04 October 2013

John and Walt

O ME! O life! of the questions of these recurring,
Of the endless trains of the faithless, of cities fill'd with the foolish,
Of myself forever reproaching myself, (for who more foolish than I, and who more faithless?)
Of eyes that vainly crave the light, of the objects mean, of the struggle ever renew'd,
Of the poor results of all, of the plodding and sordid crowds I see around me,
Of the empty and useless years of the rest, with the rest me intertwined,
The question, O me! so sad, recurring—What good amid these,
         O me, O life?

That you are here—that life exists and identity,
That the powerful play goes on, and you may contribute a verse. - W.W.

What verse will you contribute? - J.K.

11 November 2012

Maddow on 2012 Election Result

Ohio really did go to President Obama last night.

And he really did win.

And he really was born in Hawaii.

And he really is legitimately president of the United States, again.

And the Bureau of Labor Statistics did not make up a fake unemployment rate last month.

And the Congressional Research Service really can find no evidence that cutting taxes on rich people grows the economy.

And the polls were not skewed to over sample Democrats.

And Nate Silver was not making up fake projections about the election to make conservatives feel bad. Nate Silver was doing math.

And climate change is real.

And rape really does cause pregnancy sometimes.

And evolution is a thing.

And Benghazi was an attack on us, it was not a scandal by us.

And nobody is taking away anyone's guns.

And taxes have not gone up.

And the deficit is dropping, actually.

And Saddam Hussein did not have weapons of mass destruction.

And the moon landing was real.

And FEMA is not building concentration camps.

And U.N. election observers are not taking over Texas.

And moderate reforms of the regulations on the insurance industry and the financial services industry in this country are not the same thing as communism.

Listen, last night was a good night for liberals and for Democrats for very obvious reasons, but it was also, possibly, a good night for this country as a whole, because in this country, we have a two-party system in government. And the idea is supposed to be that the two sides, both come up with ways to confront and fix the real problems facing our country. They both propose possible solutions to our real problems. And we debate between those possible solutions. And by the process of debate, we pick the best idea.

That competition between good ideas from both sides about real problems in the real country should result in our country having better choices, better options, than if only one side is really working on the hard stuff. And the if the Republican Party and the conservative movement and the conservative media is stuck a vacuum-sealed door-locked spin cycle of telling each other what makes them feel good and denying the factual, lived truth of the world, then we are all deprived as a nation of the constructive debate about competing feasible ideas about real problems.

Last night the Republicans got shellacked, and they had no idea it was coming. And we saw them in real time, in real humiliating time, not believe it, even as it was happening to them. And unless they are going to is secede, they are going to have to pop the factual bubble they have been so happy living inside if they do not want to get shellacked again. And that will be a painful process for them, but it will be good for the whole country, left, right, and center.

You guys, we're counting on you. Wake up.

There are real problems in the world. There are real, knowable facts in the world.

Let's accept those and talk about how we might approach our problems differently.

Let's move on from there.

If the Republican Party and the conservative movement and conservative media are forced to do that by the humiliation they were dealt last night, we will all be better off as a nation.

And in that spirit, congratulations, everybody. Big night.
 -Rachel Maddow, TRMS 7 November 2012

05 July 2012

"Where are you REALLY from?"

The Perpetual Question

Most of the time, I take that question with a humorous slant.  Whenever I respond to the inquirer with the name of my home state, he/she never seems satisfied with the answer.  Unfortunately for the inquisitor, I'm being completely truthful: I was born and raised in the United States, but I did spend a few years of my childhood living abroad.  Normally, there is no questioning of citizenship when such a history is applied to say, a military brat, but for me, apparently that adds a level of intrigue to the inquisitor with regards to my true origin.

The United States is unique because even though most of the world's cultures are shaped by some form of immigration, the U.S. is one of the few examples (perhaps the only example) where we have an almost simultaneous migrations of widely divergent cultures within a relatively short period of time.  As a nation that is over 300 years old, it is also one of the youngest nations.  The cultural identity of the U.S. is complicated: Though we are a nation with heavy European influences (most of our founding fathers' ancestors were from Europe, after all), what culturally defines this country is really a fusion of all the immigrants and their offsprings who straddles between their own background and everything outside of it.  People flock to the United States for many reasons, but the cultural benefits for the immigrants include the ability to shed some if not all of the social stigmas of their background, and to embrace a mostly merit-based society where family background does not have to dictate one's path in life.  The immigrants are also given a chance to actively participate in the positive aspects of their culture, and pass them down to their American born offsprings, who can choose to embrace or reject some or most of their parents' heritage.

I try not to take these inquiries seriously.  In fact I've learn to toy with the inquisitor to the point where the person will squirm in discomfort upon the realization that he/she really is just a little bit racist (thank you Avenue Q for that marvelous song).  However, there are times when I reflect upon the issue where the seed of discrimination (conscious or otherwise) can fester into something much more serious, resulting in manifestations other than a misguided inquiry.

The death of Vincent Chin

Shortly after I was born, a Chinese American man was found beaten to death near a park in Detroit, Michigan.  Vincent Chin's death had caused a national uproar, in particular with the Asian Americans, where a large number of them protested against the leniency of the sentences passed to the perpetrators.  Before the crime was committed, there was a heated exchange between the perpetrators (a Chrysler employee and his stepson) and Chin's group of friends (Vincent was having his bachelor party) at a strip club.  Both groups were eventually thrown out of the club.  The Chrysler employee was not to happy regarding the loss of automotive jobs to Japanese companies, and subsequently blamed Chin (who was American) for the terrible state of employment.  The words "It's because of you motherfuckers we're out of work" was overheard by one of the witnesses at the club.  That night after both groups parted ways, the Chrysler employee and his stepson followed Vincent Chin, even paid a person to help look for him, before finding him at a McDonald's, where one person held him while the other bludgeon him four times in the head with a baseball bat.  The victim fell into a coma, and died a few days later.

During that year, my mom was going through a difficult divorce, but the news was so sensational that she remembers the case.  It caused such a consternation amongst the Asian American communities that eventually a civil suit was filed against both men, which ultimately resulted in heavier sentences but alas, they were overturned during the appeal process.  The death of Vincent Chin brought to light a problem that plagues pretty much any ethnic group other than blacks and whites living in this country: We are seen as perpetual foreigners.  It doesn't matter if we were born in this country, if our genetic makeups do not belong in the ethnic majority and the largest ethnic minority of the United States, we will never be considered as a "true" American.  My partner and I are both first generation American born citizens. Though his mother is a U.S. citizen by birth, his father is naturalized, just like my parents.  Even so, his father considers me a foreigner from time to time, using phrases like "you people like to eat raw stuff" much to the chagrin of my partner and to the embarrassment of his mother.

When I first moved to Melbourne, I encountered a drive by racial slur.  Luckily for me, that particular manifestation of racial anger did not result in my death, but it did make me realize that such an action is entirely too possible, unfortunately.  Vincent Chin did not know his attackers before the altercation.  He was just at the wrong place at the wrong time.

I love scrapple. I swear.

Even though the Chinese workers were largely responsible for building the railroads that provided a lifeline connecting the country from coast to coast, after almost two hundred years it is still difficult for some people today to realize the fact that Asians born in the U.S. are in fact, Americans.  It took the descendants of African slaves over several hundred years before they are recognized as full fledged Americans in the psyche of the population.  Perhaps it will take Asian Americans and other ethnic minority groups a much longer time before no one bats an eye with regards to their citizenship.  Meanwhile, I'll just make the most of the inquiry and talk about my Amish ancestry at great length.

12 May 2012

Skylog: Sunrise on the East Coast

A year and a half ago, I moved to beachside to be closer to my new job.  I must say that life here is quite different than where I was over a year ago, even though the difference in distance is only a matter of a few miles.  I feel very, very fortunate to have found this place, which not only affords me a short car/bike ride to work (thereby saving on gas), but also a nice community and a beach access just across the street.  Most of the people living on beachside are fitness oriented: My co-workers often take morning/afternoon dips in the ocean, and I found myself drawn to jogging on the beach during low tides.  It is a few degrees cooler during the summer, and the constant breeze from the ocean is a relief from the sweltering heat during the middle of the year.

In the morning when I am up early enough (generally due to insomnia), I can walk across the street and be gifted with such a view.  So after many moons of absence, I present to you, the first Skylog of 2012: Sunrise on the East Coast.

26 April 2012

Disabling Comments

Starting today, I'm disabling all commenting ability on Blogger until Google use a better spam filter other than captcha, which for some reason doesn't deter the bots because I'm still getting 19+ comments awaiting moderation all consisting of the same nonsensical messages in a single post.  Sorry everyone. :(

09 February 2012

Hello, I'm alive (I swear)

Hello friends. I swear I'm not ignoring you. Not deliberately anyway. I'm stuck on a fast paced project which involves me and several of my coworkers to be sequestered at a hotel in what can only be described as a company sanctioned exile for the next few weeks in order to finish the project by March.  I do miss you all, and hope to return to civilization soon. Love, the Bing

19 January 2012

Happiness from Remembrance

You meet your friends by circumstances, the right place at the right time.

Sometimes you lose touch with your friends, because the path of life is different for everyone and, for me at least, that path often diverges from the intersection that is the point of friendship.

But when one day, totally unexpected, you see a small note, a sign, that you were remembered in some way, it really brightens your day.

A friend of mine who used to work at Foodzie started his own company in California called Tonx.  The concept is simple: A subscription for a bag of coffee beans, selected by the creators of the business, shipped to you every two weeks.  Almost every bag will be a different type of beans, giving you a nice breadth of the variety of beans out there in the world.  A nice break from the monotony of the typical engineer coffee fare of Dunkin' Donuts, Starbucks or even *shudders* Folgers.

I never told my friend that I was subscribing to Tonx.  I figured that I'm just one of the many customers with a quality coffee addiction and with some money to burn for premium beans.  I've been following my friend's career path passively and was intrigued that he chose to apply his technological skills in the areas of food exploration.  I remember him as a filesystems intern at Apple Computer, a fan of White Stripes, loves his sweetheart from high school (whom he is now married to), big nature lover and one of the six interns stuck in the bathroom at the Redwoods National Park while a black bear tore into his car.

Today, I received my first bag of beans.  Lo and behold, a note of remembrance flashed across the shipping label.

Hi Nik!  Happy New Year. :)  Many blessings to your new venture.