at anything?

More from Emil Guillermo about rethinking the supposed celebration of everyman in William Hung. Appealing as Hung may be to some as someone with a positive outlook on life despite having no talent, he is ultimately a figure that stands in for the bracketing off of Asian American men as ineffectual, talentless karaoke singers. It is not a leap but rather a subtle chain of linkages that continue to suggest the best response to Asian American men is laughter.

. . .

[Rap, Rage, REDvolution]:

"The way (OutKast) were putting their hands over their mouths with that 'woo woo woo woo' stuff," recalls Lance Gumbs, elected representative of Long Island's Shinnecock Nation. "I couldn't even see them anymore. I just saw white America, that same tired history." The former DJ, who would trek from the rez regularly to attend Grandmaster Flash jams in the Bronx and Harlem during the early '80s, emphasizes, "That these guys are African American made it even more disturbing."

Indeed. When I saw this Outkast performance, I was quite confused. Later, Outkast performed the song at another awards show, this time in Japanese-face. I'm not sure what they think they're doing, playing this kind of racial drag and minstrelsy in performances of this song. (The video showcases Andre 3000 in 1950s white boy band drag.) I think he's trying to do something with the whole question of stereotypes, objectification of cultures and persons, the cultural "grammar" with which we understand cultures (i.e., feathered headresses symbolize natives), and so on. Still, I agree with comments in the article that this kind of irreverent humor is "at best, misinformed." All of this cultural play is interesting, though, with respect to the Rey Chow book we're reading in class in which she discusses the use (and thinking of) cultural/racial stereotypes as a kind of tactic for deconstructing the force of those stereotypes. In other words, she wants to think about how we can take stereotypes and use them not just to combat the negative connotations they convey (not just reasserting positive representations) but to think about the political work stereotypes do. She thinks using stereotypes to portray and critique cultures can help to reveal the relationships between cultures in terms of differential economic and political power.

. . .

[Effort to Remove Pro-Gay Marriage Judges]:

A group that opposes gay marriage has enlisted the help of a state legislator in a long-shot attempt to remove the four justices of the state's high court who ruled that banning gay marriage is unconstitutional.

So fucked up. I wonder what grounds these people are arguing as the basis for removing the judges. Talk about judicial activism.... What about legislative activism? Don't these people see how they are totally trying to short-circuit the idea of the three branches of government balancing each other out when they try to use one branch to beat another into submission?

      >> 5:24 PM

Woke up a half hour ago to Rob's shouting. He was at the window yelling, "Stop breaking into the car!" Periodically, there are car break-ins in our apartment complex's back lot. I don't think it's the usual people, though, because apparently these two guys broke the window of a truck and were trying to get into the dashboard somehow, perhaps to steal the truck. Previous break-ins have been characterized by the prying open of window frames on cars and the pilfering of stuff in car seats.

Rob actually ran out and tried to chase down the car thieves, an act that could've been quite disastrous if they had guns or something. They took off in a white car (one of them was waiting in the driver's seat the whole time).

The police are out there now. They're collecting evidence, I suppose.

      >> 2:52 AM

Monday, April 19, 2004

      >> 9:14 PM

Sunday, April 18, 2004

I think the fact that I bought SpongeBob Macaroni and Cheese proves how much beyond obsession I am. I don't even really like macaroni and cheese. Sigh. But look at all the fun SpongeBob, Patrick, Squidward, and Gary shapes!

      >> 1:44 PM

If nothing else, the weather here is gorgeous.

      >> 10:02 AM

Saturday, April 17, 2004

OMG! [Vaginal Davis] has a blog!

      >> 6:29 PM

We're feeling blue today.

My allergies are also killing me, even after a double dose of my regular allergy medicine and two others. I'll probably die of an overdose.

      >> 6:20 PM

Friday, April 16, 2004

My new obsession: [SpongeBob Squarepants Collapse]. Be warned. Addictive.

      >> 2:55 PM

If I were to describe myself as a teacher, I would say that I am mostly ineffectual.

Yesterday in my international studies class, I hesitatingly broached the Crystall controversy (see [previous post] on the subject) in the context of [Title VI reauthorization] debates. The debates about political bias are the same in both cases. I had started off the semester with a discussion about the arguments being made in the Title VI funding debate. Critics of international studies centers have claimed that they are anti-American (foreign policy), especially with regards to Middle Eastern Studies. These critics claim that international studies at American universities favor pro-Islamic, pro-Palestinian accounts of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict and tend to bad-mouth American support of Israel. It is debatable whether or not universities are truly this way. But more importantly, what is disingenuous about this criticism is that the conservative critics are calling for ideological "balance" on faculties and in curricula, but the way they propose to achieve that balance veers strongly towards censoring any perspective that isn't uncritically supportive of American foreign policy. In calling for an oversight committee to police the university centers that receive Title VI funding, these critics are effectively arguing that funding be pulled from universities that question the motives or consequences of American foreign policy. The amazing thing, of course, is that in complaining about "liberal" bias in international studies, they are in effect calling for the reassertion of a conservative bias.

I do find it interesting that there is perhaps less a call for evacuating the "political" from the classroom in these debates than might have been the case a decade ago. In these "new" culture wars, when people are arguing about what to teach and how to teach in classrooms, they are not turning to the idea that knowledge is (ideally) apolitical but are instead marshalling the rhetoric of balanced ideological perspectives. Whereas before, for example in the canon debates, conservative critics might have argued that we need to keep "political" concerns of racial representation out of classrooms, now they are arguing that we need to have both (or more) sides of issues, and yet oddly their actual plans are meant to intimidate and shut out these dissenting voices. How is it that they have been so successful in mobilizing this kind of rhetoric of ideological balance when their plans are anything but about that balance?

Watch out for these words and phrases in the debates to come: marketplace of ideas, free speech, censorship, political bias, exchange of ideas, respect, understanding, diversity, difference.... We might be moving away from the supposedly ideologically neutral claims of liberal multiculturalism (celebrate all differences equally as cultural heritage) towards another iteration of cultural work that again misses the question of how culture is bound in complex but inextricable ways to the workings of power (state and otherwise) and economy.

My thoughts on these matters are still too scattered. I can't seem to get them down in a coherent argument. I want to come back to class next week and be able to bring out what I think is really at stake in the controversies over classroom content and practice. Instead, in class yesterday, we merely circled around this idea that we must learn to respect differences and yet be able to engage in substantive discussion and critique of those differences without crying foul. My students are such good liberal subjects (in the neoliberal individualism sense), which makes discussion uncontroversial and safe, but ultimately frustrating.

      >> 12:38 PM

I love that the undergrads on campus are thinking about forming a Committee for a Queerer Carolina, taking its name from the conservative watchdog group Committee for a Better Carolina that is trying to reassert "patriotic" heteronormativity around campus via the selection of the Carolina Summer Reading Program book, originally, but now also through other means.

      >> 9:15 AM

Monday, April 12, 2004

Back in town after brief visit to San Francisco Bay Area for a wedding.

While there, I got to hang out with some friends, my sister, my mom, and my brother. It was great fun to wander about San Francisco with a friend, have dinner and stimulating conversation with my sister and her partner, and generally just to hang out with my brother. I also still love my sister's cats, one of which seems to like me (yay!) and remember me though she usually runs away from everyone.

My mom said my haircut (buzzed) is ugly because I have scars on my head and it emphasizes my fat face. She also called me an incomplete person because I am not walking the prescribed path of heterosexual marriage with offspring. Other than that, she's actually quite down on herself and thinks her life is just awful with nothing positive happening. Very sad.

The wedding was beautiful, too. The day was perfect, clear, sunny, and warm but not too hot. The ceremony was outside, under a large, leafy (and shady) tree. Still don't know what to make of marriage (in general), though, especially when I heard strange things like how the husband-to-be (my friend) had to spend the last month on the couch, abstaining from sex with his wife-to-be, because his fiancé was uncomfortable with the idea of having had pre-marital sex. Her pastor said that if they abstained for a month before and slept apart, she would be adequately ready for marriage as a blushing bride. Huh?

Anyways, such things are beyond me. I've talked to my sister about this once, how in many ways we just don't understand American culture at large because we didn't grow up in a (Judeo-)Christian household or come from any sort of Judeo-Christian background that would make these kinds of logics accessible.

By Saturday evening, I was dog-tired. Meeting up with my friend in Berkeley, I was cranky at everyone around us. I bitched at the gelato shop scoopers for being stupid. But the brief hour I got to spend with my friend was still nice.

In other news, I'm wearing my lime green socks today.

      >> 2:53 PM

Thursday, April 08, 2004

It occurs to me as I'm sitting here eating a bag of Lay's Brand® that the registered trademark line, "Betcha Can't Eat Just One!®" is entirely true, but not in the way they probably intend. I could totally pick up one piece of fried potato crisp, eat it, and move on. But the problem is that all the pieces are smashed into smaller pieces, so to be able to eat "just one!" would be difficult, an act of stubbornness in finding just the right pieces to reassemble a potato slice....

Anyways, we can tell I'm running on fumes here since I'm so fascinated by potato chip slogans....

Last night in my insomnia, I caught the music video for Hoobastank's "The Reason" and thought to myself, that lead singer guy looks hapa. So of course I [google-stalked] him and found that, indeed, he is. Hapa guys are everywhere: [Keanu], [Russell], [Brandon], [Sean], [Matt], [Kip].... Does this say something about pop culture's greater willingness to accept Asianness in men (as "sexy," non-Orientalized) if it's abated somehow? Sigh. I must seem a Johnny-one-note lately, harping on negative stereotypes and representations of Asian men in popular culture. Still, as much as I understand ultimately how cultural logics work on, through, and against types, it is troubling to see the rigidity of typing Asian/American men. I don't know if I have anything interesting to say about these things. Are biracial Asians going to be an increasingly critical population through which Asian/Americans theorize race? Maybe.

      >> 2:44 PM

Argh. Am freaking out. So much to do. No time to do it. This is the semester that will kill me. I'm up doing laundry because I couldn't sleep. I should also prepare for classes tomorrow, though ultimately I'm just going to have my students work on their papers in the composition classes and discuss the reading amongst themselves for the other. I'll be brain-dead come daybreak.

At my dentist appointment Wednesday morning, my dentist told me again that I must be grinding my teeth a lot because there is wear on my teeth and sensitivity. I wonder if I have been grinding my teeth more this year than usual....

      >> 1:53 AM

Wednesday, April 07, 2004

[Spotlight to punish suburban speeders]:

Pleasanton is about to turn the fast into the furious.

The first line of this article is funny. Ha ha. But this stoplight sounds evil. I hope it doesn't catch on.

      >> 2:49 PM

Tuesday, April 06, 2004

At work.

      >> 3:39 PM

[Heartbroken FBI Agent Crosses Ex-Girlfriend's Name Out Of Classified Documents]:

"Cathy's a very passionate girl with a strong sense of justice," Walters said, motioning toward the stacks of transcripts from Greenpeace, Amnesty International, and several other groups for which Blessing has worked. "When she believes in something, she doesn't give up, no matter what. I wish she had believed in me."

Har har. Oh, the irony.

      >> 3:32 PM

[Hung Out to Dry by David Ng]:

For American pop fans, the prospect of a linguistically challenged Oriental belting out the latest hits has served as a fail-safe source of entertainment for years. In the late '90s, there was the much circulated rendition of Lou Bega's 'Mambo No. 5' sung by a Chinese deliveryman. In the '60s, there were the Kim Sisters, a Korean-born trio who crooned accented versions of American chestnuts on The Ed Sullivan Show. How far we've come!

A little something about William Hung and his "success." Oddly, this is the first thing I've seen in print about the racist overtones of America's embrace of Hung. It's clearly too simplistic to say that people are championing him in order to feel better about themselves, but isn't it odd that people are so taken with him? Is it sympathy? The horrible feeling of shame that accompanies seeing someone make a complete fool of himself? Is it a weird sense of identification? I, frankly, cringe acutely whenever I see clips of Hung's performances or hear the radio stations play loops and remixes of his performance (often with the overlaid laughter of the djs).

. . .

Crud. I just realized that I have 20 books that were due at the library last week. The fine is going to kill me.

There are a lot of people with colds and other nasty illnesses around campus. I wouldn't be surprised if I came down with something in the next few days. Yuck.

      >> 2:53 PM

Sunday, April 04, 2004

[For Japanese Girls, Black Is Beautiful]:

Ganguro, literally "black face," has its roots in the mid-1990's, starting with a desire among Japanese girls to emulate the popular, sun-tanned Okinawan singer Amuro Namie and the black British fashion model Naomi Campbell. Thanks to the rising popularity of hip-hop in Japan, their idolization has since expanded to include Lil' Kim, Run-DMC, Mary J. Blige, the Big Tymers and others.

Another article on iona rozeal brown's work. It is really quite fascinating to explore the appropriation of hip-hop by Japanese youth. I didn't know about the connection to the Okinawan singer. Interesting in the context of ethnic politics in Japan.... I know very little, but have heard that Okinawans are an ethnic minority with a history of being subjected to abuse by the dominant ethnic group in Japan. It would be interesting to find out more about the popularity of Amuro Namie. I wonder if her popularity has been discussed and thought of in the same way A-Mei's popularity has been taken up in Taiwan. (A-Mei is a Taiwanese aborigine whose ethnic identifications have been made a lot of in the struggle between Taiwanese separatists and those who imagine Taiwan as part of China.)

On another note, I met the incomparable Helen Zia today, though I didn't really say much to her (and doubt I left much of any impression). She was in town and wanted to meet up with Jen, my friend and fellow Asian Americanist in the department. One of these days, maybe cool people will want to meet up with me over coffee to chat about things.

      >> 7:31 PM

Saturday, April 03, 2004

From [holcombe waller]:

Spring is here! And it's time for spring cleaning. Air out all our dusty winter linens, have a breath of fresh air.
In that spirit, I present to you NO ENEMY, a song in the form of an open letter to National Security Advisor CONDOLEEZA RICE. A strong woman who really needs all our support right now given that next week she must seal her fate to mend the broken right wing of the state. You can do it Condi!
Lyrics and MP3s for the song are here:
[No Enemy]
It is my personal goal to have the NSA herself hear this song before testifying, under penalty of perjury, before the 9/11 investigative commission. Condi, the truth will set you free! So if any of you on my list would like to pass the link along to any of your own lists or friends, feel free. Unfortunately, I'll be on a boat in the Sea of Cortez for the next 10 days so I'll be out of the loop until I get back. But I have full faith in Condi. And isn't that what government is all about? Faith?

      >> 11:53 AM

Friday, April 02, 2004

Ha ha. Follow-up to the previous post.... From an e-mail message from [NGLTF]:

In 1981, Lynne Cheney wrote a sapphically charged pro-feminist novel and it is being released in the U.S. this month. In it, one female character writes to another, "Let us go away together, away from the anger and the imperatives of men. We shall find ourselves a secluded bower where they dare not venture. There will be only the two of us, and we shall linger through long afternoons of sweet retirement. In the evenings I shall read to you while you do your cross-stitch in the firelight. And then we shall go to bed, our bed, my dearest girl...." [...]. One of Mrs. Cheney's characters says, "How well her words describe our love - or the way it would be if we could remove all impediments, leave this place, and join together ... Then our union would be complete. Our lives would flow together, twin streams merging into a single river."

      >> 11:38 PM

Thursday, April 01, 2004

[Lynne Cheney] wrote a bodice-ripper! And it's being republished! Ha ha ha!!! (I hope it's not an April Fool's joke.... though the book is listed along with reviews at [amazon.com]....)

      >> 1:45 PM

[Details spread: Gay or Asian?]. This is just fucked up. Like, majorly. Not just the stereotyping of Asian bodies, but the obsessive orientalizing of the Asian male. As usual, there is an incredible erasure of Asian American bodies in this kind of discourse. To talk of Asian bodies is to place them in this Far East, exotic, "inscrutable" space of Asia and therefore to make it easier to distance Asians nationally, ethnically, culturally. Can people just not deal with the fact that Asian Americans walk among them? Some of the comments on the discussion board focus on the insistence of stereotyping Asian male bodies as effeminate, hairless, small, etc. And while that shit is annoying, it is even more outrageous that the spread uses all these offensive orientalizing descriptions like "Keeps the last samurai warm and buttoned tight on the battlefield." Would the world of Details writers and readers really fall apart if they could see that Asians are not the exotic martial artists of their wet dreams? Stealing a line from [angryasianman], I have to say, That's racist!

      >> 9:11 AM

[Academia Under Siege]:

How did what would otherwise have been a minor blip in classroom communications become a major skirmish in the campus culture wars? The answer has to do with the presence of a well-financed conservative machine that's ready to roll out against what it views as the ruling "liberal orthodoxy" in higher education.

There's been some local news coverage about this whole debate (see [UNC-CH Lecturer Finds Support]). This kind of conservative backlash against "liberal bias" and anti-"political correctness" tries to mobilize the concept of free speech in the service of the status quo. It's just really odd (and yet frightening successful) how conservative think tanks have been able to assume for conservative thinkers the mantle of oppressed minority, to convince people that conservative voices are stifled in public debates. It's like the conservative appropriation of "feminism" as a term, too, in its squashing of progressive voices by policing the category of the political in educational and social realms. In calling for a greater "diversity" of viewpoints in intellectual work, these conservative voices are disingenuous about the continuing hold of conservative viewpoints on academic work, but also are marking progressive viewpoints as ones that need to be quarantined off (because it's particularly dangerous, infectious, etc.). Grrr.

      >> 7:43 AM