September 25, 2008

Byron's new blog:

Hey All,

Just want to let my fans all know that I now have a new blog. You can find me at It was time that I had my own domain name. I may be transferring all this old stuff to the new blog as well. In the meantime, I'll still be checking in on this one, so feel free to drop me a message anytime.

September 22, 2008

The College Issue

There was an extraordinary issue of the Times Magazine this past weekend: The College Issue.

September 20, 2008

Teachers from India

There is an article about teachers from India in the Times today. These teachers from India are being hired by American schools because of the shortage of math and science teachers in the U.S. Needless to say, it's a culture shock.

In India, Ms. Tallur was revered. When she entered her classroom, 70 students would rise, stand by their desks, and greet her in unison. “In India a teacher is next to God,” she explained, noting the contrast in behavior.

Now after a year of teaching at Harding in an international program, Ms. Tallur has become used to less respect. She is no longer surprised by profanity in the hallways and students talking out of turn in the classroom.

There's a good quote over here:

“In India, most of the disciplining happens when children are younger,” she said. “It’s easy to bend the stem of a plant when it is young. Once the stem gets strong, it is much harder.”

There's a funny quote over here:

At Bassick High School, Satya Mohan, a physics teacher, said he was surprised the first time a student put his head down on his desk and said, “I am not in the mood to listen today.”

“I thought to myself, well he is being honest,” Dr. Mohan said.

It's good that this is taking place, both in terms of the intercultural exchange and the much needed instruction in math and science.

By the way, I think India must do well in terms of teaching language too. It's not unusual to see Indian authors on the shortlist for the Man Booker prize. They definitely take their education seriously in India.

The Ultra-Rich

Someone on one of my listserves sent me this. We never ever get tired of talking about the ultra-rich or ultra-powerful. But in our own defense, some of these people truly are fascinating. It's a funny cycle. I think if I had that much money, I'd put it into promoting my non-profit. But that non-profit mindset is probably why I don't have that much money in the first place.

September 19, 2008

The Honeymoon is Over

It looks like the excitement regarding Sarah Palin's nomination for VP is starting to wear off. I was hoping it would, and I'm glad that common sense is starting to settle in. Not only is she not cooperating with the inquiry into her "Troopergate" scandal, but people are also starting to question other parts of her history that might make her unfit for the VP slot, such as her spotty educational record and achievements, and the fact that she repeats herself over and over in all of her campaign speeches.

If the numbers on her fading appeal are an indication of the country's assessment of her, then I'm happy that people are finally waking up. We don't need a VP who is an average American. We don't need a VP who has average or below average academic credentials. We don't need a VP who repeats the same lines over and over again. We need a VP who will be able to lead, innovate, think on her feet, and show Americans what we're capable of. We need a VP who has the ability to become a great President should the need arise. We're not going to get that with Sarah Palin. I hope Americans are starting to see this.

September 17, 2008

Microsoft's New Ad Campaign

Microsoft is beginning a new ad campaign to fight back against Apple's Mac Guy/PC Guy ads. It's supposedly a hip, cool, rebuttal to the ads that Apple has been using to hammer PC's for the last couple of years. Apparently they're investing heavily in these ads:

Mr. Gates makes a cameo appearance in the new Microsoft spots, along with celebrities like the actress Eva Longoria, the author Deepak Chopra and the singer Pharrell Williams. (Mr. Seinfeld is gone, at least for now.)

But the stars are everyday PC users, from scientists and fashion designers to shark hunters and teachers, all of whom affirm, in fast-paced, upbeat vignettes, their pride in using the computers that run on Microsoft operating systems and software.

I used to be an "everyday PC user" too...until, of course, I tried a Mac. It's a world of difference. First of all, Macs are better at doing fun stuff like podcasts and video. Second, the bootup time is around 30 seconds rather than two minutes. Third, you don't have to worry as much about viruses (though in all fairness to Microsoft, this is because hackers target Windows more often.). Fourth, the graphics abilities of Leopard are superior to Windows. Fifth, MacOS doesn't crash all the time. Sixth, certain things just make more sense--i.e. log in as a non-admin but require an admin password for software installation.

I honestly would never have tried a Mac if a friend hadn't bought one on a whim. I still use a PC for work and for spreadsheets, but as for my personal use, now that I'm on OS, I don't think I'll ever go back.

Edit 9/18: Funny comment here.

I wonder what computers the Crispin Porter creatives use...any guesses?

JP, San Francisco, CA

September 16, 2008

Generations of Hope

There's a beautiful, touching story in the New York Times today about a community called "Generations of Hope." The story in short is that Generations of Hope, a nonprofit adoption agency, has created a small community of adoptive parents and children along with surrogate grandparents. There is a permanent community of adoptive families, and there are older people who live there and agree to volunteer with the community.

For the most part, it works. Before she came here 14 years ago, Ms. Bohm, a retired schoolteacher and widow who never had children, said she was “bored and lonely and feeling like maybe I should just hang it up.”

She saw a pamphlet about Generations of Hope in a shopping mall. She now believes her years here have been the happiest, and most important, of her life. “I feel like a cowgirl on wheels around these kids,” she said.

Part of the beauty of the program is that these kids need grandparents, and these grandparents need grandkids. The philosophy to make families permanent is also a good one:

At the heart of the program is the ethos that parenthood and grandparenthood are permanent.

“I know of two ways to raise children: you have them biologically or you adopt them,” said Dr. Eheart, a former researcher at the University of Illinois. “Foster care is an oxymoron.”

There of course is the racial aspect--most of the grandkids are black, and most of the grandparents are white. It's always a difficult pairing because there are issues that an older generation of white folk will not understand when it comes to young minorities. But there's a strong need for mentorship with both age groups, so I think Generations of Hope is doing a great thing.

September 14, 2008

Frank Chin Video

Zach posted up the youtube version of the Frank Chin event, which Thymos hosted in July. You can see it here. Zach not only filmed, edited, and converted/burned the video, but he also wrote the music himself. Can you believe that? If you're interested in more of Zach's work, you can check out his homepage here.

NY Times article on Wayne Wang

There is an article on Wayne Wang in the NY Times today. His upcoming movies look interesting, although I can't say that I've seen all that much of his work. I've been told by many that I should see "Chan is Missing."

Little Italy

There is an article on Little Italy in the Times today about how there are less than 1,000 Italians left in Little Italy.

“The problem with Italians is we don’t really stick together,” rued Mr. Scivetti, who immigrated from Italy a half-century ago as a teenager. He broke the labor laws on shape-up journeys each dawn from Little Italy to suburban odd jobs. “Like the Latinos now,” he noted.
I agree that the Chinese "stick together," but I also think that it's because there is such a large influx of Chinese immigration. Chinese people live in Chinatown, and they immigrate through Chinatown, but most don't stay there. Most residents of Chinatown are 1st or 1.5 gen'ers. If Italians had a similar number of immigrants today, Little Italy would probably still be Italian.

September 13, 2008

Dems vs Repubs

Here's a good article on the difference between Dems and Repubs. I should check out Durkheim.

Quote of the Day

For those who haven’t noticed, we’re electing a president and vice president, not selecting a winner on “American Idol.
--Bob Herbert, NY Times, 9/12/08
There are two great opinions on Governor Palin in the NY Times today. First, there is Bob Herbert's article "She's Not Ready," and then there is the editorial "Governor Palin's Worldview." Basically, they say the same thing that everyone else should be saying: Palin doesn't have the experience to be vice-president, and McCain is endangering the country by picking her.

September 12, 2008

Wax on, wax off

I'm watching the Karate Kid on AMC right now. What a great movie. I've heard that I'm not the only one who likes it--it's one of Chuck Liddell's favorite movies of all time. Part II was kind of goofy, Part III was just plain stupid, but Part What is especially amazing about the movie is that even though it's got "Karate" in the tile, there isn't all that much fighting; karate serves as a vehicle for self-actualization rather than a method of violence (this wasn't the case in the sequels). There are many ways to interpret this film. It can be a story of friendship, a story of mentorship, or a story of a boy becoming a man. I'm sure there are many more interpretations. It's amazing that a two hour movie can say so much.

I see it mostly as a generational film, a story where an old guy mentors a young guy, and the two teach each other about life. Daniel-san is a young boy who needs an older mentor to help him navigate through his bully problem, while Mr. Miyagi is a lonely old man who needs Daniel to bring him life. Daniel looks for the teacher, while Miyagi provides the guidance. Miyagi becomes the father figure that Daniel-san so badly needs. "Karate" is the vehicle and the discipline.

I learned something new on this viewing. Right after Miyagi cuts the deal with Johnny's karate teacher and they return home, Daniel-san asks if Miyagi thinks he can beat Johnny. Miyagi tells him that it doesn't matter, that if he fights well, everyone will have his respect and the problem will be over. I never thought about it before, but he's right. If Daniel had lost, it would make a crappy movie, but I highly doubt Johnny and the Cobra Kais would continue bullying a guy who showed up to fight at the tournament. There would simply be too much respect between them. It's a wonderful lesson if you think about it--people can all work together when there's a bond of mutual respect. And respect can come from mutual work and shared experiences.

By the way, I just looked up Ralph Macchio on Wikipedia, and according to his entry, he named his son "Daniel." That movie definitely changed his life!

Edit: Just watched Karate Kid II. Really lame, even though Tamlyn Tomita is in it.

Spies, Alger Hiss, and the Literati

Martin Tytell died today. According to his NY Times obit, he was the master of typewriters. His knowledge and familiarity with the machines was so great that he was hired by the US military to convert Siamese typewriters into American typewriters during the manufacturing shortages of WW II, he was hired by the lawyers of Alger Hiss to prove that typewriter print was reproducible on different machines , and he was a friend of American writers who hired him to keep their machines working.

Mr. Tytell was proud of the rarity of his expertise, and relished the eccentric nature of his business. “We don’t get normal people here,” he said of his shop. And he was aware that his connection to the typewriter bordered on love.

“I’m 83 years old and I just signed a 10-year lease on this office; I’m an optimist, obviously,” Mr. Tytell told the writer Ian Frazier in a 1997 article in The Atlantic Monthly, commenting on the likelihood that typewriters weren’t going to last in the world much longer. “I hope they do survive — manual typewriters are where my heart is. They’re what keep me alive.”
It's amazing how many doors the typewriter afforded to Mr. Tytell. The moral of the story: if you do one thing, do it well, and become the best in the world.

September 11, 2008


Saw these women on AAM. They're very good--to my ears, anyway. I hope they get far.

The only thing I didn't like was that they transformed a love song, a physical love song, into a Jesus song. Actually, it would even be incorrect to even call it a love song. It's technically a "yearning" song, since the lyrics imply that the players in the story are not yet lovers--"you'd be like heaven to touch, I wanna hold you so much." Physical contact or lust between men and women. Isn't that unholy? My opinion is that drastically altering the nature of a song is a form of theft, especially since in this case, it's clearly not the original intent of the songwriter and lyricist. It's legal--they're not performing for a public audience and not making money off their rendition (unless you count the offering plate)--but it still doesn't sit right with me.

When I was in church as a boy, they used to do the same thing. I used to wonder why religious groups transformed the lyrics of secular music into hymns. One preacher dude with a guitar once told me that all secular music was evil because it was Lucifer's means of taking our attention away from God, and that music was intended by our Savior to be His and His alone. That scared the crap out of me. For a long time, I was afraid of turning on the radio lest I get hit with a lightning bolt.

I can see why the churches take music like this--it helps them to expand their cultural reach and tell their story in a musical language that people already understand. At the same time, I "can't take my eyes" off the fact that it seems to me to be a form of theft, and it makes the integrity of the church even shakier than it already is.

Anyway, the point of this post wasn't to talk about the church but rather to point out another talented Asian American group. You can check them out over here.

September 10, 2008

Mary Dunn, Yoga Instructor, Dies

Saw this article today. Mary Dunn was a famous and influential instructor on Iyengar Yoga, especially on the West Coast. It's not too often that we celebrate those who form a bridge between people and help us to learn from the wisdom of other cultures.
“We tend to cubbyhole the different parts of human experience,” she said in an interview in The New York Times in 1995. “ ‘Is it physical? Is it mental? Is it emotional?’ But here was a man teaching that all these parts are connected.”
Rest in peace.

September 8, 2008

Passing on Ethnic Identity

Saw this article on AAM. I think these are the questions that people of my generation, the same generation as the people in the article, struggle with--how do you pass on ethnic identity to your kids? Children are our future, and parents are usually the ones who raise them, so these questions are among the most relevant to any activism we do.
This quote was very interesting:
As for heritage, Ms. Liu wants to make sure that Chris understands he’s
Asian-American. “One time a boy saw Christopher and said, ‘Look, a Chinese boy,”
recalled Ms. Liu. “Christopher says, ‘Where?’
A question which comes up less often, but which is probably even more important, is this: what is our ethnic identity as Asian Americans? Mainstream values sometimes color Asian American identity with the stereotyped, orientalist portrayals, but what is the culture?
My old approach would usually be to encourage modern people to inject their own personalities into creating the culture. I'd still recommend proactive action, but with some recent readings on initiations, which I'll hopefully expand upon at a later time, I'm starting to see that we need to take both a soft and a hard approach. Children are our future, and parents are usually the ones who raise them, so these questions are among the most relevant to any activism we do. I'll explain more at a later time.

Podcast on BetterAsianMan

I'm listening right now to the latest Better Asian Man podcast. In the podcast, William interviews "King4aDay" and "The Minority Militant." William and King were continuing a discussion from the 44s, while William and TMM were continuing a discussion from TMM's blog at Minority Militant.

I think it would have been better if William had let the other guys in the studio join the conversation right away. 3 on 1 or 2 on 1 isn't fair, of course, but I think it would've been more lively with at least one other voice. I also think it would've been better if TMM had prepared by bringing his notes, which he acknowledged he didn't have.

That being said, William still delivers. It's a fun podcast, and I think it's good for us to discuss this, regardless of whether or not people agree with PUA. William is taking some huge activist steps in creating his network and inviting people to make voice contact with him.

Anyway, it's a long podcast, and I'm not done yet, but I'd thought I'd just go ahead and post it.

September 7, 2008

Brave New World of Digital Intimacy

I don't have much to say about this NY Times article right now, other than it was a pretty insightful look at how online social networking continues to change the social network. I still don't get it. I have friends who log on to Facebook and MySpace every day, and I'm guessing that Twitter is an even more invasive form of online networking. I'm over 30, and as the article mentions, those of us who are over that age often just don't get it.

Politicians who can "relate"

There's a great article on the reception of Palin's speech here. Judith Warner hits it right on. I think Thomas Friedman and Nicholas Kristof have addressed this issue as well. In America, it pays for a politician to "dumb it down" because people somehow feel that it's easier to relate to dumb people.

One of the worst poisons of the American political climate right now, the thing that time and again in recent years has led us to disaster, is the need people feel for leaders they can “relate” to. This need isn’t limited to women; it brought us after all, two terms of George W. Bush. And it isn’t new; Americans have always needed to feel that their leaders were, on some level, people like them.

But in the past, it was possible to fill that need through empathetic connection. Few Depression-era voters could “relate” to Franklin Roosevelt’s patrician background, notes historian Doris Kearns Goodwin. “It was his ability to connect to them that made them feel they could connect to him,” she told me in a phone interview.

The age of television, Goodwin believes, has made the demand for connection more immediate and intense. But never before George W. Bush did it quite reach the beer-drinking level of familiarity. “Now it’s all about being able to see your life story in the candidate, rather than the candidate, with empathy, being able to relate to you.”

I still can't get over how W pulled it off. When all is said and done, people need a politician who can manage resources and lead people. Who cares if he or she would make a good PTA friend or drinking buddy? Most of us won't have the opportunity to attend soccer practice or drink beer with them anyway. The only way we're going to get rid of this trend is for us to make smart cool. We need to do more to start celebrating smart people in American society.

September 5, 2008

Asian Americans Find Religion Depressing

I just saw this while playing around with Google. The beauty of the web--it's an Asian American website, which links to Richard Dawkins's site, which links to the original article.

According to the article:
Previous research has shown that teens who are active in religious services are depressed less often because it provides these adolescents with social support and a sense of belonging.

But new research has found that this does not hold true for all adolescents, particularly for minorities and some females. The study found that white and African-American adolescents generally had fewer symptoms of depressive at high levels of religious participation. But for some Latino and Asian-American adolescents, attending church more often was actually affecting their mood in a negative way.

Asian-American adolescents who reported high levels of participation in their church had the highest number of depressive symptoms among teens of their race.
Further down, it says:
Among adolescents who never attended church, Asian-American adolescents reported 4 percent fewer symptoms of depression in the preceding week than did their African-American peers.

In comparison, Asian-American youth who attended church at least once a week reported 20 to 27 percent more symptoms of depression than their white and African-American peers who attended at the same level.
I don't doubt that this is the case. Though I'm not a fan of David Henry Hwang, I think he described Christianity among Asians best by saying something like, "Confucianism disguised as Christianity." I think most Asian Americans have a fear-based version of Christianity which destroys, rather than lifts up, the lives of participants. While I have good friends who are Christian, Christianity has also destroyed many Asian American lives. Most Asian American atheists I know are much happier than most Asian American Christians.

So rather than Asian American atheists inviting Christ to be one's personal Savior, I personally think we need more Asian American Christians to invite themselves to become free from Christ.

(Disclaimer: If Christianity suits you, just keep on doing what you're doing. But don't believe the myth that it represents salvation for everyone.)

September 4, 2008

Next Top Model

I don't know where America's Next Top Model finds their Asian women. First, they had April, the hapa girl who said she didn't consider herself Asian. Then they had Gina, the girl who bragged about how proud she was of her Korean American heritage and then bragged that she didn't date Asian men. In all cases, Tyra set the Asian women straight.

Now we have Sheena, a woman who is from Hawaii, now lives in Harlem, and speaks like this. People from Hawaii don't talk like this. People from Harlem don't talk like this. I understand that maybe she wants to be black, but it doesn't sound cool, it doesn't attractive, and it doesn't sound black.

A reporter from Slate once pointed out that Tyra tries to eradicate contestants' African American cultural idiosyncrasies, especially when it comes to regional African American speaking styles. In the past, Tyra has only done this with African American contestants. The question is whether she'll try to eradicate an African American speaking style with a woman who isn't African American but intentionally tries to speak as if she is.

September 3, 2008

Republican Convention

Just finished listening to the Repub Convention speech.

I have to say something about John McCain: his choice of Sara Palin as VP is pure genius on a political level. Palin's no Hillary, but Obama is going to have a hard fight ahead, much harder than the Hillary fight.

1. Biden: Palin effectively nullifies Joe Biden's ability to debate issues. Palin knows very little about international affairs (tonight it looked like she was saying the word "Iran" for the first time in her life), and when they debate, there is very little doubt in my mind that Biden will come off looking like a bully. The Repubs can easily pull the same rope-a-dope trick that Bush used against Gore in 2000--just keep repeating the phrase "fuzzy math," and eventually the smart or knowledgeable person will look like an arrogant and condescending know-it-all. In politics one never knows whether a ploy will work, but the odds are definitely in Palin's favor.

2. Hillary: they won't get most Hillary supporters to swing, but they'll definitely get some of them. Hillary supporters who say that McCain's choice of Palin is "patronizing" would not have voted for him anyway--those tend to be the ones who supported Hillary for her talents rather than the historical precedent--but those who are still angry at the DNC will definitely have an easier choice with the historic nature of bringing in the first female VP.

3. Conservatives: Palin is a staunch anti-choice, anti-environmentalist conservative which is helping him pick up supporters from the Religious Right. Already, "Dr." James Dobson has said that he'd vote for McCain. (I need to take this opportunity to repeat the essential question that Richard Dawkins asked about Dobson's group Focus on the Family--"Focus on whose family?")

4. Bristol Palin: The McCain camp says that they knew about Bristol's pregnancy beforehand, and I believe them. This is perhaps the most ingeniuous part of McCain's plan. Riding on the momentum from Jamie Lynn Spears's pregnancy, McCain is effectively using this supposedly negative distraction as a means of getting on the airwaves and making a mental impact on young people who deal with these issues. The fact that he's embracing Bristol's soon-to-be new family shows that he's sympathetic with young people, thereby appealing to some young liberals, and the 72 year old McCain is reaching out to a demographic that normally wouldn't pay attention to a guy so old. It's brilliant.

McCain would still be a lousy choice for President with 100 more years in Iraq, and Palin would be even worse as an inexperienced VP standing just one 72 year old heartbeat from the presidency. A Palin vs. Putin possibility should scare everyone. But I have to say--on a political level, his choice of Palin as VP was brilliant. We are all going to have to work hard to fight during this campaign.

Political Showboating

Saw this in the Times.

Now I'm not a fan of John McCain. I think there has to be something seriously wrong with any person who wants to stay in Iraq. He's shown a serious lack of judgment by picking a VP with barely two years of experience running a state with a population less than half that of the Portland metro area, and he's endangering the world by picking a trophy vice who has no experience in dealing with international issues, is an anti-environmentalist, and who brings the same hardline conservative Christian fundamentalist values that most of the nation is sick of.

That being said, he's playing this election like a fiddle. He's showing his maverick side by embracing the family of his VP, regardless of what people think about the pregnant daughter and her boyfriend, and he's effectively using it to reach out to the young and disaffected. It's almost as if he has used the momentum from Jamie Lynn Spears to bolster his campaign. And he's continuing to paint Obama and the Democrats as sexist for choosing Obama over Clinton.

I don't have much positive to say about his politics, but in terms of political maneuvering, it was an amazing move. He's milking the VP choice for all it's worth. Obama is going to have a tough fight ahead of him.

What if your bus comes late?

From KVAL:

By KATU Web Staff PORTLAND, Ore. - A bank robber used a peculiar getaway vehicle Tuesday morning: a TriMet bus.

After the man robbed the U.S. Bank branch at Southwest 6th Avenue and Southwest Washington Street about 10 a.m., he got on the bus, which headed toward northwest Portland, according to Beth Anne Steele, an FBI spokeswoman.

Police pulled over the bus at the intersection of Northwest 4th Avenue and Northwest Everett Street and took a man off it at gunpoint, she said. It was not clear how they tracked the man - and bus - down.

Investigators were trying to determine if the man is a suspect in other robberies. His name was not immediately released.

September 2, 2008

When Languages Collide

Just saw this post on 8 Asians, which says, "9/5 SF: Bay Area Korean Americans (BAKA) is hosting its 5th Annual Wine Tasting Event!"

I don't know if the Korean Americans know it, but "Baka" means "stupid" in Japanese. Did they choose the name not knowing? Or maybe it was done on purpose just to draw attention from the high numbers of Japanese Americans in the Bay area? If they chose the name intentionally, I can't help but think they could've chosen better, especially since most people wouldn't want to waste their time on an organization whose name means "dumb."

Don LaFontaine Dies

The famous voice that we all know from movie trailers has died today.

Article here.

August 31, 2008

Activism Podcast / Upcoming Teleconference


Y'all probably heard (or at least saw) our Olympics podcast that we recorded in Portland. It was a fun podcast because we had the opportunity to take a big event like the Olympics and bring an Asian American perspective to it. It was a great opportunity to take a large athletic celebration with which everyone was familiar and to tie it in with our ideas on race, culture, and society. I particularly liked the podcast because it was humanizing; it took something concrete and straight-forward like the Olympics, and it used the event as a springboard for deeper discussions.

The purpose of our Portland meeting, as many of you know, was activism, and so most of our time was spent conducting workshops and setting a future course for collaboration and group efforts towards Asian American empowerment. In addition to the Olympics podcasts (among others...wait and see!), we also recorded an activist summary at the end of our event. This was our last recording. It was a great podcast because not only had we learned by that time to maximize the power of my brand new MacBook Pro (the built-in mic works better than the $20 mic I use for Skype--go Stevie Jobs!), but by that time, we also had had the opportunity to refine and expand our thinking during our awesome workshops. It was great because we had a number of Portland's best Asian American activists in the room for those workshops, along with the excellent teaching and organizing experiences that nskripchun and Xian brought and the raw intellectual power of THX1138.

For the podcast itself, it was me, Xian, Skrips, and THX1138, along with a bit from Mrs. Skrips and Bao. The podcast is 27 minutes and 20 seconds long. In the podcast, we talk about our experiences with activism: Xian's experience with his school kids, Skrips's work with the Wing Luke Museum, and my work with Thymos. We leave some last thoughts on activism, and then we talk about going forward into the future.

You can listen to the podcast here:
or download it here.

I wanted to post this because as the conversation mentions around 11 minutes, the internet is a great tool for sharing, meeting, and collaborating, but when it comes time to actually fighting for change or relating to one another, there's no substitute for real time communication. A lot of times when we debate or fight over the internet, we get caught up over language, intentionally or not. It's fun, of course, but as Xian says, it can become a waste of time, especially when we all want change.

So in order to take the next step, I'm proposing that we do a teleconference. It doesn't have to be recorded. Let's just take the next step and put people in voice contact with one another. At the very least, it's a risk-free way of seeing if there might be another angle to approach the problems that we all face. If Jenn Fang can go on a podcast with a group of PUAs and find some sort of commonality, I don't see why the men and women of the 44s can't do the same. We need change, and the worst problem would be for us to be sitting here discussing the same exact issues in the same exact way five years from now. If you're willing to try voice contact as a means of seeing "where we come from" in the words of Lawson Inada, let me know and we'll try to set it up. (We might try "Intermediate member" and above to begin with, but we'll make obvious exceptions for previous or currently active people on the blog, such as THX, SoulSnax, minorTruths, MelaninManson, Jen, etc.) I've got my teleconference number set up, so let me know if you're interested.

Also, let me know what you think of the podcast. I think it's personally my favorite podcast to date.

(Picture from here.)

August 29, 2008

We Make History Either Way

Mr. McCain chose Sarah Palin, Governor of Alaska, as his VP today. In doing so, he decided to not only go outside the beltway but to go outside the traditional pool of white men. So either way, history will be made--we'll either have the first African American president, or we'll have the first female vice president.

Depending on your outlook, this move was either bold or crazy:
In a surprise move, Senator John McCain chose Gov. Sarah Palin of Alaska as his running mate on Friday, shaking up the political world at a time when his campaign has been trying to attract women, especially disaffected supporters of Senator Hillary Rodham Clinton, McCain officials confirmed.
I doubt many Hillary supporters will jump over to the other side since Palin and Hillary are on opposite sides of the political spectrum, but McCain's choice will shake things up in the party which some describe as a party for old white men. He's definitely on the political war path. Either that, or he's desperately seeking some edge against the rising tide of Obama.

By the way, make no mistake about what Palin stands for:
She opposes abortion rights, which could help pacify social conservatives in a party whose members were wary as rumors swirled that Mr. McCain might pick a running mate who supports those rights. But she differs with Mr. McCain on a controversial environmental issue that centers on her home state: she supports drilling for oil in the Arctic National Wildlife Reserve. Mr. McCain’s opposition to drilling — even after he changed positions and began advocating for off-shore oil drilling — has upset many Republicans.
She's against a woman's right to choose, and she's not exactly in line with the rest of the country when it comes to solving our environmental crisis. She's also also a lifelong member of the NRA, and from what I've read so far, she's a conservative fundamentalist Christian. I'm curious as to how the pundits and public will react to McCain's choice. As I said above, it's either bold or crazy. We live in interesting times.

August 28, 2008

Female PUA

With all the discussion of Asian Male Pickup Artists, I thought it was funny that posted an article about female flirting. It's a three step guide for women to make themselves more attractive. What really caught my eye though...was the picture. I won't repost it here, but it's funny to think that someone sifted through stock photos and somehow, for some reason, came up with a photo of an Asian woman flirting with a bunch of non-Asian guys. Coincidence or not? Maybe we need a critical mass of BetterAsianmen!

So Flirtation 101:
Step 1: Identify a specific person with whom you really, truly want to have sex
Step 2: Lust for the other person's subjective experience
Step 3: Get a life

Numbers 2 and 3 are probably the same whether we're discussing men or women, but I'd submit that number 1 probably won't work for most men to whom sites like cater. The problem with many desperate men--and most PUAs will admit to desperation--is that they become too fixated on specific women and can't let go. It can be dangerous for men and women, but it's particularly destructive when men have this level of desperation. Desperate men need to learn to ease up, to become more comfortable with women, not to become more specific. Too many desperate men are already too specific.

I'm guessing that the writer would probably admit the assymetry in gender behaviors and expectations as well. Men and women are different--equal but different. It just is.

August 26, 2008

Vitamin D deficiency in minority children

I saw this sad story in the Times today about breastfeeding and minority children. It talks about Vitamin D deficiency in breastfed children. For those who haven't been through it, if you are breastfeeding, it's important to supplement your infant's diet with Vitamin D, which can be purchased over the counter in liquid form. Babies who don't get enough Vitamin D can have problems with rickets. The article says:

The patients are more likely to be African-American and dark-skinned, and more likely to have been exclusively breast-fed for an extended period of time, without vitamin supplementation. Rates are often higher when there is less sunlight.

In a study conducted by Dr. Gordon of vitamin D levels in 365 mostly African-American and Latino infants and toddlers, 40 percent had low levels and 12 percent were deficient. Although there is a debate about what levels are considered deficient, one toddler in the study was found to have rickets, 13 children showed evidence of bone loss and 3 had bone changes consistent with rickets.
It's sad because this is a problem that can be resolved through greater education in minority neighborhoods. Most people would never know about the need to supplement--I certainly wouldn't have known if our pediatrician had forgotten to tell us--and it's so easily preventable. We need to think about ways to share knowledge and to disseminate it to those in need, especially for those communities which historically haven't had access to such information.

August 25, 2008

Woman beats fiance

I feel like blogging about something short and funny. From the Washington Post:

Woman accused of beating fiance at prenup party

The Associated Press
Friday, August 15, 2008; 4:12 PM

POULSBO, Wash. -- A Poulsbo
woman was jailed after being accused of beating up her fiance at their
prenuptial party. Kitsap County sheriff's deputies said the woman's 12-year-old
son told her he saw her fiance kissing one of her women friends early Thursday

Deputies said the woman, 31, gave her friends the boot, told
her fiance to leave, too, and then started hitting him in the face.

he left the house, they say, she tackled him football-style, punched him some
more, threw his watch into the bushes and broke his glasses.

to a 911 call from her son, deputies arrested the woman for investigation of
fourth-degree assault.

Sheriff's Lt. Kathy Collings said the woman was
released from jail later Thursday.

There's no word on whether the
marriage took place.

© 2008 The Associated Press

That last sentence answers what would've been my next question.

August 23, 2008

WTF (World Taekwondo Federation) gives Cuban lifetime ban

I saw this blog which covered the story of Angel Matos, a taekwondo Olympian, who kicked a ref in anger after he was disqualified for taking too long to recover during an injury timeout. The WTF barred him for life. His coach Leudis Gonzales made no apologies for the kick and even claimed that the match was fixed. He too was barred for life. I mean, WTF?

I don't remember the previous Olympics well enough, but it seems to me that this Olympics has seen some pretty atrocious behavior. We first had the Swedish wrestler who protested what he thought was a bad decision by taking off his medal during the awards ceremony. Now we have Angel Matos, who didn't just peacefully protest but instead became violent. In the case of Matos, I think they should stick him in prison. Attacking a ref is not only poor sportsmanship; it's assault. He could have killed someone with that kick. I think they should not only punish Matos and his coach, but they should also punish the team as well by penalizing them in the next Olympics. Maybe this would encourage some better behavior from these sore losers.

(Not to make light of the situation, but I'm wondering how the photographer was possibly quick enough to catch the picture above when Matos had his leg fully extended like that. Photo skills like that are truly Olympian...)

August 22, 2008

China Projected to be Tops in Gold

According to the NY Times, China is expected to top the gold medal count by the time the Olympics close on Sunday. According to the article,
The Chinese have reasserted their dominance in traditional strengths, sweeping
the first seven diving events, winning eight of the nine gold medals available
to them in weight
and winning three of the four badminton
titles. Above all, they collected a record-tying nine gold medals in gymnastics:
seven from their men’s team and two from their women’s team, a total that could
be revised downward if it is proved that the women’s team included underage
They've also broken into new sports:
...they have broken ground by winning Olympic gold medals for the first time in archery, rowing, sailing
and trampoline, a subset of gymnastics. China also won its first Olympic medals
in beach volleyball and field
, with its women’s team taking the silver after losing to the
Netherlands in Friday night’s hockey final. “There are always surprises, but I
think people have stepped up, and they have tracked better than we thought,”
Roush said.
This, of course, is a breakthrough for China in terms of nationalism, but it's a breakthrough as well for Asian Americans in terms of racial issues. The stereotypes of Chinese, and more specifically Asians, is one of athletic incompetence, and this performance helps contradict stereotypes. It would be nice to see some great performances in speed and explosive sports, such as sprinting and basketball, but this is definitely a start. And even though Liu Xiang has been sidelined, his status and respect as one of the world's best hurdlers is unassailable.
Globalism will eventually be a great thing. I've noticed some animosity between mainland Chinese and their American born cousins, but with advances in achievement and culture, I strongly believe that we can bridge that ocean. The most important thing, as reflected in the name of my group Thymos, is recognition. We need to make noise and be heard, whether it's with our voices, our athletic performance, or any other kind of loud and audacious achievement.

August 21, 2008

Asian Male-ism II: 44s Venus and 44s Mars

If PUA is just a set of social skills to make yourself better able to relate to others, they would teach you to relate to women as people, not targets.


...our end goal should be to capture the mainstream coverage and to change the zeitgeist.


No one on the 44s, as far as I know, embraces all PUA, but PUA has pushed our discussions in a good direction. It's helping us to see issues that cover not only the PUA/IR related issues, but other issues that are tangentially related to gender as well. It's a good thing that these PUAs have influenced our conversations because we're seeing things that we didn't see before. This blog entry will be about differences in the views of men and women that have become apparent in the course of our PUA conversations, as well as in other past conversations. Through understanding these differences, how they occur, and why they occur, I hope we can understand each other better.

I quoted Tokyolovestory and myself above. Tokyo's quote is from a response on part 1 of Asian Male-ism, while my words come from my Kingston piece. Notice the words we use. Tokyo asks us to "relate," while I use the word "capture." She uses a term in which people feel and understand other people. She decries the use of the concept of women as "targets." Meanwhile, I use the term "capture" which one would be more likely to use with war. In war, one "captures" a "target." I also use the word "change" and "zeitgeist" together, a concept that goes beyond human individuals and aims for large scale movement. In other words, Tokyo uses words and thoughts which one might characterize as typically feminine, while I use words and thoughts which one might characterize as typically masculine.

Such is the difference I see with our recent dialogue on the issue of PUA and sexism. Most men think like men, and most women think like women. Men expect that women think like men, and women expect that men think like women, which is why we sometimes why our words are fall on deaf ears with the opposite gender. Our education is so based on "gender free" politics and the eradication of gender differences that we often don't see how our behaviors usually conform with gender. We assume that men can easily act like women and that women can easily act like men. We don't see the world the same way as those from the other gender. Men are from Mars, Women are from Venus. This is why time and time again on the 44s, we see fights break out along gender lines.

Take my Kingston article for example. When I see an Asian American studies method that harms us, it's a cause for war. My typical male mind sees things that ought to be moved, resources that ought to be reallocated, and garbage that ought to be tossed out. I see structures that prevent Asian Americans from advancing. I don't care to hear excuses about why it's okay to say untrue things about Chinese culture; I care about results. Maxine Hong Kingston's personal feelings and the feelings of the militants who support her become irrelevant because I see the people whose lives have been destroyed by the culture. I see the pain that a pathological culture has created--an out of control female suicide rate and men needing to turn to PUA because the educational system is against them--and my male mind tells me I need to fix that culture.

When Tokyo sees the PUA discussions, she probably wonders where the compassion is. She sees men who can't see women as people. She sees the absence of compassionate relationships, the absence of love, and the perpetuation of a culture where men see women as bodies without regard of their personalities. She sees a loveless town where men rate women by their physical appearance, where men treat relationships as an economic science. She sees an Asian America where the men treat the attraction of women as a game, and where flirting becomes a contest of oneupmanship. Why can't men learn to listen to women rather than judging them on superficial values? After all, isn't that where our best relationships take place? It's an ugly picture.

In this case, everyone is right, but we're right according to our genders. Years ago on the plains of Africa, men participated in the hunt and in war. Whether we were killing for food or killing to keep the bad guys away (and bad was relative), men were task focused. Evolution-wise, it didn't help men to be compassionate with our prey; we simply had to make sure that everyone stood in the right place at the right time and executed our actions with decisiveness and coordination. This is why today in politics, when you see something bad take place, men usually focus on fixing the problem regardless of personal feelings. When Alberto Gonzales messed up by firing attorneys for political reasons, most political men called for his ouster. They didn't care about what he brought to the table, they just saw that he was a problem and needed to be removed. Compassion be damned.

Women, on the other hand, were gatherers and leaders of families. Their responsibilities involved abilities that taught them to discern good from bad, not only with potential suitors who would have the resources to protect them and create stability, but they also had to manage relationships among women in the tribe. They needed to develop the ability to understand small children, humans who were unable to express themselves with words. Therefore, they developed relational skills that men didn't need. This is why leaders like Princess Diana and Mother Teresa are lionized; they had amazing abilities to understand people, abilities that most people don't have. This is why more woman are compassionate. This is why PUA hasn't caught on with women.

Of course this doesn't extend to all individuals--Bill Clinton was known for his listening abilities, and Meg Whitman is known for her executional abilities. But over large populations of men and women, the evolutionary trends still exist. People write books like "Men are from Mars, Women are from Venus," "The Wonder of Boys," and "Women and Leadership" because we tend to be different.

In terms of the charge of PUAs viewing women as targets, it's 100% true. PUAs do view women as targets, and they view women as "conquests"--which is an interesting term, if you think about the topic of discussion and the role of war in male history. PUAs don't try to build relationships, nor do they try to teach sensitivity. Instead, they focus on going in for the kill, a typically male way of fixing a typical Asian American male problem. Like most typically male ways of thinking, the PUA approach is results-based; you either attract a woman or you don't. You either win or you lose.

While I haven't endorsed PUA, I will say that their approach oftentimes mimics the way most men think and the way society expects and encourages men to think. Like it or not, most men are expected to approach women, and not vice versa. Most men need to deal with the possibility and probability of rejection, and most men have to be emotionally prepared to be told no. For men who rarely get out of the house, this rejection can be devastating. The antidote to this devastation is a kind of objectification, a kind of saying, "She's just ONE woman who turned you down, now you just have to ask ONE more." Women become like numbers for two reasons. First, PUAs "enumerate" them in order to protect themselves from rejection. Second, PUAs "enumerate" them because physical appearance is often the first criteria that men use when evaluating women, much the same way women use social standing to evaluate men.

From what I've seen, PUA creates a brotherhood that helps men not only to develop the courage to take action, but also to develop the resiliency to fall and get back up. It also teaches men to go after women who meet the enumerated criteria. It's very much a return to the old, more traditionally male ways of thinking. There is little subtlety involved.

Now some might say that times have changed. Men don't have to kill animals anymore, nor do women spend their time in tribes of women, gathering berries and caring for kids. Sensitive guys are popular these days, as are results-oriented women. That is true. Shouldn't we focus on eliminating gender roles? Shouldn't men be more sensitive?

I would say yes, but at the same time, I think it's unrealistic to expect that the majority of men will be able to fight biology which has come from years of evolution. It's also unrealistic to expect most women to do the asking and to face whatever public and private humiliation that may arise from rejection. Men more often than not select women for looks, while women go for power and social standing. It's just the way it is.

I was speaking with a co-worker, a self-described feminist in my office, who spoke about her son. My co-worker is a single mother who is raising a high school son. Statewide, she's one of the leading salespeople in our industry, a mega multi-million dollar producer, and she is an open supporter of liberal causes. At the same time, she thinks there are differences between the genders. During one conversation, she said that she felt education had flipped to become pro-female. "Boys learn better in motion," she said. "There have been studies that show young boys learn better when they're throwing things around. And yet we ask them to sit still during every part of class, which benefits girls more than boys. This is why there are so many male dropouts these days. We ought to make things more equitable."

I agree with her. Boys and girls are biologically different (irrefutable), and our biology causes us to act and live differently (refutable depending on context). It would be great if boys could learn the same way as girls, but in most cases, they can't.

I won't ask people to adopt my way of thinking, but I will ask people to consider that there is some truth in the idea that men and women are different. I think we can ask the opposite gender to see where we're coming from. We're no longer living in the age of hunting wild beasts or women living among other women in tribes, so things have clearly changed. Yet if the evolutionary record holds any water, it would be hard to expect all women to live the male perspective or vice versa. Most of us are hard wired differently.

Since this is a blog post about Asian male-ism, let me close with a quote about males, and let me address PUA once more. Thinking about the PUAs themselves whom we've met, whom we've heard on William's podcasts, who inhabit the 108's that I endorsed, this quote takes on a special significance:
To try to teach boys to "rise above instant gratification, "become more like girls," "be more sensitive," "not like sports as much," and so on without first teaching them personally fruitful and socially acceptable ways to do all those things is to shoot ourselves in the foot. Boys don't believe adults who don't understand boys."

Michael Gurian, "The Wonder of Boys," ISBN 0-87477-887-5, p. 12

Stay tuned for my next piece, tentatively called "The Recurring Frat Boy."

(Special thanks to Val, Jen, TokyoLoveStory, evil_FUX, Akrypti from 8A, The Stealth MC, and my anonymous coworker for helping me think through some of these issues.)

(Picture from here. The plot description of the movie makes no sense.)

August 20, 2008

Basketball Activism

This article came in from my NY Times alert. It's about a middle-aged Chinese American couple who started a basketball program for Chinese American girls and boys in Manhattan. It talks about the challenges they face, which are mostly cultural. RebelAzn talks about Asian Americans and sports on this site, and I agree with him--we need to promote sports, especially given the cultural stigma against sports in many Chinese American/Asian American families. The writer breaks it down by generation and socio-economic standing, which is probably accurate:
One view, particularly common among first-generation, working-class Chinese-Americans, maintains that sports are an unnecessary impediment to academic and professional achievement, according to interviews with Chinese-American athletes, students, educators and community leaders in New York.

An opposite view, typically held by more educated parents or those who have become more assimilated into American culture because they have been in the United States at least one generation, promotes sports as an integral part of a child’s maturation.

I've noticed this to be true as well. The article continues:
Pressure to excel academically can be particularly intense for those, like Ms. Law’s family, who arrived in the United States toward the bottom of the socioeconomic ladder. While some members of other ethnic groups have embraced sports as a way out of poverty, Asian-Americans, for the most part, have not, said Peter Kwong, a professor of Asian-American studies and urban affairs and planning at Hunter College.

“Using physical strength to make a living is not respected; it’s a Confucian ideal,” he said. “You’re wasting your mind. Using your hands is just not a career.”

I agree with this too. Most Chinese American people I know admire Yao Ming, but they don't aspire to be Yao Ming.

On a side note, this Peter Kwong dude is getting quoted all over the Times these days. He was quoted in my last blog post too. We should get him to mention us--"Using your hands is just not a career, but it's great if you're typing entries on the Fighting 44s!"

There are some more interesting passages in the article, including this one:
“Many times we have to convince the parents,” Ms. Law said. She talks to them about not only the importance of fitness but also the educational and social value of sports, how basketball can teach teamwork, focus and commitment and give a child a sense of belonging. “I say, ‘I’m a parent of two children. We’ve been doing this for many years.’ ”

Indeed, according to educators, coaches, students and athletes in Chinatown and elsewhere, this is a common conversation in the Chinese-American community.

“For many Chinese, they don’t see sports as part of youth development,” said Howard K. Chin, president of Chinese American Student Exposure, a nonprofit group that provides sports programs, volunteering opportunities and career counseling to young people in Chinatown. He spoke on a recent evening at Columbus Park amid a crowd of about 100 people who had gathered to watch a Chinese-American basketball tournament.

I pretty much agree with everything stated in the article. As for the park that they mention, if it's the same one I'm thinking of, I used to pass by it quite often, and even though it was in the heart of Chinatown, the Chinese people mostly used it for tai chi; it was mostly non-Asians who used it for basketball.

Asian Americans need more sports in our culture, and when I read about people like the Laws, it's heartwarming. They fund these clubs with their own money, and they put the sweat equity into making sure it works. This is true activism.

August 19, 2008

Asian Americans Moving into Certain NYC Areas

I don't know which Asian American site found this article first, AAM or 88's. It's about certain New York neighborhoods where Asian Americans are beginning to move and to become a disproportionate part of the population. The story has several profiles of Asian American 1.5 gens who grew up in Asian areas like Chinatown and are now moving out and gravitating towards the same high-end neighborhoods. (I'm guessing they're 1.5 since the brokerages are targeting the foreign language media--though not all 1.5'ers speak their mother tongue.)

Peter Kwong makes an interesting observation:
Historically, American-born Asians have been encouraged to move out of the ethnic enclaves where they grew up, said Peter Kwong, a professor of Asian-American studies at Hunter College. But they have tended to move to suburban communities on Long Island and in New Jersey, where they can find good schools, enough ethnic markets to cater to their needs and, when the time comes, enough space to accommodate aging parents, he said.

“Until now, buying a home tended to be very family oriented,” he added, “and living in a nice building with a lot of amenities was not as stressed.” So the fact that young Asian-Americans are now buying in condo high-rises that come with fitness centers, spas and swimming pools is a shift, “and in some ways becoming more mainstream.”

Given the discussions that have taken place recently, I couldn't help but think about young PUAs doing the PUA thing in those fitness centers, spas, and swimming pools. "Hey...hey...hey...I live right upstairs! Just ask the doorman to dial 888!"

No, seriously, I think this is a good thing. One of the problems with Asian America is that individuals tend to be very diffuse, which means that we have a community which doesn't have much face-to-face social capital, which means that we're often not much of a community at all. With suburban areas, it often doesn't matter who your neighbors are, since in many suburban neighborhoods, people tend to stay inside their homes. This new urban migration could be a good thing. From these new developments, perhaps the concentration of Asian Americans will give rise to new ideas, new social institutions, and new experiences.

By the way, do we have any 44s who live in any of these areas?

August 18, 2008

Liu Xiang drops out

Picture from his official site.

From BBC:
It's hard to overstate how important Liu Xiang has been to this Olympic Games. In some ways, China has built its entire Olympics around Liu Xiang - and the hope that he would defend the Olympic title he won in Athens. You can barely go more than a few metres in Beijing without seeing a poster of Liu - advertising a selection of ice creams, soft drinks, credit cars, sports shoes, and fast cars. Those adverts may now have to be speedily re-done.

Why was Liu Xiang so important? He was the first Asian man ever to win a gold medal in an Olympic track event (in Athens 2004). "His achievement made us feel that we could achieve anything ourselves as well," said one woman. So, Liu Xiang's expected gold medal in Beijing was about Chinese national confidence - it was about China feeling that it could do anything that any other country could do.

I don't know what kind of effect this will have on the collective psyche of the Chinese athletes. I guess it's a good thing that it happened closer to the end of the Olympics rather than the beginning, but I can only imagine how this must be affecting everyone else, especially the other Chinese athletes who have been inspired by Liu Xiang. As the BBC reporter says, the Olympics in some ways was built around Liu. I'm an American citizen, but I admit being sad over this because as a male of Chinese descent, it was great to see Liu smashing those stereotypes about what Asian people can and can't accomplish, especially in running, which is probably as basic a sport as any.

Some people are bashing him on the BBC site, but hey, injuries happen to the best of us. Oh well.

August 17, 2008

"Dooces" are wild


Welcome to the first blog post from my brand new MacBook Pro. Man, I should've read my own blog post about computers seriously rock! They're faster, better with graphics, better with video, easier to configure, more stable, more secure, and they look a lot cooler. I can't believe I was on the PC bandwagon for so long. I can't believe I didn't start

Anyway, there was another interesting article in the New York Times about another blogger going full time. Heather Armstrong runs, where she blogs about being a mother. According to the article, she has 850,000 readers, and according to her site, she has been blogging since February of 2001. J.C. Penney, Crate & Barrel, and Walgreens all pay top dollar to advertise their brands on her site, and she has been so successful that both she and her husband have been able to quit their full-time jobs.

I looked around her site, and though it's well written, irreverent, and personal, I can't believe that there are 850,000 readers. 850k? I think that's half the population of's insane! But again, we're probably seeing a niche which is underserved--how often do people get that close and personal about motherhood, a subject in which people have traditionally needed lots of support?

When are we going to make tons of money on AA issues? Anyone? We blog all the time, we have lots of interesting things to say, and we don't yet have 850,000 viewers.

Incidentally, I just did a google search and found another article that mentions
Heather B. Armstrong of Salt Lake City credits her blog,, with saving her sanity, if not her life. When it began in February 2001, Dooce was a collection of anecdotes about Ms. Armstrong's single life in Los Angeles, with provocative entries like "The Proper Way to Hate a Job" and "Dear Cranky Old Bitch Who Cut in Front of Me at Canter's Deli." After someone sent an unsigned, untraceable e-mail message about Ms. Armstrong's blog to her company's board in 2002, she was promptly dismissed, and "Dooced" entered as a term for "Losing your job for something you wrote in your online blog, journal, Web site, etc."
She blogs often, and so do we. She contributed to the Urban Dictionary, and so did we. So why is she raking in the dough while we all remain hobbyists? As Cuba Gooding Jr. said in Jerry Maguire, "Show me the money!"

August 14, 2008

Asian Male-ism I: PUA and Female Objectification

I've been getting flamed recently. It's nothing new, of course, I get flamed all the time, but this time is perhaps a bit different because the issue happens to be one which we likely won't solve entirely over the web, plus it happens to be flaming by people whom I actually like. In this case, my flaming is over what some regard as my endorsement of Pick Up Artists on my first PUA podcast here, my second podcast here, and my endorsement of a site that one poster described as a "sausage fest." I'm getting flamed because of sexism on some of these sites (though I've never posted on any of these sites), and also because I didn't condemn some sexist language (which I didn't notice) used on the 44s. One member said that I was promoting "sexism" to prop up Asian men. Another called out my "ignorance." I've been called other things as well. Though I don't intend to get people angry, I know that it sometimes happens.

For the record, I don't endorse PUA. I consider Pick Up Specialists Kwak and William to be friends, but I've neither supported nor condemned what they do. I think the both of them are great guys, and I welcome the opportunity to keep in touch with them as they grow as activists and people, but I'm not a PUA, nor have I ever sent any business their way, at least not intentionally. However, I do post about these PUAs, and I do post about sites where some PUAs hang out because I believe they are doing something that has elements of potential. They may not be doing everything right, but there is potential, and they've helped some people achieve what many of us take for granted. The idea of teaching Asian men confidence is a good thing, and these PUAs are on the ground doing it, even if there are problems in their approach. With the exception of Kingstonism (and I'm sure most of you have followed that debate), I've rarely flat out condemned anything. I've never condemned Falling For Grace, even though I think we need variety outside of the "regular" AF/WM themes. I've never condemned ModelMinority, although I think some of the guys on that site are crazy. I've never condemned 8 Asians, even though they hate debate, which I love. I even promote the politically smart, even though I usually hate Jenn's and James's ideas about Asian men. I'm relatively liberal when it comes to OPM (Other Peoples' Movements), and so I always try to see the positive in every endeavor that Asian Americans take upon themselves. Unless I see something blatantly unethical, I usually don't issue any blanket condemnations.

I acknowledge that many PUAs objectify women, and I've voiced my opposition to such objectification. My whole "roundtable" with APB was about how I thought a "high brow" approach would nullify the need for a "low brow" approach. I still believe this is the case, but given our lack of funding, our current lack of a network, and the entrenchment of those academics who promote the status quo, right now it's just a pipe dream. I think it was William who said, "That all sounds high and mighty, but what can we do now? The answer, for some of these men, is to learn how to approach women. It's low brow, tacky, goofy, aimed at an unusually crazy group of men, and ultimately not entirely fulfilling, but it's something. It teaches men to be open with women, even if they're total assholes. At least it's honest. A lot of these guys happen to be complete assholes to begin with; the PUA just makes it come out. Of course, having a movement that would turn assholes into gold would be nice too, but that kind of thinking usually takes place among people who are more established and past the basics of just learning how to approach women. Think about it--if you find a man who is afraid to approach women and has had few conversations with women, how can anyone expect him to be smooth, considerate, or respectful? If a man has no contact with women over his whole life, I'd say that you should expect him to be an asshole.

Now we could bypass PUA with education. Deep education renders tacky PUA obsolete. However, without that network in place combined with the intellectual capital to say something of substance and supported by financial funding, change cannot take place now. Right now, the "high brow" people need to create that network, build on that intellectual capital, and better learn how to finance and make the system work. We can talk to people and educate people in the meantime with those we touch personally. It's a long process. In the meantime, we shouldn't outright condemn people who are trying to work at a lower level because, well, they're at a lower level. Oppose sexism, and oppose their sexism, but don't oppose the idea of men learning to approach women because it doesn't turn men into sexist assholes; it just brings sexist assholes into the open. It also brings nice guys like Kwak and Albert into the open. People don't see this, but there are some positive lives being changed here, including women. How would Kwak's girlfriend ever have met Kwak unless he had been taught to "approach?" PUA ultimately is based on openness even if there is no badly needed moral component. It's not activism, but people are having basic needs met. Think of it as a temporary fix for men who are stunted in emotional growth. It's not our highest or best goal, but it serves some people as a temporary fix, and it does make positive changes, even if it empowers jerks.

For those who dislike the PUA approach, the solution is to continue building education. We do this by educating, sharing (online), and talking (real time--I still don't think there's a substitute for real time communication.). Build the networks. Learn the system. Get practice doing work. Obviously we can accomplish much more, but we need to work at it.

More about this later. Hopefully I can speak a bit about the male issues vs. female issues from a male perspective in the next installment. In the meantime, share your thoughts.

August 13, 2008

Spanish Basketball Team in Racist Pose


Thanks to T-Tocs who first posted this in our forum. There's already a huge discussion taking place about the story. The Spanish basketball team was photographed doing the slant eye pose that so many of us know from grade school, and they're not apologizing for it. To make things worse, as minorTruths points out in the forum, there is a Chinese sponsor who is exonerating them by saying it's not offensive.

I've already blogged somewhat about the topic of European racism. I don't know what else can change a culture other than an internal movement. Love or hate the U.S., we're still ahead of much of the rest of the world when it comes to understanding race relations.

MinorTruths referenced an excellent article here, which makes good points about the double standard that Americans face and also makes some good points about how the money spins and who works for whom.
So far, there’s nothing out of the league office. Rest assured, unless there’s an outcry over that photo, the NBA will wish this story away. Maybe the league will even issue a mild rebuke. It won’t be enough. Maybe this doesn’t rise to a suspension, but there should be significant fines and a bold condemnation. There needs to be a message delivered to NBA players everywhere: When you earn your money with us, you are always on the clock. Kidd, Kobe and LeBron understand it. It’s time the rest of the league does, too.

As some suggest he’ll do, Stern can’t dismiss this as the business of a federation team. These are NBA players returning to NBA cities this year. Never mind the host country and millions of fans here, but consider the Asian-American season ticket holders in cosmopolitan cities such as Toronto and Los Angeles. One of the reasons the New Jersey Nets traded for Yi Jianlian was to market him to a large Asian-American base in Metropolitan New York.

If anyone is feeling activist, send a letter to the NBA. Send one to the New York Times. Just keep on sending letters until someone gets the message.

Edit: Contact the NBA here. You can also use the link to contact the Raptors and the Lakers to let them know what you think about their "representatives" Gasol and Calderon.

August 12, 2008

Heard but not seen


The Real Singer

I just saw this story on Olympic Girl Seen But Not Heard.

Apparently, the cute little girl who was "singing" during the Olympic ceremony wasn't really singing. She was lip-synching because the girl with the nice voice wasn't cute enough.

Games organizers confirm that Lin Miaoke, who performed "Ode to the Motherland" as China's flag was paraded Friday into Beijing's National Stadium, was not singing at all.

Lin was lip-syncing to the sound of another girl, 7-year-old Yang Peiyi, who was heard but not seen, apparently because she was deemed not cute enough.

As you can see from my title post, I reversed the wording of the title article. I'm more concerned about the girl who didn't get to be on camera because her image supposedly wasn't up to par. Sure, the stand-in girl probably does have greater beauty according to common accepted standards:


The cute "singer"

But they're both cute. And if it's the original girl's voice, they should give the original girl credit by letting her perform on stage. I can't believe anyone would deny a young child the chance to be in the spotlight, especially when it's her voice coming over the loudspeakers. What kind of lesson does this teach our kids? It's not right.

And in terms of the media, hasn't anyone learned anything from Milli Vanilli?

August 11, 2008

108 Spirits: New Kid on the Block

I was poking around the web today, and William's blog linked to a new site: 108 Spirits. It's focused solely on Asian American men, but of all the other "competitor" sites I've seen, it's very similar to ours. Like reappropriate, it's hard-hitting, well-written, and progressive, and so far, the discussions lack the nauseating wholesomeness that we sometimes see on other sites. It's like a young 44s or young reappropriate for men. In fact, the dialog reminds me a lot of the early days of the 44s with Seoulbrother's Palchisan Realm and the discussions about old Chinese epics like the Three Kingdoms. I think it's great that people are digging deep into our cultural history in order to find wisdom that so many of us either don't know or have forgotten.

The vision/explanation of the name is cool too:
108 Spirits is a reference to the 36 Heavenly Spirits and 72 Earthly Fiends that originated from Chinese mythology and later on influenced various Asian works of literature. Among those is one of the Four Great Classical Novels of Chinese literature: "Shui Hu", aka "Water Margin", "Outlaws of the Marsh" or "All Men Are Brothers", in which the 108 Spirits reincarnated as the 108 Outlaws.

The 108 Outlaws of the Marsh are a band of very talented men who refuse to be governed by established rules & practices and rebel against authorities. Their stories represent and celebrate masculine Asian men of various types: leader, scholar, warrior, businessman, outlaw, musician, doctor, etc. - united by the spirit of the Brotherhood to help each other and those in needs.

That is the goal of this website: the development, representation and celebration of Asian masculinity.

I found these paragraphs particularly interesting after our Frank Chin event where Frank spoke about stories. Frank actually started telling "Water Margin" when we were having dim sum, but then the ha cheung came and I totally spaced. For those who follow my 44s blog, I'm particularly interested in traditional stories because there is some true wisdom there. It's great to see a group of young guys starting inquiries into this area.

So here are some things from their site to check out:

The Asian Male Identity

How did you discover your passion?

Some of the usernames look familiar :) , but it's great seeing good dialogue on the web outside of our own. My approach to activism and knowledge has always been the same--if people have the talent and inclination to do good things, we need to support them, and we need to help them reach their goals. From what I've seen, all the 44s admins and blackbelts support that goal too. So to the 108's, welcome to the blogosphere! Let's do great things together!