Friday, December 31, 2004

Is it really the last day of the year already?

Bleargh. Might be coming down with a cold. Body feels exhausted.... Slightly dizzy....

      >> 1:37 PM

[Giles barking at bubble wrap (.avi file, 3.7 MB).]

      >> 12:00 AM

Thursday, December 30, 2004

Screen shot.

      >> 10:15 PM

[Jon Carroll on cats]:

Right now Archie is staring out the window at the rain. If little Timmy were out there drowning in a puddle, Archie would not care. Archie would just think, "ah, Darwinian selection in action. Little Timmy will never father children, and a good thing too." Archie gets irritable in the rain. A cat can only sleep for so many hours.

Sorry, Giles. I will always be a cat person.

      >> 3:48 PM

["Stone Soup," Barbara Kingsolver]:

CINDERELLA, LOOK, WHO needs her? All those evil stepsisters? That story always seemed like too much cotton-picking fuss over clothes. A childhood tale that fascinated me more was the one called "Stone Soup," and the gist of it is this: Once upon a time, a pair of beleaguered soldiers straggled home to a village empty-handed, in a land ruined by war. They were famished, but the villagers had so little they shouted evil words and slammed their doors. So the soldiers dragged out a big kettle, filled it with water, and put it on a fire to boil. They rolled a clean round stone into the pot, while the villagers peered through their curtains in amazement.
"What kind of soup is that?" they hooted.
"Stone soup," the soldiers replied. "Everybody can have some when it's done."
"Well, thanks," one matron grumbled, coming out with a shriveled carrot. "But it'd be better if you threw this in."
And so on, of course, a vegetable at a time, until the whole suspicious village managed to feed itself grandly.
Any family is a big empty pot, save for what gets thrown in. Each stew turns out different. Generosity, a resolve to turn bad luck into good, and respect for variety--these things will nourish a nation of children. Name-calling and suspicion will not. My soup contains a rock or two of hard times, and maybe yours does too. I expect it's a heck of a bouillabaise.

Yesterday I picked up two versions of this story at the local bookstore. Neither is quite the one I remember from my childhood. But now I want to undertake a little project tracking down various versions of this story. I've mentioned this story a number of times to friends here in North Carolina, but it seems that very few people have heard the story. The version I heard definitely emphasized the value of communal care, though some versions of this story emphasize the trickster character and his (always male?) ability to trick a gullible person or community.

Some other links:

      >> 3:31 PM

Woke up on the wrong side of bed today.

A list of things that piss me off today:I'm relaxing a bit now after a chocolate croissant from Guglhupf and some coffee. Now I've got a piece of warmed pumpkin seed and cheddar bread to try and a puppy snoozing at my feet. Natalie Merchant is singing over the speakers. Time to get some work done!

      >> 2:41 PM

Took puppy to city park today. It was depressing, run down.

      >> 2:20 PM

      >> 10:06 AM

Wednesday, December 29, 2004

Cool. Am entering into database a book manuscript proposal from a blogger. I thought I recognize the name, checked out the web site listed in the c.v., and saw that this person is one of these bloggers I check in on once in awhile for insightful commentary on current politics.

      >> 1:24 PM

What we've been doing this past week.

      >> 10:50 AM

Tuesday, December 28, 2004

Hmm. I just spent $80 for Kaiji Kawaguchi's [Eagle: The Making of an Asian-American President] manga series. Credit cards will be my downfall. But I've been meaning to get my hands on this series for awhile. It's just up my alley -- literature/pop culture from outside the US that imagines what it means to be "Asian American." Plus, if I buy more stuff, I don't actually have to read anything.

      >> 6:53 PM

Look! Running dog!

(Lifted from [Giles Co. Animal Shelter] -- yes, I was looking for other dogs named Giles.)

      >> 3:57 PM

[Susan Sontag, author and activist, dies at 71.] Sad. Saw her on tv awhile back fielding calls from viewers on the release of her essay "Regarding the Pain of Others." She was so eloquent and smart even in the face of some very malicious comments and attacks (about her comments about the Vietnam War way back when, about her statements about 9/11, and so on).

      >> 1:58 PM

Monday, December 27, 2004

[Office Hours: Activism and Change in the Academy, Cary Nelson and Stephen Watt]:

We have previously urged faculty to address the campus workplace in class every semester--regardless of what they are teaching--because the salaries, benefits, and working conditions of teachers and other employees are part of the structure that makes every class possible. They are part of the hidden subject matter of every course. So are principles of academic freedom, as are emerging restrictions on international student access to American education.
Teachers should also be free to see their role not simply as one of covering declared subject matter but also as one of modeling responsible and politically engaged citizenship. They need to make it absolutely clear that no student will be penalized for holding different opinions, but they need also need to be able to express their own opinions on controversial subjects freely if they choose. Casting this solely as a question of "advocacy" demeans the complex social implications of the intellectual life.

Just read the introduction to this book. I love how Nelson and Watt imagine the university as such an important site for activism and reproducing ways of living and thinking. They are chronicling and challenging what they see as the decline of the university as a site of intellectual inquiry and freedom (though they are careful not to say that it was ever a utopia). I hope to integrate this kind of self-reflective inquiry of academic work -- how it is produced, how it moves out into the world (or not), and so on -- into my dissertation on the cultural claims of Asian American Studies....

      >> 6:51 PM

[Tsunami Disaster.] Every time I check in on the news, the death/missing toll goes higher and higher in leaps and bounds. The figure is some 22,000 now. It seemed like a lot of the news coverage I saw also focused on American and other non-Asian tourists to the areas. That's somewhat understandable, but what about all the people who live in those regions? I mean, there was one news story that focused on some interior designer vacationing there with his "friend." And apparently he was newsworthy because he appeared on Oprah some 20 times. This is also one of those disasters that is so scary because there are probably hundreds of thousands of people still alive but stranded and/or injured without much hope for rescue. :(

      >> 9:59 AM

Someone needs to stop me.

      >> 9:57 AM

[Ginger Up™] Aromatic shampoo
Now the savory scent of Ginger goes straight to your head. Kindly cleansers from creamy Coconut gently wash away dirt and debris. Wheat Protein strengthens and protects while Panthenol keeps flyaways, split ends and static at bay.
Wet hair. Apply shampoo to palm and work lather from scalp to ends. Rinse thoroughly.

I need to get a job writing descriptions for smelly stuff.

      >> 9:00 AM

Sunday, December 26, 2004

      >> 12:09 PM

Giles sitting outside the door.

Giles opening his present.

Giles posing with his red bow tie.

Giles and me, Christmas 2004.

      >> 7:47 AM

Saturday, December 25, 2004

I turn 27 today! Go me!

      >> 1:34 PM

Friday, December 24, 2004

[Who gets your e-mail when you die?]

      >> 2:18 PM

Thursday, December 23, 2004

[California company sells cloned cat]:

The first cloned-to-order pet sold in the United States is named Little Nicky, an eight-week-old kitten delivered to a Texas woman saddened by the loss of a cat she had owned for 17 years.
The kitten cost its owner $50,000 and was cloned from a beloved cat, named Nicky, that died last year. Nicky's owner banked the cat's DNA, which was used to create the clone.
"He is identical. His personality is the same," the woman told The Associated Press in a telephone interview.

Holy shit! It's like Stephen King's Pet Sematary. Beyond the ethical concerns, can we even begin to understand how much cloning pets will change those attachments we make? What will it mean for people to have the same pet for their whole lives, just a few times over? How many people would want that? And how will this change all the ways we understand death and loss on a very fundamental cultural level?

      >> 12:03 AM

Wednesday, December 22, 2004

[Giles in action (.avi file, 3.71 MB, 11 sec.).]

      >> 5:54 PM

OMG. Coolest thing ever! [Customize icons] on Mac OS X.

      >> 12:38 AM

Tuesday, December 21, 2004

Boo hoo.

Well, I just picked up my computer with a replacement hard drive. They were unable to recover any data. :( I'm sitting here downloading updates on all the applications that come with the OS. Then I have to go home, find the software I'd installed, and put it all on the computer. Sigh. I will also be looking into backup plans for data. So much for saving every single thing I've ever done on the computer. No more electronic copies of papers I wrote for class. This also means I've lost all my photos, my addressbook, my e-mails, and music files.

      >> 7:15 PM

Saturday, December 18, 2004

:( I stupidly killed my computer last night. Am waiting at Apple store for Genius Bar to open so I can drop it off to be fixed. I might have erased everything. Stupid.

      >> 8:19 AM

Thursday, December 16, 2004

[Indian, Twice Removed]:

Most Guyanese, and the smaller number of Trinidadians in Richmond Hill, are descendants of Indians who were brought over to the Caribbean starting in 1838 as contract laborers on sugar plantations after slavery was outlawed in the region's British colonies. The influx of indentured laborers continued into the first decades of the 20th century, and Indians eventually formed a majority of the population in Guyana, the former British Guiana, and they became 40 percent of the population of what is now the Republic of Trinidad and Tobago.
In the political or economic upheavals of the 1970's and 1980's, Indo-Caribbeans began leaving for the United States, where Indian professionals from Asia had already settled more than a decade before.
"While these two groups share a common ancestry, their historical experiences and the timing and nature of their immigration set them apart," said Madhulika S. Khandelwal, an Indian immigrant who directs the Asian American Center at Queens College.

      >> 10:20 PM

Wednesday, December 15, 2004

Woo hoo! Done! Submitted grades to the registrar's office an hour ago after grading exams I gave at 2 pm today.

Now off to dinner with some friends before we break for the holidays.

It's cold out. Giles likes to eat other dogs.

      >> 4:29 PM

Tuesday, December 14, 2004

Who lives in a pineapple under the sea?

      >> 1:10 PM

[Google is adding major libraries to its database]:

For their part, libraries themselves will have to rethink their central missions as storehouses of printed, indexed material.
"Our world is about to change in a big, big way," said Daniel Greenstein, university librarian for the California Digital Library of the University of California, which is a project to organize and retain existing digital materials.

Squee! This is so totally going to change how people do research and write papers, articles, and books. OMG. It seems like how we access printed matter has changed constantly since the mid-1980s when I started looking for books in the libraries. I mean, it used to be that card catalogs and bibliographies were indispensible for finding material on your topic -- research mean casting a fairly wide net and reading lots of stuff that didn't necessarily have to do with your project. Now you can just do keyword searches, making it easier to find material that specifically addresses your interests....

      >> 6:51 AM

Monday, December 13, 2004

Sometimes I wish I were hip.

      >> 5:35 PM

TV for the week:

[Legend of Earthsea] on SciFi, 9 pm tonight.

[I Want a Dog for Christmas, Charlie Brown] on ABC, 8 pm tomorrow.

      >> 3:40 PM

[Illegal meat slaughter on rise]:

Wade said that when he has found illegal butcher shops in the past, they were usually symptoms of a dying trade rather than a growing one. Old-country butchers would slaughter hogs on their farms, cook up lard in outdoor buckets and make sausage in a barn. Their customers were mostly the elderly, who remembered meat being butchered this way when they were children.
Now, inspectors say the underground meat market is on the upswing, due largely to a surge in the state's immigrant population. Many newcomers want cheaper cuts that they can't find in the grocery store, or they want organs -- such as lungs -- that legal butchers can't sell. Some want to slaughter the animals themselves, or have them slaughtered according to religious practices.
. . .
"Some people just like to go and make recreation," said Chaudhry, who is originally from Pakistan. "The whole family goes. It's just like 100 years ago, when everybody made their own meat on the farm."

YUCK! (Warning: article descriptions very gory and stomach-turning.) People are seriously fucked up if they go as a family to slaughter animals as recreation.

Notable is that this is a local news story -- North Carolina is seeing huge influxes of "new immigrants" from Latin America and South Asia especially. This kind of cultural contact with the American South is creating some anxiety as well as some interesting new exchanges. It's interesting that some of the small farmers in the area such as the one mentioned in the article seem to find affinities with these new immigrants.

      >> 12:56 PM

Sunday, December 12, 2004

[Dreaming of a Green Christmas.] Of course, my students would ask why we have to be such killjoys and make everything so depressing.

      >> 10:52 PM

Yay comic book geekiness: [Fantastic Four movie production photos].

      >> 10:41 PM

      >> 5:55 PM

I've been avoiding grading these last sets of journal entries and papers for my Major American Authors class because it's depressing me. I think I'm in this profession for the wrong reason. It's all entirely personal. I think because I had such transformative experiences in my college literature classes, I have this expectation that studying literature is so positive and great for everyone. I guess I have to realize (again) that I am a rare case among Americans in that I enjoy reading and find incessant self-reflexive critique and social commentary necessary to daily existence. I'm just left with this sinking feeling as I read through these end-of-semester writings.

The biggest thing that got me down was that the one student that seemed really engaged with the readings all semester -- he would often talk to me briefly after class about what we were discussing -- sent me an e-mail and a final journal check that expressed his extreme hatred for the readings we had done in the class over the last few weeks. He said that everything was so depressing, even the humorous writing, because it was all so critical of "America" in various ways. The only writing he liked was Whitman's poetry, what we started the semester with. This is such a depressing thing to hear. I keep hearing it over and over from students -- that being critical of America, of society, of the way things are, is just no fun and so negative. Instead, they all seem to want to ignore the bad stuff in life and just have fun. No one seems to have a sense of social obligation or even fellow-feeling for those people who aren't as privileged as most people going to college.

Other things getting me down: plagiarism (for journal entries, of all things!), students simply parroting things I say in class (and these papers and journal entries tend to be the most well-written ones), and constant complaints that I give too much work (which is apparently very true -- standards are very low here). I'm just pissed off. At least there are a few students in the class who have written provocative papers and my other class on Asian American feminisms gives me solace that some students actually are interested in what their education is.

      >> 5:43 PM

A few weeks ago in our office, my friend [hermance] mentioned her frustration with finding consumer products that are more environmentally/labor-friendly. Coffee beans are one of the few products, probably because of the intense imbalances of pay-and-profit, that are now readily available in varying degrees of "fair trade" (via certain sellers, coffee shops, etc.). I just came across this article in the SF Chronicle on [vegan shopping] for the holiday season that points out a similar concern with products that do not rely on animal products or testing. What is interesting about this article is what the reporter points out as vegan product retailers' concern with getting people to see that vegan stuff is stylish in addition to being cruelty-free. Another way of phrasing that tension is to say that the retailers want their products to be appreciated for themselves (in style) rather than for how they are made. This is an odd tension because we might assume that vegan retailers are interested in getting consumers to think differently about what they purchase (where does that bag come from? who made it? under what conditions? with what products?) instead of just looking for that "cute" item. Instead, we hear that while this new consumer mentality might be important, it is hardly going to burst onto the scene and get people to shop differently by virtue of its ethical stance. We still have to engage with the sense of cool that drives the consumer economy, at least in popularizing vegan retailers. (And yes, it is a bit creepy to consider how intently the companies and pollsters in the article are trying to figure out the "vegan market.")

A couple of on-line vegan stores mentioned in the article:
[Alternative Outfitters]
[Otsu Vegan Style]

      >> 12:06 PM

Bruce Banner's alter ego is helping me grade papers.

      >> 10:50 AM

Thursday, December 09, 2004

I just went to this little soup-and-music night thing at my apartment complex's office. Straight people are scary. (No offense to nice straight people.)

      >> 7:56 PM

Well, our attempt to create a pack of dogs at home has not worked out. I am taking Jackson back to his foster home in about twenty minutes. :( He's a very sweet dog and loves to be with people, but he is not so into playing with other dogs like Giles. The biggest problem is that Giles won't take a hint and keeps molesting Jackson. Giles is the biggest bully.

      >> 8:39 AM

Monday, December 06, 2004

[Tanned, rested, reality-based and ready to write and write and write, every day (except weekends)]:

I do understand that reality has been getting a little shaky these days. Three months ago, an official in the Bush administration accused a reporter of being a member of "the reality-based community" -- and he meant it in a bad way. Reality is so 20th century. More popular now is the "faith-based community," where rules of evidence no longer apply, and truth is judged on whether it conforms to pre-existing models.

      >> 2:03 PM

Friday, December 03, 2004

In the interminable car ride home from Memphis, I discovered
(again) that my digital camera has a fast film setting.

I fell asleep on the bed last night with Giles next to me.

      >> 8:18 PM

Thursday, December 02, 2004


      >> 5:46 PM

It's the stress, of course, but these past few days I've bought a whole bunch of unnecessary stuff:
  1. Colleen Lye, America's Asia: Racial Form and American Literature, 1893-1945, Princeton UP, 2005.
  2. Nadine Gordimer, ed., Telling Tales, Picador, 2004.
  3. Sue Sternberg, Successful Dog Adoption, Howell Book House, 2003.
  4. Cathy N. Davidson, Revolution and the Word: The Rise of the Novel in America, expanded edition, Oxford UP, 2004.
  5. Cary Nelson and Stephen Watt, Office Hours: Activism and Change in the Academy, Routledge, 2004.
  6. Richard Ohmann, Politics of Knowledge: The Commercialization of the University, the Professions, and Print Culture, Wesleyan UP, 2003.
  7. Linkin Park and Jay-Z, Collision Course, MTV Ultimate Mash-Ups, 2004.
  8. N.E.R.D., Fly or Die, 2004.
  9. Toshi Kubota, Time to Share, 2004.
  10. People Magazine, Sexiest Man Alive (Jude Law!) issue, 2004.
It's all for research, I swear.

Additionally, I've added to my pile of scores of books checked out from the library the following:
  1. Gregg Lambert, Report to the Academy, Davies, 2001.
  2. Bill Readings, The University in Ruins, Harvard UP, 1996.
  3. Paulo Freire on Higher Education: A Dialogue at the National University of Mexico, SUNY Press, 1994.
  4. Christopher Newfield, Ivy and Industry: Business and the Making of the American University, 1880-1980, Duke UP, 2003.
As if I will actually ever get around to reading any of these books....

Amassing books and other things makes me feel productive, even though I am not. I can't believe I had ten days to write two stupid application essays (a total of no more than seven double-spaced pages), and I still failed so miserably to pull together anything coherent and interesting. I spent those days just "thinking" about what I should write and putting down on paper lists of unconnected thoughts. It's this damned prewriting stage that trips me up so. I keep thinking that I'm being productive if I write down the things I think about, but then I never take the next step towards organizing those thoughts into a coherent draft of an essay.

      >> 9:42 AM


This is how I feel. At least my dog hates me.

      >> 12:50 AM

Wednesday, December 01, 2004

[Toshi Kubota bio]:

After one listen to Toshi's emotionally charged album, there will be one obvious question. How? How does a man born and raised in one of the most homogenous countries in the world pick up the vocal styling that originated in the American Deep South? How? How can he master the feeling, the effect, and the essence?

An obvious question, perhaps, but one that is at the center of the first chapter of my dissertation. I'm asking, rather, why this is an obvious question -- the idea of racial sound or of historically-embedded understandings of music genre and sound. Asians and Asian American musicians are important destabilizers to the idea (at least within the US) that music is either white or black, emerging from a European or African heritage and forged in the experience of slavery and white-black relations. But why do we attribute race to something like music and sounds?

      >> 12:44 PM

[Nadine Gordimer Edits Story Collection to Benefit AIDS Charity.]

[World AIDS Day 2004.]

      >> 7:59 AM