Tuesday, July 18, 2006

Cerebrogenesis (4)

This edition of Cerebrogenesis is being published a day late due to this blog's enforced hiatus. Look for next week's edition on its usual Monday date.

  • The Scientific Activist is a great blog I found that discusses the intersection between Science and Politics. Nearly every post is worth perusing, but I found particular relevance Bush to Scientists, Public: Go Fuck Yourselves, in which detailed exactly how Bush is screwing over the American public with his stand regarding Stem Cell Research. However, on a lighter note, we also learn about the terrifying Demon Ducks of Doom. Ah, gotta love science.
  • A Duty to Family, Heritage and Country, a short-essay by 13-year-old Yu Ying Ying read on NPR as part of their "This I Believe" series. It's a devastatingly disturbing story of one young girl's obsession with Confucian duty -- it almost reads as caricature. No 13-year-old that I know would articulate this level of commitment to Confucian beliefs and responsibilities. It is essays like these that cause non-Asians to buy into the model minority myth. My first thought was not about Yu Ying Ying, but about the NPR execs who chose this essay; having listened to the "This I Believe" segment before, they seem intent on using the essays to fit Asians and other ethnicities into preconceived ideas. If there was any doubt, see also Finding Prosperity by Feeding Monkeys, an essay that depicts Asian immigrants as bizarrely, inexplicably superstitious. Are people who fit the stereotypes out there? Certainly, but why do they (and not those who defy stereotypes) always get the airplay?
  • Thoughts on Anti-Racism Training by RadicalHapa.
  • Racial Pro-File has Happy Fun Genocidal Thoughts. No, not really, but he talks about where minorities fit into an increasingly spineless Democratic party. Personally, I believe that we must "fix" the Democratic party by increasing our political participation not only on the voting level but by electing people of marginalized identities to seats of power -- but this is a painfully slow undertaking. Can we forge a pan-identity community patient enough to pursue this?
  • Liberal blogger, Deborah Frisch resigned last week from a faculty position at the University of Arizona's Psychology department after posting trollish comments to a rightwing blog. While Frisch's comments were heinous (no one should get away with threatening the life of someone's child), it occurs to me that conservatives suffer from a frustrating selective memory: they act as if Frisch's actions characterize the entire left-wing, when not only do most liberals play fair, but right-wing bloggers have been known to be just as vicious. Nonetheless, this entire affair reminds us that trolling is stupid and that despite one's best efforts, what you do in the blogosphere can and will affect real-life.


Blogger mingerspice said...

That "What I Believe" essay is really... creepy. And I am pretty appalled that NPR would air such stereotypical nonsense. At least they also carry Pacific Time, which is usually pretty good.

I actually find the feeding monkeys essay to be much more offensive, not because it suggests that Asians are superstitious, but because of the tone it takes regarding advice from an Asian religious/cultural figure. It reinforces the idea that Asian cultural practices are silly or amusing. Why is it we don't hear about some white Catholic biologist who still secretly holds a silly belief in transubstantiation? Because it would be unthinkable to seriously suggest that there is anything ridiculous about Catholicism. But advice from a Buddhist monk? Feel free to exoticize and be amused. I don't personally believe in feeding monkeys, obviously, but neither do I believe in transubstantiation. I just wish we had public media that would mock both.

7/19/2006 11:06:00 AM  
Blogger mingerspice said...

Also, a little complaint - I don't think that Yu's essay reflects Confucian duty. From what little I understand of Confucius' philosophy, there is as much a duty on the part of the family and state to take care of the child's well being as there is a duty to be obedient. If the family and state fail to do so, obedience from the child serves no purpose.

I wouldn't complain except that "Confucian" has come to mean "Asian authoritarian" and has been used by non-Asian conservatives who want to believe in a moral minority that controls its children and believes in blind obedience to authority, as well as Asian conservatives (in the U.S. and Asia) to portray blind obedience as an "Asian" value and thus squelch political dissent and cultural diversity.

7/19/2006 11:42:00 AM  
Blogger Jenn said...

Good points, MS. I struggled to find a way to descripe Yu's essay and perhaps Confucian isn't quite right. However, I think it is more Confucian because the essay describes not just the duty to the parent but the child's duty that she feels to her country and the sacrifice she must endure for others. Although Confucianism dictates the responsibility of the parents, the essay isn't written from their perspective, nor does it seem like the child is actually ill-cared for. I think, again, this is part of NPR filtering the essays to fit certain stereotypes.

7/19/2006 01:05:00 PM  
Anonymous gatamala said...

I agree w/ your "creepy" comment. The ever self-sacrificing automaton bit is getting old.

7/20/2006 11:57:00 AM  

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