Saturday, May 19, 2007

Writer's Block Sucks: Here Are Some Helpful Links

Update: June 6, 2007 @ 10:16pm

I got two of my three thesis evaluations back and I passed. So now it's just revise the crap I turned in. The pressure is actually off now, as I'm done. Now I can worry about making it good. But first I have to worry about two finals on the same day :(


Okay, you'd think that since I write all of the time this thesis would just flow like water. Um...nope. The comic above from PhD Comics pretty much says it all.

I'm about halfway there, but I've been in writer's block hell for about two days. Since I'm writing freely and easily now I know this is my horrible perfectionist streak kicking in. The reality is that when I think about how much I need to write freaks me out. And, get this, I got an article published in law school. There is no need for this, but all the logic in the world can't snap me out of it, so I'm searching around the net for help.

Now it's time for me to force my way out of it. Once I start going, no problem. I just need to start. However, I know I'm not the only person out there freaking out. As a service to others searching the net I'm going to compile the useful links I find here for all of us.

The first four have writer's block solutions. The fifth is just a cute article. The last two give research tutorials and writing tips.

Good luck! We can do this.

  1. MIT: Writing a Thesis (section H deals with writer's block)
  2. Reed College: Helping Students with Writer's Block
  3. Purdue's Online Writing Lab: Overcoming Writers Block
  4. Capital Community College: Overcoming Writer's Block
  5. The Daily Bruin (UCLA's Daily Newspaper): Mission Impossible - Not big on advice but it's somewhat funny.
  6. UCLA College Library: Road to Research (a bit too basic for me but a tutorial to help you hone your research skills - crucial with academic writing)
  7. UC Berkeley: Writing Resources


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Friday, May 18, 2007

Teacher's Day in Korea

Here in Korea 스승의 날, or Teachers Day, is a big deal. Students bring gifts to their teachers like carnations or other small gifts. At the university that I attend, my department has a formal gathering organized by the students. At the gathering the teachers are presented with gifts from the students, we have short speeches (maybe a minute or so) and maybe even a small perfomance (the last one I went to the undergrads in our department performed a music selection.)

Also, teachers here will go on to play a bigger role in their students lives. I've heard of professors making speeches at former student's weddings. Some of that happens back home, for sure, but I've heard a few stories like that here and virtually none from acquaintances and friends back home.

Anyway, the students at the college where I teach bought a big banner which says 교수님 사랑합니다! ("We love you, professors!") I snapped a picture of it earlier this week, but didn't have time to blog it until now. (It's a little blurry because it was inside the teacher's cafeteria which dimly lit with those horrible fluorescent lights, and I snapped it with my camera phone.)

Now I know some folks might fire back "oh well, we have teacher's day in the USA too!" Sorry, no, the history of what we have in the US is a spotty at best and it's due to culture differences too. It's nowhere near being a big deal in the US.

This week at work my Chinese officemate asked me if we had Teacher's Day in the US. I overstated it, but I said "no, in the States students shoot their teachers."


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Koreas make tracks toward peace

Koreas make tracks toward peace

MUNSAN, South Korea (CNN) -- In the latest sign of reconciliation between the two Koreas, a pair of passenger trains crossed in opposite directions between North and South on Thursday -- the first to make the journey through the heavily militarized frontier in more than half a century.

The trains, crossing from opposite sides of the divided peninsula, carried Korean passengers on a test run over tracks not traversed since the early 1950s, when war broke out and the rails were cut by U.S. and U.N. forces.

A two-mile wide demilitarized border separates the neighbors and travel to and from the reclusive communist North is extremely limited.

But on Thursday, passengers boarded a train at Kumgangsan Station in eastern North Korea and crossed the border to Jejin Station.

Separately, passengers at South Korea's Munsan Station on the opposite side of the divide were sent off amid fireworks and white balloons as their train journeyed north to Kaeson Station, The Associated Press reported.

Each train carried 100 South Koreans and 50 North Koreans, according to South Korea's state-run Yonhap news agency. The trains later returned to their homelands.

The short trips, which lasted just an hour and covered less than 20 miles of track, were hailed as a glimpse of possible future moves towards reconciliation between the two countries, which have never officially signed a peace treaty.

"It is not simply a test run. It means reconnecting the severed bloodline of our people. It means that the heart of the Korean peninsula is beating again," said South Korean Unification Minister Lee Jae-joung, AP reported.

North Korean Senior Cabinet Councilor Kwon Ho Ung said the two sides should not be "derailed from the track or hesitate" in moving towards unification, but warned of "challenges from divisive forces at home and abroad who don't like reconciliation and unification of our people," AP reported.

Thousands of family members were separated, many of whom have not yet been reunited despite a set of parallel roads created in 2005 for South Koreans heading to the North.

One South Korean resident, a man in his 90s, told CNN he wished he was on the northbound train so he could visit his family and hoped one day he would be able to.

In March both nations agreed to revive humanitarian and economic inter-Korean projects after Pyongyang agreed to shutter its nuclear program in exchange for economic aid. The North has not yet disarmed as technical issues hold up the transfer of $25 million.
You know it really is a sad story when you think about people in both nations whose families were and still are separated. The political posturing is just such a waste from that perspective. However, thinking the actual process of Korean reunification raises more questions than answers because of the deep systemic and ideological differences.

As South Korea had to pay with aid to North Korea for these trains to take these short trips, it's really a superficial gesture at best.

However, I remember being at the DMZ area and seeing the brand new train tracks being built and the shiny new Dorasan Station. Even I had a bit of hope, but with a North Korea that still isn't making any steps to reform but for asking for aid and botched diplomacy from the US, it's nothing more than a bit of hope.

More links:


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Thursday, May 17, 2007

Free Speech: Uh oh, here we go...

John Mayer (right) with John Edwards at the Time Magazine's 100 Most Influential People Gala
Update: June 8, 2007 @ 7:55pm

Speaking up free speech and consequences. Since I mentioned John's blog on Isaiah Washington and the Grey's Anatomy madness, the latest news is Mr. Washington will not be coming back to the show. Here is to PerezHilton because love him or hate him (and I love him) he's great for celebrity news: Fired!
Unfortunately, Mr. Washington decided to release a statement that is far from gracious:
I'm mad as hell and I'm not going to take it anymore.
Clearly, getting kicked from the cast of a major network's prime time hit hasn't taught him that there really is a time to just shut the hell up.


When I saw the headline that Opie and Andy, XM DJs, had been suspended, I was pretty sure John Mayer would chime in.

Why? Well, it's because I know he likes them. He interviewed with them a few months ago. Also, he's chimed in before when certain personalities have violated some pop culture norm.

However, to John, and everyone else chiming in, this isn't about free speech. I don't have time to get into it in detail right now. I've got a thesis that I should be writing. But, oh, what a good reason to procrastinate and spend my writing energy on pop culture instead! I might discuss it more once my international studies manifesto is complete, but I don't even know what poor Opie and Andy said much less have time to comment at length. If anyone has a transcript, feel free to comment, and share it (with a link, please.)

The furor over the Dixie Chicks was not about free speech. The furor of Isaiah Washington was not about free speech. The furor over Imus was not about free speech. This is not about free speech.

These have all been about the conflict between offensive speech and capitalism. They can say whatever they want. However, the public and sponsors can and will react. The plug, for now, has been pulled on O&A. This all about money. Special interests surely are driving it to some degree, but they scared of losing money due to this either through subscribers or sponsors (not sure how XM radio works, do they even have commericals on XM?)

So here is what John had to say. I do think it's interesting he's come to their defense but when Isaiah Washington had offensive words about gays he wanted to make his character gay and put him on the soundstage with a wild animal. BTW, Washington has already played a gay character (it didn't work...sorry, John.) For what it's worth, however, John didn't argue for Washington being fired or call for him to apologize. Maybe that's what should happen to O&A? A romp in the cage with a polar bear? Be consistent Johnny.

Here is what John had to say:

Freedom of Speech vs. Blackjack Myth or in Defense of O&A
From the book "Blackjack Bluebook II" by Fred Renzey:

"Most serious blackjack players object to the order of the cards being changed only when things are going well. And if they're losing, then they in fact want to change the cards around so as to break the dealer's "hot streak". This suggests that if you're winning, then the following cards in the shoe are stacked in your favor, and shouldn't be tampered with. But in reality, all it means is that the previous cards in the shoe were stacked in your favor.

An enlightening study on just this kind of "streakiness" was reported on in Stanford Wong's highly recommended book, Professional Blackjack. In that experiment, 20 million computer hands were run, recording the win/lose results for the player immediately following two consecutive wins, two consecutive losses and every possible two hand combination of wins, losses and ties. The results?


The player was no more likely to win his next hand just after having won two in a row, than immediately after losing two in a row. So then, what is there to be preserved in the order of the cards? In that regard, every next hand is a brand new ball game."

John here.

In the case of Opie and Anthony, and yes, even Don Imus, they were hired and respected for their ability to stare the dealer in the eye and hit on their 16 against an ace. When they drew a five, they were revered for their gambling acumen. But when they busted, as anyone in the ongoing gamble of speaking freely (now semantically different than "free speech") does from time to time, they were asked to hand in their player's cards and escorted to their vehicles.

I believe that free speech protects not what has already been spoken, but what has yet to be said. Sure, once a sentence is constructed, the words can be determined to be either winning or losing, as are the cards in the discard pile. Except instead of obeying a static, rule, society is left to sift through the played cards and argue what should beat the dealer, when we should have hit and stood, and just what the hell we were doing that night in Vegas in the first place.

It seems to me that in this gamble, we should change either the odds or the payout.

Please feel free to leave your comments in the link not offered below.
The one thing I'll say is this. With the shift in demographics in the US those in the majority (read: whites) are going to have to be more cognizant of those in the minority. The white male is getting hit hardest on this offensive speech issue. I believe that's because they're viewed as the ones benefiting the most from white privilege (or whatever you want to call it.) Even white women don't have as much power or influence as the white male.

I'm not saying ban offensive speech.

I'm saying that like in the past when a black person was scared to say "fuck you" to a white person out of fear of violating the social norms in place at the time (breaking that norm meant a high risk of being beat down or even being lynched - see Robert Axelrod's The Complexity of Cooperation, Chapter four, for a disscussion of lynching and norms). Now those in the majority are going to have to be much more cognizant that there are consequences to mouthing off.

Fair? Hell, yes. Right? Hell, no.

I'm not one to support censorship. Because of my nation's tolerance of speech I'll go as far as to support the right to say whatever you want, offensive or not. However, say it, and realize it just might affect your bottom line if you're in the spotlight.

Oh, and to this guy's quote: XM Radio Hates Free Speech

Al Sharpton and all the rest of the nappy-headed whiners don’t listen to O&A (or Imus for that matter) and wouldn’t know that a homeless guy wants a go at Condolezza or that a sixty-something old man knows the latest lingo. It’s time for corporate america to tell these special interest whiners where to stuff it.

I have nappy hair. However, I'm not a special interest whiner and I really don't care what O&A said.

I'm no fan of Condolezza, but joking about rape? That makes me very uncomfortable. However, you'd be surprised who is listening to O&A. I noticed they make a few Asian jokes too. That irks me, but I know they're paid to be shocking and XM brags about how uncensored they are...,well, were.

Now my 참치초밥 세트 (tuna sushi dinner set) has arrived. It's time to eat and get back to work on my thesis.

"I may disagree with what you have to say, but I shall defend, to the death, your right to say it." - Francois Marie Arouet Voltaire, The Friends of Voltaire (1907), French philosopher and writer (1694-1778) (Did he really say this? It's explained: here.)

More Links:
What did I say? For better or for worse, depending on your perspective, that's capitalism at work, baby!

Mayer's O and A interview on Youtube.

*I think John mentions Ms. Simpson in this interview...rarely are things coincidences...rarely. However, I'm not the guy's publicist, so it might have been another interview. I just remember putting it together when the rumor broke and having some Mayer fans way upset. However, the new buzz is das ist kaputt: Jessica: Unlucky In Love. So maybe some fans will snap out of their "hatin' on John Mayer" funk now. I, however, believe that they were never fans.


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Sunday, May 13, 2007

The End of the World

Ha! Good timing my friend!

I got this link from a friend via MySpace. Considering the topic of my thesis pretty much deals with war and the review committee draft is due this week this webpage made me laugh: The End of the World


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The Hair Dilemma: Conform to Mainstream Expectations or Emphasize Racial Identity

You know when I shared what was a very positive story yesterday only to get some lamebrain anonymous commentor bring up affirmative action, it only brought home how deep these problems run.

It definitely connects to the workforce and going out from academia to the big bad world to make your mark. Black women have a serious decision at that point. It's the decision of how you're going to "do" your hair. Usually, by then, the choice has already been made. But you go through the cycle again as graduation is one of those life markers. I truly object to the world "choice" for quite a few reasons. The most important being it makes it sound like it's easy. It's not the same as choosing between Chinese chicken salad and Caesar salad. That's a choice.

You'll frequently have people saying "oh, it's a choice" or "it's just hair." The "choice" of being a black woman and wearing your hair natural or nappy is a vigourous debate right now. Yes, if you parse it down to this: chemically straighten your hair versus wearing it in its natural texture, it's a choice. However, this level of thinking is so delusional that I just avoid the topic if someone says that.

It will be a choice when all the negative implications of being black are gone. It will be a choice when you're no longer scared that someone is going to mention Buckwheat when referencing your hair. It will be a choice when nappy hair is no longer villified. When employers are still banning natural hair styles, it's not a choice. When the mere issue of a black woman wearing her hair natural will send her family into a panic and when the black American experience has a rich history of those with lighter skin and straighter hair being treated better, which still seems to be the norm, it's not a choice.

Don't fool yourselves.

I found out about this article in the Duke Journal of Gender Law and Policy, The Hair Dilemma: Conform to Mainstream Expectations or Emphasize Racial Identity. They hit it dead on:
Black women do not have the luxury of mere preferences; their choices are colored by a historical lens that includes negative stereotypes and lowered expectations. Throughout American history, skin color, eye color, and hair texture have had the power to shape the quality of Black people's lives, and that trend continues today for Black women in the workplace.


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Saturday, May 12, 2007

Black Moms Push Their Kids’ Educational Aspirations More Than White Moms

Time for more stereotype busting.

This is an interesting headline that I came across on a forum go to a lot: Survey: Black Moms Push Their Kids’ Educational Aspirations More Than White Moms

Of the women who took the voluntary survey in November, 74 percent of the black women said their mothers had specific educational goals for them, versus 64 percent of white women.

The survey of 1,010 women also showed that 31 percent of black women expect their children to go on into graduate and professional school, while 20 percent of the white women had the same expectation.

A total of 717 white women responded in the survey, and 293 black women responded.
The tone of the thread seem to express some surprise over the results of this survey.

I know my mother did. I don't see why that's a surprise.

For white mothers, the system is on their side. They expect their children to be educated and, in general, aren't worried that their kids are going to fall through the cracks.

Also, it's an issue of social-economic class. If you come from an educated upper-middle class white-collar family you're going to expect your kids to follow in that example. However, in American most whites aren't in that demographic. We're talking about averages and normal curves here. The average white people I know who grew up in the same social-economic class than me, lower middle class, aren't as educated as I am.

However, you hear story after story of the black people who came from poor and modest backgrounds but got their education and are now professionals, white-collar workers and above. That's huge, but we don't give enough credit to people when it happens because we're too busy focusing on the negative stuff. The stereotypes show blacks as anything but educated and hard-working.

So, I say again, thank you so very much mom. I miss you, and I love you.


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All Over You Like Egg In a Bowl of Bibimbap!

Update: June 11, 2007 @ 5:47pm (yes, I should be studying but I'm taking a break!)

Ruh roh! I knew that some wouldn't get this and would come out swinging.

And so they have. A blogger called Javabeans, who mostly blogs about Kdrama (Korean dramas) has a nice summary and analysis on why this is NOT racism but satire: Korea, Calm Down. Stephen Colbert Doesn’t Hate Rain.

One problem I've found living here is my generation's type of humor, very biting and sarcastic, depends a lot on word play and irony. In a country where the English language is studied but not really understood and study of the culture is pretty much neglected means I don't crack a lot of jokes with Koreans unless they're close to fluent and know a bit about Western culture. My jokes run the risk of being taken literally and that means I could (and have) gotten in trouble.

While I get Korean comedy shows I find that they're very slapstick and physical. Not that it's not funny, it is. However, I don't understand Korean sarcasm and irony yet (these guys are funny but I know I don't get the depth of why it's funny), so I can see why they're taking this literally. Don't y'all, don't. He's spoofing the far right.

For those vexxed by Colbert's Rain segment, click over, read and learn.


This is funny! I found it on the Metropolitician who found it on the Marmot's Hole, and it's blowing up on Korea centric blogs. It's a nexus of Korean culture and American culture, so count me in. Let's get some more folks interested in Korean culture!

Now, for those of you who need a primer, I'm going to explain bibimbap, 비빔밥, and Bi (Rain), 비 (well, actually I'm using Wikipedia, but why write it when someone else already has?) Then go and watch the video.

Bibimbap (from Wikipedia):

Bibimbap is served as a bowl of warm white rice topped with sauteed and seasoned vegetables, beef, a fried egg, and gochujang (chili pepper paste). The ingredients are stirred together thoroughly just before eating. It can be served either cold or hot.
Bi (Rain), 비 (from Wikipedia). Yes, I admit I coo over him with my female students:

Rain (Real name: Jung Ji-Hoon, Hangul(한글): 정지훈, Hanja(한자): 鄭智薰, born on 25 June 1982 in Seoul) is a male Korean R&B and pop singer.

He has become well-known throughout East Asia -- including Japan, Hong Kong, Korea, Taiwan, Mainland China, Philippines, Malaysia, Singapore and Thailand -- as a leading star of the Korean wave, otherwise known as Hallyu.

In April 2006, Time named him as one of the "100 Most Influential People Who Shape Our World."[1][2] In 2007, Rain was voted by Time Magazine's online user poll as the most influential person in 2007, although he was not in the magazine's actual list. He also made it into People's 2007 list of the "Most Beautiful People" in the world.
Steven Colbert takes Bi on in Korean. It's funny. Enjoy!

More links: Episode 257 Recap
Comedy Central: The Colbert Report


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Monday, May 7, 2007

I Want To Be A Popstar

Jamie Cullum 2004 taken by Kerry Brown

I'm reading like a mad woman trying to gleen more information for my thesis as the first evaluation draft is due next week.

However, to do that I have to tune people out as I'm stuck in the computer lab today. So I fired up my PDA's MP3 player and let the tunes rip.

I have it on random play and Jamie Cullum's I Want To Be A Popstar from his Pointless Nostalgic album came on. I love the lyrics. I looked them up on and decided to share them.

Now it's back to work for me.


I Want To Be A Popstar by Jamie Cullum

Why is it all these fakers
Seem to make the morning papers?
They're selling records by the million, seems so easy in my opinion
Look at the Jazz Star, he really needs some guts
Playing from seven to midnight, surviving on peanuts
Selling records by the dozen
Probably sold his tenor to make 'em
With artwork designed by his brother
And liner notes by his mother

Told what to do, miming to a tape
While a team of experts make sure you're looking great
Taking a limo to your own private bar
My God! I want to be a popstar!

Going to get on the T.V and go on dates with only the pretty
Maybe next year I'll pretend to be gay
I'll sell some more records in a flash that way
Makes no difference if i look like a nut
Every kid in the world is going to copy my haircut
I'll advertise some trainers, maybe even a car
Shrewd product placement will gurantee I'm a star
An ugly guy will write my songs
Surley there is nothing wrong
Retiring when I'm 22
With a house a car and nothing to do

Instantaneous satisfaction it will be
Got no need for artistic credibility
With this attitude I'm pretty sure to go far
My God! I want to be a popstar!

Maybe its too easy, to move so quickly so far
I want to be a popstar!

Where's the middle ground?
It's hard to make a living with you own true sound
What road am I going to tread?
What the hell would i do instead?

There may be no tours in Roma, or a drug-induced designer coma
No teenage girls when show is over, I prefer my women older
Maybe I don't know what I'm talking about
Sometimes it would be nice to play a place and sell out
Driving to a gig in my brand new sports car
My God! I want to be a popstar!
I want to be a popstar!

Maybe its too easy, to move so quickly so far
Who wants to be a popstar?


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Sunday, May 6, 2007

I'll keep my nappy hair, thank you

This is just an great article written by Mary Mitchell who is a columnist for the Chicago Sun-Times.

It's her reply to someone commenting on her hair.

I'll keep my nappy hair, thank you

Postcard writer bristles over columnist's 'terrible mess'

May 3, 2007

BY MARY MITCHELL Sun-Times Columnist

No doubt about it, I'm nappy-headed. I wear my hair without straightening its curl pattern -- which in my case is tight -- when I don't do anything to it my hair looks like a tumbleweed. But don't think I let my hair go. I may not use relaxers or a straightening comb, but I groom my hair. In fact, after work, I head to Gossip Salon and Day Spa in Oak Park, where Susan Jamieson will spend about two expensive hours pampering my hair.

So I was appalled to get a 24-cent post-card from Sam Watson telling me how much he doesn't like my hair:

"On Friday 20 April 2007, it was the Joel Weisman show, we believe. We were shocked to see what you had done to your hair which was beautifully coiffured the last time we saw you on TV. Of course, you have the right to mess up your locks any time in any manner you like, but we suggest you appear a terrible mess instead of the former beautiful lady that we recall seeing in the past. It's like night and day, only now you look like you belong in a Halloween scare movie," Watson wrote.

Watson went on to name the women he's seen with fabulous hairdos: Sandi Jackson, Hermene Hartman, Condi Rice and Oprah.

"Please get rid of that awful, messy-looking mop-like hairdo you now have and set the proper role model example for our young ladies with a neat, presentable hairdo that your fine facial features deserve. Bring out, don't hide, your innate beauty again," he said.

Looking like a Barbie doll

First, Watson obviously has gotten me mixed up with someone else. I don't think anyone would ever describe my parade of hairstyles -- locks, afro and finally twists -- as coiffured.

Still, his complaint about my hairstyle raises a universal issue.

Last week I was in St. Maartin, where I ran into a beautiful young black sister who had her long locks hidden underneath a tight head-wrap. She was working as a cashier in a casino and the wrap protected her hair from cigarette smoke, she said. Her boyfriend, a handsome young man with wavy hair that's common to black men in certain regions of the South, was badgering her about her hair.

"She's going to cut them off," he said, eyeing my nappy hair. "I'll pay for her to get her hair straightened," he said.

"He's only interested in me looking like a Barbie doll," she said.

That exchange really gets to the heart of the matter.

Despite the black power movement and Whoopi Goldberg, hair is still the impenetrable veil for black women. Even women who have worn natural hair for years are often seduced by the promises of straight hair. After all, most often it is the woman with the long, straight hair -- be it real or play -- that turns a man's head, while the sister with the short afro is barely noticed.

Secretly, there are days when I lust for the smooth, straight hair that once caressed my shoulders to the point that I'm that close to running off to an Egyptian hair salon.

But the distress I feel over longing for hair that makes me look more like a white woman and less like a black one is what keeps me from making an appointment. All women -- whether they are Caucasian or African-American, or Asian or Latino -- have physical features that are uniquely their own.

As Sojourner Truth once asked: "Ain't I a woman, too?"

Black women are the only women who are routinely characterized as being undesirable. And from the moment we are pronounced as having "bad hair" as opposed to "good hair," we are expected to alter our appearance by straightening out that bad hair.

Sorry, Watson. I came into this world under that cloud.

It's certainly not the way I intend to leave it.



More links:

Chicago Sun-Times: Mary Mitchell's page (latest articles)
Chicago Sun-Times: Mary Mitchell's Blog
Community Media Workshop: Mary Mitchell (bio info)


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Saturday, May 5, 2007

Self-Indulgent Question: Females, Anger and Aggression

Update: Like him or not, Sarkozy is the victor in the French presidential election by a margin of 53% to 47%.

His acceptance speech reached out to all sides, so let's hope that he'll follow through on those ideas.



I frequently deal with people in (what I think) is a civil yet firm and, if I feel it's necessary, aggressive manner. I simply tend to speak frankly and take no prisoners in a debate or disagreement. I'm also that person to speak up when no one else will. However, on my blog that tone shifts. I can be aggressive, but most of the time, I try to be balanced simply because I don't want to be known for a lack of objectivity.

However, on issues I feel strongly about, I don't mince my words in person or in one-on-one discussion. I'm forceful, and I don't deny it. I wonder if it's because I happen to be both female and black, or maybe just female, that I get a range of critical comments which have nothing to do with my point when I'm firm and aggressive about my point.

Frequently, people point out that you're angry. They'll call on you to be graceful or to be a lady.

I've yet to hear people point out to men that they're being angry in the same way. It seems that if a man gets worked up during a discussion, it's okay. His anger, for whatever reason, is not questioned and is taken to be valid. The only extreme would be if he's angry and he's turning violent. Even then, anger or aggression in men tends to be tolerated because men are "supposed" to fight or even get physical. Also, the male equivalent of "grace" or "being a lady", I guess, "being a gentlemen" is usually only brought up when a man is dealing with a woman.

I'm in a virtual brawl right now where it's me and another female. Actually, for me, I know what I'm saying is spot on, but the main criticism I've gotten is my tone. Guess who told me I needed to be a "lady"? Yep, you got it, a man. Here is a virtual middle finger to you guy.

Also, for those of you who are familiar with the movie Gone With The Wind. I'm always nodding when Scarlett is critical of Melanie in the scene where she learns Ashley is going to marry Melanie. BTW, Melanie is a character I love for she has that quiet reserve I'll just never have. It's just that quiet reserve is always admired in women, but spirit isn't admired quite as much as a positive virtue. When Scarlett hears this news she says what's on her mind. I feel this way when people try to be critical of me.

You'd rather live with that silly little fool who can't open her mouth except say "Yes" and "No" and raise a patch of mealy-mouthed brats just like her!
Of course, she's shushed. There is a long history of spirited women being shushed. Now Scarlett is a fictional character, so let's talk about someone real.

Here is another example, take the recent debate between French presidential candidates Ségolène Royal (Allez Royal!) and Nicolas Sarkozy faced off for a debate.
Sarkozy, Royal battle on after heated TV debate

Centrist Francois Bayrou said he would not support right-winger Nicolas Sarkozy in Sunday’s runoff.

French presidential rivals Nicolas Sarkozy and Segolene Royal traded fresh barbs yesterday after neither delivered a knock-out blow in a heated television debate seen as a last chance to swing undecided voters. The socialist Royal went on the offensive during the debate watched by more than 20 million viewers, challenging her rightwing opponent on his record as a member of the outgoing government and angrily accusing him of “political immorality.” Sarkozy, who leads in opinion polls, said he was “surprised by the degree of aggressiveness” shown by his rival during the exchange that lasted two and a half hours, saying it showed “a form of intolerance.”

Both candidates sought to address their weaknesses during the debate: Royal had to dispel doubts about her presidential stature while Sarkozy faces concerns over his hyper-active personality. Royal, who wants to become France’s first woman president, said Sarkozy “did not dare” repeat during the debate some of the accusations he had directed at her during the campaign. He “reminds me of those children who kick and then cry out to make believe that it was their playmate who hit first,” Royal told French radio.

The most fiery outburst came in an exchange about places for handicapped children in ordinary schools. Royal accused Sarkozy of “becoming teary-eyed” over the plight of handicapped children when it was his government that had dismantled Socialist measures guaranteeing a place for the disabled in ordinary schools. “This is the height of political immorality,” said an outraged Royal. Sarkozy retorted: “I don’t question your sincerity, don’t question my morality. You lose your temper very easily.” “To be president of the republic, you must remain calm,” Sarkozy insisted.

“I have not lost my cool. I am angry and there is anger that is perfectly healthy,” Royal hit back, waving an accusatory finger.

Commentators said Sarkozy scored points for keeping his cool while Royal won kudos for her combativeness in the face-off ahead of Sunday’s vote. “Nicolas Sarkozy did not lose. But Segolene Royal won,” wrote the left-leaning Liberation newspaper, whose front page featured a closeup of Royal’s face, with clenched jaw, and the headline: “Combative.”

But the rightwing Figaro daily said Royal had been “often vague, at times aggressive” and that “at the end of the end, Sarkozy’s self-control shone through.” “She won in terms of style, he won in terms of substance. They both held their ground,” commented pollster Roland Cayrol. The encounter could be decisive in determining the choice of nearly seven million voters who backed centrist Francois Bayrou in the first round on April 22, and who now hold the key to victory. Bayrou was quoted in Le Monde as saying that Royal “had done rather well” in the debate and announced “I will not vote for Sarkozy” even though he did not explicitly throw his support behind Royal.
What's good to see is that the French have responded well to her anger and aggression in the debate. I like the French, sue me.

However, while France isn't going after Royal for her aggression and seem to see it as a positive, I fear that Sarkozy will benefit more because he'll be painted as a man with self-control.

In the latest reports I've read on the French presidential race Sarkozy keeps harping on her aggressiveness. I don't like this guy now, before I had no feeling one way or the other, but who cares that she's aggressive? There have been many aggressive heads of state in history and many have been very effective leaders.

It's just interesting that men are allowed to be passionate and forceful, but when a woman is they have to be told they're upset (like we don't know this already) and she's told to calm down or to otherwise change her behavior.

So to anyone with the gumption to tell me how to handle myself in a disagreement, I'm going to tell you right now to stuff it. I'm just glad I have such good company as Ségolène Royal.


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Thursday, May 3, 2007

Mom Salary Wizard

A Mother's Song - Bronze sculpture(with black granite base - not shown) by Eve Toni Seamone at the Invest In The Arts website

You know, I think growing up with a stay at home mom was such a positive influence for me. Now don't get me wrong, as it stands, I've spent my adult life either in school or working. I have nothing against career women without children or women who choose to be moms and have a career.

However, I remember one conversation I had with someone where I sensed he was talking disparagingly about stay at home moms. His mom was a career mom. However, as I said, mine chose to make her career me and my dad. I guess maybe because it's pretty clear that unless things drastically change in my life, I won't be imitating my mom's life in that respect.

Maybe from that perspective, he thought he was safe in talking down about stay at home moms. That was a bad move. I was offended. I pointed out that the value of a stay at home mom's work is huge.

In What is Your Mom Worth? has quantified it. They also quantified the value of a working mom's contribution.

Here it is:
Are you wondering what mom should be paid for her work as mom? has valuated the "mom job" of both the Working and Stay-at-Home Moms! Based on a survey of more than 40,000 mothers, determined that the time mothers spend performing 10 typical job functions would equate to an annual salary of $138,095 for a stay-at-home mom. Working moms ‘at-home’ salary is $85,939 in 2007; this is in addition to the salary they earn in the workplace.
I just think it's a nice thing to do for all moms.

So while it's over a week early, Happy Mother's Day to all you hard working moms. You are appreciated.

BTW, dad's don't feel hurt. They have a salary calculator for you too: What is Dad's Work Worth?


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Wednesday, May 2, 2007

The Winograd Report

Honestly, I'm just posting a short blurb on this because I was following and linking to sources during Israel's war in Lebanon last summer. In fact, I'll put them back up here because I should have never taken them down:

  • Blogging in Beirut

  • Live from an Iraeli bunker
  • (This one hasn't been updated in awhile.)

    I reformatted and can't find all of them, but those two were pretty much the best. Since one is from the Israeli perspective and the other from the Lebanese perspective it will have to do for now.

    The Winograd Report is out and Olmert has been criticized for starting a war way too early. I think everyone who was following it would agree.

    I will say I think Israel's Foreign Minister, Tzipi Livni, has been a great representative for Israel and now that she's announced she'll run to be Prime Minister, I'll start watching Israeli politics a bit more closely.

    Beyond that, however, I think there are people better informed on the issue to comment.

    So I'll just give you some links:


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    Tuesday, May 1, 2007

    Cheaters at Duke University's Fuqua School of Business

    This is disappointing, but because I have such cutting criticism about it when it happens here in Korea, I've got to blog about it when it's happening in my own country.

    34 students at Duke's Fuqua Business School were caught cheating on a take-home exam when the professor saw similarities between their answers.

    Good grief! I remember the take home exams I got in law school. First, they were a challenge but not impossible. Second, there was never a temptation on my part to cheat on it because it was so complex, Constitutional Law, that I'm sure my professor would have noticed if my work was similar to someone else's. Third, there is no guarantee the person you cheat off of knows it. So guess what? If their answers are wrong, then your answer will be wrong. I get that one all the time when I check my student's homework. I let it slide as enforcement here is different. Instead, when I see it I just write massively difficult exams.

    Re these Fuqua students, how bloody stupid and patently un-friggin'-ethical. I just think if you make it that far in the education game the stakes are so much higher that you'd never risk it. Never!

    The school has made its decision, but the students can appeal.

    Nine of the students face expulsion, according to the ruling, which was distributed within the business school on Friday. Fifteen students were suspended for a year and given a failing grade in the course; nine were given a failing grade in the course, and one got a failing grade on the exam. Four students accused of cheating were exonerated.

    The students are likely to appeal and are permitted to attend classes while awaiting decisions, which are expected over the next month.

    New York Times: 34 Duke Business Students Face Discipline for Cheating

    The bigger problem is the article I read says that the percentage of cheating in grad schools back home is said to be very high. This is from self reports, so you know people are lying too.
    National surveys have suggested that cheating is widespread among graduate students. In a survey released last September by a Rutgers University professor, 56 percent of business graduate students admitted having cheated, compared with 54 percent in engineering, 48 percent in education and 45 percent in law school. More than 5,300 students at 54 universities were surveyed from 2002 to 2004.

    “This is self-reported evidence of cheating, so it’s probably underestimated,” said Donald McCabe, a professor of management and global business at Rutgers who oversaw the survey.

    New York Times: 34 Duke Business Students Face Discipline for Cheating
    Honestly, this irritates me because it cheapens the value of my degree and my effort. I hope they get this under control because, as it stands now, I'll be heading home for grad school, part II.

    Speaking of tests, that exam I mistakenly started studying for a week ahead of time is tomorrow afternoon. I've got to get myself some dinner and then start drilling problems or I'll be in trouble tomorrow.

    Wish me luck!

    More links -


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    A Virtual Hug for my Adopted Home

    A section of eastbound Interstate Highway 80 to eastbound Interstate Highway 580 collapsed this morning following a gas tanker explosion. (photo and caption from:

    When I heard the news yesterday that the MacArthur Maze basically melted and collapsed yesterday after a gas tanker explosion, I immediately thought of the times I'd driven across the maze en route to San Francisco, L.A., Berkeley, or anywhere else. That highway connector is crucial to getting in and out of San Francisco and it's crucial to getting around the Bay Area in general.

    However, I've always avoided the maze, if possible. I'm just one of those people who hates sitting in traffic, and I'll take the long route to avoid it. But if you're zipping across the bridge to somewhere in the east bay, which I often did, it was just worth it to navigate through. If it wasn't rush hour, traffic tended to flow well.

    I did learn early on that if you're driving up the I-5 from L.A. the "real" San Franciscan way is to end your I-5 trek early by cutting across via the 152 through Hollister to the 101. At that point you can either stay on the 101 or zip over to the 280. I almost always went the 280 route because it wasn't as congested as the 101. Via that route I would just enter San Francisco at the beginning of Dolores Street and make my way to my apartment in the Hayes Valley from there. (Link to CalTrans District 4: San Francisco Bay Area.)

    Anyway, from the reports I've seen and from emails from folks back home, it is not as bad as some thought it would be. (Kind of like how people thought traffic would be hell in L.A. during the 84 Olympics - yes, I'm that old to remember it. It wasn't.)

    Here is just a big virtual hug to anyone affected by this. I hope it can get rebuilt sooner rather than later.

    Anyway, here is the alternative route info I swiped from SFist:

    Here's your roads: W-80 to S-880 is closed (from Berkeley to the Oakland airport). E-80 to E-580 is closed (from SF to Lake Merritt and Piedmont). Alternate routes: BART or AC Transit. From SF, you could take S-880, surface streets to downtown Oakland and get on W-980 to get onto the intact sections of S-580. Or you could just take BART or AC Transit. Did we mention you should take BART or AC Transit?
    SFGate: The Maze Meltdown


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