I came across this somewhat self-serving article by Republican Michelle Park Steel the other day in AsianWeek, The New [Asian American] Face of the [California] Grand Old Party, it’s exciting to read the increasing involvement of Asian Americans in public service:
“For the first time in California history, Asian Americans hold four out of the five [elected] seats on the [State Board of Equalization] board, with three of the five members Asian American women.”
John Chiang, who formerly was on the Board of Equalization, is now California’s highest ranking elected Asian American, as State Controller,formerly held by Steve Westley. I’ve complained in the past about the lack of Asian American involvement in politics, so it’s exciting to see that we’re getting more involved. In fact, in a UCLA study released last year (2006), “Asian Americans Called the New ‘Sleeping Giant’ in California Politics.” I’m glad Asian Americans are waking up!
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He cites a BBC article which compares questions from British and Chinese math tests. Says the article:
A glance at the two questions reveals how much more advanced is the maths teaching in China, where children learn the subject up to the age of 18.
Dave uses his own experiences as an Asian American to speculate upon the reasons he believes Asians are better at math:
While I do agree with Dave’s assessment overall, I wonder if there is more to it? One article suggests that Chinese language and English language speakers calculate problems differently; that language seems to have a role in this. We could probably make this list miles long, but I think a key factor missing from the list is effort. I think Asians just try harder and put in more effort (than say Americans). Yes, that may because their parents expect them to, because the of the level of the curriculum, as well as the oppressive school systems… the end result is more effort put into math, in my opinion.
Heck, remove something as subjective as effort, what about time? I’m sure we could pull up studies about how many more hours Asians spend in school, doing homework, or even practice calculations. (Did you ever have to do practice calculations? My Mom used to buy math workbooks and made us do tons of problems on top of our regular homework.)
(On a sidenote, Dave’s post has 732 diggs as of right now and a ton of comments there… first comment: “Too bad math doesn’t help when you’re behind the wheel.” An Asian driver joke. Nice.)
I’m sure there’s more I’m not even thinking of right now. What other reasons contribute to Asian excellence in math?
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I nearly lost my voice putting this podcast together as I’m currently suffering through an onslaught of allergies that have decided to invade my sinuses and tighten my throat. Thankfully, most of this week’s show is an interview I did earlier in the week with the filmmakers of GIRLS ROCK, (www.girlsrockmovie.com) a documentary having its world premiere here in Toronto at the HOT DOCS Documentary Film Festival (www.hotdocs.ca).
All Girl Rockin music this week with Bada, BoA and new Lexy plus indie rock band Kokeshi Doll and much more interesting finds in the world of Asian rock music and music produced by Asian female artists.
For playlists please visit www.POPcast88.com and don’t forget to enter in your chance to win a DVD boxed set of Korean Drama ‘Spring Waltz’ with English Subtitles in our CAPTION THIS contest.
For comments, feedback, suggestions and requests please email them to christine [at] popcast88.com or you can leave a comment at www.POPcast88.com.
Sunday’s New York Times Magazine examined the Overseas Filipino Worker phenomenon by chronicling the Comodases, a Filipino family now spanning two generations of members leaving the Philippines to work abroad, hoping to reach “the ultimate” United States.
I read this article with a heavy heart because in it, I see both the best and most frustrating aspects of my people: their balls-to-the-wall-for-family spirit, and the “they speak English and take orders” good little colonized brother/sister stereotype fostered by overseas employers.
I’ve never thought of the docile brown servant stereotype as accurate. Sometimes it only takes a certain detachment to take orders. However, it takes true nerve to suck it up and leave your children for sometimes years at a time in order to live in a foreign land where you are often defenseless against human rights violations, religious persecution and false imprisonment. All this in the hope that your children won’t have to do as you did; and that you won’t languish in regret or alienation when they don’t even recognize you.
Suffering from a post-modern case of ennui or angst about career choices or being a model minority? Reading the article may prove an effective remedy. It makes “the mommy war” seem like a privilege (my opinion: IT IS).
After I finished reading the NYT piece, politics and economic theories aside, a thought lingered that I suspect might be similar to what the Comodases think of all those OFW’s, including themselves: “They did the best they could.”
What would you do?
Some time ago, between the insanity of what has been called the deadliest shooting in modern U.S. history and its impact on Asian-Americans in respect to self-identity, media portrayal, cultural responsibility and mental illness, a truly monumental and tragic event took place last Thursday, barely getting any front-page media coverage.
I am referring, of course, to Sanjaya Malikar being voted off American Idol.
Okay, so the first paragraph might have a tad bit of sarcasm, but I’m a pop culture junkie, so hear me out: Sanjaya was the first contestant of Asian decent since Jasmine “OMG Flower In My Hair” Trias to make the Top 12. His singing talent was, uhm, questionable, but the conspiracy theories behind him remaining in the competition were downright absurd, from Howard Stern’s “vote for the worst” campaign to how people in Indian call-centers were voting for him en masse, never mind that phone lines only open for a couple of hours after the show and India is, oh, a million time zones away. If anything, the conspiracy theories probably helped his cause due to America’s tendency to side with the underdog (that, and crying 13 year old girls.)
Hell, according to this ABC News Article, people in India didn’t seem to want him as an American Idol; hell, look at the headline – “Indians Say Good Riddance to Sanjaya.” (Although by the phrase “didn’t want him,” they probably meant “couldn’t give a rat’s ass.” Just a cursory glance at an Indian Idol performance and you immediately understand that people in India couldn’t give a shit if a 17 year old kid sang Besame Mucho or not.)
I wouldn’t feel too bad for Sanjaya, however; he’s been doing the talk show circuit, been spotted at the White House Correspondents’ Association Dinner and travels with security, paparazzi and an entourage. And considering that the most memorable Asian-American to perform on American Idol has been William Hung up to this point, that’s not such a horrible thing.
Is it me, or is the media’s reporting of the Virginia Tech “massacre” referring to Cho Seung-Hui rather than Seung-Hui Cho is really starting to bother me! I caught a part of CNN’s Special Reports – “Massacre at Virginia Tech” this afternoon, and CNN kept on referring to Seung-Hui Cho as Cho Seung-Hui.
This really bothered me after a while, especially after CNN showed the receipt of one of the guns that Seung-Hui had bought, where he had written his name as “Seung Cho.” Why does this bother me and a lot of Asian-Americans? Because this is not only how Seung-Hui Cho referred to himself (besides the times he signed into class as “?”), but because Cho Seung-Hui is the direct Korean translation and is “foreign.” As Claire had commented on the NPR opinion piece, “Cho Lived and Died as an American,” Seung-Hui was living the immigrant experience that many Asian-Americans have been living.
Sure, Seung-Hui still was a South Korean, but he had emigrated with his family when he was 8 years old, and lived over 15 years in the United States and had his green card. I know plenty of Koreans and Korean-Americans living in the United States that are in their 20’s and 30’s, and NONE of them go by their family name first and given name last.
When Seung-Hui’s sister, Sun-Kyung Cho, released a statement on behalf of the entire family, the news media correctly refers to Sun-Kyung in the proper order: given name, family name Sun-Kyung Cho – NOT Cho Sun-Kyung.
So I guess I just have to attribute the misnaming” of Seung-Hui Cho by the news media as just plain ignorance or laziness, or both! I guess that’s no surprise, but still very annoying.
In the online English version of The Chosun Ilbo‘s (The Korean Daily News – South Korea’s largest newspaper) article, Virginia Tech Killer’s E-Mail, Phone Records to be Scrutinized (4/23/07), at the end is an Editor’s Note:
“English.chosun.com has so far used “Cho Seung-hui” for the shooter’s name in the Korean format of the surname followed by the given name. This is also the format initially provided by the local police and school officials earlier last week. But out of respect for the family’s preference for the Americanized format of the given name + surname, as expressed in a statement in AP, we will hereafter use “Seung-hui Cho” instead of “Cho Seung-hui.” “
Even a South Korean newspaper, corrected itself in the English version of its website.
So I hope that in the near future, the news media will correctly identify Cho Seung-Hui as Seung-Hui Cho.
How would you like it if YOUR name, was reversed and reported by the news media? (hopefully for something good, rather than bad!). How would CNN reporters Paula Zahn and Wolf Blitzer like to be called Zahn Paula and Blitzer Wolf? I’m sure Larry King wouldn’t mind being called King Larry, and who the hell knows if Anderson Cooper should be Cooper Anderson (what kind of name is that – sounds foreign to me either way? 🙂
Yesterday, CNN Newsroom aired a special report on the Virginia Tech shooting that took place last Monday. The Korean and Korean American communities’ responses to the shooting became a primary focus of the report, which presented them as feeling “a lot of shame, a lot of guilt . . . they feel it that way because it is a Korean person that has done it.” A professor at UCLA commented on the general sentiments of Korean students at his campus with “they feel really uncomfortable and they’re very embarrassed.” When the reporter interviewed the shooter’s great aunt, Kim Yang-Soon, she said, “Who would have known he would cause such trouble, the idiot?”
The Korean and Korean American communities (we could very well generalize here and say the Asian Diaspora as a whole) shirk from blame or scrutiny by trying desperately to appear agreeable (read: “Remember? We’re the model minority. The rest of us are good Samaritans, not psycho killers.”). We want to separate ourselves from Cho by pointing out all the differences and playing down the similarities. I want to celebrate those similarities and let Cho know, if he could hear us from beyond the grave, that we did and do care, and we love him.
Dissociating Cho from our community reveals our cowardice, placing an emphasis on self-regard over convergence and solidarity. In our signature passive-aggressive way, we insist to the world, “This was not our fault.” Wrong. This was our fault. Those of us who are Americans and even more specifically those of us who are Asian Americans need to assume responsibility for what happened. We did not reach out to Cho Seung-Hui and I contend that a deep-rooted internalized tension between Americanized Asians and “FOBs” (Fresh Off the Boat), or newly-arrived immigrant Asians, meant Cho felt even more ostracized and isolated from the rest of America. Ultimately, the white-washing of Asian American identity contributed to the pain and suffering of Cho that, in the end, put him over the brink of sanity.
Depending on where in North America you’re from, Spring has Sprung and we’re kicking it off with a contest. We’ve got ten DVD boxed sets of the hit Korean Drama “SPRING WALTZ” – English subtitled with Special Features thanks to the good folks at YA Entertainment.
To win all you gotta do is be creative and caption the photo – to which our panel of 10 judges will point and laugh at your entry and then decide who gets it.
Enter as many times as you like.
Got it? Ready … here we go!
With the recent media barrage of the Virginia Tech killer Seung Cho – with the images and video of the killer plastered on MSNBC and the slight fear and dread that this will all turn into an iconic image similar to a jet plane crashing over and over again into the World Trade Center – there’s also been increased coverage of his history with mental illness; a 2005 detention order stating that officials have “probable cause to believe … [that Cho] is mentally ill and in need of hospitalization, and presents an imminent danger to self or others as a result of mental illness, or is seriously mentally ill as to be substantially unable to care for” himself.
To me, it just brings up the issue of Asian immigrants, Asian Americans and the stigma of mental illness. Of course, most people who are mentally ill do not commit violent acts, but it’s a subject that hits close to home because I have a sister that has been diagnosed with bipolar schizophrenia. While I’m not going to speak on behalf on all Asian-Americans (Christ, when have I ever?) I can tell you that the idea of mental illness is something difficult for my family to accept, even to this day; the “public face” is a big deal in Chinese culture, and the concept of psychologists and psychiatrists are relatively unfamiliar at best, and “weird” and “foreign” at worst. Only when the situation is dire (In my case, its when my sister ran away from home at 23 to meet someone she met in her mind) does the situation get the attention it deserves; by then, it might be too little, too late.
I am a PhD student in Computer Science. My academic advisor is Dr. Adrian Sandu.
I obtained a Master’s degree in Applied Mathematics from Michigan Technological University, and a Master’s degree in Computer Science from University of Windsor. My previous research interests were integral methods applied to image reconstruction and security authorization for computational grids. My current reserach interests are the scientific computation and high performance computing.
I am working on the uncertainty quantification using polynomial chaos for Atmospherical Chemical Transport Model (CTM) as a research assistant.
On 4/16/07, she became a hero, saving the lives of the students in the class she was substitute teaching.
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(this was originally posted in my personal blog in April 2007)
this washington post article actually asks some interesting questions. they are good questions, ones i have no answers to.
the question i have to extend is one about boundaries, about our limits in imagining the forms that violence can occupy. the author of the above writes thusly:
“All the cheap rage, all the macho posturing of a demented boy is condensed in that image. A young man holds out his arms, at eye level, each hand covered in a dark glove, each holding a gun. He wears a vest that looks vaguely military, and his eyes are set in a steely rage. A black cap, turned backwards, covers a shaved head, as if he meant to doubly annihilate his personality.”
but what exactly makes Cho’s presentation mere “posturing”? on what grounds can we qualify his rage as “cheap”? surely we can all agree that the costs of Cho’s “posturing” amount to some of the highest in recent history: 33 lives. highest toll ever in a school related shooting. if his rage were so cheap, it wouldn’t be making headlines.
if murdering 33 people in 2 separate killing sprees is “posturing”, it is hard to see how one might lay a claim to “the real thing”
from the introductory paragraph:
“It is chilling that we recognize this pose, that is so deeply a part of our society, that a profoundly disaffected young man reached for its simple form — a mixture of arms spread to menace and arms spread as if in expectation of crucifixion. The American Rage image so often brings with it that narcissism, that mix of grievance and anger.”
it seems to me that part of the panic over this event stems from a fear that this “American Rage image” (a tropological figure of christian redemption, nihilism, and anticommunitarianism) has had its iconicity shattered by the illegibility of a boy who we now know felt much more than he cared to show. and while idiot NBC reporters keep insisting on homogenizing-slash-“honkeying up” the social field (“college is all about football and being loud in clubs! i’ve never heard of an introvert IN COLLEGE! impossible!”), what i can’t help wondering is if, had the video footage contained a similarly stiff inarticulate white man, would the words “posturing” and “cheap” be falling from reporter’s mouths? would it be “posturing” if it were a black man with a gun?
what is chilling is not that we recognize such an icon. what is chilling is that such an icon is racially marked, that the media continues to reinscribe it as such even as it is being blown apart.
what is chilling is that the power behind such an image cannot, in the minds of the american public, cannot possibly be wielded by persons with almond eyes even after it clearly just was
This excerpt of NPR’s All Things Considered makes me want to invite host Robert Siegel over for one of my mother’s homecooked multi-course Filipino dinners; I’m that impressed with what he has to say. I insist that you listen to the whole thing before you read on here. If you don’t have the capability to listen, let me know and I will buy the freaking transcript, that’s how strongly I feel about his commentary. (UPDATE: My awesome 8asian colleague John has transcribed the piece. Read it after the jump.)
You’re back? Okay, let’s discuss. I, for one, would like to thank Mr. Siegel for going on the air and pointing out that his own children and Cho had something in common: they all grew up as American kids, attending public school in Northern Virginia. More importantly, I applaud Mr. Siegel for making the point that Cho may have been born in Korea, but he was just as American as the killers from Columbine.
Based on my personal experience, I’d concur with Mr. Siegel. I immigrated to the U.S. at around the same age as Cho (he was eight, I was seven). Well before my college years, my identity as an American was cemented, perhaps even stronger at times than my Filipino identity. This is why the immediate media focus on Cho’s immigration status struck me as just plain unnecessary and possibly inflammatory. I agree with Joz’s previous post: when you don’t know the identity of the shooter, sure, describe him: Asian, tall, short, whatever. But what exactly did his immigration status have to do with anything other than perhaps an underlying climate of fear that “a foreigner,” as I heard one VT eyewitness describe Cho, is in America to do harm. Or, was it perhaps just a biographical point of interest for a reporter? I admit that I don’t want to be sure, maybe because I don’t want confirmation that it is indeed something more insidious than a biographical gem.
After scanning foreign headlines, Mr. Siegel laments that those who would identify Cho as Korean (instead of just a LOCAL from a nearby suburb) are “people who don’t know this country, don’t get this country.” I fear that it is not only foreign news agencies who don’t know this country or get it, but also some of my fellow Americans. The thing some Americans might not get? It’s often fundamentally American not to be exclusively American. The majority of us, whether it was five generations or one flight ago, are from somewhere foreign. I do not believe this makes us less American.