I agree with this so much. The advocacy/non-profit world is in great need of technological skills.
Interesting articles from the past couple weeks…
A study published in this month’s American Journal of Public Health finds that highly influential transportation engineers relied on shoddy research to defend policies that discourage the development of protected bike lanes in the U.S. In their paper, the researchers point out that male-dominated engineering panels have repeatedly torpedoed street designs that have greater appeal to female cyclists.
Well, that sucks. We need more female transportation engineers! And how can these men not think or care about the benefits of protected bike lanes? Don’t they think about their wives, girlfriends, female friends/family, and children when designing streets with bike lanes? They’re probably thinking that protected lanes would be more expensive, but there’s so much benefit for so many people/the environment/neighborhoods to have better bike infrastructure. Yet another old boys club…
The most recent Texas Transportation Institute congestion report came out under the headline, “As Traffic Jams Worsen, Commuters Allowing Extra Time for Urgent Trips.” Lots of doom-and-gloom language when what they really mean is that congestion is easing.
That’s right. Reduced congestion has been one of many benefits of the reduction in miles driven over the past eight years. As of 2011 – the latest year for which data is available – congestion was about as light as it was in 1998. And it had been down at that level for four years. The annual toll on car commuters went from 43.1 hours of delay to 42 hours in 2007 and then dipped way down to 37.6 – and stayed there for the next three years. In 2011 it inched up by less than half an hour to 38.0 [PDF].
Traffic and infrastructure has gone hand in hand…From 1970 to 2004, driving steadily increased each year, and more highways were built, and roads widened. BUT, since driving has slowly been decreasing, there should be less hype like, “OMG, we need to build more roads.” When I think about this, I consider the fact that, yes, data shows driving is decreasing…but how many people actually notice? Whenever I drive 880 or 101 during rush hour…shits insane!! While the data shows a decline, maybe it’s mostly in urban areas. Driving around in the suburbs feels no different. And with all the articles talking about how millenials drive less now…well, that may be true in cities, but definitely not in the suburbs.
This is great, and makes sense in theory - bikes are cheap, they represent self-autonomy even more than cars because you’re physically moving yourself around without depending on foreign oil, or motors, etc., and they help you support local businesses. I’m going to try those reasons on my dad…
“Old Oakland” vs. “New Oakland”
This article was on my to-read list for a month, and I finally got around to it today. It’s an NPR article about how Oakland is a new town, with new faces and a new personality. It’s not the same predominantly-black city it was back in the day. Now, it’s common to see hipsters everywhere, but that means the natives to the city are getting pushed out.
Riggins explained: “When I say ‘Old Oakland,’ what I mean is really the people that were born and raised here, that often get forgotten. And that’s basically black and brown people in Oakland. Because right now we’re having a big gentrification, [and] a lot of people that aren’t from Oakland — that wouldn’t come to Oakland 10 years ago — are moving to Oakland.”
Still, Oakland holds onto a bit of its soul…and perhaps that’s the best part of this town. There’s such a rich history of diversity, art and culture that will stay with it for a while.
If we want to have a successful Oakland, it’s got to be diversified,” he said, “but I think that there still and hopefully there will be always a dominant thread going through that fabric of African-American and black culture.” O’Connor said
Oakland has the potential to maintain its strong diverse identity — something San Francisco lost. He says it helps that what he calls “identity politics” are no longer en vogue.
Appreciating this town more and more each day.
Don’t like the way you look? A little plastic surgery can take care of that. Don’t like that you look too “Asian”? Plastic surgery can help fix the features of your people and make you look like you haven’t got the worst genes in the world…
This article is about a Chinese-British guy named Leo (used to be Jiang) who has undergone extensive plastic surgery to make him look less “Asian.” Years of getting picked on at school drove him to alter his face to rid himself of reasons to be taunted. Nose bridge more defined, jaw more pointed, and extra folds added to his eyes. Boom! He just barely passes as Asian. He says:
I view this as a facilitator. It makes me happy. It makes me confident. The longer I live, the less racial overtones will hang over it.”
He lingers for a second. “I have deracialized myself to a certain extent.” Taking away, or dulling down, the features that made him stand out and becoming more integrated with Western society have led him to be neutralized. “I no longer think like Chinese people think. And in some sense I often don’t think the way the British people think. It’s unavoidable.”
I empathize with him because it is painful to be the one who is constantly being made fun of for a reason you can’t even control. It’s scarring to be called names and made to feel inferior because you look different from everyone else. When people are made to feel like the only options they have for acceptance are to get surgery, or worse, commit suicide, it’s evident we’ve got some problems in our world. Jiang isn’t the only one in our community who has had to endure racial slurs, or been targeted for being a little “different.” David Phan, a 13-year old queer boy in Utah, committed suicide last year because of all the bullying he endured at school. Danny Chen, a 19-year soldier who was one of the few Asians in his infantry, killed himself while fighting in Afghanistan because he had been hazed in the army and called “gook,” and “chink.”
It’s saddening to hear about these fallen members of our community. And with Jiang, those who are distancing themselves from his people and a shared identity.
There’s so much to learn from these stories. We’re still fighting an uphill battle in being seen as fully “American.” There are still people who hold prejudices against Asians. Homophobia still runs rampant in our society, and queer people are still barred the same rights as heterosexual people, just because of who they love. We need to teach acceptance, diversity and love. To me, these stories demonstrate the need to strengthen Asian American identity. And to take notice of all the reasons why community is so important, and how important it is to share our experiences. The more we share, the more we learn about each other, what struggles we have in common, what struggles we face as individuals and what we can do to help each other and ourselves.
It’s too bad that people had to take their lives, or put themselves in danger, to bring attention to these issues. I’ve had to answer the question, “What issues does the Asian American community face?” countless times from friends and family. I hate that I have more answers each year.
Even though I love Mad Men, I’ve always had a conflicted relationship with the show. It’s male-dominated, it’s set in the 60’s without much reference to the Civil Rights Movement (CRM), and it’s just plain depressing most of the time. The start of Season 6 was exciting, with a great, teasing opener, but the following episodes were pretty meh…THEN they get to 1968, and MLK is assassinated. The thing is, they bring it up in a pretty confusing way, I couldn’t quite figure out what was happening. And then, the picture gets more clear. THEN, they just start walking on eggshells around the few black characters in the show, with the White characters all assuming that they have just lost a dearly beloved one. Yes, I’m sure most African Americans were saddened and felt they had lost a hero in their community…but the White characters just PROJECT their expectations onto the African American characters. No one ever asks one of the Black characters, “How are you doing?” or “What do you think?” These White characters have no right to simply assume what these characters of color should be feeling. For instance, Bobby’s way of consoling a solemn looking movie theater worker is to tell him to watch a movie to feel better.
That’s the issue with period dramas/representations. Just like in history books, these stories are told from a limited perspective. In the case of Mad Men, maybe it is intentional to only focus on the ad men, and make it seem like they live in a bubble, away from reality (hence, leaving out the CRM), but it also limits our complete understanding of that time period. Sure, there are plenty of documentaries and books out there about the CRM, but not in such a mainstream outlet like Mad Men. What if these stories were told to entertain the masses, instead of being additional reading and side notes? Argggh, White culture continues to be perpetuated in pop culture!
On a different note, my personal conflict with the show is further complicated by the fact that Don is a very intriguing character (albeit a jerk most of the time). This season, he reveals many of his inner emotions and what is actually going on behind that stoic, brooding demeanor. In the above mentioned episode, he tells Megan about his insecurities as a parent, yet has a proud moment with Bobby. Aww…he’s actually got feelings!
Transported into an Agatha Christie story…
I went to a group therapy class at Kaiser today. I always get lost there and takes me forever to find the right building. The psychiatry building was down a couple blocks from the main hospital, and when I finally found the steps leading up to the building, I felt like I transported back to the 20’s. It could have been a set for an Agatha Christie story…and it looked like there were patient quarters in various locations. Wow, it was chilling how institutional it felt, it’s a miracle anyone would be able to recover there.
Yesterday, I went to a panel discussion on the documentary Seeking Asian Female. I have yet to watch the doc, but it explores Yellow Fever through the lens of a couple, where the man used some service to find a wife from China. The panel and audience posed some difficult questions that some of the panelists struggled to answer. What stood out to me was when a woman in the audience stood up to talk about how power dynamics are really at the core of this whole phenomenon. I think it comes down to white men’s privilege in being able to exoticize Asian women, and the way that they are approaching the situation/relationship with certain ideas of Asian woman before actually getting to know the woman. Stereotypes abound about Asian women being docile, family-oriented, less-demanding, etc.
That only explains part of the phenomenon though. Another woman asked about whether there are generational differences amongst men with Yellow Fever. I think there are…it seems that older men tend to stereotype in the way that I just mentioned before, and younger men (we’ll say 40 and under) are attracted to the exotic characteristics of Asian women. At least in my personal experience, I’ve known men my age who say they prefer Asian features. In the Bay Area, it’s so common to be around Asians a lot, and I think a lot of white men are just craving something different. As for women’s responses, from the women I know who date White men, they prefer their forwardness, versus Asian men still seem to be more timid. Some men also seem to be drawn to Asian women because they seem them as a way to become closer to that Asian culture.
I’m still working through this issue, but I also have some interesting quotes from the panel:
“When you Google Asian sex, you get pornography, and when you Google German sex, you get philosophy.”
“In Canada, the most popular genre of porn is Asian.”
“The only time I’ve ever been attracted to Asian men was when I was in Korea…I think it’s because that was the only place where Asian men are actually able to be dominant and be real men.”
Yep, that last quote was an interesting one said by an Asian woman married to a much older White man (like Albert Einstein old)…she seemed to blame Yellow Fever and her own disinterest in Asian men on Asian men being emasculated. Sure, that’s a facet of the issue, but not the biggest issue…
Dan Pallotta, TED talk
A few things have been mulling in my mind today… First off, I’m proud of this:
That’s right…100% sleep! Haha, it’s because I was so exhausted from biking to and from work. Could barely stay up past 10:00.
Anyways, I felt good when I woke up and got ready for the day, and even remembered my dreams. Sometimes I have dreams with really strong emotions. Last night, I had a dream where I was meeting some new neighbors, and it was REALLY, REALLY awkward. The other part I remember is that I was laughing about something. I should probably listen to my dreams more because I realize they tell me a lot about my current emotions. It’s been a while since this last happened, but I used to have dreams where I needed to use the bathroom, and entered a public bathroom with many stalls. All the stalls would be really dirty or the toilet had been ripped out, and it would take me forever to find a suitable toilet. Those were times when I felt emotionally constipated and probably had something to get out. Then there was that time I dreamt I was in a dinosaur apocalyptic attack…that was the sign of feeling anxious/scared about an expired relationship. My dreams are always trying to tell me something…so yesterday’s dreams must be telling me…. I’ve been feeling really awkward lately? But I’m still finding humor in everyday things? I guess so…
Everytime I have to write something for work, I feel really self-conscious because I’m representing our organization. I’m also realizing how hard it is to sell myself/our work. I keep getting feedback that I need to riff off these ideas, or just market whatever I’m writing about. Ugggghh…so hard! I’m not a great writer! I think I also dislike the idea of having to “sell” or “market” things. People should already know this stuff is important. I’m clearly on a different plane here.
The other thing I’ve been thinking about is one of my co-workers who just doesn’t live her politics at all. It kind of rubs me the wrong way that she doesn’t like socializing with co-workers outside of work time, and she just doesn’t seem to care deeply about the work we do. She puts on a really great face, she’s personable and has lots of good ideas…but I just don’t get the sense that she personally connects. I just can’t believe that our boss is okay with this, like she downright has a really bad attitude most of the time. She probably just doesn’t view her work as the focus of her life, like I do, and that’s probably healthy…I just don’t understand why she doesn’t just get a corporate job or something else that doesn’t require as much of a personal connection to the work.