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Archive for March, 2011

When I was first forwarded this NY Times Article,

Rise of the Ethnoburbs,

I thought that this was going to be some kind of a Macleans repeat, with the author complaining about pods of Asian communities within cities where English is oft the minority language and bubble tea replaces Starbucks as the drink of choice (but really my friends, bobba is delicious and Starbucks is average, and so I say THANK YOU to Asialand for giving us such a delicious gift.)  It turns out, the article turned out to be instead about future political representation of groups that are geographically united, because it could be easier to vote people into Congress when they look like you, if you are living with many similar looking people in a concentrated cluster.  The second point I distilled was something along the lines of how diffusion works: first generations cling to their ethnoburbs, but children acculturate and behave more fluidly in a society of many races.

Nice save, Mr. Egan.

I’m not too surprised by how many articles and controversies over Asians have popped up in the last few months.  One of the reasons that it keeps resurfacing could be the fresh and ongoing waves of immigration from Asia, meaning that while some individuals are fourth generation like many of my high school friends, there will always be new immigrants to replace them.  I guess if you were expecting immigrants to become more acculturated, you would get really impatient that this never happens.  It’s like waiting for paint to dry, but applying a new layer every 2 hours.  And with an increasing representation of Asians in Canada (this probably applies to other groups as well, I’m just speaking from my knowledge) the incentive to quickly acculturate is reduced.  And seriously, why would you?  No one wants to be forced to change everything they know or grew up with, and if you have the option in your community of speaking a language, and shopping in stores in which you are more comfortable, then I don’t really blame you.  It would be like me buying only Starbucks if I moved to Europe (more on that later)

I guess what I’m trying to say is that tensions are going to keep popping up like this, and they are going to happen more frequently.  It’s just a symptom of the status quo shifting with the demographics.  Even later generation children of immigrants are feeling it: one of the unspoken tensions on UBC campus exists between more acculturated Asian Canadians and Asians with more recent ties to Asia (for example there was a Chinese Varsity Club offensive ad controversy that attacked newer Asian immigrants).  Even as an immigrant myself, I can tell you that some of the more Asian elements of our ethnoburbs are completely perplexing to me.  One of the reasons why I got into Youtube was because it gave me a way to sort out what I know.  Because, honestly, Alexandra Wallace will not be the only person thinking that way about Asians.  My job as a Canadian is to show her the different distinctions between Asians, that we are not all one broad brushstroke.

And on a different note, I got into my Columbia/LSE joint program!!! I’m not sure if I’m more excited for New York, or London . . . ..  And I got into Oxford, but for some reason, I care so little it’s like it never happened.

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Lately it feels like every nation in the Middle East is imploding.  And the latest news is that religious considerations have been added to the sweet sweet medley of oil, internal economic troubles, foreign intervention and politics.

In a show of solidarity and muscle, Saudi and Emirati troops are now rolling into Bahrain, and the country that has been relatively ignored compared to Libya and Egypt has been using violent force and kicking major ass to quell the protests.  Groups have been reporting everything from disappearances, to jailings, people getting shot in Pearl Square, the takeover of a hospital and beatings of those treating injured protesters, etc.

http://www.economist.com/node/18400600

What. the. fuck.  If the reports are accurate, there is some crazy shit going down.  Where’s the UN intervention on this one?

Maybe one of the most ironic moments, so darkly ironic that for someone with a really terrible/unfortunate sense of humor such as myself would find funny, is the diplomacy war between Iran and Bahrain.  I’m getting the news that Iran is actually critical of Bahrain for using military force to shut down government protesters.  Iran. I just had to requote this part of the BBC article from the Iranian foreign ministry spokesman,

Referring to the “legitimate demands of the population”, he said that the “repression of peaceful protests and illogical actions only aggravate the crisis and deepen wounds”

Bahrain and Iran expel diplomats

I laughed at how hilarious and awful this entire thing was until my eyes got watery.  Double purpose crying is awesome!

Anyways, Bahrain gave Iran the proverbial finger and told her to mind her own business, and then ejected the Iranian ambassador, which led to a retaliatory boot for the Bahraini,( Bahrainian, Bahr . . . I give up) ambassador.  The interesting thing about the Middle East and the United States is that religion actually features quite prominently in the decisions of the policy makers.  It got George Dubya reelected.  I’m just not used to it playing any sort of a significant role in Chinese or Canadian politics.  But the criticism coming from Iran seems to stem from the protesters in Bahrain being from the Shia majority, and Iran is mainly Shia.  It just adds another layer of complexity to an already tense situation.  Can’t we just all be united in our disdain for Rebecca Black?

Just a neat chart from the Economist that includes some of the important factors in the ME region.

http://media.economist.com/sites/default/files/media/2011InfoG/Interactive/ShoeThrowers0314/main.swf

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Two of the top pieces of news that showed up in my feed this morning were:

Japan warns on quake deaths rise

Haitians elect president in delayed second round

As one place is beginning a rebuild another is still struggling to return to normal.  I suspect that Japan will have a much easier transition back into a normal routine, given that they are not one of the 50 poorest countries in the world.  What upsets me most about the Haiti earthquake is that, given I spent half my undergrad researching Haiti, the politics of the region is a political basketcase, and this actually stopped a legitimate election from happening.

Japan, one of the richest countries in the world, should see less of a disruption at least politically.  Heck, one of the big stories going around is that there’s no looting in Japan, even in the face of apocalyptic lawlessness.  I really hope for everyone’s sake that this is true.

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Political Cowboys

One of the petitions currently going around Canada-land is the one condemning Stephen Harper’s changing of the official language on just about everything, from the “Government of Canada,” which is now the “Harper Government,” to “gender equality,” which is now “equality of men and women.”  From inflammatory to downright clunky, he’s managed to continue to ruffle the feathers of approx 2/3 of the Canadian population, and he does this from his comfortable minority government.  Personally, I’m not that offended that he now decides to refer to the government as the “Harper Government”; after all, statistically more than half of Canadians, and many feel that he is embarrassing us internationally, so really, he isn’t representative of Canada.  If anything, he’s just being honest about it?  Anyone with me?  . . . no?

On to the real point of this.  Regardless of how you or I may feel about Stephen Harper, he’s one of the more interesting political figures to hit Canada since that Shawinigan Handshake.  In Canada, having interesting political figures is most often some kind of a myth.  Having likeable ones is out of the question.

Look at America.  Everyone in office, and many notable contenders seem to draw a lot of polarizing opinions.  There’s scandals and conspiracy theories and reality tv deals, and illegitimate children, and statements about the incarceration of homosexuals . . . watching the election season is like watching a tv drama unfold.

Just think of Sarah Palin. Nuff said.

How, the interesting thing about recent politics is that it really hasn’t fit the idea of Hotelling’s principle in the last few years.  Theory will tell you that in a two party system, ideologies migrate towards the centre in a strategy to attract the most voters.   The idea is based on several assumptions, but lets pretend that a party is a shop and we are on a 1 km street.  The street represents the range of political opinions of the masses, and in general it is evenly distributed from east to west.

very liberal <————————centrist————————–>very conservative

In an ideal situation, the parties both set their platforms in the middle, one slightly to the right and one slightly to the left.

So why in both places are we seeing a rise in the number of controversial figures with more extreme views?  Maybe one of the original assumptions is wrong.  At least in Canada, Harper’s success can be partially attributed to more than one party being in the mix.   But the States has a clear two-party system.

Are people really distributed along the spectrum evenly?  Is there a gap in the centre?  A lot of things influence political opinions in America: geography, country of origin, race, income, you can go on.  Assuming that the distribution is even may be the problem.  Perhaps changing immigration patterns is causing individuals to shift their ideologies in a particular direction, and this creates a gap in the spectrum.

Either way, it makes for good dinner fodder.  Is this the only way to get people interested in what is going on?

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Being the enlightened individuals that we all are, one way to spread a message is to make yourself the target of some anti-racism anger.

I got forwarded this post by this lady:

Alexandra Wallace, UCLA Student, Rants on Asians for Phoning Tsunami Victims in the Library

There is also this from a few awhile ago:

Growing Anti-Muslim hatred in the U.S.

A few thoughts came to mind.  First, that I can’t believe Ms. Wallace of link #1 decided it was a good idea to post something viral.

Second, I can’t believe how deeply misogynistic the comments on the first video have gotten.   She might be racist, (but she’s more likely just being very foolish – see thought #1), but somehow it means comments about subjecting her to whatever-she-deserves are justifiable.  My irony meter is off the charts right now.

Third thought,  people are benefitting from how quickly people channel their anger towards perceived racists.  I got this post forwarded to me a while ago:

http://tumblr.com/xos1raauzy

I’ve gotten wind that the entire account itself is fake and part of a publicity stunt. But it’s doing very well for a fake twitter account, by making overly offensive comments about Haiti, Japan, etc.  Obviously, stuff like that will go viral big time.

Four, I’m not too worried, yet.  One of the things that would worry me is if no one thought there was anything wrong with this.  I’ll be afraid when things like the Bill O’Reilly incident on The View happen on a regular basis, (where the audience applauded him for saying no one wanted Muslim Americans building anything near Ground Zero . . .  that was fucked up).  The majority of these comments represent a very real outrage over the opinions expressed by the posters/protesters.  As long as the public majority recognizes that these views are extreme, and that they are wrong, I don’t think that we should go with the gut reaction of banning Ms. Wallace, expelling her, etc.

She, and the others, will get their just retaliation from whence they posted.

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The more offensive a hip hop/r&b song is lyrically, the sicker the beat. This is real science we are talking about here.  When they drop that Akon song, what to do, what to do . . . .

Also, I discovered my nerd soulmate, Ken Jennings, has a blog.  Cue massive time wasting . . .

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One of the first events that set in motion the birth of this blog was the Tedx Terry Talks conference way back in October (nerd-central to the maxxx).  I was so excited about being able to cross of something from my list of “UBC things I have one year left to do” that I forgot to come up with an actual idea.  Well, application to talk turnover was about 2 weeks, so with that in mind, I was pretty sure it would go horribly, and I was ready to bury it in the back of my head afterwards.   It went up today, and actually, it doesn’t look as bad as I thought it would.  I also realized that I’m getting used to seeing myself on camera.

It’s essentially the story of how environmentalism is a first world luxury.

And Shiggy’s.  I had to follow his unfortunately and was the walking non-tradiction. 😦

Now I’m awesome though.

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