Saturday, March 30
whether it is worth accepting a few deaths and serious injuries to protect the nation against a threat that may not materialize.
When we make choices, we're often biased, and tend not to make very good choices. When we hear stories of vaccine victims, all too often we respond with visceral fear rather than logic. Added to this is
the emotional power of the anecdote to erode a consensus � how the story of a single vaccine victim, or even one who mistakenly believed he was injured by a vaccine, can overwhelm logical arguments about risks and benefits.
Rational debate will be difficult. As usual.
Friday, March 29
In The Blood Lust of Identity, Ian Buruma makes some observations about why people fear for their sense of belonging. According to Amin Maalouf, it's because they feel that their community is under threat. I didn't believe that about myself, but after 9/11 it was interesting to see my own identity as an American surface. Buruma also observes that those who blame globalization for threatening local cultural identities turn out to be mostly disaffected intellectuals.
Buruma goes on to discuss Tom Hayden as one of the worst instances of romantic nativism and identity chatter, occurring in the heart of the post-industrialized West itself.
Some blogger that I've lost recommended this article, which shows mindless packets of data following a few simple rules to produce artificial genocide. Yet the agents are separately and individually reacting according to rules rather than some kind of mob psychology. So apparently societies possess their own logic, and cannot easily be directed or anticipated.
Not even the Olympian modeler, who writes the code and looks down from on high, can do more than guess at the effect of any particular rule as it ricochets through a world of diverse actors.
No wonder God has made such a poor fist of things.
Restrictions on the free flow of information.
The subjugation of women.
Inability to accept responsibility for individual or collective failure.
The extended family or clan as the basic unit of social organization.
Domination by a restrictive religion.
A low valuation of education.
Low prestige assigned to work.
He also says,
China, along with the world's other defiant dictatorships, suffers under an oppressive class structure, built on and secured by an informational hierarchy.
Wednesday, March 27
For the U.S. side, among the biggest surprises were the Chinese government's apparent indifference to the facts surrounding the collision, and its apparent lack of concern about international procedures that, in an emergency situation, allow one nation's aircraft to land on the territory of another without permission. Even today, it is puzzling that the Chinese government did not seem concerned about how its handling of the incident might shape regional perceptions.
Guess what? Many in the Chinese government don't give a damn what anyone thinks. On reflection, I guess that's part of the reason for the article, to embarrass the Chinese government. Like they care.
Tuesday, March 26
Monday, March 25
Sunday, March 24
Then today, we watched "Journal d'un cur� de campagne" (1950), of which someone at imdb claims Andrey Tarkovsky recommended as an example of how the film director should work. A little too spiritual for me. (Coincidentally, last week we saw Tarkovsky's "Solaris", which was also a little too spiritual by my lights. I'd seen it in the 70's and liked it much better then.) Yes, I appreciate Bresson's style, but the priest's character struck both of us as a little weak.
Speaking of weak men, yesterday we also saw "Monsieur Hire" (1989), which both of us liked better. About a Peeping Tom who gets caught up in his obsession with one woman. A little much of the Brahms Piano Quartet, Opus 25, perhaps.
Ah, for a sense of purpose.
Though it represents a welcome departure from the polarized mudslinging of the 90's culture wars, it also represents a failure to fully engage with the world, a failure to test one's convictions against the logic and passions of others. It suggests a closing off of the possibilities of growth and transformation and a repudiation of the process of consensus building. "It doesn't bode well for democratic practice in this country," Professor Anderson said. "To keep democracy vital, it's important that students learn to integrate debate into their lives and see it modeled for them, in a productive way, when they're in school."
The writer also claims that similar to "the knee-jerk acceptance of the positions of others," irony is a form of detachment, "a defensive mode that enables one to avoid commitment and stand above the fray".
I have my doubts. Some people dislike debate because they're just not very good at it. All too many debaters "win" by mere rhetoric or appeal to emotions. What's the point of winning that way?
Saturday, March 23
some popular news outlets call something "a trend" if they find at least three instances of it. This arbitrary number serves as pseudo-substantiation for exploration of what might otherwise be dismissed.
But while they specifically singled out journalists for this, literary critics do it, too.
Friday, March 22
1. Your mother has a short-haired, curly perm.
2. Your dad is some sort of engineer.
3. Your parents still tried to get you into places half-price saying you were 12 when you were really 16.
4. You ask your parents help on one math problem and 2 hours later they're still lecturing.
5. You have a 40 lb. bag of rice in your pantry.
6. You shop 99 Ranch.
7. Everyone thinks you're "Chinese" no matter what part of Asia your ancestors were from.
8. You've had a bowl haircut at one point in your life.
9. Your parents enjoy comparing you to their friends' kids.
10. You've had to sit through karaoke videos with scantily clad, ugly Asian women attempting to dance and walk around a temple, forest or library.
11. Your parents say, "Don't forget your heritage."
12. You drive mostly Japanese cars.
13. You've learned to keep bargaining even if the prices are rock bottom.
14. You've had to eat parts of animals they don't even put in hot dogs.
15. At least once, you've started a joke with "Confucius say..."
16. You know what bok choy is.
17. You've ever gotten little red envelopes around February.
18. Piles of shoes tend to make it hard to open the front, back and closet doors.
19. You hear (your name + eee (optional) + yah!) every time someone calls you. (e.g., Jean- ee - yah! or Mary - yah!).
20. You have NO eyelashes.
21. Idiot people try to impress you with pathetic imitation Asian languages, like the ever-so-popular: ching chong woo bok chi, etc...
22. Your parents say leaving rice in your bowl is a sin.
23. The Bio lectures on marine life (seaweed, sea cucumbers, octopii) was last night's dinner.
24. Your ancestors 1000 generations back invented the back scratcher.
25. At least one family member wears black wire/plastic frame glasses.
26. Your parents hover over your tired, caffeine-drugged body at 12 midnight to say, "In Korea (or other native country), we studied even more."
27. Your parents expect you'll be best friends with any one off the street in any given area as long as they are Asian.
28. An Asian woman comes on campus and people ask: "Is that your mother? Well then, is it your sister?"
29. Your relatives' houses smell like incense mothballs or both.
30. Your parents say, "Calculus? I took calculus in 8th grade!!"
31. Everyone thinks you're good at math.
32. Your parents' vocabulary is filled with "Ai-yahs and Wah's."
33. You like $1.75 movies.
34. You like $1.50 movies even more.
35. Your aunts and uncles bring you back adorable clothing from Asia with fuzzy bunnies, vinyl ducks and English words that make no sense, in great colors like yellow, pink, magenta, orange and the ever popular lime green.
36. Your parents insist you marry within your race.
37. You never order chop suey, sweet and sour pork, or any other imitation oriental food.
38. Your parents have never kissed you.
39. Your parents have never kissed each other.
40. You learned about the birds and the bees from someone other than your parents.
41. "You want a stereo! When I was your age, I didn't even have shoes!!"
42. People see a bunch of scribbles on a chopstick and ask you to translate.
43. You have to call just about all your parent's friends "Auntie and Uncle."
44. You have 12+ aunts and uncles.
45. At expensive restaurants, you order a delicious glass of water for your beverage and NEVER order dessert.
46. Your parents simply cut the green/black part off the bread and say "Eat it anyway. It's still good."
47. The vast majority of the people related to you wear glasses, thick glasses.
48. You will most likely be taller than your parents.
49. Your parents have either made you play the piano, the violin or both.
50. You get nothing if you do well in school, but get in big trouble if you don't.
51. When going to other peoples' houses, you always have to bring a gift.
52. Your dad still pulls his socks up to his knees, you know, the ones with the blue and pink stripes at the top.
53. Your family owns a tennis racquet, golf clubs, or both.
54. Your family always cheers for the Asian athlete on TV (i.e. Michael Chang).
55. The furniture in your house never matches the wallpaper, the carpet, the decorations or any of the rest of the furniture.
56. You have rocks, sticks, leaves and strange-smelling, unknown substances in your pantry for use as medicine.
57. You own a rice cooker or two.
58. You buy soy sauce by the gallon.
59. Your family owns butcher knives bigger than your head.
60. Your parents tell you about how long it took for them to get to school, how horrible the weather was in their native country, and how much they still appreciated going.
61. Your parents buy you clothes and shoes many sizes too big so you can "grow into it" and wear it for years to come.