In recent years, there has been a good deal of talk about the rising importance of the Chinese market. Companies hold seminars on how to conduct business in China. Many of my American friends took Mandarin classes. Given the attention, I am surprised at the relative lack of web sites made in Silicon Valley focusing around the Chinese market; the blogosphere proliferates with coverage on US-centric products.
Recently my college friend and I made a web site to accumulate user reviews and photos of Chinese hotels. In going through this process, I came up with a few thoughts on the pros and cons of making a software project focused on the Chinese market.
A couple of the benefits:
A few thoughts on the challenges:
There are other perks and obstacles that I haven’t addressed. If you have thoughts on this subject, please chime in on the comments!
Niniane is the co-creator of hotelfoo.com. Previously she worked as an engineering manager at Microsoft and Google. She resides in Mountain View, California.
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You may have read a few weeks ago that Current.TV reporters Euna Lee and Laura Ling (sister of Lisa Ling), were detained in North Korea, as their guide reportedly lead the two across the border into North Korea accidentally while Lee and Ling were reporting on North Korean defectors crossing the border into China. The incident has now escalated: Lee and Ling have been imprisoned and interrogated the past few weeks and now being charged by the North Korean government, according to reports:
“Two American journalists detained in North Korea will be indicted and tried on charges of perpetrating “hostile acts” against the Communist state, a crime punishable by years in a labor camp, the North’s state-run news agency reported on Tuesday. Pyongyang’s decision to put Laura Ling and Euna Lee on trial signaled that the regime has no intention of freeing them soon.”
I’ve always been fascinated by North Korea, and it’s easy to make fun of Kim Jung Il, but its incidents like this that continue to reinforce in my mind that North Korea is one of the most dangerous and unpredictable governments and regimes in the world. North Korea has always been, in my mind, a more dangerous threat to stability than Iraq and Iran and have demonstrated that since the detonation of a nuclear weapon back in 2006. Since the United States doesn’t have direct diplomatic relationship with North Korea, the U.S. is going through Sweden, which does have an embassy in Pyongyang, to resolve this issue. I’m not sure what we as Americans can do to help in the release of Lee and Ling, but my prayers are certainly with them and their families and their hopeful safe and quick return.
This past weekend, Korean Hip-Hop group Epik High independently released their new book/album Map the Soul via their website. Similar to Radiohead’s release of In Rainbows which was released on their website and allowed each fan to pay as little or as much as they want, the release of Map the Soul is a celebration of their fans, the freedom of independent music, and the arts. It’s quickly been heralded as a success for those very reasons; the loyalty these guys show to their fans is ridiculous. They remain true to their art despite their success and it’s very admirable.
Even though I don’t personally understand or speak Korean, Epik High remains one of my favorite groups because their music translates beyond the barriers of language. You can hear the emotion and dedication they put into the work just by listening to the way they rap or their rhymes.
So to say that I was a bit disappointed when I heard this is sort of an understatement. Warning: There is explicit language in the following clip.
It addresses a similar issue addressing racial satire posted by Yan and begs the question: when does racially motivated humor — or any humor involving race, sexual orientation, gender, and so on — stop being funny and become offensive? I personally find Carlos Mencia to be offensive, but I find Russell Peters and Dave Chappelle to be funny due to the way they present their material, but if you don’t buy that, Thea Lim at Racialicious posts on why she thinks Russell Peters stopped being funny and became offensive in his newest act, and I buy it. Thea claims that when the “jokes” lack a certain punchline, they become inappropriate and inadequate blows at certain behavior and stereotypes of a certain group of people; the joke isn’t the refusal to help the man with his t-shirt order — that wouldn’t be very funny and would be quite mean — but in the man’s accent and their interpretation and play off that man’s accent. I think this skit is inherently offensive and not funny. It is a “joke” without a punchline.
This reaffirms two beliefs for me: that the line between humor and offensiveness is ridiculously gray and is dependent upon very vague and unspecific guidelines of both race and humor, and that the term “Asian American” is way too broad. We don’t notice it when Russell Peters does it because we categorize South Asians differently from East Asians. (And let’s be honest, not many people do.) But here, it’s a conflict between Koreans/Korean Americans and Chinese/Chinese Americans, and while we have many cultural similarities, there are also countless cultural and lingual barriers. Tanzila Ahmed, AngryAsianMan’s reader of the week criticizes those “Folks doing APIA work that doesn’t include South Asian or Pacific Islander groups, but still [claim] that they are pan-APIA.” I don’t make that claim, but I should and am going to start to be more aware (the first step was to visit a community blog she is a part of, Sepia Mutiny).
But does this mean we should start independent struggles and fights for social justice? No, but there should be a greater awareness of the cultural differences between the sub-categories of “Asian American.” Does that mean I hate Epik High or, like Tommy Brothers — responsible for the Dartmouth mishap — think that they are “hateful” or “racist?” No, Epik High has great music, and the average citizen of the world probably couldn’t care less and would probably scoff at this post, but that doesn’t mean it isn’t wrong.
Supporters of Proposition 8 in California argued that it didn’t take away any rights from same sex couples, and couples could still get domestic partnerships. This was of course little comfort to the 18,000+ couples that already married in California after the California Supreme Court made same sex marriages legal in 2008. While same sex marriage in California didn’t provide the ability for same sex partners to sponsor a spouse for immigration to the United States, there was hope it would bring that possibility one step closer to reality. This week that hope faded for one California Bay Area couple. Jay Mercado and her partner Shirley Tan were informed that Shirley would be deported on April 3, separating her from her partner of 23 years and their 12 year old twin boys. It wasn’t due to lack of trying on their part. The couple had started petitioning for Shirley, a citizen of the Philippines, to stay in the U.S. in 1995, and had married under California’s short-lived summer of marriage, but without same sex marriage recognition under federal law, the U.S. government ordered Shirley’s deportation.
It’s tragic enough a couple of 23 years is going to be split apart, but I can’t even imagine how it’s affecting their 12 year old twin boys who have known Jay and Shirley as their two parents for their entire lives. Congress is considering changing immigration laws to allow “permanent partners” apply for residency, but it’s too late for this couple, and it still faces an uphill battle before it becomes law.
If you can’t tell, I’m an avid supporter of same sex marriage, and not only because of immigration rights. I’m in a same sex marriage with my partner of seven years and we have a daughter that we brought into the world together who is fast approaching four years of age. Our own status is in limbo with Proposition 8, but even without it, I have plenty to worry about.
Every time my partner goes on a trip with our daughter, I wonder if they’ll get harassed at the airport, if they’ll even be able to get on the airplane together. We have yet to take our daughter on an international trip, but already I wonder if we’ll be able to make it back into the United States. In an attempt to reduce travel hassles, I make them travel with a copy of our daughter’s birth certificate, which lists me as the father, and my partner Lars as the mother (in California, surrogacy allows same sex parents to be the “parents of record” on the birth certificate, but unfortunately the certificate itself is a bit outdated).
Under current U.S. law, you cannot take a minor outside the U.S. without the consent of both parents. International travel is actually easier if only one of us travels with our daughter, as that parent can carry a notarized page from the other stating it was okay for the two to travel outside the U.S. I know of another gay couple who are both legally the parents of their kids, and on coming into the U.S. from Mexico were repeatedly harassed by the immigration personnel asking the two women, where the “father” of the children was. In the end they got back in the U.S., but you have to wonder what their kids thought through the entire ordeal. Because of harassment like this, I’ve even heard it recommended that if you travel as a family, that you go through customs separately, one parent with a notarized letter with the child/children, and the other parent by themselves.
Updated immigration laws to recognize same sex relationships wouldn’t solve these problems by itself, but it would help establish equal recognition, and perhaps reduce cases like Shirley and Jay’s, where no one has argued, it’s the children who have suffered the most from outdated laws.
My friend works for OASES (Oakland Asian Students Educational Services), a non-profit org geared towards empowering youth who have limited resources, particularly those in the Asian and Pacific Islander communities of Oakland through providing educational services and social support. Help support their 1-week fundraising drive which ends this Tuesday.
OASES is out to win the Razoo March Goodness Contest, where you can donate to OASES and help secure a $10,000 grant for their youth.
With your support, your simple $10 dollar donation to OASES could potentially be turned into $10,000 dollars! Their goal is to have over 500 supporters before the March 31 deadline; go to www.oases.org and click on the “March Goodness” donate now button.
Please share this cause with friends and family. OASES thanks you for your support!
People that go to Yale University live in another Universe. While most students at other school are clearly content with beating their own pledges (or killing the pledges at other fraternities), undergrads at Yale join weird fucking societies with skulls on them, and the rest join a capella groups. The Mixed Company of Yale is one such singing group, and a recently released “parody video” of Beyonce’s Single Ladies — called Single Asians — surfaced to the general WTFness of the Internet. Moye posted the link to the e-mail list, where it received the following response:
Moye: Is this old? I’ve never seen it before. It’s like the unfunniest thing ever.
Joz: I give it 9 lame points on a scale of 6.
John: Ha ha ha… I think this is hilarious. The women aren’t great dancers, but I like the concept and give an A for effort… even if the execution isn’t so great.
Christine: WOW, why do I feel like I’ve just been thrown back to early 90’s HK pop? And we ALL know how bad that is. Unfortunately, I don’t even find it clever enough to label it parody. I’m with Joz, what was the point of this anyway?
Andy: “We from Beijing, we dry cleaning, and practice viorin” I think I’m in luv.
Moye: Don’t you mean “ruv?”
My $0.02: never mind the fact that I’m the editor of a blog about Asian American issues; you meet me in person and I’m probably one of the most politically incorrect people you’ve ever met. Of course, context has to be applied for when stuff is or isn’t appropriate, but my general rule is that if it’s really funny, a lot can slide me without being offensive. And guess what? This isn’t funny at all; it’s cringe-worthy and doesn’t pull off the irony and sarcasm of other parody videos. And the girl on the left is totally off.
PS: Also, black prom dresses? Really? Do they not have Bedazzlers in New Haven?
Those who talk to me on a regular basis know that I’ve spent far too much time sequestered at home satisfying my obsessive interest in culinary adventures by watching a crapload of Food TV.
And then you’ll hear me talk shit about Bobby Flay.
My husband thinks I dislike him because he wears a gold watch. He might be right.
Bobby Flay must have it in his contract that he’s not allowed to lose any notable battles of Iron Chef America but thankfully loses the occasional Throwdown. My bias against Bobby Flay comes from a long term resentment-filled grudge of seeing him on an episode of Iron Chef Japan where at the end of the battle he jumps up on his cutting board with his shoes on and was dressed down by Morimoto for being a shithead that doesn’t properly respect the sacred nature of his tools and profession as chef. Yo Morimoto, you and me, looking eye to eye.
So during Iron Chef America, I endlessly roll my eyes at Bobby Flay and overlay Alton Brown’s commentary with me shouting at the television:
“Ooh, let me create a tamale with that and… ummm, put mango salsa on that.”
“Let me guess: put a fucking chipotle ragu of some fucksauce on top of that.”
“Oh shit, let me guess — you’re going to put some fucking avocado cilantro aioli on that. Again.”
I’m so not a fan of him.
But I do admit that I enjoy watching him in Throwdown!. Why? Because the show exemplifies his douchiness. The concept of the show is this: Bobby Flay travels the country to try and show up regional experts in their various dishes of expertise. And it’s not like he even does the research or work by himself but instead has two kitchen techs/recipe testers effectively look up and do all the legwork for him. And his cocky ass then goes up and issues a throwdown.
How delighted am I when he gets his ass served.
Favorite episodes seen recently where Bobby Flay loses?
Do I enjoy these episodes more because it’s Asian American cooks beating his ass down? Quite possibly, because you can’t put a fucking tamale into Asian cuisine. (Okay, the bread pudding is clearly not of Asian cooking tradition, but that was still hella fun to watch.)
When I was growing up, I always wondered where the Asian American superheroes were. I wasn’t a comic book junkie, but I was a fan of Saturday morning cartoons, Sunday comics, and the occasional comic book. In college I discovered and fell in love with the Watchmen comic book series and later discovered X-Men. But even then I didn’t find the Asian superhero I was looking for. So, it was a delight to read about the upcoming Secret Identities: The Asian American Superhero Anthology.
The anthology includes contributions from Greg Pak, Bernard Chang, Gene Yang and Christine Norrie. Greg Pak is no stranger to Marvel Comics having worked on previous titles including Ironman and The Incredible Hulk. Bernard Chang has also worked on titles such as X-Men and Wonder Woman. Gene Yang previously published a graphic novel titled American Born Chinese. Christine Norrie is the creator of the graphic novel Cheat.
Secret Identities: The Asian American Superhero Anthology is scheduled to release on April 15th. I fully expect to have my copy in hand soon after. Now if I only had some superhero power to go with it.
What is the meaning of modern art, anyway? Is it meant to shock and titillate? Is it meant to question the surroundings around us and start a conversation? Even if art as a whole isn’t meant to make a statement, I’ll present to you the works of Justine Lai anyway — a San Francisco based artist who just happened to create Join Or Die, a series of NSFW oil paintings of her having sex with every single US President in chronological order. (As of right now, she’s on Ulysses S. Grant slapping her ass.) Behold, her Artist’s Statement:
The presidency itself is a seemingly immortal and impenetrable institution; by inserting myself in its timeline, I attempt to locate something intimate and mortal. I use this intimacy to subvert authority, but it demands that I make myself vulnerable along with the Presidents. A power lies in rendering these patriarchal figures the possible object of shame, ridicule and desire, but it is a power that is constantly negotiated.
It’s a statement of self-sacrifice and anti-authoritarianism; never mind that every single heterosexual Asian man is wincing by his laptop because, oh hey, if the image of the Asian female against a white guy is an uncomfortable one to begin with, there she is giving head to Abraham Lincoln. (Ha ha, “giving head to Abraham Lincoln.” When am I going to ever say that sentence ever again?)
(Hat tip: Andy)
Before there were blogs, there was actual magazines. (You know, magazines? Printed on paper? That you old in your hands and turn the pages?) Hyphen Magazine is one such magazine catered to the Asian American community, and the fact that it’s an independent, non-profit magazine that is still around while the economy has tanked and other Asian American magazines are in deep financial trouble is a testament on what a great magazine it is.
And if you’re in San Francisco tonight, you are invited to Hyphen Magazine’s SIX in the City Party in honor of their sixth anniversary. It’s even at San Francisco’s Club Six, located in San Francisco’s kinda shady Sixth Street. (We’d make a 6/6/6 joke, but there’s nothing evil or satanic about the party. Unless you want it to be, of course.) The party starts at 9pm, with a $10 cover (or $20, if you’d also like to purchase a magazine subscription. Highly recommended, especially if you’d like to read quality writing about Asian American topics that run circles around blogs like ours.) You can RSVP via Facebook as well.
Sitting down in a chair the other day, a funny thing happened: I turned a year older. It got me thinking about my name. Six months earlier I’d handed over some papers and a check for two-hundred dollars; just like that I became Chun-Soon Li. So, like a blanket of snow that falls on our city, or a cool spoon pressed on the eyes, I applied a new name, though a very old name, to myself.
If I was given a name at birth, it is gone with the woman who could say it. There was a day. It was raining, that’s how I’ll tell it. On this day I wandered off from my mother, or was placed in a basket like a little yellow Moses, or left behind in one of the ways it happens, just like that. I was about a year old and didn’t know anything. She was a young woman, as I’ve always seen her, beautiful despite the day. Did she hold me one last time? Did she pray for us?
Adoption is many things. It’s commonplace, it’s a dream-come-true (for some), and it’s an efficient way to deal with a surplus of orphans. During the Korean war, transnational adoption solved the embarrassing problem of biracial offspring sired by Western soldiers. These children, thousands of them, were the scar tissue of the wounds of war, representing the double blight of mixed-race and illegitimacy (their unmarried mothers bearing the brunt of this stigma). In 1956, a zealous American named Harry Holt formed the Holt International Adoption Agency in an effort to harvest the “seed from the East” as prophesied in Isaiah 45:3. By the 1960’s, war babies were replaced by a new supply of orphans, by-products of South Korea’s brutal push to industrialise.
But I want to speak to the heart of the matter: The status of women is the status of children in society — don’t let the guys in charge tell you otherwise. In Korea, divorced women, raped women, and unwed mothers all face the same stigma of being… deeply… sullied. There is no social support system which helps them survive in Korean society, much less provide for their children. To date, there have been over 150,000 Korean children sent out-of-country as adoptees, two-thirds of them to the US. This industry nets Korea between fifteen to twenty million dollars per anum, which is to say that selling off your unwanted children is more lucrative than caring for them, or implementing the systemic changes that would keep families together in the first place.
In the past fifteen years we’ve seen seventeen nations call an end to transnational adoption due to charges of exploitation, coercion of birth mothers, abduction and child trafficking. This contrasts sharply against the shining picture of an integrated American family with Asian kids, which is the image in the Holt catalogs. When children are sent out-of-country, they are sent West. They are sent to white families who Mean Well. And they are given new names.
People have always had their own names for me: Mary, Mao, Pumpkin, Slowpoke. Identity, for an adoptee, is the feeling that nothing is yours by birthright. At times there is a freedom to this, an untethered-ness that is nice; mostly, though, it just feels weird. My adoptive parents saved my life, and they did it with Christian love in their hearts. They even retained my “temporary Korean name”, Chun-Soon, as my middle name. Six months ago, I reclaimed it. This one piece of my mother’s land that I do have. I chose the family name Li (Yi, Rhee, Lee)…an ordinary, commonplace name. A typical Korean name. Confucius be damned, I am now the beginning of my bloodline in this country.
So say my name, family and friends.
Say my name, chagiya, as no one else can.
Because nothing ever just happens, just like that, please say my name.
CSLi is a classically trained artist living in Brooklyn, NY, who dreams of the day when killer concubines and the meek inherit the earth. All issues which have, at heart, the struggle of the powerless to free themselves are important to her.
Everyone knows that times can be tough during a recession, but if you’re Asian and you’ve taken the GMAT before (wait, aren’t those two things synonymous?), this could be the perfect job for you.
Ernie — who always likes to look out for fellow 8Asians — forwarded this Craigslist job posting:
Here’s what I want to know: Do you think this person is requesting an Asian person because they’re expected to naturally score higher on the GMAT or is this just some Asian student looking to cheat by assuming that we all DO look alike and can therefore dupe the system? And which one is more offensive?
It’s probably the latter since ID will be provided, but I’m hoping that if enough Asian business students do this, we can pitch this as a sequel to 21, except it would be titled 800. (Get it???)
I already broke the rules by staying far away from any sort of graduate school, so I won’t be responding to this ad anytime soon. But hey, if someone needs an Asian girl to write a blog entry for them, please leave a discreet comment and we’ll talk.
(Hat tip: Dave Kim, via twitter)