reileen: (glee - Bomberman)
I have no particular desire to see James Cameron's Avatar, but this link features the creator of the Na'vi language sketching out the linguistic basics of it. I don't know half of the technical terms off the top of my head, but I am fascinated by the infixes that inflect verbs for speaker attitude. (Plus the fact that you can string together a whole line of vowels, lol!)

On that matter, here's a critical, contextual look at the racial themes of Avatar: When Will White People Stop Making Movies Like Avatar? For a snarkier look at the movie, [livejournal.com profile] nihilistic_kid praises the film for being "a step forward in science fiction film in that it is only forty years behind science fiction literature rather than the usual fifty years".
reileen: (TONIGHT WE BLOG IN HELL)
Gonna start off with the Serious Business stuff this time before I babble about fannish things.

I found this interesting article about Michelle Obama's efforts to reach out to the poor and disenfranchised in the DC area.

I also recently discovered the work of Jay Smooth on YouTube, who posts short vlogs about pop culture and sociopolitical issues. He has a direct style that is not too "in-your-face" and is easy to follow and understand. "Asher Roth and the Racial Crossroads" is an excellent rebuttal to the idea "that racist/homophobic/bigoted jokes were a sign of a progressive population and therefore anyone who called him on his racist, homophobic, sexist, bigoted jokes is against an egalitarian society" (quoted from this comment over at JF's UnfunnyBusiness comm, where I found the video link). There's also a transcript of this particular video here at [livejournal.com profile] racism_101.

Also by Jay Smooth is "How To Tell People They Sound Racist", which should be required viewing for anyone interested in anti-oppression work of any sort, not just racism. No transcript that I've seen yet, unfortunately, but as I said before, he's easy to follow.

At Racialicious, Ay-leen the Peacemaker analyzes two potential colonial visions of America in steampunk, the "nostalgic" and the "melancholic". [livejournal.com profile] vyctori, you should probably take a look at this.

It's from that Racialicious linke that I think I stumbled upon Blue Corn Comics, which is a blog focusing on First Nations culture, from history to traditions to modern portrayals and stereotypes, and also branches out into wider implications for anti-racism work and race in America. There's some stuff like Video Games Featuring Indians and Indiana Jones and the Stereotypes of Doom, and then there's also his rebuttal against the notion of "equal opportunity offending".

From that site, I also found "21st-Century Warrior":

In the Sun Dance, I learned what the warrior path was truly about. It had nothing to do with what I had seen in movies, heard in music, or read in books. It wasn't about being destructive, being the toughest person in the neighborhood, or any media-stained image. I realized in my moments of terror, pain, and loneliness that this ceremony wasn't about me but about the people I can serve in my life. The warrior concept is simply taking our own talent and ability and developing it so we can serve and defend others. The warrior's goal was to become an asset to the village they served. The warriors of the past like Pontiac, Crazy Horse, Chief Joseph, and Osceola were warriors not only because of their exploits in battle, but because they served their people the best way they knew how and spent their lifetimes becoming assets to their village. Today, your "village" could be your family, community, country, clients, or any other group you serve.

I first stumbled across this piece during RaceFail'09, but it was quoted in one of the Blue Corn Comics pages as well, so I figured now's a good a time as any to point readers here - The Unexamined Propaganda of "Political Correctness".

Underlying every complaint of "PC" is the absurd notion that members of dominant mainstream society have been victimized by an arbitrarily hypersensitive prohibition against linguistic and cultural constructions that are considered historical manifestations of bigotry. It's no coincidence that "PC"-snivelers are for the most part white men who are essentially saying, "Who the hell do these marginalized groups think they are to tell me how I should or shouldn't portray them? I'm not going to say 'mentally challenged' when it's my right to say 'retard', goshdarnit there's only so much abuse I'll take!"*

In this context, the conceit that "political correctness" constitutes a violation of free speech is particularly zany; as though society's marginalized groups wield oppressive power over the dominant mainstream. Actually, as far as I'm concerned you're free to call me "chink" and I'm free to call you "moronic racist loser" (and more if necessary, but I'll leave that aside for now in the interest of false civility). Free speech is the straw man of choice for intellectual bums of all stripes too fragile and vacuous for critical engagement. Calling someone who says or does bigoted things "a bigot" isn't censorious, it's descriptively accurate, like calling a bad movie "a bad movie", even if the bigot didn't intend to come off as bigoted and the movie didn't intend to come off as bad.

Randomly, The Straight Dope discusses Chicago's Anti-Ugliness Ordinance, which thankfully has since been repealed.

So, yeah, I got some serious stuff going on up there in the links. And I didn't even post some of the other ones I found because I need to take time like millennia to think about them. In the meantime, we can take a break and start mixin' us some Avatar: The Last Airbender-themed booze. Drink each of the Four Nations drinks and enter the "Avatar State"! Sporfletini. Relatedly, you can find a recipe for "fire flakes" over at the [livejournal.com profile] fan_foods community. [livejournal.com profile] lysis_to_kill, we should get together and make the butterbeer!

[livejournal.com profile] eyecatching_art had this epic picture of Wolfwood!Hobbes and Vash!Calvin.

Hallelujah, It's Rainin' 300 Men!

Best of the Worst: Twilight Tattoos. Yes, that is as bad as it sounds.

The Angry Asian Man posts about this excellent stop-motion animation piece done by Bang-yao Liu as his senior project at the Savannah College of Art and Design.

File this under "bzuh?": Michael Jackson considered releasing his next album as a video game. H-how was that even going to work? Not that I'm not interested in the results, but the logistics of it are...interesting, to say the least.

***

*glances over link-o-llection* ...rawr. I swear I need to get back to organizing my bookmarks. I've had stuff tagged over at my Delicious account, but I think when I upgraded Firefox I brokinated the extension I had that let me easily add bookmarks to Delicious, and I never bothered to upgrade. So lately I've just been filing stuff under one huge folder in my Firefox bookmarks. But if I'm going to get anywhere in my informal self-education, I need to actually remember where I've been so that I can better map out where I'm going.

Anyway, I deleted my original MySpace account because something got borked with the layout editing feature and apparently MySpace couldn't fix it. I signed up for a new account, then realized from clicking through MySpace Help that, hey, I should've actually signed up specifically for a musician profile from the start, because MySpace can't convert profiles from one to the other! So I clicked on the link in the help page that was supposed to help you "get started", only to get an error message that MySpace had taken the feature down temporarily for some-reason-or-other and that I'd have to wait for an unspecified period of time before I could use it. LE SIGH. So much for trying to pretty up my profile like [livejournal.com profile] mia_noire suggested to me. I guess I should just work on my YouTube profile instead.

In the meantime, I'm also going to continue working on a friend's commission and on a piece of original art featuring the two main characters from my NaNoWriMo2008 novel Daemonsong. I'd originally intended it as a quick painting piece, but as soon as I got to Kira's fur I was like pfffffft that is so not going to work. So I'm taking my time on it.

-Reileen
he promises to you, no more tears to cry



*Can also be summarized as: "Oh, God, respecting each other's humanity is such a pain in the ass! Do we really have to do this forever? Can't you all just lighten up so that I don't have to respect you any more? Isn't the whole point of coming together as one that I don't have to care what you think?" (Thank you, Jay Smooth.)
reileen: (general - strawberry)
Having finished my JPN106 final (likely got a few things wrong on it, especially WRT to the particles and conjugations for passive and causative-passive and blah blah, but I'm working from like a 95-96% in that class, so I'm not worried) and my ART264 project (presenting at the final critique tomorrow afternoon), I have some time to finally post something more substantial than whining and short links. :D?

***

Vienna Teng

Despite having a shitload of music that I still haven't listened to even once, I've been returning rather frequently to Vienna Teng's Inland Territory. It's basically the musical equivalent of comfort food for me at the moment, and healthy comfort food for me, at that. I'm still floored at how rich and full the songs are, and how, despite the title Inland Territory, it's actually the least introspective of Vienna's albums so far. No...that's a misleading description; if you looked up "introspective" in the dictionary you'd find Vienna's picture. What I mean to say is, when you compare the subjects and the handling of those subjects in IT songs versus her earlier songs, there's a stronger tendency in the IT songs to reach out beyond personal, interior experiences. Or rather, the IT songs are remarkable for this fusion of the external world of events that may or may not be beyond our control, with the internal world of emotions and thoughts. It's a skillful, refreshing blending of themes into an audiophiliac frappuccino.

One thing I didn't consciously notice about the album until someone mentioned it on the VT forums: it's framed by two songs that both have what can be referred to as "instrumental choruses". It's especially spine-tingling on St. Stephen's Cross. (Incidentally, both were songs that needed to grow on me for a while before I came to love them, in their own way.)

Vanessa Carlton

I was pleasantly surprised to find that Carlton has debuted two new songs, "Fair-Weather Friends" and "London". Unfortunately, the quality is so bad on these recordings that you can't understand what she's singing, but melodically it sounds like stuff that would fit in with Heroes and Thieves. According to Wiccapedes, she's apparently almost halfway done with the album and will release it later this year, holy shit.

My liking for Vanessa Carlton's music is mildly perplexing to me. She's not necessarily an excellent vocalist - I wouldn't care to hear her a cappella - but it's such a distinctive voice and it fits her songs. Similarly, I get bored real easily playing her piano arrangements because they're so simple, yet I haven't really figured out a good way to transform those arrangements into something more complex (and thus more interesting) for me to perform as a cover. And her lyrics didn't really become compelling to me until Heroes and Thieves, but they've always had a certain je ne sais quoi about them that was uniquely VC.

At any rate, I look forward to VC's new album.

Yousei Teikoku

With their latest release, the single "Gekkou no Chigiri", it seems like YT is moving towards a more pop sound, though they still retain their distinctive gothic, neo-classical, and electronica elements. I was actually underwhelmed by the three songs on "Gekkou no Chigiri", but then again I was also underwhelmed by the songs on "Irodori no Nai Sekai" and now I actually really like the songs for the most part. In particular, I keep on coming back to "Alte Burg" for some reason. I think I'm fascinated by the chord progressions and the melodic structure, the auditory tension pulled tight like a bow in the stanza melodies before being released in a graceful arc into more musically familiar territory for the chorus. They've done this on other songs as well (including other songs on "Irodori no Nai Sekai"), but for some reason the pattern really caught me in "Alte Burg". I'm not entirely sure that it's an effect of this song being necessarily better than their other songs; it may be that I was listening to the song at the right time and in the right mood.

Charice Pempengco

You can sample her music on her MySpace; her Wikipedia page is here.

I first heard about her through the Angry Asian Man. Charice Pempengco is a young Filipina singer who placed third in a Filipino talent show called Little Big Star, loosely patterned after American Idol. However, she only gained worldwide recognition after an avid supporter named "FalseVoice" started posting videos of her performance on YouTube, garnering millions of hits. Through a series of fortunate events, she eventually landed a performance spot on Oprah, which led to her being signed by music producer David Foster. She is supposed to have a US debut album sometime soon, though I'm not entirely sure how soon.

Charice really has an impressive set of pipes, but she seriously needs to learn how to control that voice. She's cited Celine Dion and Mariah Carey as influences, and boy does it show - and not always in a good way. I think it's great that she has such a good range, but I honestly despise it when singers "oversing" their melodies (see also: Christina Aguilera). It seems so unnecessary most of the time. I prefer her softer vocals in "Smile" and "Maalaala Mo Kaya". But hey, what do I know? I think that, with this style of vocals, she may actually have a chance to break into the American mainstream, somewhat. She's already got two albums released in the Philippines, and a single here in the U.S.

Dragonforce

So cheesy! So retro! Yet so gloriously awesome and epic! I wanna write my own Dragonforce-esque song. Not that it would be hard, technically, but still.

***

I have some book discussion I want to do (namely, The Mermaid Chair by Sue Monk Kidd and Tekgrrl by A.J. Menden - neither of which I was impressed by), but it may take some time for me to formulate coherent reviews about them, so I'll leave y'all with a long-overdue link-o-llection instead.

Jeff Yang: What Does It Mean to be Asian-American?

Four decades later [after the late Ronald Takaki taught the first-ever Black Studies course at UCLA], however, it's worth considering how far the idea of Asian America has come, and how far it can go. Does Asian American identity still have meaning? Have prevailing attitudes towards race evolved to a point where the term "Asian American" limits us rather than lifting us up? Has the moment passed?

Truth be told, the current picture isn't pretty. Many prominent Asian American institutions, particularly those associated with arts, culture and media, have either shut down or are in danger of doing so. Some of this is due to the larger economic crisis, but if pressed, many of the former leaders of these organizations will quietly admit that the core issue they face is simple: Audiences and subscribers for their work have been dwindling, and without collective support from within the community, it's been an uphill battle getting support from outside of it.

On the political front, the vibrant grassroots movement of the '60s and '70s never produced a broad-based pan-Asian American advocacy organization along the lines of the NAACP and the National Council of La Raza. While reinvented old-guard institutions like the Asian American Justice Center (formerly the National Asian Pacific American Legal Consortium) and exciting new-school entities like Asian Pacific Americans for Progress offer hope, the history of Asian American activism over the past few decades is largely a mosaic of short-term coalitions that were built with a single issue in mind and vanished after that issue no longer seemed pressing.

And those issues are rare these days. It's hard to point to a critical political event that has galvanized pan-Asian communities since 1982, the fight for justice for Vincent Chin, the Chinese American murdered by laid-off Detroit autoworkers for being "Japanese." (Some might suggest the protests against the Broadway musical "Miss Saigon" fit that bill. Even so, those took place in 1991 -- nearly two decades ago.)

All of these factors point to the uncomfortable truth that bringing together Asian Americans has often seemed like herding cats, if those cats were randomly mixed in with, say, dogs, sheep and giraffes -- a metaphor that reflects the staggering diversity of our community, which incorporates dozens of nationalities, each with multiple linguistic, religious and ethnic subsets, and a varying historical record of immigration to the U.S.

Yes, the challenges are enormous. And yet, the stakes are high. Those who seek to suppress racial discourse have gravitated toward Asian Americans as the weakest link in the multicultural chain. They suggest that the successes some Asian Americans have achieved mean we no longer need the protection of a racial category; they point to the difficulties we've faced in organizing as evidence the category never should have existed in the first place.

Ray Fisman @ Slate: Want more women to study science? Hire more female professors.

The researchers also found that the influence of professor gender was even starker for the set of students who were math whizzes when they entered the Academy (those with math SAT scores above 700). For these students, a female instructor eliminated the gender GPA gap entirely—and solely because high-performing women did well in their classes rather than because high-ability men underperformed.

What's more, having a male instructor didn't just affect female cadets' performance in their first-year classes—ramifications could be seen throughout their undergraduate careers. Not surprisingly, students who did well in their introductory science classes were more likely to go on to obtain science degrees (and presumably go on to science-related professions). Among high-math-SAT students—those most likely to be the ones to go on to obtain science degrees—the authors calculate that having a women-only roster of faculty would create gender parity among science majors.

What is it about a woman instructor that is so important for female pupils? It's unlikely to be simply the sense of empowerment of seeing that women can in fact make it in science. If that were the case, then having all female professors should help their female students catch up to the men and having all male professors should cause the male-female performance gap to widen. Yet the authors found that, while female students perform better on average in classes taught by female professors, there are some male professors under whom there's no achievement gap between male and female students (and also some female professors for whom the gender gap is as big as that of some of their male colleagues). So some men are very good at mentoring women, just not nearly enough of them.


John Scalzi: The New York Times: We May Slide into Irrelevancy But At Least We Update Daily

The thing about this Times piece is that it feels almost endearing anachronistic; not to run down blogs, but they’re not exactly the hot new kid on the block these days, are they. These days it seems like the only people starting new blogs are laid-off journalists, which says something both about blogs and these journalists. Everyone else has moved on to Facebook and Twitter. Which is something I personally applaud; I like my blog, but I’m a wordy bastard, by profession and by inclination, and online social networks actually do a far better job of what people wanted blogs to do, which is be a way to act and feel connected online with friends and family. No one gives a crap if your tweet or status update is short and utterly inconsequential (”Hey! I just ate a hot dog!”) — indeed, that’s kind of the point.

[livejournal.com profile] nonfluffypagans has a post discussing the idea of pagan community centers. It touches on a number of issues that PCCs face, including money, interpersonal politics, and the lack of support from the broader community.

I want this corset like burning.

Iraqi teen cracks 300-year-old math puzzle.

Tokyopop recently raised the prices on its individual manga volumes, but it looks like readers are actually getting less for their money.

And then finally, an article from The Onion that is sure to be a classic: Oh, No! It's Making Well-Reasoned Arguments Backed With Facts! Run!

-Reileen
fire's getting closer but I've got to stay calm
reileen: (gaming - Bomberman)

Visit [livejournal.com profile] foc_u for more details.


In light of the most recent instance of RaceFail in fandom (now called MammothFail to distinguish it from RaceFail '09, which happened earlier this year), I thought I should, at least, step up and say that, o hai, i r fan of color.

However...I am also a Clueless Fan of Color.

I have lived a life in which my numerous other privileges - class and education being the most obvious ones, but there are probably others that I'm not aware of - have allowed me to live a fairly colorblind existence up until recently. It wasn't that I never thought of myself as not being Filipino-American; it's that I never, never experienced something that made me attach negative connotations to that identity, and in fact I view it primarily as a badge of pride, as a mark of ~*~specialness~*~ (sometimes to the point of exoticness, I fear). There's a lot of layers of colored sand that's being shifted around here in my experience of racial identity as a second-gen Filipino-American, but I don't have the words or energy (...or courage) to put them out there for others to read just yet. But in short, I have never consciously experienced anything (yet) that made me hate being different. Being Other.

But I know that many, many other fen of color don't have that same privilege. So this short entry, this posting of a shiny banner and a link to a helpful community, is for those fen who are being silenced, who are being made to fade into the background, who are being ignored.

***

In more mundane news, I have been sick since Friday and it doesn't look like things are getting better. Mommykins wants me to stay home tomorrow if my fever gets any worse (it was hovering around 100*F for the past few days, then I took it today and I was at, like 101.4*F or something).

-Reileen
what would you go wild for?
reileen: (gaming - Bomberman)
From Kotaku: Suspect arrested for threatening to blow up Hudson

Metropolitan Police have arrested a 29-year-old man for threatening to blow up Japanese game maker Hudson. The suspect, Takao Ike of Kanagawa Prefecture, was apparently dissatisfied with the quality of Hudson's games.

From October 2008 to January 16 of this year, the suspect threatened Hudson 11 times, sending emails that said things like he was sending a bomb to the company that would kill everyone or demanding that 80 trillion yen be brought to JR Takamatsu Station.

JR Takamatsu Station is in Kanagawa Prefecture. The suspect worked part-time as a courier.

In a signed affidavit, the suspect admitted, "I did it because I posted my demands concerning the games, but the games didn't improve."


This is seriously too perfect to be real. I have to admit, I'm torn between "Protesting: URE DOIN IT RONG" and "Yeah, YOU GIVE THOSE LAZY SONS-OF-BITCHES AT HUDSON THE WHAT FOR!"

(Thanks to [livejournal.com profile] blackryuomega4 for bringing this to my attention!)

***

In other (less amusing) news, there's been some changes to the whitewashed casting of the live-action Avatar: The Last Airbender movie! Dev Patel is slated to star as Prince Zuko of the Fire Nation. Okay, so, great, we've got an Actor of Color...but he has to play the villain? When all of the heroes are white and the "ethnics" are only okay to show on-screen as background scenery? No. Just no. You fail at multiculturalism, Hollywood. I suppose it's just coincidence that Mr. Patel had the lead role on a little film called Slumdog Millionaire, right?

Also, Jessica Jade Andres (who?) is, according to this article, supposed to play "the Earth Kingdom's representative, Suki." Say what? She's going to play this chick?! (Also, what's up with that "Earth Kingdom's representative" deal? Kyoshi Island is considered Earth Kingdom, yes, but they didn't really have much connection to the big Earth Kingdom powerhouses of Omashu and Ba Sing Se.) (Also also, that article states that Shyamalan is planning a three-movie story arc. Oh my Gods, I weep to think of how he's going to end up butchering Toph's character. OH M. NIGHT SHYAMALAN NOOOOOOO) Just...ARGH.

Anyone who comes up to me and goes "Geez, there's just no pleasing you people, is there?" is going to get hexed nine times to Hades and back. Seriously, is it too much to ask for some fair - note the qualifier! - representation of people who look like me in popular media in this supposedly enlightened age that elected a black man to the office POTUS? It's not an issue of "political correctness" (STABBITY STAB I HATE THAT TERM, IT NEEDS TO DIE IN A FIRE AND THEN BE FROZEN IN ETERNITY IN JUDECCA) - it's an issue of respecting the diversity present in the world, and in the United States in particular since that's where this fuckover is happening.

-Reileen
I want everything back but you

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Reileen van Kaile

April 2010

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