keilexandra: Adorable panda with various Chinese overlays. (Default)
* Via Fancy Brand, prolific tumblelog by a friend of mine: a Tibetan musical score.

* Cardboard sculptures--just amazing, the level of detail.

* Video of a wheelchair dance competition.

* A flash-style piece by [ profile] shweta_narayan on Strange Horizons, "Charms."

* Also on SH--"Origin" by Ari Goelman, a superhero story that I actually like.

* The 3rd Asian Women's Blog Carnival! Especially check out [ profile] laleia's post on perfect Chinese daughters (so, so true) and a riveting trailer for the film version of The Stoning of Soraya M. It's rated R, and though I'm normally not a fan of violence or horror, I really want to see this. Unfortunately, it's only showing in select theatres and none of them near me (not even in Philly).
keilexandra: Adorable panda with various Chinese overlays. (Default)
* [ profile] shwetha_narayan's wonderful poem "Apsara" is now up at Goblin Fruit for the summer. First link should be permanent, second is where you can read the poem right now (ETA: may also be permanent, and better formatted, if it goes in the archive).

* Dylan Thomas's "Do Not Go Gentle into That Good Night," with audio--perhaps the most famous English-language villanelle.

* Via [ profile] yhlee, The Periodic Table of Typefaces.

* Geeky article about Lenovo's new keyboard design. Nothing like Dvorak's complete overhaul, just some interesting usability tweaks. I will say this: I love my caps lock key for easily marking out book titles. I really want a big delete key, though... So annoying on this laptop to sloooowly reach up to hit it in the corner.

* Color illusion!

* Notable Unshelved strip.

* Isaiah 55:12--"...and all the trees of the field shall clap their hands."

* A compendium of beautiful--no, gorgeous--libraries.
keilexandra: Adorable panda with various Chinese overlays. (Default)
A thought that has fluttered through my head several times, having just been captured: what kind of "space" is the Internet? If someone makes a public blog post or a public comment, is that content automatically public? Obviously you can't plagiarize, the words are still inherently copyrighted, etc. But what about linking, referencing, alluding to? On one extreme, the right of free press is vital; what if any author had the legal right to request that a negative review of his/her book be taken down? And on the other extreme, if one is compiling a blog carnival or a linkspam or whatever, is there an expectation of permission first? How does this interact with privilege?

I've always operated on the assumption that any public post is just that--public, free to briefly quote and free to link to. In fact, I find policies specifically requesting that linkers ask permission first to be kind of presumptous--like the author of a published book asking that all reviewers run their reviews by him/her first (thereby filtering out unwanted or negative reviews). Even if this never becomes ingrained in law, the very expectation in etiquette remains problematic in the context and spirit of freedom.

Thoughts? Disagreements? I don't pretend to know much of anything about this matter, except what is "logical" to me (and what I find logical is inherently shaped by my experiences, majority/minority/etc.).

Comments are screened. Civility rules, as always, but feel free to disrespect me civilly.
keilexandra: Adorable panda with various Chinese overlays. (Default)
A bunch via [ profile] yhlee:

* Clever typographical logos. I especially like the piano and the coffee and the playground and and.

* Kitchen chores, geek-style.

* [ profile] nestra on what happens too often.

* IBARW 4 will be from July 27 to August 2! While I am away, so I shall have to promote it heartily in-person.

* [ profile] thedeadparrot's Remyth story for the Asian Women's Carnival #2, titled "Chopsticks."
keilexandra: Adorable panda with various Chinese overlays. (Default)
* Greta Christina talks about subtle homophobia in the professional dance world, specifically "So You Think You Can Dance."

* A New Jersey med student is expelled for calling himself a "white African-American." (No, he's not from South Africa; apparently he is the third generation of a Portuguese family in Mozambique, where he was born and raised.)

ETA:* 2nd Asian Women of Color Carnival!

In happier news...

* Higher education's best new staircase, aka some very good architecture porn. Apparently Caltech has the most entertaining new staircase at the Cahill Center for Astronomy and Astrophysics--heads-up [ profile] yhlee, do report back if you visit!

* Another one for you, [ profile] yhlee: a musical synthesizer toy, innovative and dead-simple for those of us without compositional skills.

* Transcription of a speech on new methods for humanities research. I've only skimmed, but looks really interesting.
keilexandra: Adorable panda with various Chinese overlays. (Default)
* I trimmed my current flist reading filter in an attempt to do actual work this summer, versus Internet reading. I also reorganized tags from "racism" to "race" and combined "sexism" and "feminism" under "gender."

* It is raining ridiculously hard right now. There goes my swimsuit-shopping plans tonight. (ETA: WTF, now there's a perfect blue sky.)

* Catch up on reviews first, and then I will start posting selections from the RaceFail archives with commentary. May or may not be under flock, depending on how inflammatory the content and how argumentative I feel.

* Free e-book: The Element of Fire by Martha Wells. Secondhanded high rec'd.

* Three Catherine Asaro short stories/novellas: Walk in Silence is an SF tale about Lieutenant Colonel Jess Fernández and exemplifies a very carefully and obviously diverse cast telling a moral of interracial conflict. For all its ideological faults as Message Fiction (TM), it's a good read. The Spacetime Pool, a Nebula nominee, is a typical cross-world SF romance; Asaro has done better, but it suffices for what it is. The best of the three, in my opinion--Aurora in Four Voices, a prequel novella to her novel Primary Inversion that tells Soz and Jato's love story; the musical motif is gorgeously done, especially Jato's fugue bird.

* Via [ profile] oyceter, Kali Tal's lengthy critical review of Cybertypes by Lisa Nakamura. Although Nakamura's success happens to be in the area of highest personal interest, I can empathize, having experienced the same frustration as Tal in reading acclaimed African-American studies scholar Cornel West's Democracy Matters.

* For [ profile] yhlee: musician's dice!

* Top 10 reasons to become a librarian. Many of the cited benefits are inaccurate, as I know from talking to actual librarians; but #1 and #3 are why I'm attracted to the field.

* Via yhlee: the ultimate IB test.
keilexandra: Adorable panda with various Chinese overlays. (Default)
Questions and Admissions: Reflections on 100,000 Admissions Decisions at Stanford
by Jean H. Fetter
276 pages (hardcover)
Genre: Nonfiction/Education/College

Fetter was, to my knowledge, one of the first admissions "insiders" to write publicly about college admissions practices that many would have preferred to keep private. Although this book was published in 1995 and competition has increased tenfold since then, it still provides useful insight through an unmatched depth in both analysis and case studies.

For instance, in the 1960s, minority students were judged "outside the competition" along with athletes and faculty children--meeting "basic entrance requirements" but not necessarily "more qualified than all rejected applicants" (93); while increased representation in the applicant pool obviously renders this approach impractical, I wonder to what extent it is still true today (i.e. "special consideration" groups only competing within the group for admission). Fetter once reversed an admissions decision (from denial to acceptance) when it was discovered that the applicant qualified as a faculty dependent; similarly, Stephen Carter was offered law school admission after an initial denial because he "was originally assumed to be white" (103). Daniel Golden's Price of Admission, a much more recent publication, confirms many of these preferences.

Such a comprehensive admissions survey would not be complete without a discussion of affirmative action, and Fetter does so admirably (albeit with some dodging). She cites Ira Glasser's three reasons for AA:
1. legal remedy redressing past/present discrimination
2. temporary compensation of opportunity
3. visible representation of minorities

Of the three justifications for "positive" discrimination, it is worth noting that the Supreme Court has declared #3--the striving for diversity--as the only legal rationale for affirmative action in a college admissions context.

In approx. the 1985-1995 time period, Fetter admits to determining applicant ethnicity from other information (e.g. standardized test records) for special consideration, even if the applicant declined to self-identify on the application: "If a minority student chooses not to self-identify as a member of a minority group to which we give special consideration, should he or she receive that consideration? My opinion is that if we are reasonably sure of the ethnicity, the answer is yes" (103). On pages 106-7, Fetter poses a scenario of 3 unexceptional student hypotheticals from the admissions pool, each middle-class but of three different ethnicities (black, Asian, white). Unfortunately, she never gives a concrete answer as to what decisions she would have made; in subsequent discussion, she does argue that middle-class blacks are still disadvantaged by racism. [Opinionated Note: Asian students are hardly exempt from societal racism, yet because their representation is deemed sufficient, they receive no "special consideration."]

Discussion at length on pages 111-36 using the statement-comment format:

Cut for length )

Fetter's book is 15 years dated, an eternity in college admissions. But for those seeking an in-depth introduction and/or solid grounding in the theory behind college admissions, I highly recommend this.
keilexandra: Adorable panda with various Chinese overlays. (Default)
* H.E.R.B.--Had Enough Religious Bullshit--amuses me.

* As does this humorous dialogue between an atheist and an agnostic.

* I heard on the radio that Justice Souter is retiring? Here's an article on one possible Obama pick to replace him. Look, he's Asian! Wouldn't that be nice, to have the country's first Asian ever (I think) on the Supreme Court.

* Pledge to cut the "r-word" (retard) from your life.

* Article on a white girl adopted by a black family.

* NewFoundSpecFic is seeking submissions, deadline July 5th, 2009. It is automatically nifty for the pun, O my beloved Newfoundland. Sadly, living abroad I don't qualify (must be a resident of Canada, not necessarily a citizen).

* O Canada!

* In praise of learning alphabets, not characters. YES.

* A friendly note on Dreamwidth advocacy.

* [ profile] kate_nepveu makes a detailed post about Dreamwidth that I pretty much second all the way through.

* Ooh, shape notes! Heads-up [ profile] yhlee?

* A Cool Tools review of Finale Allegro.

* From VSL, a modern instrumental composer releases one ditty (doodle? sketch? [ profile] yhlee had a good word for this but I can't remember) a day for a week. All seven are available to download for free.

* Via [ profile] yhlee, neato ultra-small artworks.

* Paper typography!

An Analogy

Apr. 16th, 2009 01:17 am
keilexandra: Adorable panda with various Chinese overlays. (Default)
If affirmative action is a band-aid over a bleeding wound, then the collateral casualties (whites and often Asians) must be the nerve cells of the healthy skin around the wound. Is it important to staunch the bleeding before healing can begin? YES.

But I refuse to believe that the bleeding requires a band-aid to be continually ripped off and replaced, when a piece of gauze and an Ace bandage would suffice.
keilexandra: Adorable panda with various Chinese overlays. (Default)
* I have 3 Dreamwidth invite codes to give out, anyone want? Comment with your email address (comments are screened) and I will update here with the number remaining. ETA: Gone already! That was fast.

* Vermont legalizes gay marriage through a legislative override of a governor veto. [ profile] seth_dickinson is proud, I'm sure.

* Voluntary Human Extinction Movement!

* Via [ profile] yhlee and VSL, a neat musical game called BallDroppings.

* On AmazonFail/TrollWin: [ profile] mac_stone alerts me first to [ profile] markprobst's post, Amazon Follies. [ profile] fireriven then points me to [ profile] rosefox's linkage summary; Dear Author also chimes in. Finally, [ profile] tehdely points out the traits of trolling, Bantown, and similarity to Strikethrough; over at [ profile] brutal_honesty, [ profile] weev claims responsibility for propagating the lulz.

* Via [ profile] netmouse from [ profile] racism_101, an illuminating pictorial comparison of AvatarFail. Racebending has also started a petition.

* Belatedly, the first Asian Women's Carnival is just awesome. I've collected a lot of good stuff from that and previous RaceFail fallout; there's enough for one loooong Link Anthology, even discounting the ones I want to discuss in full-length posts. Haven't decided yet whether the discussion will be flocked.

* In non-activism news, an interesting article about linguistics and speech development, courtesy of StumbleUpon.

* Also via StumbleUpon, trees in stitches!

* ZOMG CUTE Tweenbots--little cardboard robots in NYC--via [ profile] yhlee and others.

* [ profile] nihilistic_kid talks about how to write a term paper.
keilexandra: Adorable panda with various Chinese overlays. (Default)
* ZOMG CUTE GAMES. Orisinal is amazing. Especially check out Winter Bells and Panda Run. SO CUTE.

* Via VSL: click bored. No seriously.

* Also VSL, a bicycle built for two thousand. Music autoplay warning.

* [ profile] fireriven shares her beautiful Postcards from a Traveling Oracle: To Nine Sisters, from Kyoto.

* Over at [ profile] ivoryink, my list of memorable quotes has been updated.

* Via [ profile] yhlee, free soundtrack/writing music: Planescape Torment, complete.

* [ profile] buymeaclue writes a overjoyed, optimistic open letter from Massachusetts to Iowa and Vermont et. al. Also [ profile] diatryma: Iowa has legalized same-sex marriage! We'll see if it survives legislative challenges, but I have hope.

* Via [ profile] yeloson, a ridiculous example of anti-immigrant bias and racism in public school bureaucracy.

* The UNESCO atlas of endangered languages.

* Via [ profile] meganbmoore, mindmelting cuteness. Not interactive, alas; but it's real!
keilexandra: Adorable panda with various Chinese overlays. (Default)
* Happy St. Patty's Day, everyone! Have some (quite a lot, actually) free Celtic music in celebration.

* Over at Dear Author, Jane reviews the absolutely hilarious(ly bad) erotic romance Knight Moves by Jamaica Layne.

* Also via [ profile] telophase, the Houston Zoo unveils a squeeeeeee (aka red panda).

* And again via [ profile] telophase, a so-adorable cat cafe.

* Articles on Tibetan marriage practices and polyandry. I would love to see some fantasy based on this practice.

* Via [ profile] telophase, the Nothing But Nets campaign sends mosquito nets to Africa to prevent malaria. Which reminds me: [ profile] rachelmanija, is there an official nonprofit front for that manga-for-Native-American-reservations charity you promoted a while back? In a little over a month I'll be in a position to choose a service project to support, as my personal "Division Project." As the time draws closer, I'll probably make a separate post seeking suggestions. Malaria nets were heavily promoted just this past year, so I'd like to choose something more obscure.

* The very neat Book Cover Archive.

* From Lifehacker, a simple but beautifully illustrated site for world city weather forecasts.

* Readability may be one of the best bookmarklets ever. Choose your preferred layout, drag the link to your toolbar, and instantly reformat pages for easier reading.

* The classic reading test!

* [ profile] sierrawyndsong writes on pseudononymity from a journalist's perspective--as a matter of public record. Warning for tone. For a different, also semi-expert perspective, Jane from Dear Author discusses the constitutional right to speak anonymously. I can't argue with either about the legal aspect, but I still believe in the ethical aspect--and revealing someone's identity without their permission is simply, purely unethical.

* Naamen writes a moving and painful response to RaceFail '09, Cut #999.

* [ profile] spiralsheep posits a theory on the harassment received by [ profile] mac_stone and [ profile] medievalist.

* Finally, I will make a separate post for this soon because it inadvertently became very very important to me: via [ profile] coffeeandink, at John Scalzi's Whatever, Mary Anne Mohanraj presents a racism 101 primer. Such things are not new; however, as far as I have seen, this part is:
I generally use the definition of racism that argues that in the world we currently live in, everyone’s racist, and when I want to talk about prejudice + institutionalized power, I try to say so explicitly.
Yes, oh yes. For so many reasons.
keilexandra: Adorable panda with various Chinese overlays. (Default)
* From Language Log, an interesting analysis of Zhonglish (the specific Chinese-English creole of China, I presume, as opposed to Chinglish of the West).

* Via [ profile] yhlee, an article on e-publishing in China.

* Tibetans refuse to celebrate the New Year.

* On the atheist community befriending the ex-Muslim. Definitely worth reading from an intersectional perspective.

* A skeptical argument for troll-feeding. I have to agree with this: "I view troll-feeding as a useful tool in the skeptical arsenal--because I owe much of my skeptical "conversion" to reading skeptics' responses to internet trolls."

* Greta Christina on Alternet, presenting 10 Myths and Truths about Atheists. It's a great primer aimed at the totally clueless.

* On being good without God. If you want to call me immoral for possessing relative morality, of course, be my guest. Just don't expect me to pay you much attention.

* Nontheism among Friends (, Society of--aka Quakers). This made me seriously want to try out a meeting sometime, because I do value meditation and silence. But "Quaker atheist" remains somewhat of an oxymoron, especially if one is not born into the faith. And I haven't met many Asian Quakers, either.

* As a rule, I usually don't watch videos online. "Fidelity," however, was a worthwhile and worthy exception. Please click through and judge for yourself. (Warning for liberal bias.)

* And to lighten the mood, Austenbook! Pride and Prejudice as Facebook status updates.
keilexandra: (canada)
I didn't expect to see the inauguration live, but I did--a lucky coincidence of class scheduling. I was struck by Barack Obama's inclusion of "non-believers" in his list of American faiths; it was an ironic moment in a ceremony of barely veiled religious pageantry. The "invocation" (aka prayer) by Rick Warren, "So help me God" in both Congressional and Presidential oaths, the noticeable shortening of Obama's middle name (Hussein) to simply "H." for fear of alluding to the oh-so-hated Islam--America is still a Christian nation, just as it was until today a white nation. I don't think I will ever live to see an openly atheist or agnostic President take the Oath of Office. I have been honored to witness the inauguration of the first President of color, and I have hope that the first female President is not far behind. But a non-Christian, an atheist President? That is still a pipe dream. Religion is too important to the everyday American. I can only leave it for the next generation to hope.
keilexandra: Adorable panda with various Chinese overlays. (Default)
[ profile] mac_stone has started [ profile] diversity2009, the much-ballyhooed "Summer of Diversity" project. I think it is a worthwhile endeavor and I am supporting it. Given the comments on [ profile] mac_stone's original post, I want to share exactly why I am promoting the project.

Disclaimer: I do not know [ profile] mac_stone's or the other organizers' history in the POC community. But I don't think it matters, just as I despise Orson Scott Card's political views but still keep his books on my TBR list. As I said in the comments of this post: x+1 is greater than x.

Perhaps [ profile] mac_stone is flaunting white privilege by beginning this project, as many have charged. So? Perhaps [ profile] mac_stone is in serious need of Anti-Racism 101. So? Perhaps [ profile] mac_stone is as arrogant and misguided as [ profile] pnh or that Helix editor who sparked Transcriptase. So?
(ETA: Edited to clarify the purpose of my comparison, using only the extreme example.)

Assuming that x represents the sum total of all efforts to promote diversity, I believe that [ profile] diversity2009 is at least x+1. This may be a small net contribution in comparison to [ profile] ibarw, for instance; but it is a positive contribution nevertheless, and it has the chance to become more than just x+1. Why does the organizer's unconscious bias matter? This is a worthwhile project (and in fact [ profile] mac_stone has offered to step down from the helm, implicitly in favor of a POC), even if it was founded by white people for white people, which is debatable. The POC community talks a lot about recruiting white allies; maybe it's time to actually recruit, which means reaching out to people who don't approach you first and who might disagree with you utterly at first. It means giving the 101 spiel more times than you care to count, it means being frustrated at people's naivete and unconscious privilege but not blowing up at them because of your experiences with other white people. It means answering the same "stupid questions" over, and over, and over again, until you burn out--and if/when you burn out, please keep it to yourself because your caustic comments do not help. I find some people's attitude akin to that in affirmative action regarding Asian students; you're too much like everyone else of your race, so you don't deserve equal consideration.

Be suspicious if you like; but give everyone the benefit of the doubt. I am saddened by the attitude in some of the comments, implying that only POC or "proven" white allies have authority to disagree. If I were not a person of color with a "track record" in anti-racism, I suspect this post would be received quite differently than the anticipated intelligent discussion and disagreement. But why does my race give me more freedom to disagree? We are Other; please, do not "other" those who are not Other, for that truly is racism, too. (For the record, I do not believe that racism requires power, nor that institutionalized racism is the only valid kind.)

That's all. Comments are unmoderated because I have hope in human civility.

ETA2: Also, for those who are interested and have a lot of time to spare, [ profile] rydra_wong's humungous linklist.

ETA3: And an interesting post on the privilege of politeness. I don't entirely agree--POC have a right to be angry, but they are not the ONLY people with that right. And like any civilized human being, of any race, we have the societal duty to be polite. Racism power imbalances should not change that.
If I were to say something sexist/classist/racist/ablist/etc. I would not expect my friends to say “Well I’m offended by what you said and let’s have a calm discussion of why.”

Among my friends and hopefully among strangers, I would indeed expect just that--a civil discussion that avoids emotion to what extent that is possible. And as the post says, there is a difference between anger and insults; to me, "racist asshole" is an insult regardless of how well it may be corroborated. You can be angry and polite at the same time. Really. I promise you, I have lots of experience with the apparent oxymoron.
keilexandra: Adorable panda with various Chinese overlays. (Default)
* I have not a lot to say about the Great Cultural Appropriation Debate of DOOM, as [ profile] oyceter so aptly named it. [ profile] rilina has a nice links round-up, to which I will add truepenny's excellent post. I'm truly on the fence about this one, as I can see both sides--I think Bear failed to take her character beyond token, but I also respect her inclusion of the character as a person. Maybe I'm just too cynical to be offended? I don't know and my brain is kind of broken right now (for unrelated reasons); there's only so much I can multi-task and an affirmative action debate on a different forum has used up all of my Argument Energy.

* [ profile] hawkwing_lb on being Irish. This particular part hit home with me:
I can speak in English, but in Irish I am mute.

I have no ear for it. I have no tongue for it. In my mouth it becomes clunky and without music, full of awkward solecisms and embarrassed pauses.

* [ profile] tithenai on Gaza and the Palestinian perspective. As I said in her comments, I really don't know enough to make a judgment either way--and I'm not hiding a pro-Israeli stance behind that, either, because I had the classic don't-give-a-shit Asian upbringing.

* Via [ profile] afuna, Dreamwidth Studios is working on a radical fork of the LJ source, founded by [ profile] synecdochic on the small-business ethic. I have great hopes.

* An insightful discussion of ebooks from a blog-site with the coolest name ever.

* On utility monopolies. This, folks, is why I'm socialist and proud of it (well, other than being Canadian and not understanding why Americans hate socialism so much).

* Apple has taken iTunes DRM-free, with a catch--each file is embedded with the purchaser's name and email address. Given that they haven't exactly disclosed this distribution of information, I am unenthused. I wonder how long it will take for someone to come out with a program to strip the identifying information. And, does this information stay with the file if you convert to mp3? I wasn't aware that mp3s had that kind of secret-info capability.

Finally, that book meme going around the flist again--I just happen to have the BEST BOOK EVAR sitting closest. Really.

Grab the book nearest you. Right now. Turn to page 56. Find the fifth sentence. Post that sentence along with these instructions in your LiveJournal. Don't dig for your favorite book, the coolest, the most intellectual. Use the CLOSEST.

But what was important to me, when I read the Gospels, was less what Jesus said about God or a possible life after death (indeed, he said relatively little on the subject) than what he said about humanity and life on earth.

'Tis The Little Book of Atheist Spirituality by André Comte-Sponville, of course. (Okay, I did cheat a tiny bit by not counting a partial sentence at the top of the page, because this sentence was so much cooler than the other possibility.)
keilexandra: Adorable panda with various Chinese overlays. (Default)
Some of these have been sitting in my bookmarks for a while, so I'll try to mention the new stuff first.

* Wyrding Studios is having an end-of-year clearance sale! I have my eye on Skylit Revisited #6, a gorgeous choker-style necklace; but I don't really need to spend $50 on a necklace when I hardly wear the jewelry I already own, so someone else go buy it and remove the temptation.

* Two great stories from Strange Horizons: Meredith Schwartz's How to Hold Your Breath, which packs quite a lot into under 700 words; and a lovely modern fairy-tale from Elizabeth Bear, Love Among the Talus (Mongolian-inspired worldbuilding is a bonus).

* The NYT publishes an interesting college admissions Q&A with reps from Yale University, Pomona College, Lawrence University, and the University of Texas - Austin. It's a representative mix and a good portion of the responses are enlightening; the other portion is amusing in its dodge-the-intent tactics.

* I haven't read Cherryh, but apparently her novels feature an unusual common theme--the rape of men.

* If you haven't seen it already: Every Fanfic Ever Written.

* [ profile] vagabond_sal summarizes, with a brief anecdote, the Avatar casting issue. [ profile] shati does the same with a smiley face. And here's how you can help. --I did say some of these links were old.

* *bounce* Also also, people other than my recipient like my Yuletide story! I am so happy inside, because I do like it myself (which is rare). No link, of course, although I welcome guesses. I limit myself to offering only fandoms whose canon I own, which is a decidedly short but secretive list. (And I'm so curious about my own mystery author, because the prose and the characters are just. Perfect.)
keilexandra: Adorable panda with various Chinese overlays. (Default)
* An old TIME article called Between Two Worlds, on feeling like the hyphen in Asian-American.

* Greta Christina's obligatory Sarah Palin column, or, Why I Don't Care About A Pregnant 17 Year Old.

* Greta Christina again (her blogging is quite link-worthy!) in defense of atheist blogging.

* If you don't like gay marriage, don't have one. Really.

* On "militant" atheists, a term that I like to think I've redefined a la Gloria Naylor and Christine Leong with nigger and chink respectively.

* EXPOSED: Gravity is absurd, and here's why.

* From [ profile] shadowhelm, a 12/15 step guide to gaining good writing habits. I really need to follow this advice.

Also, sorry for the abundance of controversial/trigger-issue links recently.
keilexandra: Adorable panda with various Chinese overlays. (Default)
The Mango Season
by Amulya Malladi
229 pages (hardcover)
Genre: Fiction/Literary/Romance

Like My Name Is Sei Shōnagon, Malladi's novel tells a story that I identify with personally. Priya Rao left India at age 20 to study in the U.S., and now she's returning after seven years--to announce her engagement to Nick Collins, an American man. India, her homeland, is overwhelmingly foreign, even the mangoes that she loved so much as a child. And as Priya's parents plot an arranged marriage to a "nice Indian boy" (preferably rich and Telugu Brahmin), Priya's fear of her family's reaction leads inevitably to disaster.

Malladi isn't afraid to deal with conflict--with interracial romance, racism, culture clash, duty, and tradition. Priya is shocked by her family's blatant racism and expectation that despite her rebellious attitude, she will ultimately conform. And she loves them, all of them--her inability to truly stand up to her mother drove me nuts, in fact--but she also loves Nick. The plot revolves fundamentally around Priya's reconciliation of her roles as lover and family, West and East.

In reading, I was constantly struck by the parallels that I drew between traditional Indian and Chinese cultures. Although China has much less emphasis on religion and is, in the modern day, more free regarding arranged marriages, there is definitely pressure to marry a nice Chinese boy and stay home to raise children. The extended family is very important in both cultures--at one point, Priya asks her mother to treat her with respect and receives this answer: "You are too young to gain my respect and you have done nothing so far to gain it....Children respect their parents [and] that is all there is to it" (89). And the scary part is that my parents have told me essentially the same thing. Another moment that echoed strongly:

"Most first-generation Indians in the United States only had friends who were Indians. I had never thought I would be any different. I had started out with only Indian friends but my circle grew as I grew. Now I was in a place where I didn't think in terms of Indian friends and American friends, just friends. I had somewhere down the line stopped looking at skin color. (213)

Ironically, for me it was almost the opposite experience. I grew up in a sheltered and overwhelmingly white environment, so I had no choice but to befriend white kids. And when I moved to a place that did have a critical mass of Asians, I still distinguish mentally between "Chinese friends" and "school friends" (some of the latter are fully assimilated Asian-American, which makes a difference). While Priya and I are different, she is of any novel I have ever read the character most similar to me. I empathize easily with protagonists no matter their heritage, but I was engrossed in Priya's internal conflict with almost painful understanding.

And the end of The Mango Season, which I accidentally spoiled myself for, also lobs a last surprise revelation at the reader that forces a reconsideration of everything preceding. I do so love twist endings. Mulladi has a knack for realism, too--this novel sounds and feels like a memoir, the characters' voices are so real.
keilexandra: Adorable panda with various Chinese overlays. (Default)
* Do teachers influence blackness?

* Thoughts on poverty in America, complete with charts and hard data.

* Greta Christina on evangelical atheism. Thought-provoking.

* Also, on anonymity and manners on the Internet. I agree, of course, or I wouldn't expend effort in blogging (i.e. during [ profile] ibarw).


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January 2011



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