Listen, My Children...

Every Little Helps

Wednesday, April 30, 2003

Changes


As part of a remodeling project, the name and tag have changed, as you see. The whole thing will change soon, to "pay heed to lovelynesse / and herald the coming of Spring." I got tired of darkness, as happens periodically.

The name is temporary, but will remain unless someone else has a better suggestion or I tire of it. The tag, "fold your hands, child," is something I saw scribbled on a council flat wall in Hackney. I hear it may have been part of an ad campaign (in graffiti?) for a play or a CD or some such, so, if someone's offended by its appearance here, I'll remove it; if not, though, it stays, because it makes me very happy.

Conversions and "rice Christians"


Shanti over at Dancing with Dogs takes on the anti-conversion crowd with an admirably individual rights-based argument. I oughtn't to quote the whole thing, so here's a teaser:
Let me tackle the conversion issue first of all - there are three groups of people involved in here. The first, are the people who are converting to another faith, for emotional or spiritual fulfillment or as Varsha puts it, for a few bags of rice. If a person feels that he is better off reading the Bible or the Koran rather than Bhagawad Gita, it is completely within his right. If the person wants to convert because he is getting paid or fed to do so, that is also well within his right. A person can choose to follow, convert from or reject a religion (or God for that matter) as a matter of personal interest. If there is a loser or winner in this, it is the person making the choice.

It continues; read the rest.

Cooking Light


Having an apartment next year (if they ever send me a lease form) will be so nice. I'll have to remember to pay the electricity bill (I'm so scared of forgetting that), but everything else will be great. What gets me most excited, besides being able to have my cat, is that I'll be able to cook for myself.

Those who know me know that, while I don't look quite like a cheese-eating Minnesotan and I definitely underweigh most of my father's rural North Carolina family, I definitely enjoy my food and am not exactly talented at staying trim. I have found the perfect solution for me: Cooking Light. Their recipes are easy to cook, they are healthy, and they taste wonderful. The recipes have no extraneous ingredients, so, if you like all the ingredients, you'll like the finished product (and no, they don't have pizza milkshakes -- they're all ingredients that go together!), and, if you don't like one of the ingredients, you won't like the finished product. I've liked all but one of the things I've made, and that one I was hoping (in contradiction of the above rule) that the mushrooms would be unnoticeable. Another plus: the cookbooks have suggested weight-loss plans, where they suggest menus of their recipes and simple additions (an orange, or steamed broccoli, or something else needing no recipe). In those menus, you'll get the right amount of calories to lose weight quickly without sending your system into metabolic overdrive, you'll get all your vitamins and balanced diet stuff, and, drumroll please, you won't be hungry. It's a diet with good meal proportions. Yes, I'm a fan. In case any of my readers are also interested in healthy and tasty cooking, check it out!

Monday, April 28, 2003

What You Have Heard Is (Not) True, part II


Right, forgot to put up part II. It is also according to Boston Metro (hey, they may be poorly edited, but all except their local stories comes from newswires, so they're pretty reliable -- their headlines, which they write themselves, are awful, though). Which is: apparently, Doctors Without Borders, which went to Iraq with other groups in order to avert the "humanitarian crisis that a war against Iraq would undoubtedly bring", has come to the conclusion that there is no humanitarian crisis, and, while things are definitely nowhere near ideal, they're getting much better very quickly and it's a heck of a lot worse in no small number of other countries.

Democracy


So, Georgia's decided on a new flag, taking out the stars&bars, but, according to the Boston Metro, they've decided not to allow the citizens of Georgia to vote on it.

Photo IDs


We've all heard about how intolerant and discriminatory it is for governments to say a photo ID is worthless if there's no identifiable photo on it (say, the woman in the photo has a veil over her face, or the man has a ski mask on). Has anyone heard of any solutions that have been suggested other than "well, just don't have photo IDs," or, "well, take a picture of this mass of fabric and pretend that you would be able to tell if someone other than the person under the mass of fabric in the photo were carrying the ID"?

Iranian Fashion Police


The Iranian girl reports:
Iranian girls are clever & wise enough to find a way & not to act as this Islamic republic wants.

You go, girl! she makes me so happy!

Coffee


Do any of my Texan readers know if Chock Full o' Nuts coffee is available for purchase down in the Lone Star State?

Quote of the Day


"To-day no cheering tidings of restoration, but rather complaints. The healing waters are for a little while still. The Lord is pleased to withhold his power now and then, to convince us that the work is his own, and that without him all the medicines and human skill would be little worth."

--Jacob Tomlin, serving as a doctor in Thailand, Nine Months Residence in Siam.

Sunday, April 27, 2003

Quote of the Day


"I would like to be rich the way I would like to be ten feet tall. It's good for some things, bad for others."
--Mama, I Remember Mama

Blogcritics reports that TaTu is recruiting 14-year-olds for naked photo shoots. This is supposedly shocking. Let me just tell you: not to mainland Europeans, and probably not very much to Brits. German teen magazine Bravo, for example, has a spread each issue containing (separately) a naked guy and a naked girl, ages 13+, with an interview about their activities and interests, sexual and otherwise. Currently they've got an article in cutesy teenybopper language about enjoyable sex positions.

And people keep complaining that the US's sexual permissiveness and openness is offensive to the rest of the world?

Polygamy


The Professor asks: "So what if legalizing sodomy leads to polygamy?"

I don't know if he's tongue-in-cheek or not, but I agree...

Saturday, April 26, 2003

Yalies in the Bedroom (or out of it)


Great article, from a link at Arts & Letters Daily, on Sex Week at Yale.

Revolutionary Disaster


This is cute: Ye Newe York Times reports on postwar difficulties following victory at Yorktown.

What You Have Heard Is (Not) True, part I


I was greeted by my computer yesterday with an article, put out by the Harvard Gazette, shouting that "Global warming is not so hot." Apparently, according to a conference held here (and many many more held in various places over the past few decades),
"there's increasingly strong evidence that previous research conclusions, including those of the United Nations and the United States government concerning 20th century warming, may have been biased by underestimation of natural climate variations."

It goes on to explain that doubts such as these are why the US (not just Bush, either) is reluctant to sign the Kyoto protocol. Defense of Bush from Harvard scientists? what?

Friday, April 25, 2003

Calmness and Peace


(Yes, my grandmother is better. But this is not about that.)

The Bleat is back. Now I can relax, and my daily routine is again complete.

Tim Robbins


Owen Courrèges (permalink here when they come back up) has a good bit about Tim Robbins; apparently, he cries that his free speech right to speak at the Baseball Hall of Fame (oooh that's a constitutionally protected right? I want to speak at the BHoF -- don't you dare try to stop me, you McCarthyite!) is being infringed upon, but makes threats against reporters who point out that his mother-in-law is conservative. Ahh, the fresh smell of hypocrisy in the morning.

Thursday, April 24, 2003

Trauma


No, nothing's happened to my grandmother (who is suddenly very sick and hospitalized -- do pray for her); but a minor catastrophe has occurred: Lileks is down!

Santorum


I've made some comments on the Santorum issue at Messrs. Yglesias, Goldberg, and Courreges' sites (see links on the left), but figured I may as well post a brief one here as well. Suffice it to say I agree with Mr. Volokh that there is no legal basis I can think of to differentiate between any varieties of consensual sexual relations (going against the wishes of NAMBLA here by saying I'll stick with our admittedly arbitrary age of consent and rule out what they claim to be entirely consensual relations with four-year-olds).

Santorum, unless he said it and it just wasn't mentioned in the papers, said nothing about bestiality, despite the plethora of bloggers convinced he compared homosexuality to bestiality. All he did was say it's no different from any other variety of extramarital sex. Many people, I believe, would agree. Many would say they're all equally morally wrong; many would say they're all fine. There are, of course, gradations. More people would say adultery's fine (or at least not deserving of criminal prosecution) than would say incest is fine, for example. Seeing as how the main argument (besides a nearly-universal taboo on sibling or parental incest) against incest is a mildly increased amount of birth defects, you'll have a hard time being consistent there unless you, say, make exceptions for older and infertile couples and also advocate legally preventing non-related people who have higher-than-average chances of transmitting genetic defects from mating.

Some people in favor of homosexual sex are not mad because Santorum said they were wrong but rather because he compared it to bigamy, polygamy, incest, and adultery. I'm sure the incest-advocacy groups (there are some, often working to get the US to overturn its (in my opinion) overly strict anti-incest law that also includes first cousins) are mad they've been compared to adultery. Polygamous groups are mad because they think their actions are fine, but some other acts mentioned are not. I think, within those groups, it's largely a matter of opinion; I'm actually more opposed to adultery than to the others, because it entails defaulting on a publicly-made vow. Don't think they should put you in jail for it, but do think it should remain frowned-upon. As many people think about some or all of the actions mentioned.

On Gooseberrykeit


(Dang; English is short on suffixes that mean "-ness" -- other languages are better off in that regard)

Went out with the Beekeeper and the Jewish Boyfriend tonight, and I didn't feel at all in the way; they're wonderful people. I suppose it's different depending on the person, as some would feel uncomfortable when they're alone and a clear couple is there; I feel awkward when I'm with a couple who are clearly acting like they're not a couple out of a fear I'd feel out of place. Tonight, my companions were very clearly a couple, regardless of my presence, and I appreciated it muchly (how's that for adverbing an adjective?). So, for my various readers: if you're a couple, out with one person not part of a couple during that excursion, make sure which of the two they're more comfortable with (and which of the two you like). Don't just assume they want you to be sitting off in your own über-celibate box! I like my friends to enjoy themselves, especially when they're both great and fit so well together.

UPDATE: This post is an example of why one should not blog at 2:30 am, especially not after a scorpion bowl and having just read a German newspaper article. The grammar is so anguished! It all makes sense, though, if you read it hard enough... and the point does still stand.

Wednesday, April 23, 2003

On Diasporaness


Shanti over at Dancing with Dogs complains about
this horrible stereotyping of "Oh, you are an Indian living in the US and you are supporting America, so you are somehow trying to please your American masters!".

Iran Update


From the Iranian girl:

IOL : Iran: where a kiss is never 'just a kiss' Tehran - A prominent Iranian actress has been handed a suspended sentence of 74 lashes for publicly kissing a male film director during an awards ceremony, said a report.

Tuesday, April 22, 2003

Aah! My Eyes!


So I'm supposed to take an eye-relaxant at night to solve an over-focusing problem that's been giving me headaches. It dilates my eyes and is much fun. I accidentally took it much too early tonight, though, and can no longer see. So, I had a few more things to post, but they're not happening. Goodnight, all!

Humility


As would be expected, Josh Chafetz said it all better, and a year ago. Excerpt:
And multicultural societies are fertile breeding grounds for intolerance. Multiculturalism is a kind word for balkanization: it argues that there is an inherent value to keeping foreign cultures "pure" and intact, undigested within the polity. It tells us that we must respect the way other cultures treat their women or their gays, because they are just that: other cultures. It tells us that teachers who take off points for papers written in "ebonics" are cultural imperialists. And it tells people in other cultures that they can't have things they want. "You want to eat at McDonalds? Sorry, you can't. Don't you know that McDonalds and the Internet and the movies you like are destroying your indigenous culture?"

Exactly.

An adjacent post is excellent as well.

Interracialness, part II


Never explained what set that all off. Part of it was from watching Bend it Like Beckham -- an excellent movie, by the way. Perfect ending. Reminded me also how different the racial situation is in England -- whereas here, South Asian immigrants are doctors and engineers and CNN medical advisors, along with running the quickiemart with Apu, in England they pretty much just run the quickiemart. "Model minority" by no means; and "Paki" is pretty much the worst possible insult (here, depending on your circle, "Paki" can be quite benign). Irish too have not made it like they have in Boston, so the male lead, while white, could quite justifiably consider himself part of an often-hated minority group. While I loved the movie, it did remind me of the racial issues I usually try to forget.

Another bit was a spot on TV last night with a woman insisting that it's cruel to have mixed-race children and to adopt children (especially those of another race), because they have to do soul-searching and find out who they are and what their place in society and life is. I see newspaper and magazine articles and TV spots about that quite a bit. If I stay with Bob, and we have kids, I am a terrible person for condemning them to the hell of developing a self-image... wait, everyone has to do that. Oh, well.

Yet another impetus was a brief conversation with a fellow Sanskrit & Indian Studies major about movies involving actors of several different races. I indirectly mentioned a best-to-be-forgotten Tamil movie involving a white guy (largely dubbed) and a south Indian girl; I didn't make it clear that it was an Indian-made movie at first, and my friend spat at its "exotification" of Indian females. (Nevermind that Tamil girls aren't the drop-dead-gorgeous type nearly as often as, say, Keralan, or north Indian ones, as my Tamilian guy friends often sadly point out.) I pointed out that it was not exactly made for a western audience, as it was in Tamil and followed a masala plot and was released almost exclusively in TamilNadu, and, maybe, the intended appeal of it was the exotic factor not of Jyothika but rather of the white actor. White tourists are often put in Indian films as extras for just that reason -- they're strange and novel -- and nobody seems to mind, especially not the plug-ugly tourists who would never have a change in western cinema. Nope, it's not the exotic white person, she replied; it's still white exotification of the east, somehow. (Perhaps I should have pointed out the Indian people asking to have their photos taken with me... nah, I was clearly at fault there. Especially as I occasionally gave them my camera too.)

She went on into a bit about a symposium she led last year on presentation of Asian women in American films. Lucy Liu, apparently, plays exactly the same role in everything (I haven't seen much with her -- just two episodes of Ally McBeal and the last Charlie's Angels). It's degrading and racist and an insult to all Asians that she plays an oversexed, very sexually liberated woman, apparently; my timid insertion that, at least of the two shows I've seen, the other women in them are rather oversexed as well, got a scoff of "well, that's different." How? I don't know. Treat people of different races exactly the same, that's racist, apparently. The friend then went on to complain about Indian movies that get released over here (Earth, Lagaan, etc.) and films made by Indians for largely diaspora viewing (Kama Sutra, Monsoon Wedding, ABCD, etc.). Apparently, the non-Indians who watch and like them watch and like them purely because of fetishes concerning South Asian women -- there's no way around it. I'll admit to watching Hindi movies with gorgeous actresses and noticing that they're gorgeous (and with non-gorgeous actresses and noticing that as well); I also love the colors and the escapism; and I've got a few favorite actors too; I watch them for just the same reasons I watch American and British movies and for just the same reasons Indians watch Hindi movies, but apparently that's wrong. Also, she continued, no Indians can act in non-Indian movies without being exotified and playing desis; she pointed out as examples "Gandhi" and "Mississippi Masala." (Movies about race-relations can't have actors of the same race they're portraying without being racist, apparently.) (That's also like the woman I met last summer opposed to the stereotyping involved in CNN having an Indian medical correspondent.) A counter-example by me of the regrettably multiracial Peter Brooks' "Mahabharata" (one character in fifty is actually Indian, I think) got us off topic and onto the topic of how terrible we both thought that movie was, so the conversation was over. I had a few more points I could have brought up, given time, though: Ben Kingsley, for example, is in all sorts of movies, playing both Indians and non-Indians, but I suppose he's half-white so that's ok (although his very existence is bad). Increasing numbers of movies are using non-white actors the way they appear at least in my life -- not as a stereotyped ethnic figure, but rather as just another person in the film, with race not emphasized. That's probably bad for some reason too, though. It goes on and on.

Some people, as they mature, get over all this; in a booklet on "Harvard experiences" I got as a prefrosh was an article exemplifying that maturation: a girl wrote that she, as an Asian-American, was sickened and offended by a Monet painting of his wife in a kimono and blonde wig; over her time at Harvard, she grew up and realized it was ok -- for one thing, Mme. Monet wasn't hurting anyone, and she could wear whatever she wanted; for another, Japan-fever could inspire people to learn about Japan and it's culture, which is a good thing. The piece said it much better, but that was the gist of it.

I just hope more people grow out of their insecurity in their self-image. My thesis advisor does not give me much hope, however -- apparently, nearly every year, at the American Academy of Religion conferences, there's a panel of people all eager to discuss how terrible it is for people who aren't part of a culture or religion to study that culture or religion (unless, of course, it's a non-Christian or non-westerner studying Christianity or the West, in which case they add perspective). She says she often gets in shouting matches with people, where she points out that she's better at Sanskrit and Tamil than they are, her pale skin be dashed, and they'd better be far better than her before they can tell her she doesn't belong.

That's partly what my thesis was about, actually; second generation Indian Christians, at least within the church in Houston, see themselves as American, not Indian (they're not made overly welcome as Christians in Hindu and Muslim- dominated cultural groups, anyhow), and want their church to become multiracial. Their parents are not so sure, wanting to be, in the words of one interviewee, "their own country club." The children see that their parents are racist, and know the reasons for it, but think the reasons for it are nearly gone, and acting like they're entirely gone will help the reasons to disappear. I hope they may be, as they think they are, the way of the future of race relations in America.

Monday, April 21, 2003

Syphilis


I'm just weird and morbid; I like outdated diseases. They say syphilis is on the upswing in Massachusetts, and I find that fascinating! Apparently syphilis and typhoid and them such are gaining in popularity in London and here because of homosexual transmission (especially typhoid, because of MSM's pretty unique practices where each can take both parts and infect each other). TB's back, too, and there was a case of the plague in NYC a while back. Just need some yellow fever and I'll be happy!

Interracialness


Ok, this has been building for several days now, so: time for another explosion on interracial relationships.

Why is it all the racism and anti-miscegenation I come across is from minorities and from liberal northerners? I know it used to be a signpost of white southerners, but two generations have come and gone and it's all been drummed out of them (with, of course, exceptions, as there are to nearly everything); now it's acceptable if you're not white and can say it patronizingly enough, it seems. Aargh!

Maybe I'll start off with a history of my relationship and my awareness of it as interracial:

Bob and I went to high school together. The school (K-12) has an odd racial mix -- as in, they have moderately high amounts of all racial (or otherwise somewhat birth-related) groups, but not consistently; my year had very few blacks and hispanics, a large number of east asians and south asians, a very large number of jews, and the rest white, whereas my sister's year had very few south asians and relatively few jews and hispanics but a large number of blacks and east asians. I hear things are different now, and I hear they were different before my time, but when I was there, and especially during the last few years of high school, there was no racial self-segregation that I was aware of. Sometimes a group of parents of the same origin would do something together, such as when several Gujarati parents organized a party for the whole grade, but that was about the extent of it. A majority of my closest friends were either Indian or Jewish (yes, I know those groups are not mutually exclusive -- Bob's cousin was dating an Indian Jew -- but they didn't overlap in my case), and everyone was so constantly making Indian and Jewish jokes that I was shocked to come to Harvard and find out it's racist to say that someone "looks Jewish" (one HS friend got a nose job, and her mother was horrified that she no longer looked Jewish -- something the mother thought was part of their identity and quite desirable) or is late because they're running on "Indian Standard Time" (yes, that's 1/2 hour off. It's strange). The Houston Roommate would likely point out that there was some undercurrent of anti-black or hispanic racism in that culture, but I never noticed it; there was definitely no racial tension that I ever encountered between south asian / jewish / non-jewish people.

So, I start dating Bob, thinking nothing of it. It was honestly about five months before I looked at our hands together and noticed that it looked pretty cool. No friends seemed to think it was strange; in my circle was a Hindu-Zoroastrian couple, a white Catholic-Jewish couple, a Lutheran-Jewish one, and many other mixed wannabes (best friend, Hindu, going after an Italian Catholic and a Zoroastrian in turns). I put off discussions about religion (and still have put them off, slightly...), so that wasn't really encompassing my thoughts. My family was just fine, too; my mother couldn't care less (she dated black guys in college in the early seventies not as a political statement, but because they liked each other just like the white guys she dated), and my father (of a more insular background) thought it was pretty cool and started cutting out white/indian marriage ads from the paper -- his comments along those lines, after a few months, were the first time I'd even thought that an interracial relationship could be at all different from a uniracial one.

Coming from a white, politically and socially conservative, traditionalist Episcopalian, southern family, the first encounter I had with opposition to my interracial relationship came from Bob's family (a flat-out veto on any dating, especially with people who weren't south indian brahmin), and the rest came from racially-accepting northerners and open-minded and tolerant progressives. My course of study, while it has also garnered opposition from those latter groups, has put me in ecstatic good standing (I'm in ecstasy, not they) with Bob's family, who now seem to think that, if Bob has to date someone, I'm really not bad. (That's just thrilling! It took four years to get that far, but I'm so happy!) I'm in good with the cousins (who also hope that we make it, so that they can have it easy if they choose a love-marriage); just have to win over the aunts and uncles and then deal just with the questions and issues that come with relationships of any variety.

Then I get to Harvard, and (through the influence of Diana Eck and John Carman, both white, lecturing on Indian religions, I'm sure) managed to make it through the better part of a year without thinking things might be different. I participated in all the South Asian Association events, went to the weekly meetings of the Hindu student group Dharma, and occasionally went to class wearing a salwar kamize that Bob brought me back from India. In the spring, I came across my first noticable opposition, in what had normally been a wonderfully open and welcoming group, when a student who worked for the VHP up here told me I shouldn't continue coming to Dharma meetings if I were to keep associating myself with the Christians on campus. It was in April, so I brushed it off, and went to India the next semester. I wore Indian clothes, and, when people didn't assume I was a Hare Krishna, everyone seemed very pleased with me; many asked to take pictures of themselves with the strange-looking foreigner in their midst (ahh, openness, when nobody gets offended and people can ask for harmless favors; they'd be damned for exoticism here). Had a few instances around temples, where our Christian (yet Indian) tour guide could go inside, but an ashram-born white guy raised Hindu couldn't, but nothing big.

Then more welcoming loving elders, who have almost all since graduated, soon to be replaced by people occasionally nicknamed by their predecessors as the "fundies." Emails were sent, talking about Hindu religious supremacy (with which I'm fine) and racial supremacy (with which I'm not so much). And talking about how any good Hindu would be opposed to interracial dating. Under new authority, was no longer made as welcome at meetings -- although the antipathy was by no means unified. The new head of Dharma, a good friend of mine, is into Islamic studies and definitely open to people who are not brown and Hindu, but I'm still on edge and not sure if all the members there would accept me, even if the leader did.

Now back into frustrations.

They hold symposia on what it means to be asian, how terrible it is when Asian is seen as uncool and how terrible it is when Asian is seen as cool and how terrible it is when "Asian" is seen as a unified group and how terrible it is when it isn't... One such forum last year had as its advertising campaign how terrible it was not only for Madonna to wear a bindi, but also for henna tattoos and Indian prints to be fashionable and Indian food to be available to everyone everywhere. It's the commodification of culture, they feel. (An alternative, which many liberals do go for, is the museumification of culture, patronizingly picking out some cute quaint native culture and trying forcibly to prevent the natives from interacting with other people and changing their culture.)

A friend who sees this from my opposite side (she's Indian, marrying a white guy) explains it better, although she also thinks the people are just dead wrong. Thing is, she says, you push so hard to be accepted and to get your cultural quirks accepted instead of viewed with suspicion or ridiculed, when they do get accepted, you've got to change your efforts, and you get angry. It's hard to deal when the opposition has accepted your argument. Or you find out you like being weird and strange and special, so you're bitter when suddenly everyone can do it. (I know I've been that way with some things -- I liked being the only girl in my physics and math classes, and I felt jealous when others joined in; I have also at times enjoyed being the only non-brown person in an activity, the only twisted and morbid person around, etc. It's fun to be special.) You've got this chip on your shoulder, defending yourself for being different, and when suddenly everyone else can be the same, you feel bitter at them because they get to have your cultural bits, but they feel cool for it and you felt ashamed or defensive about them. Or they know the name of the third prime minister and what-all went on during that term, and you know nothing, so you hate them because they make you feel inadequate. So it all boils down to an unstable self-image and severe insecurities. Which is why they can get livid when there's a picture of Ganesh on a t-shirt Madonna wears ("would they do that with a Christian deity?" the supposedly rhetorical question goes; well, yes -- my sister has a tiny-tee with the Blessed Virgin on it), or when a toilet cover has the Om-kar on it ("could they do that with Christian signs?" -- again theoretically rhetorical -- well, yes, they've got the Madonna with crap and the crucifix in urine, for starters, but also gag stores selling bible-verse toilet paper etc. without a big outcry), and get insular when someone suggests that someone like me might like one of them as a person, not because of an exoticism fetish or a latent colonial drive.

I must be weird for seeing a difference between deriding something, lightheartedly spoofing it, and taking inspiration from it. You can wear a skirt that's got a border print without being a neo-imperialist; you can have as little knowledge of the origin of it as you do of the origin of the zipper and of the history of cotton production and equally little interest in "stealing the culture" of people who traditionally wear border-print saris. I'm kind of sick of being told that I shouldn't be interested in things that aren't "my own culture" (what's that? can I try to stop others from participating in generic American culture? do I want to? I'm proud of it (at least the parts of it I participate in, among others) and not scared of its being hurt by other people participating in it; when I lived in England and Germany I was thrilled when anyone else displayed any interest in something most of the population was only too happy to profess to hate!); I'm especially sick of being told that I shouldn't be interested in a guy that isn't my own color. Bob, for his part, has told me that he sees me just as a person and is also secure enough in his identity that he's willing to share it with anyone else and isn't afraid it would get corrupted (he says Indians corrupt Hindu thought themselves often enough, so why should they be particularly angry when non-Indians follow their lead? if it's an error, it should be pointed out, he says, and people should correct errors, if necessary, regardless of what color person the error or the mention of it is coming from).

To prove it's not me: Harvard had some problems several years back when a director (or something -- I don't know the whole story) of Kuumba, the gospel choir, sent out an email complaining that the non-black people in the choir were racially incapable of performing the same way as the black people. Various of the Asian groups have complained that there are too many non-Asians involved in their groups -- they say, in effect, "we're open to everyone and love it when people are interested -- just as long as not too many are interested and we can keep our racial majority."

And if they find a white person who says he's only interested in dating other white people, they'll say he's racist and exclusivist and unwilling to try new things. But, if he tries new things and dates one of them, every book he reads and every symposium he goes to will say he's got to have an Asian fetish or something. And if they themselves say they're only interested in dating other Asians, they're seen as commendably devoted to tradition and culture. But, if they date someone non-Asian, they'll be accused of abandoning their culture and selling out to white corporate America. It's damn hypocritical and, as much as they don't want to admit it, racist. Bob insists that Indians are the most racist people he's ever come across; I've not got enough info to make a comparative judgment there, but I'll definitely agree that it's not a whites-only problem anymore.

The NYTimes reports that some 40% of Asian-Americans are marrying non-Asians, so a heck of a lot of people are getting a heck of a lot of crap. As much as I regret its existence, I'm dang happy it's happening, so they'll reach critical mass and get people to Get Over It! Not everyone who's not one of you is out to get you, people, so just let us treat you the same as we treat each other and expect the same from you!

Aargh. Sorry about that.

(Afterthought: there, Mr. Yglesias, is that a rant enough for you?)

Voting Patterns


Americans, apparently, vote based mainly on their sexual morals.

Quote of the Day


"It is difficult being in the family of Hussein. People want to kill us."
--Uday Hussein in 1990.

Iranian bloggers


The Iranian girl reports a popular Iranian blogger has been arrested because of, among other things, his weblog. Hope the Iranian girl stays anonymous and safe...

Which Fairy Tale Archetype Are You?: Hero



So which fairy tale archetype are you? Hmm??

made by Michelle at EmptySpace.


Well then. I knew I was somewhat similar to Owen... I didn't know I was his twin....

Back!


I ended up not going to the Cathedral, but rather visiting St. Thomas' Church on 5th Avenue. Such a perfect service -- incense, choirboys, Rite I full Anglo-Catholic pageantry -- and, to boot, the best sermon I've heard in months, calling people to something deeper than the pageantry and exhorting them to be true to the gospel. Almost makes me think the problems in ECUSA aren't actually all that bad.

New York was wonderful. It's such another world. Browsing in awe in FAO Schwartz, next to a huge Hasidic group (even the babies in the strollers tonsured, side-locked, with apparently glued-on yarmulkes) fascinated by a trick card set, by what appeared to be a family of eight identically dressed girls of various ages all piling on the animals, near an Asian tourist group with many small children wearing the same plaid skirt and blue shirt.... Hey, folks, it's FAO Schwartz's annual dress-alike day! (Either that, or I'd been walking too long and was seeing double and double.)

The Easter parade was a wonder, too, especially as I didn't know it still existed. Such hats! My demure church-going hat couldn't hold a candle to the live iguanas in another woman's hat....

Yes, it was fabulous. A great weekend with the Beekeeper Roommate and her many small siblings. And now I must work.

Friday, April 18, 2003

NYC


Off to celebrate Easter at The Cathedral in NYC. I'll be back Sunday night and by then will probably be back in a blogging mood.

On Intellectual/Moral Honesty


I keep hearing things that make me stop, think, and either shift my thinking and arguing style or just look at the world and its issues in a different way. One was Rena Fonseca, Kanan Makiya's wife, who taught me to look at the people who don't fit the stereotype in any group, and then modify my opinion of the group -- women leaders in "anti-woman" political parties in India, pro-homosexual groups protesting India's first big movie featuring lesbian activity and domestic abuse, and so forth.

Then Matthew Yglesias, pointing out that it's not sensible to rejoice when you've predicted bad things will happen, and they do, or to mourn when the bad things you've predicted end up not happening. Other people have pointed it out before, too, but I hadn't really heard the argument before or thought about it. I don't think I had too much schadenfreude (because of trying to avoid it -- not in name but in practice -- for years), but now I see it in other people when I hadn't before.

Now Lileks asks something I need to remember: Is the worst thing about modern-day slavery its illegality? Or the fact that it’s slavery? Many people argue that things are wrong based on their illegality (there's a mild place for that -- preservation of public order and all that), I probably among them although I do recognize the logical problems with it and try to avoid such lines of argument. Even when we believe things are morally wrong, we argue them along the lines of illegality because our argument partners are hopped up on moral equivalency, when that just leaves them open the obvious line that laws are based ultimately on either morals (don't murder) or public order (don't slap a policeman). What we have to do, I suppose, is attack the moral equivalency behind their position instead.

Sex Ed


R. Alex over at Owen's site (comments to this post, if permalinks are back) has expressed himself excellently:
I am caught between the facts that safe sex is better than unsafe sex, no sex is better than safe sex, learning about sex will likely increase safe sex, which is worse than no sex, but definitely better than unsafe sex.

So then essentially what the question would boil down to is exactly how many teens would have unsafe sex without sex ed compared to the margin of difference in safety between safe sex and no sex compared to the percentage of people that are going to have safe sex that wouldn't have without sex ed.

There's gotta be a math formula here somewhere.

Judging from my own sex ed class in high school in London, which was largely about how to make sex (of any variety) more enjoyable and why anyone who wanted to "wait" was silly and depriving themselves of a fun and safe experience, I think at least some grade school sex ed is weighted heavily in favor of the second part of R. Alex's equation.

Looting, part III


According to the Washington Post,
Well-organized professional thieves stole most of the priceless artifacts looted from Baghdad's National Museum of Antiquities last week, and they may have had inside help from low-level museum employees, the head of UNESCO said today.

Thousands of objects were lost at the museum, both to the sophisticated burglars and to mob looting...

Of course the mob will jump on the bandwagon if they're in a looting mood. But I still maintain that the whole burden of guilt should not be put on the US, where many put it.

Some additional points, in response to sentiments I've heard in dining halls and online: the "Iraqi people" obviously are not unanimously mourning the museum, as quite a few were involved in the museum looting. Yes, many are terribly disappointed, but the fact remains that it was looted by Iraqis (or bored mercenary soldiers worried that they won't get paid by Iraq anymore), not by Americans. Additionally, the coalition can be held at best only indirectly responsible for any mob actions; you have to have a willing mob to do anything. It's even rather patronizing (and neo-colonialist?) to think otherwise -- those morally immature Iraqis, those benighted natives, they can't help themselves and they're victims of their own animal drives to loot and pillage; we have a (divine?) duty to tell them that they should value and preserve the things we want them to value and preserve...

What we do have is a duty to take the place of the law-enforcement structure that was scattered as a secondary effect of our attack. Take over from the police, act as police until Iraqi police can be set up (as is happening), and seek to stop (or, failing that, solve) crimes. Prevent crimes by the same group who was committing them before, with probably some changes (add some disaffected Ba'athists; subtract some people who were just mad at the government). And encourage the people to police themselves, deciding among themselves (within limits, of course -- for the limits, go on some variety of international consensus on human rights, or go libertarian, or some such) what to call right and wrong.

Thursday, April 17, 2003

War Games


Matt Lauer's on with some guy talking about war video games. Matt Lauer points out, but for every guy who goes crazy and wants to act out Duke Nukem in his neighborhood, you have so many people who play those games and don't transfer them into their daily life. The guy responds, "well, I don't know about that," and then goes on to say, in effect, that everyone who plays those games is sick and twisted and of damaged moral judgment and eager to kill anyone they see.

I'd better watch out around Bob and the Kid Brother, then.

And, perhaps, watch out around myself, since I've played both of theirs...

Wednesday, April 16, 2003

Honda


this is long, but lovely.

The Aftermath


Why did I wake up at 7? Habit? Finally gotten enough sleep? no, I had Thesis Dreams. It was late, they didn't like the paper I used. The conclusion had a string of quotes I'd put in with no formatting and no analysis. I had left snide notes about my advisor throughout the whole thing. My footnotes all had the same number (ok, that one has some basis in fact -- my footnotes do start anew every chapter, instead of being consecutive as per the formatting suggestions). I had assigned the same pseudonym to two different of my interviewees -- or two different pseudonyms to the same one -- and they'll notice some contradictions or multi-quotes. My chapters were out of order, or missing, or in German. (I've actually done that last one before -- more often using German grammar in English, but occasionally German words too, when I'm tired.)

Friends who know tell me this is normal. They also tell me that, tonight, my thesis will come back graded with all sorts of horrible comments on it. I can hardly wait.

Tuesday, April 15, 2003

Chores


Thesis: IN
Taxes: in (why are they due on thesis day?)
Cap and Gown: ordered
UT forms: mailed off
Real Food: eaten (have been living on saltines and diet coke, mainly, with some bananas and buttered toast)
Sleep: goodnight....

Thesis


Comments all better, and thesis all done -- but, horror of horrors, I'm out of paper! So, must rush frantically about searching for some.

Looting, again


From Kanan Makiya
One friend told me that the looting of the National Museum--something that cut deeply into me--was the work of newly deposed Baathist officials, who had been selling off our patrimony as they saw their days were numbered. As the regime fell, these (ex-)Baathists went back for one last swindle, and took with them treasures that dated back 9,000 years, to the Sumerians and the Babylonians. One final crime perpetrated by Saddam's thugs.

Should have guessed. Of course, there will also have been some people who were just in for the ride, like the German exchange student who lived with my family in eleventh grade -- she said she and her friends would skip school whenever there was a rally going on, regardless of what the "issue" was, just because it was fun.

UPDATE: I see that Josh is skeptical. All I know is, from my knowledge of him and his family, none of them will say things they know to be untrue just to support their point.

Comments, Part II


BlogOut's back (in duplicate?) until BackBlog returns!

Monday, April 14, 2003

Comments


And BackBlog seems to be out. Perhaps it'll come back by tomorrow. Perhaps not. I don't have the thrilling arguments in my comments that some people have, but I am rather attached to them. Hope they return soon.

Maturity


There are some collegiate boys out in the courtyard playing foursquare. They invited "any girls who don't have cooties." Someone got growing pains, y'think?

As for me, I've nearly got my literary footnotes done. Have to put in interview ones, but that'll happen. Have to write a conclusion, too, but it'll be ok.

The Twins


I hate newscast tags. They keep saying that there's been "a disturbing discovery" when searching some royal palace in Iraq, relating to the Bush twins. Oh, dear. Let's all guess what it could be? 1) he's got "Jenna" and "Barbara" in an involved pattern; 2) he's got full models of them (either statues, or -- yes! -- trained up live body-doubles who have had much plastic surgery and lessons in how to imitate them); 3) their names are listed in an article in an old issue of the NYT he's got in a stack of newspapers in his office... yeah, could be about anything.
UPDATE: aww, that was boring. He had some news photos of them. Pretty much option 3. (But they're spinning it like option 1.)

Thesis update


Come on. I have 74 pages, and it's not due until 5pm tomorrow. I can take a break, can't I?

Quote of the Day


"I have always supported the cause in Iraq. I think it is a just cause. I think that what we're doing there is right. I think it is a fight, among other things, for the liberation of the Iraqi people. We have to now show that we went there for the right reasons: by, as soon as we reasonably can, turning over the governing of the Iraqi people to the Iraqi people, by turning over the oil fields and the revenue from those oil fields to the Iraqi people."
- Sen. John Edwards of North Carolina

The more I hear about this guy, the more I like. Starting to think I'm glad I'm not party-registered. Because, if I keep hearing things I like about him, it may well be a toss-up for me. Edwards 2004, anyone?

On Looting and Rioting


From over at the Brothers Judd Blog:
CHAOS CALLS INTO QUESTION AMERICA'S WAR, NATION'S FUTURE:
Officials assess damage, ponder prevention after hockey fan outburst (Pam Louwagie, April 14, 2003, Star Tribune)
Thousands riot after big loss: Pepper gas used; 90 people arrested (Concord Monitor, Apr 14, 2003)

No, the above is not a headline you're likely to see over such stories when they involve white American college students rioting after a mere hockey game, is it? Despite the breakdown of social order in two of the freest, most affluent, most homogeneous political entities known to man, few (except we) are likely to argue that the American Revolution has been discredited or that Americans are incapable of governing themselves. Yet, when Iraqis, with their tamped down tribal rivalries, rioted in the wake of their first breath of freedom, after decades of brutal dictatorship, the chattering classes are arguing that it reflects something important about the war that freed them and/or about the future prospects of democracy there. What nonsense.

You want riots and looting, go to many present or former members of the Commonwealth and watch a soccer or even sometimes cricket match. (What is it about sports fans that makes them INSANE?)

Sunday, April 13, 2003

Saddam Rap


This is some funny stuff. I'm not sure about the BBC transcript -- I'd have changed it a few places -- but it's great. "Gangsta's Paradise" turned into a Saddam rap. "I am big daddy, this is my game. I don't have feelings, I don't have shame." "Bush wanna kick me, I don't know why, and if I call him, he tells me goodbye." It's a hoot. Listen to it.

And I just brewed a pot of espresso without putting the carafe under the spout. I have a wet carpet now. I think I must be tired. (Naptime starting Tuesday.)

Bostonian Inconsistencies


Here's what's going on at Harvard:
Find out about about all the things you were afraid to ask at:

********QUEER SEX TOY PARTY********

Today, Sunday, April 13th
2-4pm
Leverett House Junior Common Room


A sexuality instructor from Grand Opening! (a queer-friendly sexuality boutique in Brookline) will lead a presentation of various sex toys for all kinds of sex between male, female, and trans people. Sex toys will be on display.

(Last year, they got in trouble with some feminists for doing this, because it was worded in such a way as to imply that women couldn't be happy without constantly occupying themselves with either a man or a mechanical man-replacement.)

This is from a city where you can't buy alcohol on Sundays, after 11 at night, before noon, between 12:01 pm and 10:58 pm ... (ok, maybe not that last one, but it seems like it). No drinks, but all kinds of sex!

True Identity Revealed


This has been bugging me for a while, and I finally put my finger on it.

See any similarities between these two people?



UPDATE: Dang. The images show up on the blogger post entry site, but not on the actual page. And I've saved the images on another site, too, which has worked before, in order to avoid the don't-take-my-bandwidth problem. Not like CentCom minds, probably, so I'll put that one as a link to the picture... I'll just have to figure out how to put them on a Harvard site; that should go better. Anyhow, until then: just click the second picture to have the secret made known.

TV


Boston's got Hindi network TV stations! All morning Sunday on Pax!

I know Houston has several South Asian radio stations (not full-time, but in the evening and on weekends) and one hour or so on TV on the weekends. I really hope Austin has some too, because I think they're fabulous! You get to see ShahRukh Khan dancing around with lovely women!

Oops?


This is not good:
BAGHDAD (AFP) - US soldiers shot and killed a Baghdad shopkeeper who was defending his shop with a Kalashnikov assault rifle against looters, neighbours told an AFP photographer.

Gotta be more careful, boys.

WWI Memories


Archaeologists in France have uncovered the remains of 24 British first world war soldiers, near the 1917 battlefield at Arras.

It's a small news item. Apart from the irony that the corpses were unearthed on the site of a new BMW car factory, there is nothing particularly remarkable about the discovery of body parts in one of the world's most notorious killing fields. And yet, and yet...

Those 24 men helped, in their lives and in their deaths, to change the world. They were present at one of the great turning points of modern history, which shaped the lives of generations and transformed Europe utterly.

From the Guardian.

Hard to believe that was nearly a century ago. You think about and learn about a time period enough, you feel like you remember it. The human mind is strange -- a modern homo sapiens version of collective memory, I suppose.

Liberty, Equality, Fraternity (or the American equivalents)


I've got one up on Josh. Well, unless he thinks whisky and democracy is better than replacing the democracy with a perfect female curled up in one's lap. :)

(it's been a nice evening. The Houston Roommate's father was in town and took us to dinner. The car was overfilled, so I got a lapmate. I'm sure the Jewish Boyfriend won't mind. It was a nice break from the Thesis, anyhow.)

Saturday, April 12, 2003

Philadelphia


Like the Beekeeper and Houston Roommates, I will go crazy in a room by myself doing work for hours on end (unless, of course, I'm in the Sanskrit library with my stack of reference books -- I love that place). However, unlike them, if I'm in a room with other people, I'll talk to them and be distracted and get nothing done. Or, if I do start to get work done, and they talk to me, I'll snap at them, which isn't nice either. So, at home (and next year), I have a cat; at school, I have a TV. News, TV comedy reruns, old star trek (when UPN reception's working), and previously-seen movies (mostly old ones or Indiana Jones) get their free run in the background. When nothing at all is on, though, such as at 2:30 on a Saturday afternoon or at 9 on a weeknight, my small collection of movies goes on.

Last night's fare: the Philadelphia Story. Today's: the same, as a musical: High Society. I have to say, this is one of the few times I've liked a remake better than the original -- that is, in an instance where the original is still known. Many things (some of Shakespeare's source material, some regional-dialect Indian movies, etc.) were poorly done but with a good idea, so someone with talent could redo it with success. As for movies where both old and new are still around, though, High Society and Ocean's Eleven are the only two I can think of where I like the remake better than the original. Of course, the new Sabrina was closer to the original (written) story than the Audrey Hepburn movie, and Harrison Ford's just about the only guy who could take over from Humphrey Bogart in that role, but you can't duplicate an Audrey Hepburn movie and hope it'll be any good.

The Philadelphia Story starred Katharine Hepburn, Cary Grant, and Jimmy Stewart. High Society stars Grace Kelly, Bing Crosby, and Frank Sinatra. Grace Kelly is the apex of female beauty, and just oozes class; Katharine Hepburn is, of course, an excellent actress, but is rough and free and is not convincing as someone marrying below her class. Jimmy Stewart is clean-cut all-american sweet guy and totally useless as a drunken gadabout, a role for which Frank Sinatra was designed. Bing Crosby has nothing on Cary Grant in the looks or acting department, but he can sing, and he fits better with Grace Kelly than Cary Grant with Katharine Hepburn. The rest of the cast is so much better in High Society than in the Philadelphia Story, and Louis Armstrong is so delightful as himself (the mixed-race jazz band co-led by Armstrong and Crosby was also of sociological importance), that it far outweighs the massive differences from the original play, a play to which the Philadelphia Story sticks quite well.

Plus, my copy of High Society is taped from TV, and has lots of 1980s TV ads as well as an ancient episode of General Hospital featuring some sort of a magic glowing rock that a little girl says is supposed to heal some sick guy. Ads for roach killers, for Stafford Meadows hospital ("your kid may be out of control, but you don't have to be" -- the kid wears a mullet and plays his stereo loud), for Mann Eye Clinic; news alerts about Africanized Killer Bees. That's why I like 790 AM in Houston -- they run old radio shows, complete with the ads and occasionally the news. It's a chunk of a time that I remember (or, in the case of 790, that my grandparents might remember), but is long gone. Things like that fascinate me.

Anyhow, a useless post that takes time away from the thesis, but it does make me feel better and get my mind off of things, and that's why I blog anyhow, isn't it? No matter how much other people like (or dislike) what we write, we all blog for ourselves first, don't we?

Anti-Muslim War?


One more follow-up on the Hindu Unity types (link at the left) -- and yes, I know they're extremist lunatics. Thing is, some of them are in India's government, so they're not exactly marginalized, no matter how small their number is, so I believe they should be watched. Anyhow:
What is the total number of muslim pigs killed in Iraq? It is in hundreds, if not the low hundreds. The coalition took great care not to hurt any of the muslim pigs, as if killing one of the oinkers will somehow make the skies fall. As if Arab opinion ever mattered to US and as if the US is posing to be a humanitarian agency lkiberating Iraq. The bottomline is the Iraqis are celebrating the Iraq victory. So the winner is the hardline Islamists who wanted to see Saddam go. Winner: sullas. Loser: everyone else. The world is paying for this war on Iraq.
[SNIP]
What is the effect of the latest bombing in Afghanistan? A few muslims killed. The US is not moving one step of what is required to achieve vioctory. This is what I have been trying to highlight to some of the members here who are somewhat enamoured to USA: the US does not want to kill muslims no matter what they say.

There you have it, kids. The people who want Muslims killed are disappointed because it is so obviously clear to them that the war is not designed to kill Muslims. Protesters: get over it.

Friday, April 11, 2003

Our side at any costs


Covering up the truth -- at the cost of people's lives -- because you want your side to win? My God, how can people be like this? I haven't been this sickened by someone's utter inhumanity in a while. Get me near Scott Ritter, I might just become violent. Seeing as how I haven't violently attacked someone since I was a small child, that's saying a lot. But hot damn, let me at him.

No Blood for Oil!


The Professor writes:
On the radio (I think it was CBS radio news) I heard a correspondent from Mosul say that an Iraqi there asked him if America was there for freedom, or for the oil. What do you think? he asked. "If you stay," responded the Iraqi, "you're here for freedom. If you leave, it's just for the oil."

What should they do? it's difficult. I'm going to entirely ignore, for the purposes of this question, the opinions of all pro and con non-Iraqis anywhere in the West, because they just don't really get a say here. Well, we have a pretty good amount of Iraqis and their neighbors (who do have a say, because they could always get uffish and decide to liberate Iraq from the US, which, while it wouldn't be successful, would be undesirable and a bother) saying, ok, we're glad you got that guy out, but now just clean up your mess dang quickly and clear out. We have a huge amount of Iraqis and very few of their neighbors saying, you have to stay and help us, please, fixing everything forever. By majority vote, that second group looks like it wins, but many from the second group will certainly change to the first for any of a multitude of reasons. Tony Blair's explanation is obviously practical -- we'll stay there just as long as it takes -- but not very helpful. As long as it takes to make sure there'll be no resurrection of the Ba'ath gang? As long as it takes to put in a weak little government that we hope might last? As long as it takes to reconstruct the whole place and put things back to 1990? As long as it takes to pull a Germany and entirely redo everything? I don't really know what's best -- the last option seems best to me, right off, on a practical level (if you stay more than a generation, and are rather totalitarian, you can raise the children to believe what you want them to believe -- rather like they're trying in Palestinian areas), but I'm not sure what I think of totalitarianism on the level of principles, and I'm not sure if that would even really be practical, as UN people keep saying they want everyone out quickly (leaving a wobbly new government or a vacuum, I suppose).

Indian Christians intimidated in Gujarat


This is not good. I know it's not exactly from an unbiased source, but it is still entirely believable and entirely worrisome.

Response


And this is why I'm not a Hist&Lit major: I don't always automatically look for the other side of things, and I'm far too gullible -- or, put more nicely, I have far too much faith in the honesty of my fellow man. If I try hard, I can come up with bad motives for things that can be explained benignly, but I generally try to accept the benign explanation, even if it's weaker.

Anyhow, here's a biting response to today's NYT article linked below.

Cards


They should sell these. But there's at least one woman in the deck, and I think she should be listed as a queen, rank be dashed!

Sex


Now everyone is talking about it. Josh asks, are women not turned on by the idea of men with each other? I respond: speaking as one woman, I'm not. It just seems a bit ... painful, to me. Also, a woman can't really do all that much to another woman that a man cannot do and would not enjoy doing; rear entry, however, is, as far as I can tell, not quite as popular among women (the ones I know who participate in it tell me it's purely at their mate's request, and they'd be happier without). You've got to be able to identify with it.

Part of it is sociological, as well, of course. Because of the perception that guys jumping each other (or something milder) would have to wobble in that direction, and the lack of a widely-held similar perception for women, a man can see two feminine women enjoying each other and entertain a fantasy putting himself in the middle; when a woman sees two men enjoying each other, whatever other things are going through her mind, she's not likely holding too fast to the notion that they really want her to join in or take the part of one of them.

I mention that they must be "feminine" women enjoying each other because they have to be women whose appearance does not fall into the stereotypical "butch dyke" line. Two stocky women with scowls, manly demeanour, and short spiky hair are not going to turn men on as much as Pamela Anderson and Jenna Jameson rolling around, both because they do not have what many men want in a woman (breasts...) and don't look like the type of woman the man thinks might be interested in him in a fantasy world.

I'm curious about threesomes, though. Guys tend to want the 2-girl 1-guy variety. What do girls want? (Yes, I know, I'm a girl, I should be able to answer that. I've been damaged by being close friends with a beautiful lesbian, though, so I'm not sure if my answer is a general truth.)

Life Fragments


James Lileks does beautiful sketches, creating a fictional life for long-dead people caught by accident in ancient architectural photographs he has.

I wish I could do that.

I also wish I could finish that dang thesis without pausing every ten minutes to check email and stop by a webpage or two.

Conspiracy Theorists


In a comment to this Atrios post, one Eli Schwarzbaum writes:
It seems pretty clear from the frequency of these horrendous attacks that this is centrally organized. I wouldn't be surprised if Cheney, Bush, or Ashcroft is behind this, or at least turning a blind eye. They hate the fact that non-whites are admitted to their beloved Yale. It just gives me the shivers that such powerful men would stoop to writing nasty comments on dorm room doors, but this is the state of country now. Tragic.

That has to be the funniest thing I've read all day. I don't normally stop by Eschaton to relax, as I often get frustrated after a visit (I stop by the iranian girl or a non-political site for relaxation), but this guy's so far gone that he's become just plain silly. The Vice President is creeping around Yale, due to his absolute hatred of non-whites (umm where did that come from? oh, right, any support for America is an indicator of racism), and looking for unpatriotic things that he can scrawl angry messages on. Because he's got nothing better to do, and "this is the state of the country now." (Is it just me, or is this guy really overinflating the focus of the country on Yale undergrads? Like paranoid people, who have a seriously flawed sense of their own self-importance -- you have to think you're something real special if you think 40,000 people are stalking you and conspiring to thwart your every mood. That's just Yale for you, I guess (yes, and Harvard too) -- you get told you're the best school, and you over-believe it until you're thinking you're the best anything, and the most important people anywhere, and, even if you're a sophmore Italian lit major, the government is keeping tabs on you because you control the world.)

Cast of Characters


(last post, I swear)
I have been asked several times: Who-all is in this blog? Well:
The roommates/suitemates (the dorm's all singles, but "roommate" is easier to say):
"The Beekeeper Roommate" -- angelic with a mildly evil twist, from New York, studies French Lit. Does not keep bees, but would be very fetching in one of those beekeeper getups.
"The Jewish Boyfriend" -- belonging to the Beekeeper Roommate.
"The Taiwanese Roommate" -- has roomed with me since freshman year, one of the sweetest people around. Not from Taiwan, but her mother is.
"The Catholic Boyfriend" -- belonging to the Taiwanese Roommate (and yet to be mentioned).
"The Houston Roommate" -- who has gone to school with me since first grade and is an immeasurable source of comfort to me.
There also exist two other roommates who have not yet been mentioned and have not got Blognames yet.

Other friends and family:
"Bob" -- my longstanding other half, at Texas. He's got an incredibly long South Indian name, so he tells people at restaurant desks to hold the table for "Bob."
"The Dancer" -- My other self, a woman-loving beauty from NYC and London. Her father worked for Carter and raised his daughter in the same tradition. One of the most intelligent people I've met, and so logical and rational it's very refreshing.
"Kid Sister" -- a freshman at college in Texas, drop-dead gorgeous. We get along much better than when we were young teenagers.
"Kid Brother" -- twelve and the sweetest guy there's ever been. The apple of my eye, and a main reason I'm thrilled to be going to Texas next year.

Names have not been chosen because that is the person's main attribute, but rather because that was the first thing I came up with to think of what to call them. Yes, all are pseudonymous. Not because, like Diane (who nevertheless keeps blogging?), I want to remain anonymous because it's nicer; nor because, like Salam Pax, I have dang good reasons to stay as anonymous as possible; but just because, like Atrios, it's fun and convenient and, at least at the beginning, gave me a lot more courage to speak my mind. Anyone (especially a resident of Harvard) who feels a pressing need to can find out names of probably at least most people mentioned here, but that oughtn't to change anything, really, except satisfying curiosity. And also, the other people mentioned here would probably prefer to remain anonymous -- I'm sure my sister would. So, be kind.
UPDATE: updated as I recall other people to add.

On Matthew Yglesias and Hate Mail


Yup, our classmate has gotten his first piece of hate mail. His assailant asks, "Are you even worthy of an Harvard Education?" While not a good thing in and of itself, that comment did at least make me feel in good company, as I've been told several times, by Harvardians, to my face (beginning with an entrywaymate at the beginning of freshman year; most recently by a blockmate in an otherwise friendly discussion), that I do not deserve to be at Harvard because I am not suitably liberal.

The blockmate, incidentally, has been known to add that I, and anyone who will not vote straight Democrat, should not be allowed to vote. (Yes, he's the one mentioned a few posts back.)

So, while Matt's appears to be a case of someone from the outside with a grudge against Harvard and its eliteness, and mine looks to be people from the inside who want to make Harvard more elite than would allow for my presence, it is nice to know that all varieties of Harvardians get crap, not just mine. Of course, I would rather that neither did, but, well, misery loves company and all that.

And now I've successfully reinstalled my printer, so it's off to to the thesis again. We've come up with a new addition to the Greek pantheon: the Hazes of Theses. In which I am lost.

Greetings!


And, greetings to those who have come over from Diotima. I hadn't republished my archives (new blogger thing) for a few days, so the link brought you elsewhere; now it should be working. I'd link back to them to show their link, but their permalinks aren't up-to-date either. Just click on the title of the next post.

Diotima on Abortion


Katha Pollitt blames anti-abortion groups and the lazy media for using "gory terms" such as: "crushed skull, sucked-out brains, [and] half-delivered fetus."

I find it interesting that abortion supporters get so bent out of shape because of our "gory terminology," yet we are not supposed to express concern over their gory procedures.

Nothing more to say to that.

CNN on Iraq


Fascinating article in the NYT by a CNN journalist on the dangers of working in Iraq:
For example, in the mid-1990's one of our Iraqi cameramen was abducted. For weeks he was beaten and subjected to electroshock torture in the basement of a secret police headquarters because he refused to confirm the government's ludicrous suspicion that I was the Central Intelligence Agency's Iraq station chief. CNN had been in Baghdad long enough to know that telling the world about the torture of one of its employees would almost certainly have gotten him killed and put his family and co-workers at grave risk.

The whole thing is, to say the least, startling. I knew it was bad, but I had no idea how bad -- I can't even fathom it.

Thursday, April 10, 2003

Khazraji dead?


Kendall has more.

Photos


Michael J. Totten has stolen all of Yahoo's bandwidth and has a very nice collection of pictures.

Wearing the Flag


Not having worn a flag pin before I was given one by a group tabling outside the science center today, I was unaware of the opposition those brave souls who wear them receive in Fair Cambridge. One woman, likely much too old to be a student, scowled at me as she saw me walking away and putting on my little pin (about half an inch across), calling me an "imperialist bitch." In the Square, one Spare Change hawker (not Gregory (for you Harvardians, Gregory is the "hellohellohello, hello laaady!" guy), who's wonderful, but someone else) did not believe me when I told him (truthfully) I had bought a copy this morning, but instead pointed at my pin and said, "you just don't like poor people, do you?" Someone else outside the Coop was selling some other newspaper, and by then I was too exhausted to do anything but shake my head and say "no, thanks" to his request for a dollar (which I don't even have, having spent my only dollar on a Spare Change in the morning) for his paper. He then followed me down to the corner, saying, "you're wearing a flag pin. You don't like black people, is that it? huh? that's it, isn't it?" (Reminds me of last summer.) The few people I see who wear (usually larger) flag pins and patches must go through so much more of that -- it's awful. Not having slept much of anything in three days, I decided I wasn't strong enough to stand up to any more such things, so, ashamed of my weakness, I took off my pin.
UPDATE: A suggestion has been made which I quite like: go back to my avoid-foreign-hawkers technique of speaking only German. Even if they can identify the language (after the "they speak Gaelic in San Francisco" and "Parisians are from... Persia" bit on Jay Leno last night, I have my doubts), they likely won't be able to speak it. Works quite well in India, and well might here.

Poem for the Day


I met a traveller from an antique land
Who said: 'Two vast and trunkless legs of stone
Stand in the desert. Near them, on the sand,
Half sunk, a shattered visage lies, whose frown,
And wrinkled lip, and sneer of cold command,
Tell that its sculptor well those passions read
Which yet survive, stamped on these lifeless things,
The hand that mocked them and the heart that fed.
And on the pedestal these words appear --
"My name is Ozymandias, king of kings:
Look on my works, ye Mighty, and despair!"
Nothing beside remains. Round the decay
Of that colossal wreck, boundless and bare
The lone and level sands stretch far away.'
-- Percy Bysshe Shelly

Wednesday, April 09, 2003

"A Tale of Two Cities"


Such is the title of an excellent photo essay over at Balloon Juice.

Weather


It's pitiful. The only reason I could come up with today for why I didn't want the world to end right now was that I didn't want to die before I got warm again. (Spring is never going to come. Ever.)

Objective Reporting


As mentioned in a comment in the most excellent Pepys' Diary page, the OED does not refrain from making value judgments. "Ake," so it says (and I have just verified), is an "earlier and better spelling of ACHE."

New Signs


Jim Treacher has the new generation of protest signs up. (Link from the Professor.)

Tim Blair


As quoted on InstaPundit:
I SHOULDN'T be so happy. After all, I'm a right-wing deathbeast, and the end (or near end) of a war should upset me, because we conservatives lust for war all the time. Except when we have to fight it ourselves, of course. Being chickenhawks and all.
And the toppling of a fascist dictator should have me all weepy and nostalgic for Hitler. Because I'm a fascist, according to much of the mail I receive.
Those Iraqis dancing in the streets? That should really piss me off, because I want to oppress them and steal their oil. Why are they even able to dance? I was promised 500,000 murders, yet thus far only 1,000 or so innocents have died.
So why am I so damn happy? I really can't explain.
I'd go and ask some oppression-hating anti-fascist peace activists about it, but for some reason they're all incredibly depressed.

Excellent.

Kafka


I also have an improved version of Kafka. Much nicer print. Has inspired me to keep working on my translation of his shorter pieces. I did a very nice translation of much of the Betrachtungen, and want to expand it to other bits like Das Urteil and In Der Strafkolonie and so forth. Maybe I'll have a full translation of Kafka some day. Some day after the thesis.

Note, I do not have any hopes of getting it translated. I translate so that I will have an English version that is as satisfying to me as the German. Therefore, it reads thickly and is clearly a translation from the German, but that is the kind of translation I like to read. It gets across more of the detachment and the structure of the German than most English translations, especially the Muirs' work (someone who's ideologically opposed to the German language and syntax should not translate German, as they lose so much of what anchors the wandering thoughts). It's fun, my own personal project, and satisfies me entirely.

Book Sale


I have just returned from the Hilles Library book sale. So many fascinating things. I have four volumes of some woman's nine-volume autobiography, because I was intrigued; several old travel diaries; many history books; a gorgeous leather-bound Shakespeare series in German in Fraktur; and, coup of coups, a 1933 German edition of Mein Kampf.

I'm happy.

On Israel and relationships


Daniel Goldberg has some excellent posts. That'll teach me to take a week-long break from visiting his site. He writes so nicely -- crisp and clean. Not the florid similes of James Lileks and sometimes Ross Douthat (although I really do like those); not the substandard grammar and spelling of many bloggers who can write well in real life but feel the computer frees them of that obligation; not the disjointed rambling with constant disclaimers and asides and occasional European grammar of my posts; not the often dry and overly academic (with brief bursts of hysteria) tone of Matthew Yglesias. Just plain English, with enough development to make it immesurably superior to Hemingway, and nothing to distract you. I appreciate pleasant writing. Not only that, but, due to the glories of first-name alphabetization, I appear at the top of the blogroll. That's thrilling.

(aside: will be updating my own soon. Anyone who's linked to me will probably show up. Anyone else, send me an email, I'll put you on.)

Anyhow, his posts. One, about Israel, currently near the top at the main page. (if permalinks are working -- blogger users, please republish your archives, and then you can permalink, as Oxblog reports -- click here.) It's excellently done, a dialogue-of-sorts explaining his views, and I mostly agree with most of what he says, which is quite nice.

A subsequent post on man/woman friendships is also rather good. I'd add another category, as we're obliged not to be heteropresumptive, the Dancer kept admonishing me: when you're in a friendship styled so that one person is of the variety likely to be interested in the other, but the other person is of a non-compatible variety. Such as when the Dancer, who has propositioned me (very mildly) in the past, was here. She's interested in me, I not in her, and we're the best of friends. Doesn't seem to work as well with two variously-varietied guys; works notoriously well with heterosexual girl and homosexual guy. Those, put together, work out to be: doesn't work well where it's a male who's interested in an uninterested friend. Perhaps due to the reputation homosexual men have for being willing to jump anything in pants they see, whether or not the pants are willing (a reputation I hear must not be reported as true, but sure fits with quite a few of my friends of that persuasion; the Dancer quite agrees and is disturbed by gay male subculture).

On the more common friendships of male and female who might be expected to possibly develop an interest in each other: I'll concur with Billy Crystal in saying that they usually can't be close friends at length without one at least becoming interested in the other, at least in my teen and early twenties experience. But, I don't think that's a bad thing, as long as there's no obsession, stalking, creepy and sudden proposals of marriage, and all that. A little tension isn't bad, as long as you don't let it go anywhere the other person doesn't want (and anywhere that doesn't fit with your views of morality, and all that).

Tuesday, April 08, 2003

The End Times?


Good article on the people who see the end of the world around every corner. As a plus, it's got quotes from fellow blogger Kendall Harmon:
"I argue that 'Left Behind' should be left behind," said the Rev. Kendall Harmon, resident theologian for the Episcopal Diocese of South Carolina.
Harmon, who earned his doctorate from Oxford University in eschatology (end-times study), calls belief in the Rapture before the Tribulation "a theology that seeks to escape pain and suffering." The New Testament writers, including the author of Revelation, envision a church suffering along with the rest of the world so Christians can demonstrate the life of Christ, he said.

Roosevelt


According to OxBlog, I'm Rooseveltian!

To which race of Middle Earth do I belong?


Results... Elvish
Elvish


To which race of Middle Earth do you belong?
brought to you by Quizilla
(Yes, link from Owen Courreges.)

Visit


And my whirlwind visit from the Dancer has come to an end. She's eminently logical. She's wonderful. And beautiful. She has come to different conclusions from me on many things, but she's come to hers in a rational way and I've come to mine in a rational way and we bond over our ridicule of people on both sides who got their conclusions illogically. Inconsistency's my big bugbear -- people who say "you can't be anti-war because you shouldn't criticize the President," yet sure didn't have an opposition to criticizing the President back in the last decade. That's why I quite like the friend of mine who believes that conservatives should not be allowed to vote -- because he does not make the common liberal claim to "tolerance." He's as intolerant as (or more than) the rest of that strain of liberals are of conservatives, but doesn't deny it like the rest of them do. He's honest and consistent, and I respect that, even if he is rather wrong.

But now we have our own little set of troubles to deal with, chief among them being a thesis due in one week, and no more lovely quick visit to provide an excuse for not doing things, so I must buckle down.

Conspiracies


I love conspiracy theorists. They entertain me. The latest is someone who was actually in my entryway freshman year. She's got a theory about opponents of partial-birth abortion in yesterday's Crimson (the debate as originally framed was purely about partial-birth abortion, not any other method):
This ban is not about women’s health; it is not about saving unborn “children;” it is not even about moral choices according to particular religious traditions.
[SNIP]
This ban is misogynist, its proponents are dishonest, and its spirit is reactionary.

You see, the people opposed to partial-birth abortions may tell you they find it disgusting; or they may point out that the AMA is opposed to D&X or D&E (whichever you say) abortions. Others may tell you they believe that all women's rights, even the unborn ones', should be fought for, and abortion is a sign of oppression of, not liberation of women. Even others may insist that the unborn child is alive and deserving of protection, and that abortion therefore is murder and morally repugnant. But, no matter what any of them say, they're just pretending that they mean all that; they really are just using it as a front to cover for their evil plan, which is to enforce patriarchal gender roles.

Yes, even the writers of the letters to the Crimson -- both female. They must be some of Mary Daly's fembots, brainwashed stooges for men. (Mary Daly's got a good argument there -- if you don't agree with me, or if you say you don't feel oppressed and you don't think all heterosexual sex is equivalent to rape, well, you've been brainwashed. You really are oppressed; you just need me to tell you you are. It sure does exclude absolutely any counterarguments.)

Sunday, April 06, 2003

Evolution


Matthew Yglesias has an excellent post here:
The debate between creationists and evolutionists in the public schools, however, takes a different form. The creationists have a (religiously-inspired) view of what the truth is about the origins of species, and the evolutionists have a different view. Both sides agree, however, on the higher-order issue that public schools ought to teach the truth about this question to their students. Neither side thinks it ought to be illegal to have a different opinion about the truth, but both sides agree that the school system ought to be trying to instill the truth in students. The positions, therefore, are essentially parallel. We have a dispute about what is true rather than a dispute about the legitimate limits of state power.

Read the whole thing.

TV


And it looks like FOX is the only channel that goes off air anymore. Wow.

Time, and a Visitor


My computer just alerted me that it is much later than I thought, as I just lost an hour. What with a thesis due next week, and much Urdu and Sanskrit to translate, and an unexpected sudden visit coming up this afternoon by the Dancer all the way from London (huzzah!), I'd rather ought to sleep! Remember to reset your non-computerized clocks!

Vegans


My word, these people should be dragged into the street and shot (for my mother's verdict of choice for people who mistreat children). Vegans trying to raise their baby that way, and dang nigh killing her. Fools. But! But! they were sincere, and they believe it would be morally wrong to feed her anything else! Damnit, idiots, sincerity counts for crap. Misguided sincerity kills just as often as not. You can sincerely believe the stuff you're drinking is water, but when it turns out to be bleach, your sincerity will buy you a pile of worm droppings.

And to think just last Thursday I was being frustrated with well-meaning yet brainless Jains and Hindus in Madras who picket the "Crocodile Bank" and demand that the crocodiles be put on a vegetarian diet by their keepers. I'd never imagined anyone would try to do something similar to a human baby.

Saturday, April 05, 2003

Sanjay Gupta


You'll have heard by now that Sanjay Gupta, CNN's medical reporter, performed emergency neurosurgery on an injured Iraqi child. Apparently, he's coming in for some criticism -- he should have just stood by and watched the boy die without doing anything:
''I'm hoping and trusting that he and CNN set some thresholds,'' Steele said. ''I think it's problematic if this is a role that he's going to be playing on any kind of frequent basis. I don't think he should be reporting on it if he's also a participant. He can't bring appropriate journalistic independence and detachment to a story.''
Rosenstiel agreed that Gupta's objectivity is now in question...

(CNN, by the way, says they're proud of him and hopes he won't refuse to help!)

That's even worse than the well-meaning liberal lady I ran into at the gym last summer, who complained that it was "racial stereotyping" to have an Indian medical correspondent on CNN. They should have had a white person instead, she argued.

Poetry


The Poetry of D.H. Rumsfeld - Recent works by the secretary of defense. Perfect. From The American Scene.

Friday, April 04, 2003

Larry


Some lucky senior gets to be Larry's Special Assistant. Dang, she'll be lucky. (Not obsessed with Larry, not obsessed with Larry... not at all.)

Anyone interested can apply here.

Thursday, April 03, 2003

Blogger


Deleted several posts I had up. That's so frustrating... One of them even had a comment on it. And I can't for the life of me recall what they were.
UPDATE: Dang. Happened again. (With same subsequent lack of memory on my part.) Maybe they'll fix themselves soon.

Dreams


If I seem a bit out of it today, it's all because I'm still in the odd world of my weird dreams last night. Let's leave it at this: when I woke up, Cher had been driving me and my little brother (who was actually not my little brother, but just some random kid) around London and stopping to browse in odd coral-decorated maritime knick-knack stores.

Craj, et al


A couple of fellows in my high school, one of them going to be a crooner teen idol and the other going to be either a lawyer-rabbi or a rabbi-lawyer (I prefer the latter -- less smarmy), made a habit of making up words. Craj, the all-purpose expletive, was the favorite, and, four years after its coiners' graduation, is still common even in the middle school level.

Well, I've got an addition, from the Backfence: "why, buckle my fiery pants!"

Gotta start using that.

Lileks


Today's Bleat is grand:
Sometimes I think the reason America is so despised in some quarters is that we fail to live up to other peoples’ worst expectations.

He also comes up with some interesting theories for why the satellite photos show Baghdad looking rather more precision-bombed than carpet-bombed, when we just know the Americans are making it into a parking lot and trying to kill any civilians they can.

Wednesday, April 02, 2003

Iraqi Dissidents


NBC just took the Coalition to task for not involving the masses of eager Iraqi dissidents in the war process, rather than just the aftermath. I'd say: exactly. I sure hope there's a good reason they were left out (the one I can think of is that they sure seem to argue a lot with each other, and might not agree on what they were doing -- but the same with the US army brass! -- so that's not a good reason), rather than just a massive oversight or terribly wrong decision.

Racism and the war


So you see a lot of signs claiming that the war is a racist war. Just why, I don't know. Maybe they think everyone (US, British, Iraqi, Iranian, etc.) who supports the war believes what the occasional LGF poster believes, that we'd ought to go in and kill all the "ragheads" we find. But the signs exist, anyhow. Even my favorite, by a loony in Boston Common who also had a sign opposing weirdos (didn't define which weirdos, or in regard to what, but did have a fun drawing of a purple alien strongly resembling Gonzo), getting mad at "racist Uncle Toms".... Well, until today, I hadn't realized that the anti-war movement could also be very openly racist. Came across a guy over on the Hindu Unity webboards who argued that the Iraqi people weren't worth fighting for and didn't deserve freedom or anything like it. Many such Indians are supportive of the war because it's killing Muslims and Arabs, yet disappointed and angered when they hear Bush and Blair talking about how the goal is to help those people.