The Imperial Senate Can Into Silly Love Song

It is inevitable, I suppose, that it has come to this. What is it like to blog for the first time in more than a year, after so much has changed? I think it proper that rather than expounding on something profound, or discussing the insights I have gained during this time, I instead should appeal to the lowest common denominator, and procure a piece of simplistic, cheesy, romantic, musical poetry.

I suppose it would be mildly more entertaining if I pretended it was an anime theme song. Also, pat on the back to anyone who can guess the reference or origin of this. Hint: מֹשֶׁה

 

My love is yours
I gave my love to you
My sweet and gentle love
To you

And when the morning sun
Shines on your smiling face
Then I know I’ve seen a smile
Worth living for

I’ll take your hand
And go to Scarborough Fair
And go to Scarborough Fair
With you

Though I am just a man
When you are by my side
With our hearts as one
I know I can be strong

Though I am just a man
When you are by my side
With our hearts as one
I know we can be strong

To walk to Scarborough Fair.
If I must fight
I’ll fight to walk to Scarborough Fair
Until I die,
My heart is yours

 

Vector graphics yay

Mildly unrelated.

The Imperial Senate Endorses Theodore Roosevelt for President of the United States of America

In the words of the esteemed magazine, the Economist, “America could do better than Barack Obama; sadly, Mitt Romney does not fit the bill.” In these troubling times, only one man has the courage, the madness, the intelligence, the manliness, and the imperial authority to lay claim to the as-of-currently decadent and decrepit American throne and successfully make America great once again.

He is Theodore Roosevelt.

Skeptics voice a number of concerns about the possibility and aptitude of a third Roosevelt presidency. Some say his 20th century solutions won’t work for 21st century problems. Some say he is too hot-tempered. Some say he is too revolutionary for his time. Some say he is dead. Some say he is immortal. But rest assured: the Imperial Senate believes that Theodore Roosevelt is the only person who has the ability to successful guide America in our troubling times.

For the convenience of the American masses, we outlay the advantages of a Roosevelt presidency below, and the man’s stances on the issues:

Military and National Security

In a Roosevelt presidency, America’s military expenditures as well as security threats to America will be reduced by 100%. In fact, there will be no military. Theodore Roosevelt will be the military. He is immune to bulletfire, single-handedly destroyed the Spanish in the Spanish-American war, and is what some call a “true” Chuck Norris – that is, what Chuck Norris wishes he could be. A Theodore Roosevelt can defeat anything using any weapon, be it a large stick, a handgun, or his bare judo-trained fists. Skeptics, however, might worry about what happens after Roosevelt dies. Who will protect us then? No worry. Roosevelt has children, grandchildren, and other descendants, and according to recent genetic studies, Roosevelt and his descendants carry an immortality, ultimate badass gene that allow them to destroy anything at will. Therefore, America will forever be safeguarded. Even more so, the entire world will be safeguarded. Theodore Roosevelt can punch Assad in the face and end the Syrian civil war. He can roundhouse kick the Euro and end the Euro crisis. He can even, with his peace-making credentials (see his Nobel Peace Prize), end the China-Japan squabble over the Senkaku/Diaoyu islands by stomping the islands into the sea so there’s nothing left to fight over. All in all, America and the entire world will be at peace.

Environment

Teddy Roosevelt likes hunting and bears. Therefore, he will protect the environment, because without the environment, how can anyone hunt cheetahs, elephants, and grizzly bears bare-handed like him?

Healthcare and Social Security

There will be no need for healthcare reform. In fact, there will be no need for healthcare at all under a Roosevelt presidency. Roosevelt’s immense courage will inspire all those around him, and his imposing nature will either kill or frighten off every single ailment known to man. After all, he killed his own asthma when he was a mere toddler. With everyone in perfect health, there social security will no longer be jeopardized, because no one will need to pay medical bills and thus can provide for the elderly more efficiently.

Social Issues

Admittedly, Theodore Roosevelt might offend some conservative voters with his rather liberal views. For instance, he believes that blacks are equal to whites: “the only wise and honorable and Christian thing to do is to treat each black man and each white man strictly on his merits as a man.” He has even appointed blacks to federal office, which has alienated some traditionalist voters, particularly in the south. Even more bravely, he has appointed a Jew to a cabinet position.

Economy

Theodore Roosevelt will punch the economy in the face, thus ending the Great Recession. Theodore Roosevelt will also punch corporation CEOs in the face for being mean, making liberals happy. He will also punch Union leaders for being wussies (compared with union leaders in his day), making conservatives sort of happy.

Education

With the immeasurable wealth pouring into America, Theodore Roosevelt can spend leftover sums of money on educating the next generation of Americans into world-class badasses. America will become the next Eden.

All in all, a vote for Theodore Roosevelt is a vote for imperial glory unmatched since the days of… well, the last Theodore Roosevelt presidency. But Roosevelt cannot be POTUS if you do not vote for him. So go out, cast your ballot for Roosevelt, and ensure a better America for tomorrow, and other idealistic nonsensical slogans designed to inspire people.

In an age of darkness, when the hordes of darkness in their darkness are darkening the already darkened world, only one man has the courage to be liberal, conservative, and moderate at the same time without being a flip-flopper; only one man has the strength to punch all of America’s problems in the face; only one man is so immortal that he cannot be killed by bullets, that even death itself cowers in fear when it merely hears his name. And only one man has the ability to solve all the world’s problems easily. That man is Theodore Roosevelt.

For this reason, the Imperial Senate wholeheartedly, firmly, and enthusiastically endorses Theodōros Roseveltēs for Byzantine-Roman Emperor, God-Emperor of mankind, and POTUS.

Actually, Teddy Roosevelt never died. He is sleeping under Mount Rushmore, waiting until the day when America needs him most. When that day comes, he shall emerge on a white steed and rid America of its enemies and woes and usher in a new age of imperial peace.

I Love The Catcher in the Rye for the Same Reason You Hate It

Oh, u so romantic, so hipster.

Pic related. Also, I just realized, the guy kind of reminds me of a hipster.

The Catcher in the Rye. My fifth god of fiction, most blessed, most confounding.

In all the (admittedly few) years I have lived, only five pieces of fiction impressed me enough that I considered them as my personal gods of fiction. These works inspired me, changed the way I saw the world, altered the direction I took my life in (even if a little bit). Perhaps Holden himself from The Catcher in the Rye put it best: “What really knocks me out is a book that, when you’re all done reading it, you wish the author that wrote it was a terrific friend of yours and you could call him up on the phone whenever you felt like it. That doesn’t happen much, though.” And it happened only five times so far for me in my life. Unfortunately, I have ridiculously high standards for storytelling – not out of arrogance, I hope, but rather because I am just so easily bored.

The first god was Grave of the Fireflies, which taught me tragedy. The second was The Romance of the Three Kingdoms, which taught me epicness. The third was The Lord of The Rings, which taught me imagination and limitless creativity. The fourth was Azumanga Daioh, a rare breed of anime that taught me about the whimsical and optimistic, yet also the wistful and sentimental to be found in youth and life.

And then there is the fifth god, my last god of fiction: The Catcher in the Rye. And possibly the greatest.

A lot of people don’t like The Catcher in the Rye. Even more hate the book, including many of my teachers and friends. I remember how I was talking with an English teacher of mine one day, and somewhere in the conversation I said that The Catcher in the Rye was my most favorite book. She seemed to freeze for a moment, blink for a few seconds, and look at me, a little perplexed, before admitting she didn’t really like it. I guess she was thinking this in her head, like all the book’s detractors: how could you enjoy a book that was about nothing but Holden Caulfield’s angsty, teenage whining?

And I think to myself: How could I not enjoy that?

The Catcher in the Rye was probably the last book I earnestly read from cover to cover. All of the other classics and “great pieces of literature” I read in high school couldn’t resonate with me the way The Catcher in the Rye did. Great Gatsby? Yeah, I waded through that one, but it felt like an extremely weak prototype of Catcher. Huck Finn? Well, I appreciated what Mark Twain was trying to accomplish, but it felt too dated for me (though I think Twain would sympathize). Lord of the Flies? Seriously, that was some boring @$# %&!* about some psychopathic kids adults who looked like kids. Their Eyes were Watching God? I used sparknotes. I didn’t even give it the honor of at least using cliffnotes (which is infinitely better than sparknotes). To be honest, barely any story I have come across in the past five years – high school English class or not – could resonate with me even 50% the way The Catcher in the Rye did (until now, maybe).

BOOOOOOOOO, BORING.

Don’t get me started on this one. If you really want to hear about it… I hate it.

When I see my writing, hear myself speak, listen to my thoughts as they ramble on and on – I hear a bit of Holden, too, even though I always forget, almost as if he is like a mirror into my being. And you know, every time, when I think to myself, “Do I think this is a good work of fiction?” I always almost subconsciously compare it to my fifth god of fiction. Not my first, nor my second, third, or even, I have to admit, my fourth. It is from The Catcher in the Rye where I set my standards for fiction, somehow.

I know some people enjoy reading or watching something that provokes the deepest depths of their deep, philosophical minds. Others enjoy reading or watching mindless entertainment, wrought with clichés and/or wish-fulfillment. Yet others want an intricate plot full of twists and turns, action and reaction, the great thrillers of human limits, physical and psychological. And still others want Disney a heroic, idealized triumph of goodness’ strength and might over evil (whatever “goodness” and “evil” are defined as). That’s all fine. But for me, the epitome of a good story is the immersive ambiance and the machinations of characters and their interactions; in short, two words: atmosphere and characterization. Particularly the latter.

And the tale of Holden Caulfield, The Catcher in the Rye, fulfilled precisely those requirements. Good atmosphere; even better, godly characterization.

There was no lofty philosophical modernist/post-modernist/whateverist rantings, no winding examinations of the deranged aspects of the human psyche, no ridiculous and depressing melodrama, no childishly optimistic Disney-like vindications of the human spirit, no goddamn love triangles that drag on for centuries. No, it was none of this. It was, for me, an extraordinarily written narrative about very, very ordinary circumstances and its very, very ordinary character (relatively speaking). The brilliance of the book, to me, is that it just tells me something as it sees it from its own (admittedly cynical, rambling) viewpoint. You’re not supposed to find the main character likeable; you’re not supposed to be enraptured by an exciting, explosive plot; you’re not supposed to cheer him on as he magically goes through some magical “character arc” or “changes to become a better/worse person” (I don’t understand why some people believe a “good” story blatantly needs this). You only see Holden and his, quite possibly, angst-filled, even whine-filled state of mind. That’s it. The Catcher in the Rye did for me what I thought usually impossible: portray an adolescent as an adolescent, portray a person being a person and not a character. In other words, it did one hell of a job characterizing one random adolescent dude. Isn’t it amazing that both the people who love and hate The Catcher in the Rye feel what they feel precisely because Holden Caulfield feels like such a real, living person, that he can extract real, living responses (loving or hateful), responses I don’t see everyday for most fictional characters? Responses to give to a normal person and not a character? Now that’s a brilliantly-written character. And a great story, too. Because it respects me by not expecting or wanting me to overthink too much. It wants me to digest it, slowly, over time, as it subtly changes me. It gives me all I can take, nothing more, nothing less, and asks for nothing.

French Fries, I choose you

French fries were my first solid food. French fries = my childhood

Anyhow, perhaps Mark Twain’s words from his Adventures of Huckleberry Finn (which has interestingly enough been compared to The Catcher in the Rye) sums up my ramblings: “Persons attempting to find a motive in this narrative will be prosecuted; persons attempting to find a moral in it will be banished; persons attempting to find a plot in it will be shot. BY ORDER OF THE AUTHOR. -Notice”

I found storytelling beauty in The Catcher in the Rye precisely through the fact that it quite blatantly, and intentionally, wasn’t meant to be beautifully written literature. There was highborn “motive” or a grandiose “moral” or even much of a “plot.” Perhaps I can use Holden’s rhetoric of phoniness here (even though I don’t necessarily agree with it): The Catcher in the Rye is anything but a phony. It is authentic. It might be unpleasant, even frustrating and annoying, but it is authentic. (That’s not to say motives, morals, and plots are automatically phony and can’t be authentic.)

For when I think of my gods of fiction, and the effect they had on me, The Catcher in the Rye jumps to my mind first. The others – sure, they were just as influential on me, maybe even more – but they just cannot compare, somehow. Even Azumanga Daioh, which I consider the happy, mirthful antithesis of The Catcher in the Rye – even that, which I see as a natural compliment to The Catcher in the Rye… even that still plaes in comparison.

It’s funny I’ve finally accepted all this and understood it fully, five years later. And all this came to me, now, at last, because I think I might have found a worthy heir to The Catcher in the Rye. At least for me.

It’s an anime, of all things (for better or worse), but if that’s how it’s supposed to be, so be it. For as I watched it, flitting through episode after episode, scene after scene, amazement after amazement, layer after layer, depth after depth, wonder after wonder, I was, very slowly, irrevocably reminded, for the first time in five years, of Holden Caulfield and The Catcher in the Rye. Reminded, for the first time in five years, of the dialogue; the fullness of personality; the struggle, both silly yet serious. Reminded, for the first time in five years, of the bittersweetness of those years, the age of troubles, the days when the things that fueled the economy of the empire, the world no less, dwindled and society collapsed.

HVMMVS

Pic unrelated. Hummus is awesome.

I still remember the day I first got the book. After reading the first few chapters, I asked an upperclassman friend of mine who had read the book the previous year, “What’s the point of this?”

He loved The Catcher in the Rye, so naturally, he replied, “There’s no point. That’s the point.”

After that, I found myself enjoying the book more and more. I found its point in its not having a point. I came to love it too. And I finished the entire book in a day (or two days… I don’t remember).

A triumph of no triumph, a victory of no victory, a glory of no glory. It taught me a favorite sentiment of mine: the pointless, meaningless struggle to do something you know is futile, to face death (in this case the death of childhood) with a smile. It spoke to me in the language of literature that I enjoyed, the language which was, while arguably vulgar and aimless, also, at the same time, intimate and familiar, tranquil (in an odd way) and simple (but not simplistic). It spoke to me, angst or no angst, whining or no whining. Even now, when I am older, and no longer trapped in my own little adolescent bubble (I think), it still speaks to me (albeit in a slightly different way). Somehow. I’ve heard from some people that The Catcher in the Rye is like a mirror: it doesn’t show you about Holden and his worldview so much as it secretly reveals to you about yourself and your worldview at the moment you read it.

And so, now, there it sits, above the others, a god of fiction, lofty and vain, yet humble in its own way, too. And there it sits, and there it will sit, unchanging. It won’t change, ever. The only thing that will change is me.

And Holden; well, Holden will always be a friend. Sure, he might not be the best person – and maybe he really is a bad, whiny, angsty, self-centered little twit as some argue (although they always seem to forget that this is a young guy whose freaking little brother just died (I’d be depressed and angsty too if I had an awesome kid brother who died)), but he will always be a friend and inspiration (in a weird way), unchanging. As he himself puts it, “I’m not too sure old Phoebe knew what the hell I was talking about. I mean she’s only a little child and all. But she was listening, at least. If somebody at least listens, it’s not too bad.”

Thank you, Holden. Thank you, J.D. Salinger. Thank you, The Catcher in the Rye. Thank you, my fifth god of fiction. Thank you for listening. These five years wouldn’t have been the same without you.

NAPOLEON, DA DA DA DA DA DA DA DA DA DA DA DA

Pic (un)related.

P.S. On a brighter note, I decided to buy a copy of the book on Amazon for one penny the other day. I’m such a goddamn phony. I really am. Or just a goddamn cheap Asian. Wait… is there a difference?

Are Humanities and Social Sciences Bad for Asians too?

If you’ve been reading the news these days, you’ve probably come across one, or more, or many articles and op-eds telling people about how terrible it is for students to be going into the humanities or social sciences.

How will you find a job with that Studio Art degree? Will that Philosophy PhD satisfy your hunger? That B.A. in Anthropology will just land you a job flipping burgers at McDonalds!

That looks delicious, except for the fact that I’m vegetarian.

Actually, they are right. Slightly. Humanities, arts, social sciences, and so on: unfortunately, these majors tend to make less money than their science and mathy counterparts, and they also tend to have higher unemployment, even though, from what I’ve looked up, they still make more money and have better employment prospects than people without college degrees. So perhaps, as some of these articles and op-eds suggest, there are too many people going into the Humanities and Social Sciences. Fine. Makes enough sense. Society needs people going into all sorts of subjects, not just politics and literature. But see, for me, there’s a wee bit of a problem.

 

 

I’m Asian.

Asians, see, don’t tend to go into Humanities and the Social Sciences. Lots of Asians go into science, or engineering, or tech, or medicine, or something along those lines. I notice, for instance, a shift from “lots of Asians” to “not a lot of Asians” when I go from, say, my science/tech classes to my humanities/social science classes.

That’s fine, really. I don’t have a problem with that. Actually, never mind, I do. Asians, along with other immigrant groups, tend to emphasize getting degrees in “useful” subjects much more than other non-immigrant groups. That’s perfectly justifiable, except so many Asians go into these “practical” fields that it’s become a problem of imbalance: some within the Asian and immigrant communities are starting to advocate for parents and other Asians to encourage their kids to go into fields other than the stereotypical doctor/engineer lineup.

Stop the madness.

What does this have to do with Humanities and Social Sciences enrollment in general?

It means that when I see the people saying that less and less people should be going into humanities and social sciences, I feel a bit conflicted. See, that might be true to some degree, but I’m also Asian. And as for us Asians, I believe the opposite should be happening – that more and more Asians should be going into the humanities and social sciences.

Frankly, I don’t enjoy hearing an older Asian man or woman saying that I should just become a doctor, and I don’t want to hear another of that from somewhere else. I’ve heard it enough times, and I can just tell when they are about to say it.  I don’t want to be another Asian doctor or engineer. I don’t need to. Some Asians are fine with those fields, and I respect that, but that is not for me.

It’s an odd conflict. In general, there are more people in the humanities and social sciences than there should be; yet within the Asian (and immigrant) communities, it’s the opposite, in my opinion.

KONG FU ZU SAYS

Confucius, an Asian philosopher. I heard he was totally into the Humanities or something.

How to find the balance?

I don’t know.

But I do know it’s a good idea to not do something if you’re that ambivalent towards it. On the other hand, I also know it’s a good idea to plan ahead. There’s nothing wrong being an Art/Philosophy/whatever major, so long as you know the risks and consequences, and plan accordingly.

I think that’s what we should be telling stupid kids like me, instead of “Take this major,” or “Don’t go into that subject.” I should be telling myself “Think about why you want to do this, the pros and cons, and how you are going to manage yourself with these tools.” After all, majors are nothing but tools. College degrees are nothing but tools. Some tools are better than others, certainly, but all tools are useful somehow. You just have to familiarize yourself with the tool, its purpose, its limits and its potential.

That said, being a doctor ain’t fun. I’ve heard (though I cannot verify) that the debt from medical school makes other college debts look like a joke.

92% of statistics are made up!

Though I guess you can be a surgeon and get good pay to pay off your debts. Then again, it’s pretty stressful being one, I’ve heard.

(Note: I use “Asian” in this article, but in reality I could substitute Asian with most other immigrant groups. See here for more.)

Japan: Regretfully the World’s Last Hope Against Eurocentrism

Eurocentrism in its extreme form.

Why does the world continue to allow for a lack of respect for diverse peoples and cultures? Comrades, these are troubling times indeed, when the masses embrace the capitalist corruption of the people’s liberation: Eurocentrism.

On a serious note, Eurocentrism is a terrible thing. It makes me mad, for one thing; so much that I wrote a blog post about it ages ago. It also, more importantly, leads to a decline in respect for diverse peoples and cultures. It leads to, for instance, Mitt Romney arguing that Israeli culture is better than Palestinian culture, and thus by extension that generally Western culture is better than Islamic culture. Or, on a rather depressing note, it leads to unnecessary violence like the recent shooting rampage at a Sikh temple. But, on a brighter note, there is hope against Eurocentrism. In fact, it is blatantly obvious hope, even if you only have some basic knowledge in international affairs and history. That hope is Japan.

Japan is the best – and perhaps (currently) the only – counterargument against Eurocentrism.

No, no, I don’t mean to imply that Japanese culture is awesome compared to Western culture. Because it’s not. Yes, I think the phonological structure of Japanese is interesting, and I think the Japanese have the best Asian confectionary; however, Samurai and ninja are overrated, and I don’t give a damn about how spiritually pure they are in their martial arts, and anime is just goddamn anime for goodness sakes.

But Japan is still, perhaps, for now, the only clear argument against Eurocentrism.

Think of it this way. When you think of the “developed world,” or of “modernized” countries, especially those with any political or economic power on the international stage, these would probably come to mind: America, Britain, Russia (sort of), Germany, Japan, France, and so on. Which one’s the odd one out? Japan. Why? Because it’s the only non-European one on the list. When you think of countries that were formerly colonial empires/imperialist douchebags, these would probably come to mind: Britain, France, Germany, Japan, Italy, Spain, Portugal, Russia, and America (arguably). Who’s the odd one out again? Japan. Because, again, it’s the only non-European one on the list.

Starting to get the drift here?

Japan shows the white devils that they, too, can be imperialist douchebags by shooting those godless, heathen, pagan Chinamen. (See First Sino-Japanese War)

For the past century and a half or so, Japan has proven itself to be the only successful non-European nation – if we define success as becoming a world power rivaling that of the “Western” states. A number of recent economic powerhouses, such as China, South Korea, Taiwan, Brazil, India, and so on, don’t count because they have only recently rose to power. Japan has been at it since the late 1800s, and not only that, it also has a history of being an imperialist douchebag like former Western colonial powers.

But one could argue that Japan is Westernized: they wear “Western” clothing, eat fast food, and have a democracy that supports freedom and equality. These, however, are relatively superficial. Traditional clothing is still very much commonplace in Japan, though in more limited contexts; and Japan still eats rice; and so on. Even their sort of freedom and equality is not exactly the same as in Europe or America. For instance, while there is freedom, there isn’t on the other hand much encouragement of individuality. Conformity to society is much more important; standing out, playing the unique hero – that’s discouraged. Shy from conflict, cooperate and compromise or even comply rather than “fight for what you believe in.” And so on. That’s not to mention that there’s still a clear patriarchal, even repressive, element of Japanese culture: women still have clear gender roles. Ultimately, the traditional influence on Japan is still extremely pervasive, even if guys don’t go around committing suicide to preserve their honor (as much).

Thus Japan – yes, that very Japan that gave you Pokemon and anime and sushi – proves that Western culture is not fully necessary for success. For Japan did not begin as a white folks’ nation with white folks’ culture, nor did it become one . Nay, even its modernization programme during the Meiji era relied heavily on cooperation between the government and corporate leaders of samurai stock, and it was done so in terms of a Confucian worldview (all honor to the Emperor, etc.); so so much for laissez-faire capitalism. And Japan’sefforts succeeded beyond imagination, flabbergasting the Europeans who watched in shock as Japan beat Russia and China and colonized Korea and Taiwan, proving that Westerners weren’t the only people capable of being big colonial douchebags/dicks/jerks. When Japan was defeated in World War II, they shocked the West once again as they rebuilt themselves into an economic power, without the need to adopt heavy doses of Western individualism, so much that in the 80s Americans feared that Japan would one day take over the world.

Arararararararararararagi

Anyone who can explain to me how this is related to the concept of Japanese conformity vs. individualism/playing hero will win free french fries.

My conclusion here is that perhaps culture does not determine the superiority of a nation or people; institutions (as well as historical luck) have a much bigger role. The Japanese developed institutions that kept them going for a long time, and, despite their current economic woes, still keep them going well enough to at least barely float. At the very least, something happened that caused Japan’s standard of living to rival that of America or France. I highly doubt it was because white people have better manners or philosophy. Japanese children are still taught values that adhere, directly or indirectly, to Confucian ethics and East Asian ideals. But this did not, and does not, really produce a culture inferior to that of the so-called “Judaeo-Christian” West (a concept which itself I find problematic, and, yes, you guessed it, Eurocentric).

If Japan, so steeped in its Confucian and East Asian roots, could produce a modern power without heavy doses of Western culture, who are we to day that an Islamic, Indian, or West African culture couldn’t do the same? That’s why Japan is so important. It’s the only clear evidence we have of a successful modern nation that isn’t Western in culture. Japan’s example proves that with good leaders, right timing, and luck, any culture can have the means to succeed and become the imperialist jerkass and/or economic powerhouse it always wanted to be, Western Judaeo-Christian culture or not.

Yes, Japan is overrated in some ways – no, in many ways. But in other ways, it really is the only hope against Eurocentrism, the only good evidence we have that you don’t have to be white to be an imperialist, greedy, violent, ruthless, colonizing douchebag if they try hard enough – and in some ways, that’s good for the white folks too. When every culture is a douchebag, maybe then it’d be easier to have respect for diverse peoples and cultures.

I admit I prefer Japanese rice over Chinese, Korean, Vietnamese, or Indian rice. I like its texture and moistness. Also, this rice is white. Is that racist?

(Also, happy one year birthday to my blog. What an imperialist, people’s blast, a truest respect for diverse peoples and cultures:

Happy birthday to the masses, happy birthday to the masses, happy birthday to you all, may we rid the world of dirty reactionary imperialist-capitalists!)

Asians are Stupid Like Everyone Else

Nooders

On the other hand, the guy who invented instant noodles is a genius.

Maybe we’re just better at hiding it.

Asians are stupid, too. In fact, I would love for people to think Asians are stupid. That way, people will underestimate us instead of overestimate us, so they won’t be so surprised at our success. I mean, come on, the only minority in America that’s actually really smart are Jews, right?

Racisism aside, the model minority myth is unfortunately very popular among the masses. It is also, just as unfortunately, very popular among the Asian masses, which makes things worse. Sure, we have the glorious Confucius, odd family customs and rituals that incite higher suicide rates among students in East Asia, kung fu skills, and eyes that need eyeglasses – an important indicator of intelligence, I am told – but sometimes I’ve wonder if people haven’t seen a dumb Asian. I have. Or at least I’ve seen Asians that aren’t smart. Fine, “not smart” and “dumb” are not the same things.

Nevertheless, I have an unscientific, untested theory as to why there seem to be so many smart Asians – merely a matter of statistics, I believe.

Basically, the whole model minority myth is the result of circumstantial racial categories. In America, there are officially four major racial categories: white, black, Hispanic, and Asian. Now, well-educated immigrants, that is, immigrants who have high levels of education come from all over the world. We have, for instance, Iranians, many of whom fled from the current regime following the Revolution; we also have Africans (from Africa), who prefer to lend their talents away from their unstable homelands; we also have well-educated Europeans from Europe, well-educated people from Latin America and the Carribean, and so on. However, out of all these groups, only Asians constitute a separate racial category. Iranians and other Middle Easterners are often classified as white; Africans from Africa as black; and so on. So in the non-Asian categories, the well-educated immigrants are lumped together with other folks (some well-educated, some not-so-well-educated) already living in America, while in the Asian category, since there weren’t that many Asians to begin with, well-educated immigrants are overrepresented.

In short, my theory is that Asians only seem smarter because well-educated folks are overrepresented in the Asian category even though well-educated immigrants come from all over the world. Of course there are other reasons and issues too (such as the decent performances of Asians school in Asia), but I’ll just pretend they don’t exist for argument’s sake – I just want to point out one factor here.

Maybe all this makes no sense at all. If you are really skeptical, and wish to see a real example of a stupid Asian, look no further: he’s right here. I got barely passable grades in Calculus and Physics, and it’s a family thing too; probably explains why my parents weren’t so angry at me, since they figured they didn’t want me saying something like “Well, at least I passed Physics unlike you.” That’s a stupid Asian for you.

Look, I want Asians to be treated like stupid, normal people. That way, colleges won’t overestimate us and not want to take too many of us in, and we’ll be able to get into the best correges unrike those sirry American kids!

Asians are funny on my money.

Pic slighly unrelated.

(Ah, it feels good writing up something after a long absence. I am also a very lazy, unmotivated Asian.)

Skyrim vs. Anime – An Objective Comparison

Pic unrelated.

Despite being products of two drastically different psychoses, Skyrim and Anime (that is, Animeland, the magical land of magical schoolgirls, explosions, and skittles) are remarkably similar. Both are extremely inhospitable lands that contain some of the most dangerous environments ever known to man. They also may qualify as drugs.

That being said, in respect for the glorious Chairman Mao’s sponsorship of the ideals of “respect for diverse cultures and peoples,” it is pertinent that we compare and contrast these two generally unusual, occasionally creepy, and even fantastically insane realms.

1. Literary Achievements
Animeland: It seems the inhabitants, in a few cases, have a reoccurring penchant to live their lives like some mind screwing, post-modernist, insane incomprehensibility akin to that of Alice in Wonderland or 20th century Russian literature.
Skyrim: Scripture made by a living god that secretly shows, using Biblical style prose and poetry, that the world of Tamriel is actually that of a video game. Oh, and the Lusty Argonian Maid.
Winner: Skyrim.

2. Progressive Roles of Women in the Military
Animeland: Military women are sex objects
Skyrim: Military women are sex objects
Winner: Skyrim. At least they (probably) are wearing their panties or the pseudo-medieval equivalent.

3. Landscape
Animeland: Varies.
Skyrim: Varies.
Winner: Draw. Just kidding, Skyrim.

4. Safety and Security
Animeland: Statistics reveal Animeland to be an extremely dangerous to traverse, physically and mentally
Skyrim: Somewhat dangerous to traverse, despite the arrival of time-eating dragons
Winner: Draw. Bureaucratic regulations mandate that there needs to be at least one draw to ensure fairness.

5. Language
Animeland: High-pitched Japanese seems to be the default dialect among women. Its linguistic relationship with more standard dialects of Japanese is otherwise hard to discern.
Skyrim: Shouting at the sky can change weather or summon dragons.
Winner: Skyrim.

That's not the Dragon Language, it's ancient Mesopotamian cuneiform.

6. Musical Traditions
Animeland: Occasionally there exist decent ballads, but otherwise it’s the same thing.
Skyrim: Songs have the power to make universes explode.
Winner: Skyrim. Is there any comparison?

7. Courtship Customs
Animeland: This is better left unmentioned.
Skyrim: Marriage simply requires an inconsequential, petty trinket.
Winner: Animeland. Skyrim, unfortunately, encourages risky choices as it provides a small timeslot between engagement and marriage, and thus prevents serious contemplation on how one will now ruin one’s life forever.

8. Infant Mortality Rate
Animeland: Monstrously Low. For unexplained reasons the infant mortality rate for females is ridiculously low, hence why there are so many schoolgirls running around.
Skyrim: Absurdly High. There’s probably about 10 kids total running around the entire region.
Winner: Animeland.

9. Military Capabilities
Animeland: Giant mecha.
Skyrim: Manly shouts that rip through the fabric of time and space.
Winner: Skyrim

10. Byzantines
Animeland: …
Skyrim: Imperials are Romans. Romans are Byzantines.
Winner: Skyrim. No explaination needed.

Winner:

Skyrim 7-2

Sorry, anime fans, as much as I like a couple things here and there… but I saw this coming.

Pic also unrelated. Did you know this vaguely resembles Indic and Southeast Asian bas reliefs?

Denounce Rick Santorum: Unite Against the Skyrim-Hating Imperialist Reactionaries

I would argue with almost 100% certainty that Mr. Rick Santorum would probably hate Skyrim for it’s pro-gay stance and endorsement of paganism (not to mention its grey and gray morality and violence). But I’m not here to talk about his homophobia or how he embarrasses Christians who believe in the separation of Church and State. Those are issues I find a bit more touchy.

However, what has irked me was Santorum’s delusions concerning history. Or perhaps he’s just a liar. Maybe both, who knows. Ultimately, he follows a long line of American nationalists (or, if you prefer, “patriots”) who fling around outdated ideas of Western superiority and why the ideals of white folks are awesomer than the ideals of everyone else. While I do agree that French Fries taste better than Tempura and that Hollywood is better than Bollywood (actually, scrap that, they’re both equally bad), the mere existence of Santorum’s Eurocentric rhetoric shows the fact that many people still do not have respect for diverse peoples and cultures.

There have been two chief instances where Santorum advocated Eurocentric delusions. In one case, he argued that the Crusades weren’t that bad. In another, he argued that the British Empire collapsed because they didn’t do enough to spread their virtues via imperialism.

Crusades

Even for those of us with a basic knowledge of history, the Crusades were anything but pretty. Last year, however, Mr. Santorum begged to differ:

“The idea that the Crusades and the fight of Christendom against Islam is somehow an aggression on our part is absolutely anti-historical. And that is what the perception is by the American left who hates Christendom. They hate Western civilization at the core. That’s the problem.”

Ultimately, Mr. Santorum’s claim boils down to “the Crusades weren’t bad, the Crusaders weren’t mean, they were justified.” Right. BS. In the First Crusade, for instance, a bunch of Europeans went to the Levant and basically massacred the inhabitants of Jerusalem, regardless of whether they were Muslim, Christian, or Jewish. In the Fourth Crusade, as another example, a group of Crusaders basically got bored and decided to sack Constantinople and kill Orthodox Christians instead of Muslims. In short, the Crusaders sh*tted over one of the most prosperous and cosmopolitan Christian states in Europe. Most of the Western knights started killing, raping, and burning, and only the Italian knights were smart enough to hoard all the good loot, like priceless works of art, instead of smashing and setting them on fire. Love thy neighbor, anyone?

Additionally, many of the Crusades occurred not necessarily because of evil Muslims killing everyone (most Muslim states, actually, didn’t give a damn about your religion as long as you paid your taxes*). It was politics, pure and simple. The First Crusade, for instance, was partly a Byzantine ploy. Long story short, the Byzantine Emperor Alexios I inherited the empire in the 1080s when Turkish hordes of doom were knocking on his doorstep and about to annihilate the empire. Alexios, being a Machiavellian genius, decided to use the backwater states of Europe against the Muslims. Making up some bullsh*t about how evil the Muslims were, he promised the Europeans lots of rewards (like plunder and etc.) if they helped him fight against the Turks. The Crusaders thought this was an awesome idea; however, the Crusaders decided to screw over the Byzantines and go solo and Alexios’ plan turned into a fail.

That’s not to mention other Crusades, such as those against Orthodox Christians and pagans in Eastern Europe, led by the Teutonic Knights, who wore funny helmets. The Teutonic Knights were anything but pleasant; they even fought against their fellow Christians.

So much for your pure, virtuous Crusaders, Mr. Santorum. Heck, even conservatives disagree with you. Anyhow, it is a pity that the word “Crusade” still carries with it romantic connotations of a noble struggle, while the Islamic equivalent, “Jihad,” gets all the negative connotations thrown at it.

Britain is an octopus... sort of like the kind in Japanese tentacle porn or something.

British Imperialism

So said Rick Santorum, the brilliant historian:

If you look at every European country that has had world domination, a world presence, from the French to the British – 100 years ago, the sun didn’t set on the British Empire. If you look at that empire today – why? Because they lost heart and faith in their heart in themselves and in their mission, who they were and what values they wanted to spread around the world. Not just for the betterment of the world, but safety and security and the benefit of their country.

A translation of his rant: white people, in particularly the British, were just and noble bringers of civilization to the barbaric savages of the rest of the world.

Sadly, the British, like all empires – regardless of whether they were European, Asian, Middle Eastern, African, or whatever – wanted money. Resources. Power. They were not colonizers“for the betterment of the world.” They were directly competing with their fellow Europeans, such as the French, Germans, and Russians, for – again – money, resources, and power. Millions of non-Europeans (not to mention lower-class Europeans!) labored and toiled to produce the resources that led to the prosperity of the European middle and upper class. The European leadership justified imperialism and colonialism because it was supposed to make the world better (c.f. White Man’s Burden). It was, of course, just propaganda used to subjugate previously-independent peoples and states under European rule.  That is not to say all European colonials were evil resource-hoarders. I’m pretty sure a good number earnestly (albeit deludedly) believed that they were helping the poor, savage folk of the non-European world. Some probably thought it was business as usual. But that doesn’t ignore the fact that a whole wollop of non-white people (and poorer white folks, too) were essentially enslaved for “the betterment of the world”.

You know, Mr. Santorum, I’m not sure why the Indians and half of Africa wanted independence, then. Maybe Gandhi was too barbaric to understand the splendor and virtues of the superior British race? Or, you know, I’m also wondering, why then did your god-heroes like George Washington and Thomas Jefferson declare independence from Britain if it was so great, huh?**

Everyone is Evil, Including Europeans, Mr. Santorum

My point here is, people like Mr. Santorum are going off blabbering outdated notions of Western superiority. We’ve gotten much better today at scoffing at such nonsense, but the Crusade (*snicker*) against Eurocentrism won’t be over under buffoons like Mr. Santorum learn that the Westerners weren’t – and aren’t – angelic messengers and warriors of god. Europeans and Americans are just as good and bad as everyone else. There were Asian, Middle Eastern, Indian, African, and Native American madmen just as greedy and violent as European imperialists or Crusaders.

Being a complete douchebag isn’t just limited to a single ethnicity or racial group or religion. Being ignorant and delusion also isn’t just limited to a single ethnicity or racial group or religion, either. In fact, I suppose Mr. Santorum is a good example of the latter, at the very least.

History is never black and white. Even people we see as great and heroic can have darker sides. People we think of as villains can be heroes to others (case in point: see how Mongolians love Genghis Khan, not to mention the PRC). Heck, even Skyrim does a decent job at proving this point about history (albeit not as deeply as I hoped).***

All in all, we have a presidential candidate whose grasp on history is flawed at best, delusional at worst, and he has a whole mass of supporters who share his vision. Because of his insults to the glorious subject of history, as well as his offenses to diverse peoples and cultures, there is only one option for us: to denounce him and his imperialist, reactionary thoughts, and ensure they these thoughts not spread amongst the masses.

(As a side note, Mr. Santorum probably hates the new SimCity**** too, because it is pro-Environmental or something. Frankly, I don’t care – I just want to relive my childhood again. Long live SimCity! And that was a very long time since my last post…)

Disclaimer: I like the Imperials more than the Stormcloaks.

*The special tax, specifically, is called the jizya. In short, if you aren’t Muslim, you have to pay an extra tax, but otherwise you’re left alone; in the early years of Islam, Muslim leaders even stopped people from converting to Islam just so they could get more tax money. So much for your murdering-everyone-by-the-sword terrorist stereotype. Of course, some would then say that means the Islamic bureaucracies discriminated against non-Muslims anyways. In actuality, the Muslim leaders pretty much taxed the Muslims the same, by claiming the Muslims also had to pay an extra tax to fund charities (called Zakat). So, to summarize, Muslim rulers were just greedy tax hoarders Republicans would hate, and a lot of people originally converted to Islam for tax evasion… only to find out they pretty much had to pay the same amount as before.
**In reality the American revolutionaries weren’t exactly a bunch of nice folks, either, but I’ll rant about that another time.
*** For those of you who have no idea of what I’m talking about, basically, in Skyrim, you can join one of two equally flawed sides in the civil war. On one side you have the freedom-fighting but racist and overly idealistic Stormcloaks, on the other you have the cosmopolitan but bureaucratic and inefficient Empire.
****The new game was announced March 6. Apparently pollution from my city can drift over to my friends’ cities, which is good trolling material.

Christmas Miracles Happen in Trench Warfare and the Byzantine Empire

Christmas in USA #1 is arguably bipolar, sort of like the occasional female lead in anime. On one hand, there is consumerism and the excesses of capitalism; on the other, there is the warm sentimentality of gift-giving and family-celebrating. The bipolar nature of the holiday has taken on its own spirit throughout the world in places as far and weird as Japan – all in all very far removed from its quaint and ancient origins in the world of Dickens’ A Christmas Carol.

We should appreciate it all the while, regardless of whether we prefer to burn ourselves in the flames of consumerist greed or drown ourselves in the ocean of sappy family get-togethers and egg nog (I hate egg nog, actually). Either way, we’re still better off than those unfortunate men trapped in the battle hell of the Franco-German border 97 years ago, who had the luck of celebrating Christmas in arguably one of the stupidest and sh*ttiest wars in history. Yet every time I hear their story – the story of the Christmas truce – I almost cry a bit, literally, and am convinced that, somehow, humans are actually capable of being nice to each other for once.

The Christmas truce was, otherwise, very much like a Christmas miracle in every sense of the word, for 97 years ago – in 1914 – several months into World War I, things – for lack of better wording – sucked. Imagine this:

You have been sitting in (literally) a sh*t and mud filled trench for days, weeks, months even. And when you have been let out, it was only so that you could run at a blizzard of machine-gun fire, artillery shells, grenade shrapnel, and poisonous gas. And as winter dawns, as snow begins to fall, nothing has changed: you still sit in your trench, perhaps fresh from another run over the trench that killed or wounded half your buddies. Yet it’s Christmas, and you sorely miss your mother, father, lover, siblings, and everyone back home, and you miss celebrating the holiday with them. But perhaps you’ve been at war for too long that you don’t even know it’s already Christmas.

Suddenly, you hear laughter and singing in the far distance. You and your surviving trench buddies poke your heads slightly above the trench (but not too much, in case – as you’ve learned the hard way – there are snipers). And there, not too far away, you see candlelights, makeshift Christmas decorations, wine, cigarettes, warm food… and British, French, and Germans arm in arm, singing carols to each other.

An impossible sight. You’ve been shooting at these inhuman enemy imbeciles for months – and to make merry with them? Isn’t that treason? And yet. They – your friends and enemies over there – beckon you over. Come, join the fun, there is no war, no battle here, for now.

You still miss your mother, father, lover, siblings, and everyone back home. And chances are you will never see them again (it’s a miracle you lived this long). Your new family, in actuality, is here, on the battlefield, of all places. And so, putting behind your suspicions, nationalist bigotry, and raging war spirit, you decide to jump over your trench and cross over to the other side.

And very soon, instead of firing guns and throwing grenades, you are laughing and singing with your friends and enemies on Christmas. It sure beats killing each other.

AND so, The Christmas truce, as it was called, lasted for several days on some parts of the war front, and I suspect it would have lasted longer had not the commanders forced their troops to return to fighting. During the few days of the Christmas truce (or even just one day at some parts of the war front), soldiers trained to kill or be killed engaged in what to us would have been mundane Christmas activities: singing carols, giving little gifts to each other, even playing football (the normal kind, not the American kind). But to these men, it certainly beat blasting each other’s brains out. And amazingly, despite discouragement and condemnation from the higher-ups, Christmas truces occurred again – several times – on both the Western and Eastern fronts of World War I in succeeding years.

And so, this Christmas, we always hear about Christmas miracles or the true meaning of Christmas: perhaps we’ve heard of some douchey old bourgeoisie capitalist learning how to be nice, or how you shouldn’t commit suicide because people care about you, or how it’s okay to be different and special, or that Santa Claus is real. All nice and all, but nothing special, in my opinion. If we can be nice and friendly to each other on just one day, I’m pretty sure we can be nice and friendly to each other most days of the year anyways.

But the Christmas Truce was a true Christmas miracle. Men decided to be nice and friendly to each other even though they were supposed to kill each other and even though they probably had already killed each other’s friends and relatives. It takes a miracle to turn the other cheek. It’s hard, certainly, but possible.

And so, the Imperial Senate wishes everyone a Merry Christmas/Hanukhah/Kwanzaa, a Joyous Secular Holidays, and a Happy (Gregorian) New Year.

And actually, Santa Claus was real. Saint Nicholas lived in the Byzantine Empire.  How awesome is that?

Further reading: http://www.firstworldwar.com/features/christmastruce.htm

I don’t know if they actually bothered to build snowmen.

US Congress, Even Genghis Khan is better at Totalitarianism: You’re Not There… Yet.

In case you didn't notice, they're both Republicans and Democrats in here. Yay for bi-partisan opposition.

Give these guys a pat on the back. They figured it wasn’t cool to be part of an Authoritarian government.

The New Age-y hype about the 2012 Mayan prophecy might not be so far-fetched after all.

I have recently begun worrying about recent legislation by the US Congress which, to put it bluntly, are atrocious in nature and intention. In other words, I am denouncing the US Congress for their attempts to destroy vegetables (yes!), the internet, and, most alarmingly, the so-called “freedoms” America was (supposedly) founded on. There’s a reason they’re even less popular than Paris Hilton.

Originally I thought about discussing the Pizza thing and the SOPA/Protect IP Act, but people have been ranting about that enough online, and you can look at the links at the bottom of this post for more. There’s something even more serious here, something more sinister, and something a lot of people haven’t really heard about, compliments of the media.

The US is at War

“The United States has struggled to craft laws and procedures to prosecute the unprecedented kind of war that came to our shores on Sept. 11, 2001.”

Senators Levin and McCain

I didn’t know America was waging an “unprecedented kind of war”. Well, yes, America is at war with “Terror,” a vaguely defined military concept (like “War on Near-Sub-Machinegun Speed Crossbows,” “War on Trench Warfare,” “War on Tanks,” “War on Ancient Chinese Strategems,” or “War on Bombs”). But I digress.

The so-called National Defense Authorization Act has already been passed by both houses of Congress. It has bipartisan support. And bipartisan opposition – from people and groups ranging from Democrats and Republicans to Tea Partyers, the FBI, the secretary of Defense, the directors of national intelligence, and Obama himself (who threatens to veto it should it pass).

The Christian Science Monitor nicely summarizes one of the most controversial parts of the bill which

“require[s] military custody of a terror suspect believed to be a member of Al Qaeda or its affiliates and involved in attacks on the United States.  […]the bill would deny US citizens suspected of being terrorists the right to trial, subjecting them to indefinite detention […]”

Furthermore, as a Republic Senator (Lindsey Graham) says, the bill will

“say in law for the first time that the homeland is part of the battlefield.”

So, to put it simply for those of us who don’t comprehend authoritarian rule of the likes of Genghis Khan or Alexander the Great, basically, if you are even suspected of being a terrorist, you’re locked up indefinitely. The “war” (what war?) is coming back home.

For those of us too young to remember, similar things happened before, most notoriously during World War II. Several times. And it wasn’t pretty. And this isn’t even a WWII situation we have here currently, and America already needs more or less de facto internment of “suspected terrorists”? I thought America was already doing a “good enough job” dealing with “terrorists” already? Guess pulling out of Iraq doesn’t mean much, then.

When the people against this range across the political spectrum, including Glenn Beck, Rand Paul, Al Franken, the ACLU, General Petraeus, Ron Paul, you know that something is definitely wrong. The President threatened to veto the bill earlier… then decided not to veto it after all. Too bad, too bad. Fortunately I never had high hopes for him nor McCain. History rolls on, folks!

Thankfully I couldn't vote for either Obama or McCain in the previous election.

Conclusion

Welcome to the future, folks. For years, I thought sci-fi dystopia was a bit wacky and fantastical, the ideas of having mega-corporations and/or corrupt police states lording over everyone a tad bit far-fetched. I was wrong: dystopia is on our doorstep, very close, just like it always was. That being said, the bill might not be so dangerous as it may seem, and things will roll along as they always had since there’s no one to detain anyways. Then again, I don’t think that gamble is worth taking.

And so, history rolls on, and I will have to worry about my schoolwork for the next quarter. Thankfully, I don’t have to worry about a huge war threatening the lives of every single one of us. Right? Now I just need some good war music to soothe the soul and bring peace and prosperity to the illustrious and hope-filled future of mankind, a place where we can go beyond the mere barbarity, cynicism, oppression, and Byzantine-haters of the past.

Of course, all that said, Genghis Khan would laugh at what weaklings Americans are.

 

Further Reading

Pizza

Internet

War

 

If Theodore Roosevelt was considered un-American, the world would explode through his rage.

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