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Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Lazy Bones Jones jonesing for a fix






Just a small bit of random today. Been a long week, and while there are many posts prepared, none are quite yet finished. So, you'll have to suffer awhile longer with my attempts at procrastination.

I give you... (queue: drum roll)

[jump to continue - click header]


Friday, September 25, 2009

What it means to comfort someone



The question has always been for me, how do you care? How do you show it? How do you express it? How does compassion work in this fucked-up world of ours?

How do stop a person's hurt when they come to your shoulder with tears on their cheeks? How do you make that pain lessen, stopper the sadness in its slow trickle down the face to hang from their chin? The tears-drops just waiting to fall, like small pieces of a person's heart that have given up and only want to end it... they remind me of so many little suicides.

[jump to continue - click header]

Monday, September 21, 2009

19th & Holloway




(figure with bicycle) DISMOUNT

Unnoticed, unheeded, signage for the safety of pedestrians and automobiles from reckless cyclists smoothly cruising between sidewalk & street like it's all the same lane to them.

Sunday, September 20, 2009

The New Superpower


Anyone taking bets?

The old powers are dying a slow, agonizing, painfully pathetic death. England, France, Germany, Russia, and even the US... they've fallen, we've fallen. We've become incompetent in the comfort we were born to be used to. Like Rome, the ineffectual rule the country. The sun is setting in the West, casting small men's shadows. Now light rises in the East, out of Third World waters.



China is, merely in terms of sheer population, HUGE. They own most of America's debt, and therefore, in many ways, own America. With a growing economy of coal, outsourcing factories, sweatshop labor, and a highly controlled society - from what information gets in to what information gets out - the country is one of the fastest growing markets in the world.

They make our clothes, our computers, our television sets, and even our shoes. Their manufacturing-based economy of outsourced labor is reminiscent of the United States circa 1900 that led to its international domination throughout the century. And the sheer growth that has happened in the last ten years shows that they're not stopping there; from science and technology (mostly software, energy, and bio-research) to its cultural image, which was especially obvious after recently hosting the 2008 Olympic games, winning a total of 51 gold medals! More than any other country.

However, with all its achievements, China is still lacking in entrepreneurial spirit due to cultural, and government restraints on individualism. Information is tightly controlled. The society is force-fed propaganda, and behind a thick wall of political smiles the PRC keeps all secrets to themselves. Also, human rights abuses from their occupation of Tibet to their population control policies that advocate widespread infanticide, mire the country in controversy.

But even so, the sheer economic domination exhibited by China coupled with its large population and military neutrality, has shown it poised to overtake the US as the chief power in the world.



Then, on the other hand, we have... India, the largest democracy on the planet (albeit a crooked, corrupt one.) They've got our outsourced call centers, literally running the country from behind a wall of long-distance cell-towers and satellites. They've got their own Bollywood that rivals the popularity of Western film markets. Their slew of socio-cultural achievements from Ghandi's ahimsa to the Vedas to the Taj Mahal, highlight a rich cultural history that can be seen in the stunning growth of their cities, as slums become the new breeding grounds for an international zeitgeist of globalization.

But India has a lot of problems too. Cities like Mumbai, Delhi, and Calcutta have high rates of poverty, corruption, pollution, disease, illiteracy, malnutrition, all packed together in the slums. The country's most famous river, the Ganges, is filthy, and much of the rural area in India is devoid of the progress being made in the country, which is heavily concentrated in the cities (and even then not equally distributed).

Still, the pluralistic, multilingual, multiethnic, multireligious nature of India is one of its greatest strengths. The country is just goddamn diverse, and shows capitalistic spirit. Businesses in cities like Bangalore, or Hyderabad, highlight this entrepreneurial growth, with IT start-ups, and even established corporations like Microsoft or HP setting up shop.



All of this actually was inspired by a book I recently finished, The White Tiger, by Aravind Adiga. It chronicles the story of a character named Balram Halwai, as he writes a series of letters to visiting Chinese premier, Wen Jiabao. The book really shows the changing international scene, from West to East, from White to Yellow & Brown. The whole book reeks of the impending shift coming to world power dynamics.

And also, it's just interesting as all hell. Like Slumdog Millionaire, only crazier, nastier, and much, much better. Aravind Adiga is definitely a new literary voice to watch for in the coming years.

Along with the new world superpower.

Saturday, September 19, 2009

Bored In Class


This is what I do while I'm sitting at my desk, listening to another lecture on hominids, Pre-Colombian culture, fossil striations, or World War I poetry. It's a strange, eclectic mix of information swirling around me head, and this is what I crap out:









Cheers

Thursday, September 17, 2009

Contributing to Internet Depravity


These are some videos I've come across recently and feel the need to repost, doing my part to participate in the cyberweb memes of perverted generations via YouTube and procrastination.



Japanese Game Show




Quiet Library Prank




Fucking Canadians...




Christmas? You just been punk'd!




Because punting them is illegal.




Because cats are fucking hilarious




And dogs too.




Hope ya'll enjoyed this lil' slice o' humorosity!

Cheers

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

2009: Year of the Celebrity Death




In no particular order:

1. Billy Powell, 56, keyboardist for Lynyrd Skynyrd, heart attack
2. Helio Gracie, 95, creator of Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu, natural causes
3. Socks, 19, American Presidential cat of the Clinton family, jaw cancer
4. Nicholas Hughes, 47, marine biologist, son of Sylvia Plath and Ted Hughes, suicide via hanging
5. Billy Mays, 50, advertisement salesman of OxiClean and Orange Glo, heart disease exacerbated by cocaine
6. Gidget, 15, Taco Bell chihuahua, stroke
7. Adam Goldstein, 36, DJ AM, drug overdose
8. Farrah Fawcett, 59, actress (Charlie's Angels), cancer
9. John Arthur "David" Carradine, 72, actor and martial-artist, hung in his closet, possible murder or suicide
10. Michael Jackson, 50, king of motherfucking POP, overdosed by his doctor

Geebus P Cryst!

Fuck man... 2012 must be real. You know the end is near when shit like this goes down.



RIP boyos.

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

For The Black-Eyed Classmate


Small piece of random. Yesterday, a girl I used to crush on was waiting for the bus in Haight as I walked by. She acted like she didn't know me at all... at least she didn't slap me or stab me.

Reference: [When Writers Fight]

And in commemoration of these events that form part of my life/love experience, I give you a song by Atmosphere that encapsulates so eloquently the personality of this woman who I call dead inside.

Monday, September 14, 2009

A Social Experiment




Description: description of a social experiment I want to do that compares race dynamics on my college campus via group identity connotations and denotations. Essentially, I'm juxtaposing "white power" signs with "black power" signs. Should be interesting... if I don't get killed. P.S. This is actually vlog number 12. I keep losing track!

Sunday, September 13, 2009

Interactive Aesthetic


Question: are video games art?



I have often explored on this blog the concept of alternative mediums for aesthetics - for art. From [comics as literature] to whether [remixing counts as musicianship] I have constantly explored the world via Saboteur Academia's eyes, looking for the alternative that approaches life sideways beautifully.

Coming back to the topic at hand, can video-games (as a holistic term for all games, whether table-top, computerized, console-based, or hand-held devices) be counted as "art"? Movies were the first to combine all previous art forms: photography, music, acting, writing, architecture, sculpture, painting, dancing, etc.

Now, I think video-games do this even more, because while they contain all those elements that movies do they, they are also interactive. They allow the audience to participate in the art itself! In a sense, the audience IS the artist.

I know, controversial right? But hear me out, I discovered a couple of good articles discussing the topic. By [Aaron Smuts from the University of Wisconsin] and [Chi Kong Lui from GameCritics.com]

Obviously there isn't room in this post to define "art" in all the various ways that people have come up with, because contention of the term itself is still widely debated. But, we can agree for the purposes of this post to look at the term "art" broadly, in such a way as to be inclusive enough not to be discriminating, but exclusive enough not to lose meaning.

"The quality, production, expression, or realm, according to aesthetic principles, of what is beautiful, appealing, or of more than ordinary significance. The class of objects subject to aesthetic criteria. Art is the process or product of deliberately arranging elements in a way that appeals to the senses or emotions. It encompasses a diverse range of human activities, creations, and modes of expression, including music, literature, film, sculpture, and paintings. The meaning of art is explored in a branch of philosophy known as aesthetics." (Compilation of dictionary definition with Wikipedia definition.)

Do video-games fulfill any of these qualities? Well, they certainly are expressive, as can be seen in games such as The Legend of Zelda, which juxtaposes three qualities of Power, Wisdom, and Courage in a contest between moral concepts of Good versus Evil. They can be beautiful, like Chrono Trigger, which features beautiful character design and stills by Akira Toriyama (creator of Dragon Ball). They can also be intellectually stimulating, involving complex problem-solving skills as seen in games such as Mario Party, or they can teach us about architecture and landscaping in games such as Sim City and Sim Earth. Hell, they can even teach us about ourselves and the human condition, as seen in The Sims.

They also fulfill a diverse range of human activities by combining: literature via story-telling that imparts variations of popular myths, legends, and moral-lessons; visual art via character models that require sculpting, drawing, painting, and graphic (or digital) design that can be as aesthetically beautiful as any Picasso; music via soundtrack creation that features stylistic nuances such as Baroque composition, heavy instrumental synchronization, indefinite repetition, and polyphony restrictions that are so enjoyable that even major symphonic orchestras from the Eminence Symphony Orchestra in Australia to the Los Angeles Philharmonic have held concerts featuring these songs; and all of these are combined into film-like sequences that include the participation of the player as actor, director, and audience all at once.

In recognition of video games as art, I give you some favorite pieces in homage to games of my present and past, beloved now and beloved then.










Friday, September 11, 2009

Blog Comment Policy

Need to explain a few things to the posters, commenters, and yes, even the spammers that come here to share their words with mine.

THIS IS NOT A PUBLIC RESTROOM.


This is my personal forum. That I share with all of you.

I did not moderate comments in order to keep an open-dialogue. I did not moderate comments to allow instantaneous reactions, to capture someone's comment at the moment they feel so compelled to make it. I did not moderate comments to avoid groupthink and promote differing opinions. I did not moderate despite frequent spams, flames, trolls, and other cyberspace diseases that one could catch.

But, it seems like a few of you have begun to abuse this. And while I can hardly punish the whole for the part, I am asking you all here and now to abide by...

COMMENT RESPONSIBLY.

This means:

1. No ad hominem. Let's not make things personal unless the other person brings it up first.
2. Do not post the same message in several posts on the blog.
3. Quote responsibly. Provide context, and even more importantly frame any facts you are using.
4. Avoid anonymity. You might be shy or lazy, but it's courteous & courageous to identify yourself when joining a conversation.
5. No flame wars. I encourage intellectual hospitality as opposed to intellectual hostility. If you disagree, discuss it. If you are angry, leave and comment back later.
6. Look at the post-date. If you're replying to something from my archives that I wrote months ago, check to see if the discussion has been updated in a different post before trying to revive a dead conversation.
7. Deleted comments aren't gone. I can still see what you posted, and then removed. If you have something to say, then say it and stand by it. You aren't hiding any potentially embarrassing evidence of spams, flames, trolling, etc. You are immortalized, and if necessary, I will copy and paste your deleted comments in your name, to keep the entire range of reactions to any particular post. (And because you shouldn't be allowed to get away with it.)

I took liberally from myriad sources on comment policy that reflect my intentions for this blog. These are not rules, but guidelines; you are free to disregard me entirely, however I will be moderating comments from now on.


HOWEVER, I am asking you to rise above that, naively perhaps, idealistic and foolish maybe, but nonetheless a genuine request for creating a better blogosphere.

Thanks and cheers.

Thursday, September 10, 2009

An Open-Letter of

Intent to Race Debaters




As ya'll are well aware of, I have often posted topics on this blog dealing with race, racial issues, the conversation, evolution of race in America, and most prominently, my reactions to the experiences I have had talking about it with various people from different backgrounds - Chinese man to Black woman to Jewish boy to Armenian girl to Latino guy to Filipino friends and so on.

Things I have noticed when talking about race:

1. Generalizations.

This one is pretty bad, because people don't realize the generalizations they make are as bad as the stereotypes they resent. In fact, generalizations and stereotypes are close enough to be synonyms, because the only difference between them is that a generalization is group-neutral (in that it targets a specific variable, that can cross different groups) whereas a stereotype is group-specific (in that it is possessed ONLY by that group).

For example. I am often told I "talk like white people" or partake in "white privilege" and have "white luxury".

What do white people talk like? Do they talk inherently different from every other racial group? Does this generalization still hold true when changed to, "you talk like black people"? (Any race or group is usable in this case actually.)

Also, it is worth stressing the importance that groups are not homogeneous, and even twins have different finger-prints. One white person is not analogous to another, and to talk about broad racial benefits ignores the many individuals who compose a group in all their variety. That is to say, not all white people are rich, and not all white people are powerful. (Also, personally, I would even stress that most white people are none of those things. This is a classic case of the [converse accident fallacy]

The concepts "white privilege" and "white luxury" are hasty generalizations that need to be admittedly refuted because they are simply not true anymore like they used to be. Instead, every race/group has its own benefits to membership, just as it has its own price too... and these are not equally distributed amongst the people. They exist in unequal amounts that complicate the issue of "minority/majority privilege."

As a Jew, my benefits were a bar'mitzvah, birthright trip to Israel, Hebrew school, and a close community of strangers that I can call upon in emergencies, simply because we are both Jewish. Can you think of other groups that might have similar privileges? What are instances of "black privilege" or "red luxury"? American Indians have casinos, and blacks have affirmative action (and before you bite my head off, I know it also benefits women and other groups, though apparently not in equal numbers). Yet, not all of these groups benefit from these luxuries and/or privileges, just as it is for whites. Not all American Indians have casinos, or get casino-money. Not all black people get their job because of affirmative action - some get it just because they're damn good at what they do. I use them as an example to show the difficulty of generalizing a racial group's benefits without taking into account similar benefits received by other groups, and the inequalities that exist in how those benefits are distributed.



2. Taking comments out of context/stressing their importance to distort the argument.

This one is really subversive, because they use words I've actually said, but without any of the surrounding language to frame it. Instead, they create their own frame to prove the point they're making, as opposed to actually debate my arguments. They may also stress examples I give or criticisms I make like a red herring to deflect my original point.

For instance, I used linguistic privilege as an example. Most people have the right to say their group's racial/ethnic slur. Like, I can say "kike" and nobody gets upset. But if I say "nigger", then that's a big deal. This is an example of linguistic privilege, because certain words are only permissible for use by certain groups. However, when I brought up this point, instead of refuting that linguistic privilege exists because there are many in the black community who frown on the use of the word even by themselves, they instead set-up a straw-man by assuming that I wanted to say the word and felt upset at not being able to. This is a classic, because it totally ignores the argument in favor of the person who will now have to defend themself instead of continuing the conversation.

3. [Ad hominem]. In fact, most of my experience can be summed-up as variations of ad hominem. Personal attacks like, "little fucker", "asshole", "ignorant white boy", and "shit-starter" are thrown around quite a bit when I join most discussions about race outside of my own group. (Jews, friends, family, etc.)

As I noted above on number 1, my race is often invoked in ad hominem, and tends to be used as a super-reason for my ignorance. "White people don't want to have an honest conversation about race", "white people don't understand what it's like to be black" (starting to sound like teenagers at this point, aren't they? "You don't understand me" is something I'm almost positive every sixteen year-old has said at some point) "white people are racist but can't admit it." The interesting thing is that many of these comments can be applied equally to the group/person making them; however, instead of doing a variation of, "you too!" let me further explore and explain.

What is an honest conversation about race? Does it allow for white criticisms and preconceptions to be debated without reprisal from ANY group? And if I am being made the representation of the generalization that white people don't want to have an honest conversation about race, then why am I here trying to talk about it?

If white people have no idea what it's like to be black, then the converse should be true that black people have no idea what it's like to be white. This defeats the purpose of that statement altogether, proving it more helpful to the conversation to stress our shared humanity as a commonality for understanding.

To label an entire group of people racist is in itself a racist act. When talking about race, it is often the case that people will call one another racist in attempts to deflect/derail the argument when it is not going their way. This happens quite a lot to me, because white criticism can easily be mislabeled as racism. (Being called white at all is a misrepresentation of me though, since I identify as Jewish, not white.)



4. Black-on-white slander. (Note: it should properly be called subdominant-on-dominant slander, but my experience with it has been localized to conversations with black people, thus the name.) This phenomenon needs its own category, even though it probably belongs in ad hominem. Often when talking about race, people will call you racist, ignorant, etc, and yet when asked to provide reasoning for their argument, they cannot come up with anything other than that you disagree with them. When pushed further, this disagreement is said to be because "you are white."

Really?

Really?

This is the part I find hilarious and borderline offensive. I am ignorant and racist for no better reason than my skin-color? Participants in a discussion about race, who want racial equality, are committing an act of racism by dismissing anything I say due to the fact that I am white.

Are white people incapable of rational thought? Is there some special gene that white people didn't get? Does my pale pigmentation reduce blood and oxygen flow to the "race-button" part of my brain, thus rendering me racially retarded?

I honestly have no logical explanation for this phenomenon. Obviously not all minority groups think white people are ignorant, but when talking about race it is interesting to see this play out in the conversation. If racism is subtle, then this is a prime example.

5. Last, but not least, is [Non Sequitur].

This logical fallacy is hugely important when talking about racism, because examples of racist acts will often be used that are due to other causes. The distinction between class privilege and race privilege is one such example, in that the upper-class are primarily white, thus only white people are upper-class. This is simplistic and omits other variables to affect class, like group dynamics. In group dynamics, class trumps race. Just as many blacks who make it to the upper-class are likely to "forget where they came from", so too do whites (and Hispanics and Asians) often ignore the lower-class members of their racial/ethnic group, due in part to apathy (they just don't care) and also in part to the overwhelming multitude (too many people to help which causes many to "just give up"). This means that while whites do occupy a majority of the upper-class, they are a minority of whites as a whole, and often do not participate with the rest of the racial group. (Indeed, most racial groups are far more complex than a single bloc. There are myriad factions rivaling for control, changing dynamics, shifting power-balances, etc, that make describing one group in ANY form problematic due to its ignoring the problem of prevalent exceptions.) However, the example below will show that when class is not a factor, then race DOES become a factor.



Supposing two equally qualified candidates were applying for a job. One Latino, one Japanese. Racial equality means they both have an equal chance of getting the job. But what do statistics tell us? Well, they tell us that the Japanese guy is the getting hired more often. Why? Is the Latino not as equally qualified? Why don't statistics reflect his skills? Obviously there must be racism going on.

Complications. We must take into account other factors, such as whether the recruiter was Japanese, Latino, or maybe just white. A Japanese recruiter would be likely to hire another Japanese due to group solidarity among class equivalents. That is, when two people of similar backgrounds - including economic-status in society - are put together, they will likely help each other preferentially compared to others.

But what if the recruiter was white? Ahh, then we come to stereotypes. There is definitely a preconception that all Asians are "good with computers." Thus, the white recruiter is letting so-called "positive" racism affect his hiring practices. Or, if he feels that the Latino is less skilled with the English-language (another popular misconception) then he might not hire him based on that. In either case, all other factors being equal, race does come into play.

But all other factors are not always equal. In fact, most of the time they are not, and determining equally qualified candidates is itself tricky, because they may be equally qualified but in different areas. They may both be impressive, but with different things. Also, statistical studies fail to take into account unmeasureable factors such as affability, personality, and charm. Some people test better, some people are great with interviews. There are so many factors to influence a hiring decision, like whether they look you in the eye or if they're physically attractive, or if they sight up straight instead of slouching, that to isolate any factor will create a distorted picture of the situation.

Thus, the complexity of hiring practices can indicate that different racial groups are still being under-represented because of racism, when in fact this may be due to other influences entirely. The subtlety makes it hard to determine.



One final example of non sequitur is in education. Many black students have trouble testing well, and this is said to be due to most tests being compiled for students from a standard background (a white background). A great example is the SAT, which was horribly biased towards those from an upper-middle-class white background.

However, tests have since been changed to account for the differing backgrounds of students, and yet black students are still having trouble. Furthermore, in university education, most remedial classes are filled with black students (at least in San Francisco). Many point this out as an example of institutional racism, that education is still segregated and too biased against minority groups.

Yet they then fail to into account the success of many Asian peoples in progressing through education. (If you ever go to UCI in Orange County, you can see my point exactly). Obviously race is not a factor for them. Is it cultural? Are Asians just so motivated to do good in school by their family and friends and background that it transcends institutional racism? Or is this an example of positive stereotypes?

This raises the question. What other factors influence education, and the ability for students to succeed? Culture, obviously. But what about friends? Peer pressure exerts a strong influence on motivating people to succeed. And what about family? A stable home helps a student focus on their education.

Are these things that black students do not have? Is it racist to suggest so? Or is it merely corroborative detail? I do not know, but when looking at education, there are other factors to take into account besides the educational system itself when determining whether it is disadvantageous to different racial groups.

That is the whole point of non sequitur, to avoid forming false causal relationships and to examine all of the possible causes for every possible effect. Racism is a broad issue that pervades American society in numerous ways, some subtle, some obvious, and talking about it requires many academic disciplines that may seem unrelated, and many different points of view that can cause controversy.

Anyways, those are the main points I wished to address in this post. Hopefully by using them I can avoid causing a shit-storm like what [happened on my blog recently].

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

Police Boretality




Sometimes, even I can't explain the randomness of my life, from angry internet racists to heart-breaking bitches. I am a pretty regular dude for the most part, but yet seem to attract the most hilarious, frightening, insane, random, and bloggable situations ever.

This Labor Day was one such occasion.

I was at the Hotel Utah's famous open-mic for the first time. Been living in the city for two years now, participating heavily in the open-mic scene, yet never really dropped by (except for one time, backing someone's band) because Monday nights are always work or school, or something else.

I should go more often. The crowd there was great! All my friends, or acquaintances, or band-mates, or musicians I've worked with were there. And anybody that I didn't know, was easy-going enough that we all got along fabulously anyways. The music was good, the audience (mostly) respectful, and I had a mouth-watering burger... for 9 bucks.

But like any seemingly great night, there is always a hanging chad.

After getting back from grabbing food with a few friends, the open-mic was getting near the end of the list, so only the die-hards were really there. (Well, and the die-hard's fans too.) I was standing in the back-corner near the stairwell with my friend BB and J, when all of a sudden the cops come in like eight deep, and guns out!

YES, I said guns out. Not holstered, not unlatched in their holster even, but out in their hands, fingers on the motherfucking triggers.

I think, now would be a good time to use the bathroom.

They box in the place and start questioning everybody, shining flashlights around, all while the musicians are still trying to play on stage. I get stuck against the wall and then they start crowding around BB, J and I.

Now let me make an aside to describe us three. BB is a skinny black guy with a huge afro and goatee. J is a muscular white dude with dreads and dressed like a transient. And then me, skinny Jew boy eyeballing those itchy trigger fingers. You wanna talk subtle racism? I knew if any shooting went off, the primary target would be them two, and I did NOT want to be next to 'em when it happened.

Then one of the cops comes up to me and asks, "How long have you been here? Do you know this guy? [he didn't specify which] When did he get here? How old are you? Have you been drinking?" Just a barrage of questions and I didn't even want to answer, because I'm just innocent bystander right now. I said BB's been here all night, but J just got here. (He came like ten minutes ago, probably for the same reason I did - getting food.) BB agrees and also mentions that we don't know each other very well.

Well this makes the cop reaaal interested. He turns from me and motions his buddies to make J stand up, put his hands on top of his head, then they cuff him and drag him outside!

At this point, I'm wondering if we just got J arrested on suspicion, and as they go out of the bar, everyone gets up to see. (I know, we're all such fucking rubber-neckers.) The cops have five squad cars outside, and now there are fifteen cops all surrounding J. The bouncer tells us to go back inside, and being the cowards we are, we do... gossiping like mad though.

A few of the cops come back inside to continue questioning BB and I. "Are you with him? How well do you know him? Did you see any weapons? Can I ask you to take your hands out of your pockets?" They're asking so many things so fast and seriously, I almost felt inclined to tell them my life story!

Eventually a friend of ours, G, comes by, reaaally drunk and starts telling the cops, "We all know each other because we're musicians, but not really well. You should have a beer! Is J okay? What did he do? Is he gonna be alright? Nobody has any weapons. Nobody saw anything. Hey, is that thing loaded?" G went around and around with a bunch of questions and slightly confused comments. I guess they got tired of it because it made 'em leave right quick, and everyone goes back to whispering.

About thirty minutes goes by and J comes back inside. BB and I mob him for the story. Why'd they cuff you? What happened? How come they decided to let you go? What the fuck pissed off those cops so much to come in here guns drawn?

Apparently, there was a fight somewhere nearby, and there were weapons involved. So the cops started checking around to find the guys. When they came in and saw J, having just arrived and looking pretty disreputable, they decided to check him out.

I don't know what kinda fight or weapons were involved, but the cops must've been really scared, really mad, or really bored to need fifteen of 'em and have their guns out. Well, the fight did involve weapons, but they said nobody was injured. They'd have known nobody ran in here because the bay bridge is closed and there's a squad car parked on the off-ramp right outside the bar. They could've just asked their buddies before charging in. They must've not had a whole lot to do. Labor Day, not much going on, bridge closed, no traffic from Oakland. That and the fact that there were so many of them for just one location convinced us...

We decided bored.

Just another case of cops making a scene and scaring the shit outta people.



Oh, and to top off the randomness, to make the night even more crazy than it already was. I saw one of my ex's at the open-mic... with the boyfriend that she married while we were still dating.

Fuck my life.

Monday, September 7, 2009

Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man




Description: I share my "art" from ages 7-8 during therapy sessions, and compare it to my "art" now/recently as a college student. Pokes fun at my completely crap calligraphic skills.

Sunday, September 6, 2009

Student Perception of

the Academic Crisis




I'm a professional student. Been in college for about five years, since I was eighteen really. Through it there have been fun times, boring times, good classes, bad classes, professors I hated, professors I loved, professors who I wanted to fuck, and professors who might've wanted to fuck me... But despite or in spite of the whole process of getting an education, I was committed to earning that outside recognition that basically means, "I know some shit."

Now, that's all changed. With the budgetary crisis here in California, being a college student is something of a liability, a financially dangerous occupation.

However, unlike many of my peers, I see some good in the bad. I see some change in education that, while detrimental in the present-tense, might be better in the future. Unlike my professors who tell us to "get angry!" I remain, for the moment, neutral.

On the one-hand, I really hate the difficulty of getting into my courses, the overcrowded class-rooms, books that cost as much as my gas for a month, rising tuition coupled with reduced financial aid, giving me less grants but more loans to increase my personal debt, an administration that doesn't know its own policies from one day to the next, the good teachers who are losing jobs, and the fact that education in our city/state/nation is becoming less of a priority than prisons, war, or corporate bailouts.



On the other-hand (besides different fingers) I like the favoring of senior students in enrollment. I like the higher-standards of admission requirements, and even forcibly-reduced admission. I like the petitions for previously non-required courses as usable for graduation. I like the streamlining of majors, minors, and other programs. I like furlough days. I like seeing professors who are great at their subjects, but untrained as teachers being laid-off.

I like "trimming the fat." YES I SAID IT!

I like having class less often. I like having more time to study, to read, to absorb the material I'm being "taught" on my own. I like that professors have to focus on what's really important about the particular course they're teaching - because most students are not taking those classes to learn about them, they're taking them because they're requirements for graduation!

Which leads me to my next point. Because of all the funding problems, the layoffs, the policy changes, and the inability for the university system to cope with the stress now being placed on it by both the state as well as the public, the California education system is on the brink of changing what constitutes a "general education."

In this chaos, I hope to see changes emerge that have been the bane of many students, myself included. I'm talking about no more fractious prerequisites, no more priority registration that doesn't fulfill enrollment needs, no more segment III "upper division general education", no more useless tests like the JEPET or Oasis. (The latter being a test of knowledge of the library system on campus, which is funny since the library was torn-down and they haven't finished building the new one yet! Kinda ironic that they spend money on a new library right before a budgetary crisis.)

I'm talking about a revamp of the entire California university system.



So while professors are telling me to "get angry" and protest these cuts, at the same time I can't help but notice their hidden agenda - which is to protect their jobs - and I understand, even as I stand on the sidelines. Maybe it's just apathetic curiosity. Maybe it's my dispassionate wonder. Maybe it's because I'm a senior student, already past most of the bullshit the university has asked of me, that I can be so blithe about everything. Maybe it's because I've been so abused by those selfsame educators, administrators, professors, and faculty all for the last five years of me PAYING for MY education, and only getting a sense of entitlement from them, as if suddenly I wasn't their client-student, and they my paid public employee; of being treated like students didn't matter in the great university-federal complex of education, that we're just lucky to be admitted; of being relegated to a position of subordination, of faceless masses moved like pawns for the power-games between teachers and administrators; of all these things which has aroused a passionate desire to see the status-quo changed by outside forces, thus giving students at least a chance to even the playing-field a bit for themselves and their always-expensive education.

In short, I am a voyeur, a participant-observer, waiting to see what happens.

Because by the time all of this is done, I'll have graduated from college. So what do I have to gain? Nothing except my douchebag professor from Craft of Fiction keeping the job he sucks at because he's great at writing, but a lousy teacher.

But think not that I am heartless. I feel bad for those people losing their jobs, for the lower priority on education compared to say, prisons, here in California. I feel bad for my fellow students who will have to ride out this storm much longer than I will. I sympathize and I pity, but I will not fight for their cause in this case, because I have enough trouble just fighting for mine.

Saturday, September 5, 2009

Here's where I get called a racist




[Read First]

[Read Second]

The thing is, I'm not angry or upset. I'm not feeling very self-righteous or indignant. I only feel in my soul a deep sense of sadness, that people can be so ignorant even as they say they want tolerance, even as they ask for understanding they give none back, and even as the commenters of that blog call me out for daring to question their opinions, my own opinions are dismissed. It is the classic hypocrite. It is the ironic intolerance. It is the shameful and depressing words of people who do not realize their own hate has poisoned their minds. I am disappointed in humanity.

I plan to do a video-blog series around these problems that I have encountered in discussing race with people.

Friday, September 4, 2009

The Prophet of New Sincerity


Khalil Gibran and I go way back. His quotes are major additions to my collection. He slowly pervaded my literary subconscious as far ago as high school, when I first started snacking from the various authors of the world's myriad literature.



But it was only recently that I read his masterpiece, "The Prophet," all the way through.

Ye gods, it is glorious.

This man, who I used to think of as "pretty good" has now reached heights of epic proportions in my opinion. Never before have I see such writing, filled with quasi-religious overtones, but at the same time transcending it, as if scripture and dogma cannot capture the exquisite beauty of a true prophet/poet/pariah, who teaches us the path by walking it.

The work reminds me of The Bible, to be honest, or the teachings of Lao Tzu and other east-Asian philosophers. The maxims that make up a large part of the book are obviously poetical in nature, yet concern themself not with the speaker, but with the audience. This departure from Art's typically masturbatory nature (guilty as charged here!) and begins to become... dare I say it, useful.

Being a writer, I seek to find a purpose for the voice I wish to speak into the world. Until recently, postmodern irony and cynical-pessimism seemed to run rampantly throughout the scene of my life's dream, and it saddened me that I couldn't love or write without having to wear a guard against being perceived as too naive or childish, simply for honestly hoping.

Then, I heard of a movement called, New Sincerity, which is defined as such, "a term that has been used in music, aesthetics, film criticism, poetry, and philosophy, generally to describe art or concepts that run against prevailing modes of postmodernist irony or cynicism."

Voila! And I'm not the only one.

Khalil Gibran is my personal nomination for being The Prophet of this new trend, leading us in a deeply personal, spiritual sense, but who looks outward to life, instead of hermetically living vis a vi vicariously as the artist through their art. Instead, he challenges us to live as the art seek to be the artist of. To live the poetry we dare to write, and represent the world as we live our lives.



This passage is just fucking amazing that I want to share:

"And others among you called unto me, not in words, and they said,
'Stranger, stranger, lover of unreachable heights, why dwell you among the summits where eagles build their nests?
Why seek you the unattainable?
What storms would you trap in your net,
And what vaporous birds do you hunt in the sky?
Come and be one of us.
Descend and appease your hunger with our bread and quench your thirst with our wine.'
In the solitude of their souls they said these;
But were their solitude deeper they would have known that I sought but the secret of your joy and your pain,
And I hunted only your larger selves that walk the sky.

But the hunter was also the hunted;
For many of my arrows left my bow only to seek my own breast.
And the flier was also the creeper;
For when my wings were spread in the sun their shadow upon the earth was a turtle.
And I the believer was also the doubter;
For often have I put my finger in my own wound that I might have the greater belief in you and the greater knowledge of you.

And it is with this belief and this knowledge that I say,
You are not enclosed within your bodies, nor confined to houses or fields.
That which is you dwells above the mountain and roves with the wind.
It is not a thing that crawls into the sun for warmth or digs holes into darkness for safety,
But a thing free, a spirit that envelops the earth and moves in the ether."



Someday I hope I can write so well, just in the language of my birth and home.

Thursday, September 3, 2009

Webjunk Piling Up


In lieu of my usually verbose postings, I thought I'd share some entertaining bits of useless Stuff From The Internet!




Vampire Monkeys




It's shouldn't be funny, but it is




Something I've always wanted the balls to do at SFSU




Angry kitty needs personal space




Yes, not just humans, but bunnies too... nerd-bunnies




This is a sad but true, and probably offends a lot of you




Seriously, is it so much to ask for?