The Catalogue: No. 22

Monday, December 31, 2018

I love free things and deals. Some of my friends know how crazy I am about referrals to get "free" money and my love for Groupon.

I just wanted to spend this week's catalogue sharing my favorite ways I save money.

1. Ebates.Com
I use Ebates as a Chrome add-on to get me extra cash back on basically all my online purchases ever. They also collect the discounts/promos codes that an online retailer has and automatically applies them when you click on their add-on when checking out. I love how easy it is to use Ebates; a pop-up will show up in the right hand corner whenever you enter a website where you could be getting cash back and all you have to do is click "Activate x% Cash Back". They can mail you a "Big Fat Check" or you can have the money directly deposit into your Paypal account. I shop a lot and have had Ebates for a while, but I've gotten over $100 back! Here's my referral link if you want to save some money on future purchases. ;)

2. Groupon
All my friends know I love Groupon. I'm constantly on the hunt for better deals for massages or restaurants or ice cream or other things I don't necessarily need, but can better justify to myself if it's on a discount. I love using Groupon for anything from getting cheaper food (e.g. Bareburger) or for my armpit waxes (sorry, is this TMI?). You can also use it for experiences like buses to an outlet or buses to apple picking, etc. I've also used it before to do Hot Yoga with LC though I don't think we made the complete use of our Groupon, haha.

3. Cash Back
Whether it's through Chase (or your credit card), Yelp, Groupon+, Uber, or whatever accounts you have, there are so many ways to get 5% or even 10% cash back from random purchases and restaurants. For example, did you know that "Chase Offers" provides you with 30% cash back right now on Panera orders or 10% cash back at Pret? There's also 10% cash back at Dunkin' right now and loads of other options. I love randomly getting Uber credit when I make a purchase somewhere (e.g. Pottery Barn).

Stay saving,

What LC Read: Vol.14

Tuesday, December 25, 2018

An Excess Male: A Novel | Maggie Shen King 
Note:  I think An Excess Male's greatest strength is fantastic character development. There is a really shitty kid in it, and I think reading this was more effective birth control than sex education ever was. I've been really into "dystopic" Chinese sci-fi lately because they never feel like exaggerations of future possibilities. 

Under the One Child Policy, everyone plotted to have a son. 
Now 40 million of them can't find wives. China’s One Child Policy and its cultural preference for male heirs have created a society overrun by 40 million unmarriageable men. By the year 2030, more than twenty-five percent of men in their late thirties will not have a family of their own. An Excess Male is one such leftover man’s quest for love and family under a State that seeks to glorify its past mistakes and impose order through authoritatian measures, reinvigorated Communist ideals, and social engineering.Wei-guo holds fast to the belief that as long as he continues to improve himself, his small business, and in turn, his country, his chance at love will come. He finally saves up the dowry required to enter matchmaking talks at the lowest rung as a third husband—the maximum allowed by law. Only a single family—one harboring an illegal spouse—shows interest, yet with May-ling and her two husbands, Wei-guo feels seen, heard, and connected to like never before. But everyone and everything—walls, streetlights, garbage cans—are listening, and men, excess or not, are dispensable to the State. Wei-guo must reach a new understanding of patriotism and test the limits of his love and his resolve in order to save himself and this family he has come to hold dear.

The Three-Body Problem | Liu Cixin
Note: This was highly recommended by literally every Silicon Valley tech-bro I crossed paths with -- not to mention by Barack Obama himself --, and for good reason! It took me multiple tries to get properly into it because it's such an overwhelmingly vast novel, but if you stick with it, The Three-Body Problem is such a satisfying experience. 

The Three-Body Problem is the first chance for English-speaking readers to experience this multiple award winning phenomenon from China's most beloved science fiction author, Liu Cixin.
"Fans of hard SF will revel in this intricate and imaginative novel by one of China’s most celebrated genre writers. In 1967, physics professor Ye Zhetai is killed after he refuses to denounce the theory of relativity. His daughter, Ye Wenjie, witnesses his gruesome death.
"Shortly after, she’s falsely charged with sedition for promoting the works of environmentalist Rachel Carson, and told she can avoid punishment by working at a defense research facility involved with the search for extraterrestrial intelligence. More than 40 years later, Ye’s work becomes linked to a string of physicist suicides and a complex role-playing game involving the classic physics problem of the title.
"Liu impressively succeeds in integrating complex topics—such as the field of frontier science, which attempts to define the limits of science’s ability to know nature—without slowing down the action or sacrificing characterization. His smooth handling of the disparate plot elements cleverly sets up the second volume of the trilogy."

The Screwtape Letters | C.S. Lewis
A masterpiece of satire, this classic has entertained and enlightened readers the world over with its sly and ironic portrayal of human life from the vantage point of Screwtape, a senior tempter in the service of "Our Father Below." At once wildly comic, deadly serious, and strikingly original, C. S. Lewis gives us the correspondence of the worldly-wise old devil to his nephew Wormwood, a novice demon in charge of securing the damnation of an ordinary young man. The Screwtape Letters is the most engaging and humorous account of temptation—and triumph over it—ever written.

The Price of Admission: How America's Ruling Class Buys Its Way into Elite Colleges -- and Who Gets Left Outside the Gates | Daniel Golden
In this explosive book, the Pulitzer Prize–winning reporter Daniel Golden argues that America, the so-called land of opportunity, is rapidly becoming an aristocracy in which America’s richest families receive special access to elite higher education—enabling them to give their children even more of a head start. Based on two years of investigative reporting and hundreds of interviews with students, parents, school administrators, and admissions personnel—some of whom risked their jobs to speak to the author—The Price of Admission explodes the myth of an American meritocracy—the belief that no matter what your background, if you are smart and diligent enough, you will have access to the nation’s most elite universities. It is must reading not only for parents and students with a personal stake in college admissions, but also for those disturbed by the growing divide between ordinary and privileged Americans. 

The Expatriates | Janice Y.K. Lee
Note: If you've read or seen Big Little Lies, it has a similar vibe, except with Asian characters and set in Hong Kong. I feel pretty neutral about this one; I enjoyed reading The Expatriates, but don't feel particularly affected by it.

Mercy, a young Korean American and recent Columbia graduate, is adrift, undone by a terrible incident in her recent past. Hilary, a wealthy housewife, is haunted by her struggle to have a child, something she believes could save her foundering marriage. Meanwhile, Margaret, once a happily married mother of three, questions her maternal identity in the wake of a shattering loss. As each woman struggles with her own demons, their lives collide in ways that have irreversible consequences for them all.

Notes on the Assemblage | Juan Felipe Herrera
Note: My favorites from this collection were "And if the man with the choke-hold" (why/ does it/ blossom torches), "Borderbus" (we are everything hermana / because we come from everything), and "We Are Remarkably Loud Not Masked" (Eric garner we scribble your name sip your breath now / our breath cannot be choked off our / skin cannot be flamed totality / cannot be cut off / each wrist / each bone / cannot be chained to the abyss).

Juan Felipe Herrera, the first Latino Poet Laureate of the United States and son of Mexican immigrants, grew up in the migrant fields of California.
Exuberant and socially engaged, reflective and healing, this collection of new work from the nation's first Latino Poet Laureate is brimming with the wide-open vision and hard-won wisdom of a poet whose life and creative arc have spanned chasms of culture in an endless crossing, dreaming and back again.

Commons | Myung Mi Kim
Note: Okay, here's my ethical concern about the arts: that by abstracting awful things - like warfare, colonization, etc - in beautiful ways, we exploit their aesthetics. We poeticize trauma and oppression via empathy at best. Is it okay to write about rape via persona poetics if we are not rape victims. Are we insisting upon collective healing without personal hurt. I have a deep suspicion of third/fourth-generation Asian American poets from middle-class families who study at prestigious universities and have entire collections about ancestral trauma. MORE SOON. For now, this book is lovely.

Myung Mi Kim's Commons weighs on the most sensitive of scales the minute grains of daily life in both peace and war, registering as very few works of literature have done our common burden of being subject to history. Abstracting colonization, war, immigration, disease, and first-language loss until only sparse phrases remain, Kim takes on the anguish and displacement of those whose lives are embedded in history.

How To Be Drawn | Terrance Hayes
Note: Okay, so imagine a thunderstorm. That's Hayes' How To Be Drawn. My favorite pieces were "American Sonnet for Wanda C." (who I know knows why all those lush-boned worn-out girls are / whooping at where the moon should be) and "Elegy with Zombies for Life" (twenty years I would not have believed / my unborn child would still be here pushing a cry out of me).

In How to Be Drawn, his daring fifth collection, Terrance Hayes explores how we see and are seen. While many of these poems bear the clearest imprint yet of Hayes’s background as a visual artist, they do not strive to describe art so much as inhabit it. Thus, one poem contemplates the principle of blind contour drawing while others are inspired by maps, graphs, and assorted artists. The formal and emotional versatilities that distinguish Hayes’s award-winning poetry are unified by existential focus. Simultaneously complex and transparent, urgent and composed, How to Be Drawn is a mesmerizing achievement.

No Mud, No Lotus: The Art of Transforming Suffering | Thich Nhat Hanh
The secret to happiness is to acknowledge and transform suffering, not to run away from it. In No Mud, No Lotus, Thich Nhat Hanh offers practices and inspiration for transforming suffering and finding true joy. Thich Nhat Hanh acknowledges that because suffering can feel so bad, we try to run away from it or cover it up by consuming. We find something to eat or turn on the television. But unless we’re able to face our suffering, we can’t be present and available to life, and happiness will continue to elude us. Nhat Hanh shares how the practices of stopping, mindful breathing, and deep concentration can generate the energy of mindfulness within our daily lives. With that energy, we can embrace pain and calm it down, instantly bringing a measure of freedom and a clearer mind. No Mud, No Lotus introduces ways to be in touch with suffering without being overwhelmed by it. With his signature clarity and sense of joy, Thich Nhat Hanh helps us recognize the wonders inside us and around us that we tend to take for granted and teaches us the art of happiness.

Lighthead | Terrance Hayes
In his fourth collection, Terrance Hayes investigates how we construct experience. With one foot firmly grounded in the everyday and the other hovering in the air, his poems braid dream and reality into a poetry that is both dark and buoyant. Cultural icons as diverse as Fela Kuti, Harriet Tubman, and Wallace Stevens appear with meditations on desire and history. We see Hayes testing the line between story and song in a series of stunning poems inspired by the Pecha Kucha, a Japanese presenta­tion format. This innovative collection presents the light- headedness of a mind trying to pull against gravity and time. Fueled by an imagination that enlightens, delights, and ignites, Lighthead leaves us illuminated and scorched.

Afterland | Mai Der Vang
Afterland is a powerful, essential collection of poetry that recounts with devastating detail the Hmong exodus from Laos and the fate of thousands of refugees seeking asylum. Mai Der Vang is telling the story of her own family, and by doing so, she also provides an essential history of the Hmong culture’s ongoing resilience in exile. Many of these poems are written in the voices of those fleeing unbearable violence after U.S. forces recruited Hmong fighters in Laos in the Secret War against communism, only to abandon them after that war went awry. That history is little known or understood, but the three hundred thousand Hmong now living in the United States are living proof of its aftermath. With poems of extraordinary force and grace, Afterland holds an original place in American poetry and lands with a sense of humanity saved, of outrage, of a deep tradition broken by war and ocean but still intact, remembered, and lived.

Sông I Sing | Bao Phi
Note: Holy motherfucking shit, this book was explosively good. Bao Phi is one of the most iconic Asian American slam poets, so I feel his work is a little more accessible than lyric poetry. If you aren't really the type to enjoy poetry but have a little bit of curiosity and fire growing inside of you, I think you'll really, really enjoy this one. FUCK, it's so good. My favorite pieces were "The Nguyen Twins Find Adoration in the Poetry World," "Reverse Racism," "Called (An Open Letter to Myself)", and "Everyday People." 

“In this strong and angry work of what he calls refugeography, Bao Phi, who has been a performance poet since 1991, wrestles with immigration, class and race in America at sidewalk level. To hip-hop beats and the squeal and shriek of souped-up Celicas stalking the city streets, [Phi] rants and scowls at a culture in which Asians are invisible, but also scolds his peers ‘Bleached by color-blind lies/Buying DKNY and Calvin Klein/So our own bodies are gentrified.’ . . . In this song of his very American self, every poem Mr. Phi writes rhymes with the truth.” —New York Times 

Self-Care for Caregivers

Saturday, December 22, 2018

I'll keep the personal details sparse, but a few months ago, I found myself -- a fairly high-achieving, ambitious recent grad -- setting my career temporarily aside to become a full-time caregiver. Literally overnight, I went from an exciting job change to administering injections, organizing fluctuating cocktails of 20+ medications, and coordinating with a multilingual medical and social work team. For the first few weeks, in between daily hospital visits across the Peninsula (110 minutes to drive 14 miles in traffic, fuck my fucking life) and the constant alertness, I cried all the time from sheer exhaustion. And, more often, from frustration at suddenly assuming so much responsibility. Mostly, though, I felt like a sad little island.

A lot of the existing literature counsels adult children on how to care for their elderly parents, and prescribes as much of a reliance on professional help as possible. I was encouraged to go to a support group for caregivers, but they were mostly older adults, some near retirement, caring for partners or parents they'd long anticipated would need them. It seemed like an organic, natural transaction for them: I vowed to stand by my partner in sickness and in health; after four decades of good health, together we will brave the sickness. Or, late in adulthood, the filial children would come home for a few days in gratitude to the grueling work of nurses and medical aids. I was (am) twenty-two, filial as they come, and still completely unprepared for what 24/7 caregiving would ultimately demand from me.

So anyways, here's what I wish someone had told me, and how I've survived. And nearly come through the other side.

1. Seize your personal time, no matter how short. 
Long commutes to the hospital every few days? That's your fucking time. Listen to your podcasts, your playlists, your audio books. Force yourself to take your mind off the medications, the lab results, etc. There is nothing more you can do for another person while on the road. You cannot make them more comfortable. You cannot do more research on experimental drug treatments. So take that time for yourself. You'll need it.
My favorite easy-listening podcasts for such occasions:
Armchair Expert with Dax Shepard
Very endearing, surprisingly wise, always with a bit of frank self-reflection that we could all do more of.
Freakonomics Radio
This one makes me feel very WASP-y, which is my favorite problematic mood.
Saturday School
Pretty sure this might be made for children, but I like it a lot.
All your favorite cults and mysteries, explored. I'm really into weird sex cults at the moment.

2. Pack your own shit, too. Your own survival kit. 
When you're a caregiver, your life feels like it completely revolves around the patient. You carry their medications, their blood sugar monitors, snacks that fit their dietary restrictions, etc. But don't forget the shit you need to keep yourself sane. For me, it's a Kindle (in case y'all were wondering how I read so many books), caffeine supplements (you won't always have time to grab a coffee but you will always need the boost), and a water bottle/thermos. In my car, I keep a pillow (a nice memory foam one, because #selfcare), blankets, La Croix, snacks, more books, and a change of comfortable clothes in case I get a pocket of time to run into the parking garage for a nap. Keep all your stuff in a backpack so you're hands-free for the wheelchair, etc.

3. Other people may not be able to help. But they can listen to you vent. 
I fucking love venting. This was my saving grace these past few weeks. In this specific occasion, it's never so people feel sorry for me, or to further my own resentment. I am filial to my core, always, and would never hesitate to do this again if asked of me. But it's fucking hard, and I am better at it when I don't feel like I'm entirely alone. Ask a friend or loved one if they have the bandwidth to handle a complaint session (something I learned to do because people are always going through their own shit too!) and then unleash. I've dropped about a billion f-bombs lately. Venting helps you (1) validate what you're going through. It's so hard. It's so fucking hard. There were days where the "patient" felt resentful about being so helpless and lashed out, and I felt attacked no matter how hard I was trying. There were other moments when I had to leave a friend's birthday party early to be home to monitor vitals, or when my peers were out at music festivals and raves and my own life felt completely out of my control. It felt so good to have someone say, "wow, that sucks. I'm sorry you have to go through this. I am proud of you for doing your best." (2) It keeps the frustration from spilling out at inopportune times.

4. Some people can help. Ask for it. 
Advocate for yourself, and for your family - especially when there's a language barrier. Exhaust all possible resources. It's okay to tell the social worker, "no, we aren't able to make that work. What other options can we explore?" Make friends with the valet, who will be kind and human and tell you that you're pretty when you're feeling sorry for yourself. Ask the doctors to clarify what you don't understand. Set boundaries. Practice saying "I need some time to myself. I will take care of this when I am ready." DM us/me on Instagram if there's anything I can do to help.

If you are in this situation:
You can do this. You are so good and brave, and you will never, ever regret this kindness. Do a little bit of what you love when you can. Step back when you need to. You will get through it all. You are the person someone prayed for. You are the reason someone is still alive. You are more than this role. Your life is still your own.


How to Guide: Broadway Lotteries

Wednesday, December 19, 2018

I probably should stop saying "I recently moved to New York," but I still feel like I only just moved recently since there's still so much to discover here. One of my favorite activities has been attending Broadway shows through their lottery system, which gives really good tickets for a whole lot cheaper than what you'd otherwise pay at the box office.

I learned about Broadway lotteries from a friend who has watched a ton (shoutout to Justin Kong for teaching me his ways) and now I'm going to pass down the tips even if it means increased competition.

You can find lotteries here on Broadway Direct or check this Playbill list or this Broadway for Broke People list. I mostly enter digital lotteries, but Playbill also lists in-person lotteries which may be easier to get if you have the time.

Be sure to enter them whenever you can. I like to enter on the weekends where I can guarantee that I'll be free (versus on the weekdays where I may be working later so it'd be sad to win and then not be able to go). I'd say your chances of winning a weekday show are probably more likely than the weekend showings. You can enter different lotteries basically every day, but just make sure you know what time they open and what time they close. You're only given one hour after they email or text you that you've won to buy the tickets. (Yes, I have won Broadway tickets before but was still sleeping from 9am-10am and then woke up and realized I lost the chance to buy the tickets).

I always put myself down for 2 tickets even if I don't have someone else to go with because I know I can definitely find someone else to go with and I personally think it's more fun to go with a friend! If you're ever in NYC looking for a person to go with, hit me up!

Best of luck,

LC chiming in here! My "hack" for first-come-first-served digital rush tickets like TodayTix (which I used a lot in San Francisco and London) is to have pulled up on your desktop so you can see the current time down to the second. For lotteries that open at 9AM, I have a pretty good success rate if I tap "enter lottery" at around 8:59:58. Don't forget to have your credit card ready, since you'll need to purchase the tickets within the next ten minutes. I always have amazing seats through TodayTix -- as good as second row orchestra.

For off-Broadway or smaller shows, you can also join membership groups like Roundabout Theatre's Hip Tix program for $25 tickets to Pulitzer Prize-winning plays and musicals. I've seen a few of their shows in the past, and since they're smaller/not-for-profit, they take more interesting creative liberties with their work!

What I'm Reading About the Imminent Vietnamese American Deportations

Tuesday, December 18, 2018

Trump Moves to Deport Vietnam War Refugees | Charles Dunst and Krishnadev Calamur for The Atlantic
To summarize, the Trump administration has declared that Vietnamese immigrants who arrived in the country prior to the establishment of diplomatic ties between Vietnam and the United States in 1995 may be deported. This violates a Washington-Hanoi agreement reached in 2008 that specifically allows pre-1995 migrants to stay, primarily because of their status as refugees of the Vietnam War.
Many pre-1995 arrivals, all of whom were previously protected under the 2008 agreement by both the administrations of Presidents George W. Bush and Barack Obama, were refugees from the Vietnam War. Some are the children of those who once allied with American and South Vietnamese forces, an attribute that renders them undesirable to the current regime in Hanoi, which imputes anti-regime beliefs to the children of those who opposed North Vietnam. This anti-Communist constituency includes minorities such as the children of the American-allied Montagnards, who are persecuted in Vietnam for both their ethnicity and Christian religion.
Untangling Moves to Deport Vietnamese Immigrants | Jill Cowan for The New York Times
Note: I also want to add that I would understand the deportation of any Vietnamese immigrants who had committed serious crimes. But the vast majority of those at risk for deportation were convicted of very minor infractions, from marijuana possession to driving under the influence as teenagers. But they stand a serious chance of persecution if forced to return to Vietnam for war crimes (siding with the United States during the Vietnam War).
Say I’m a member of the Vietnamese community in California and I don’t have a criminal conviction. Why should I be concerned?These are people that fled their country with nothing and were resettled in the U.S., often in poverty-stricken neighborhoods with gang violence. They were traumatized from the war. There are a lot of people who may have criminal convictions and haven’t talked about it.
Former U.S. Ambassador To Vietnam Criticizes Plan To Deport Vietnamese Refugees | Former U.S. Ambassador to Vietnam Ted Osius and Michel Martin for NPR
MARTIN: What is your sense of how these people would be received if they were deported to Vietnam? OSIUS: I know for a fact they won't be treated well at all. They don't have any family here anymore. All their families are in the United States. They have no way of getting a job here because they won't be able to be issued identity cards. If they're the children of American servicemen, they won't be trusted. They won't be able to get jobs. They will most likely end up in prison. And this future administration will consider them human rights cases and try to get them back to the United States. It doesn't make sense to be sending these people to Vietnam.
All Immigrants Deserve to Not Just Arrive, but Also to Thrive | Quyen Dinh, MPP for Reappropriate
This story of growing up on free lunch programs, food stamps, and WIC is not just my story alone, but that of the more than one million Southeast Asians from Cambodia, Laos, and Vietnam who found refuge in America after fleeing war-torn countries, oftentimes with nothing but the clothes on their back.
Today, even after more than 40 years of being in the United States, Southeast Asian American families continue to face challenges of poverty.  According to the US Census, 11% of Lao families, 13% of Vietnamese families, 14.9% of Cambodian families, and 16.3% of Hmong families live below the poverty line.
Because of high rates of poverty, our communities rely on government assistance programs such as SNAP (previously food stamps), Medicaid, and housing assistance.
 All immigrants to this country, whether refugee or not, should have the right not just to arrive but thrive by building healthy families through the use of governmental assistance programs.
The Best We Could Do: An Illustrated Memoir | Thi Bui
An intimate and poignant graphic novel portraying one family’s journey from war-torn Vietnam from debut author Thi Bui. This beautifully illustrated and emotional story is an evocative memoir about the search for a better future and a longing for the past. Exploring the anguish of immigration and the lasting effects that displacement has on a child and her family, Bui documents the story of her family’s daring escape after the fall of South Vietnam in the 1970s, and the difficulties they faced building new lives for themselves.
 At the heart of Bui’s story is a universal struggle: While adjusting to life as a first-time mother, she ultimately discovers what it means to be a parent—the endless sacrifices, the unnoticed gestures, and the depths of unspoken love. Despite how impossible it seems to take on the simultaneous roles of both parent and child, Bui pushes through. With haunting, poetic writing and breathtaking art, she examines the strength of family, the importance of identity, and the meaning of home.
 In what Pulitzer Prize–winning novelist Viet Thanh Nguyen calls “a book to break your heart and heal it,” The Best We Could Do brings to life Thi Bui’s journey of understanding, and provides inspiration to all of those who search for a better future while longing for a simpler past.
Here's an excerpt from Pen America.

The Sympathizer | Viet Thanh Nguyen
It is April 1975, and Saigon is in chaos. At his villa, a general of the South Vietnamese army is drinking whiskey and, with the help of his trusted captain, drawing up a list of those who will be given passage aboard the last flights out of the country. The general and his compatriots start a new life in Los Angeles, unaware that one among their number, the captain, is secretly observing and reporting on the group to a higher-up in the Viet Cong. The Sympathizer is the story of this captain: a man brought up by an absent French father and a poor Vietnamese mother, a man who went to university in America, but returned to Vietnam to fight for the Communist cause. A gripping spy novel, an astute exploration of extreme politics, and a moving love story, The Sympathizer explores a life between two worlds and examines the legacy of the Vietnam War in literature, film, and the wars we fight today.

The Eaves of Heaven | Andrew X. Pham
From Andrew X. Pham, the award-winning author of Catfish and Mandala, a son’s searing memoir of his Vietnamese father’s experiences over the course of three wars.
Once wealthy landowners, Thong Van Pham’s family was shattered by the tumultuous events of the twentieth century: the festering French occupation of Indochina, the Japanese invasion during World War II, and the Vietnam War.
Told in dazzling chapters that alternate between events in the past and those closer to the present, The Eaves of Heaven brilliantly re-creates the trials of everyday life in Vietnam as endured by one man, from the fall of Hanoi and the collapse of French colonialism to the frenzied evacuation of Saigon. Pham offers a rare portal into a lost world as he chronicles Thong Van Pham’s heartbreaks, triumphs, and bizarre reversals of fortune, whether as a South Vietnamese soldier pinned down by enemy fire, a prisoner of the North Vietnamese under brutal interrogation, or a refugee desperately trying to escape Vietnam after the last American helicopter has abandoned Saigon. This is the story of a man caught in the maelstrom of twentieth-century politics, a gripping memoir told with the urgency of a wartime dispatch by a writer of surpassing talent.

Song I Sing | Bao Phi
(from Reverse Racism)
Of course, this may lead to a war. Just to be safe, I'm gonna forcibly remove white American people from their homes because I feel they are a threat to national security. They can stay at the dog-racing tracks until we are sure that they are good and loyal to this country. And while they're gone, I will take everything they ever owned. I will recruit white people to fight against other white people, promising we'll take care of them if things go wrong, but if things go wrong and white people find their way into overcrowded planes and leaky boats to seek refuge in Asian America, I'll turn them away and say "Sorry! No room."

On behalf of the undersigned Vietnamese community members, and local, state, and national immigrant, civil rights, and human rights organizations, we urge you to sign-on to protect our families and community members. We demand that the protections afforded to Vietnamese immigrants under the current U.S.-Vietnam repatriation agreement be maintained and oppose any amendments that further threaten to tear apart families and upend communities. Your signature will let the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) and Vietnam know the community is watching.

I have a lot of feelings that, at the moment, will only come out spiteful and damning so zero personal commentary this time.*

I lied. Here's the gist of it: fuck y'all, Asian American or not, who are so fucking obsessed with your post-graduate trips to Southeast Asia, who celebrated Asian American diversity and representation in the media this year, and never fucking show up for the/our/your people. Do better. We can care and we can celebrate. We can contain multitudes. We can carry it all.

The Catalogue: No. 21

Predictably, my semi-weekly (since I alternate with CL) cornucopia of interesting reads:

Louisiana School Made Headlines for Sending Black Kids to Elite Colleges. Here's the Reality. | Annie Flanagan for The New York Times
Note: It makes me so angry how, among other shitty things,  (1) all these elite universities fell for and salivated over manufactured narratives of ghetto and neglected black students who rose above their circumstances via exceptional academic achievement, (2) this school developed within vulnerable students a lifelong obsession with quantifiable intelligence and merit -- even at the cost of falsifying such achievement (3) we are rewarded by institutions for recounting traumas that are often institutionally afflicted. FUCK.
More than a dozen students and staff members told The Times of pupils being humiliated in front of their peers and of racial groups being pitted against one another. Academically weak students were demeaned, and headstrong students were made to kneel.
More than a half-dozen students interviewed said they had witnessed Mr. Landry choking their schoolmates, and three students observed him slam others on desks. Another three students said they saw Mr. Landry place a child with autism in a closet.
Nyjal Mitchell, 16, said he wanted to be accepted by Mr. Landry because he dreamed of attending the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. He cleaned the school. He stayed later than others. He competed fiercely with his classmates. He said he even ignored attacks on his younger sister, Sanaa, who was bullied.
“I just clicked with the idea of doing something with my life,” Mr. Mitchell said. “I had the idea that the only way that would happen was through the school.” 
How McKinsey Has Helped Raise the Stature of Authoritarian Governments | Walt Bogdanich and Michael Forsythe for The New York Times
Hooray, some juicy white-collar gossip. (I know it's more serious than I'm making it sound.) Also, have you seen the ad they took out? ("McKinsey response to the NYT") LMAO.
It turns out that McKinsey’s role in China is just one example of its extensive — and sometimes contentious — work around the world, according to an investigation by The New York Times that included interviews with 40 current and former McKinsey employees, as well as dozens of their clients.
At a time when democracies and their basic values are increasingly under attack, the iconic American company has helped raise the stature of authoritarian and corrupt governments across the globe, sometimes in ways that counter American interests. Its clients have included Saudi Arabia’s absolute monarchy, Turkey under the autocratic leadership of President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, and corruption-plagued governments in countries like South Africa. 
The Racist Politics of the English Language | Lawrence B. Glickman for Boston Review
The language of “tinged” and “charged” suggests that race can be overemphasized and exaggerated, but elides the fact that any biological notion of race is a fiction, while racism is a very real language of power. Describing Trump and others in language that uses “race” as a neutral concept, whether or not intensified by “tinged” or “charged,” suggests that race can possess both positive and negative valences. This masks that, as history tells us, phrases described as “racially tinged” always involve assertions of race hierarchy, power, and privilege.
Reprogramming Power: Audrey Tang Is Bringing Hacker Culture to the StateApolitical
Audrey Tang is -- and represents -- everything that excites me about the future of Taiwan and the Taiwanese people. She's a literal genius and the world's only transgender government minister, a radical protester who set up WiFi for a student-led occupation, high school dropout, and free software developer. I'm obsessed with her.
Similarly radical is Tang’s approach to her job. She describes herself as a “conservative anarchist”, there to tear down the barriers between people and government, but also to advance reform through give-and-take consensus, rather than conflict. For now, government still has a role to play, but it has to be completely responsive to society.
“I don’t give command nor take command, but I just act as a very reliable channel to contextualize policymaking, so that the civic society can know exactly what’s going on,” she said. It’s almost as if she has reimagined the role of a minister as that of a chatroom moderator.
Toning Down Asian Stereotypes to Make ‘The Nutcracker’ Fit the Times | Robin Pogrebin for The New York Times
Hello, so fun fact -- I've done a research project on Orientalism and Rodgers and Hammerstein's The King and I, but this fun little bit in The Nutcracker completely evaded my notice (I'm now doubting whether I ever actually saw The Nutcracker in its authentic form.) Anyways, I'm glad they're doing away with the Fu Manchu reference and rice-paddy aesthetics.
“In the same way that blackface is limiting and degrading to African-Americans, continuing to present a 19th-century view of Asians does not allow for character nuance for Asian-American dancers today,” Ms. Pazcoguin and Mr. Chan say in a letter on their website. “If all audiences see is the bobbing and shuffling coolie from a bygone era as the only representation of Asians onstage, what message does that send to our Asian students who dream of dancing the Swan Queen?”
Digging into the Racial Politics of ‘Ugly Delicious’ | Rachel Kuo for Reappropriate
This one's a little old (from May 2018) but it is so well-written, comprehensively examined, and still relevant. I especially like the below excerpt about "culinary upscaling," when second/third-generation artists gentrify their parents' work for middle-class (white) consumption. I think about this all the fucking time, especially in the context of Asian American women-owned businesses who do shit like package up Chinese herbs in millennial pink packaging with serif font and sell it for like $10/teabag. Like at what point are we empowering other Asian American entrepreneurs and at what point are we commodifying our parents' otherness in selfish, shitty ways?
Another aspect of culinary ‘upscaling’ is when ‘second generation’ or ‘third generation’ chefs, contribute to the gentrification of places like San Francisco’s Chinatown when ‘uplifting’ their parents’ food... This pedigree exemplifies food scholar Krishnendu Ray’s discussion of professionalism being refracted through prisms of “class, craft, and masculinity” where the ethnic cook is remade and promoted through proper skills, habits, and training to fit “middle-class aspiration and upper-class consumption.”
May-lee Chai’s Collection of Short stories Is An ‘Act of Resistance’ for the Trump Age | Neema Roshania Patel for The Lily
Sorry to be that Debbie Downer, but I wish we more often paired our love for Crazy Rich Asians (stories of excess, abundance, glitz) with critique for how a lot of Asian Americans, particularly non-East Asian Americans, experience a lot of economic anxiety, scarcity, etc. We can do both! We can contain multitudes! Porque no los dos!!!
One [common thread] is an underlying current of economic anxiety. In all the stories, somebody is worrying about money or work. It’s really unusual in American literature as a theme. We don’t really talk about class or work unless it is to show the characters overcoming this challenge or unless it is a story of ultimate success. For my characters, it is just a fact of life. That was really important to me, to show the economic anxiety in the Chinese diaspora, because it’s very much there and runs counter to what we hear about the Chinese immigrant population.
I put this collection together in 2016 as a reaction to the political climate. We are facing a whole new level of crazy, anti-immigrant speech. I put this together as a an act of resistance. 
Honestly, between caring deeply about many things (and being viscerally affected by them), reading heavy, hard-hitting nonfiction, re-watching Schindler's List, and Peninsula traffic-induced road rage, I am feeling MANY THINGS right now.

With love despite it all,

The Catalogue: No. 20

Sunday, December 16, 2018

I've never been into online games or video games (other than Neopets and Gaia Online), but I do love board games. I enjoy the competitive nature of games, but also the cooperative nature of games too. Depending on what you and your friends are in the mood for, there'll always be a game to suit that mood.

Here are some of my personal favorite board games you should get for a fun "board games night" with friends. These are simple ways to keep guests occupied while being able to chat, eat cheese, and drink wine!

1. Settlers of Catan
A cult classic board game. Do I even need to describe this game? If it's your first time playing, you may have a hard time 'winning' and the game may seem rather complex, but it's truly easier than you think and soon you'll understand the strategies to winning. BONUS: Buy Seafarers or Cities & Knights if you already have the base game and want something different. 

2. Exploding Kittens
There's no way I can describe the game better than the actual creators, so here's a video explaining the game. I love how simple it is to learn and how everyone can play the game. My youngest brother loves getting my siblings and me to play this with him! Each round is also pretty fast (maybe 10-15 minutes) which can be nice when you want to play something shorter.

3. Cards Against Humanity
This game is rated R!!! I would never play this with a kid or anyone even in high school. But for those in college or already working, this is a super funny party game. It also teaches you a lot about the humor styles of the people you play with as it is a fill-in-the-blank Mad Libs-esque card game. Each player gets cards with offensive, risqué or politically incorrect phrases and fills in the blank of a different card. The "host" then gets to choose whichever card he/she liked the most out of all the cards each player got to put down. Simple and fun! 

5. Codenames
Codenames is an easy game of guessing which words in a set are related based off of hints. There are two teams of players, and each team gets to give one word clues that can point to multiple words on the board to help their other team members select the correct words. I really enjoy playing this game with people I know well to see if we're on the same brain ~wavelengths~. Frequently, we're not but this game is still super fun and usually every round counts which makes it more intense and competitive.

6. One Night Ultimate Werewolf
If you like Mafia, you'll LOVE this game. This is one of my favorite games to play with larger groups, because it's so intense and usually results in some friendly yelling and accusations. Everyone gets a different role from Villager to Werewolf to Seer and more. The players try to determine who among them is a werewolf, but there are characters who are trying to help the Werewolf and there are other characters whose main purpose is to get themselves killed instead of the Werewolf. Unlike Mafia, no "story-teller" or moderator is needed because there's an app that helps narrate. The game is just "one night" aka one round and lasts around 10-15 minutes. This is definitely one of my favorite games I've played in the last year!

Overall, just Google key words like "cooperative" or "short" that you like to find board games / card games that fit what you're interested in.

Happy playing,

I Read Over 100 Books in 2018: Here Were My Favorites

Monday, December 10, 2018

As if needed repeating -- I really, really love to read. At my most recent count, I've finished over 110 books this year (my goodreads total underestimates because I don't log re-reads). But here's why I read, and why it all matters:

The world burned down in 2018. From the deadliest Californian wildfire in modern history to the Saudi-led, US-supported genocide in Yemen to the 300+ mass shootings in the United States in 2018 alone to the migrant families tear-gassed at the US-Mexico border and all the seismic deaths, injustices, and griefs in between. Primo Levi's If This Is A Man was a resurgence of the same haunting: of cowardice at the root of all suffering, indifference at its ugly head. The opposite of death, I learned, is not life but the insisted writing of it, the way literature resists its own burial. Bao Phi's Sông I Sing was a sanctuary for all of my anger, all of my frustration with contemporary Asian American art, self-gentrified and cheaply manufactured, masquerading as radical for audiences too white to know better. (When you can no longer tell / if you're liberating yourself through expression / or selling your oppression / Remember / there were those of us / living here/ who called you / friend.) I learned that I am so, so fiercely protective of Taiwan. I will scorn any writer who dares exploit it, even if and especially when they share my family history. I learned that art will save me, that artists will redeem me, that there exists a sort of person for whom loneliness is a home and not a reason to pull the trigger. I want to be that person. I learned to be very, very sad, and to find peers in this grief rather than new ways to dull it. I am learning that it is better to care deeply than to protect myself from the suffering of others. I am learning to never turn away from all that is difficult to carry, to bear witness and fight the fire instead of walking away.
I'd summarize this year's curation as a poetic and critical meditation on identity, how a paranoia of prejudice arises from the way our contemporary institutions practice it. May we all find ourselves on the other side of the walls.

I also wanted to share - thanks for bearing with me - that my dear Book of Cord was selected by Entropy Magazine as one of the best Poetry collections of 2018. I am so grateful.

Sông I Sing | Bao Phi
“In this strong and angry work of what he calls refugeography, Bao Phi, who has been a performance poet since 1991, wrestles with immigration, class and race in America at sidewalk level. To hip-hop beats and the squeal and shriek of souped-up Celicas stalking the city streets, [Phi] rants and scowls at a culture in which Asians are invisible, but also scolds his peers ‘Bleached by color-blind lies/Buying DKNY and Calvin Klein/So our own bodies are gentrified.’ . . . In this song of his very American self, every poem Mr. Phi writes rhymes with the truth.” —New York Times 

Cutting School: Privatization, Segregation, and the End of Public Education | Noliwe Rooks
Public schools are among America's greatest achievements in modern history, yet from the earliest days of tax-supported education--today a sector with an estimated budget of over half a billion dollars--there have been intractable tensions tied to race and poverty.
Cutting School deftly traces the financing of segregated education in America, from reconstruction through Brown v. Board of Education up to the current controversies around school choice, teacher quality, the school-to-prison pipeline, and more, to elucidate the course we are on today: the wholesale privatization of our schools. Rooks's incisive critique breaks down the fraught landscape of "segrenomics," showing how experimental solutions to the so-called achievement gaps--including charters, vouchers, and cyber schools--rely on, profit from, and ultimately exacerbate disturbingly high levels of racial and economic segregation under the guise of providing equal opportunity.
A comprehensive, compelling account of what's truly at stake in the relentless push to deregulate and privatize, Cutting School is a cri de coeur for all of us to resist educational apartheid in America.

You Must Change Your Life: The Story of Rainer Maria Rilke and Auguste Rodin | Rachel Corbett
In 1902, Rainer Maria Rilke—then a struggling poet in Germany—went to Paris to research and write a short book about the sculptor Auguste Rodin. The two were almost polar opposites: Rilke in his twenties, delicate and unknown; Rodin in his sixties, carnal and revered. Yet they fell into an instantaneous friendship. Transporting readers to early twentieth-century Paris, Rachel Corbett’s You Must Change Your Life is a vibrant portrait of Rilke and Rodin and their circle, revealing how deeply Rodin’s ideas about art and creativity influenced Rilke’s classic Letters to a Young Poet.

American Sonnets for My Past and Future Assassin | Terrance Hayes
In seventy poems bearing the same title, Terrance Hayes explores the meanings of American, of assassin, and of love in the sonnet form. Written during the first two hundred days of the Trump presidency, these poems are haunted by the country's past and future eras and errors, its dreams and nightmares. Inventive, compassionate, hilarious, melancholy, and bewildered--the wonders of this new collection are irreducible and stunning.

The State of Affairs: Rethinking Infidelity | Esther Perel
An affair: it can rob a couple of their relationship, their happiness, their very identity. And yet, this extremely common human experience is so poorly understood. Adultery has existed since marriage was invented, and so too the prohibition against it—in fact, it has a tenacity that marriage can only envy. So what are we to make of this time-honored taboo—universally forbidden yet universally practiced? Why do people cheat—even those in happy marriages? Why does an affair hurt so much? When we say infidelity, what exactly do we mean? Do our romantic expectations of marriage set us up for betrayal? Is there such a thing as an affair-proof marriage? Is it possible to love more than one person at once? Can an affair ever help a marriage? Perel weaves real-life case stories with incisive psychological and cultural analysis in this fast-paced and compelling book.

For the past ten years, Perel has traveled the globe and worked with hundreds of couples who have grappled with infidelity. Betrayal hurts, she writes, but it can be healed. An affair can even be the doorway to a new marriage—with the same person. With the right approach, couples can grow and learn from these tumultuous experiences, together or apart.

Past Lives, Future Bodies | Kristin Chang
PAST LIVES, FUTURE BODIES is a knife-sharp and nimble examination of migration, motherhood, and the malignant legacies of racism. In this collection, family forms both a unit of survival and a framework for history, agency, and recovery. Chang undertakes a visceral exploration of the historical and unfolding paths of lineage and what it means to haunt body and country. These poems traverse not only the circularity of trauma but the promise of regeneration—what grows from violence and hatches from healing—as Chang embodies each of her ghosts and invites the specter to speak.

Plum Rains: A Novel | Andromeda Romano-Lax 
In a tour-de-force tapestry of science fiction and historical fiction, Andromeda Romano-Lax presents a story set in Japan and Taiwan that spans a century of empire, conquest, progress, and destruction.
2029: In Japan, a historically mono-cultural nation, childbirth rates are at an all-time low and the elderly are living increasingly longer lives. This population crisis has precipitated the mass immigration of foreign medical workers from all over Asia, as well as the development of finely tuned artificial intelligence to step in where humans fall short.
In Tokyo, Angelica Navarro, a Filipina nurse who has been in Japan for the last five years, works as caretaker for Sayoko Itou, a moody, secretive woman about to turn 100 years old. One day, Sayoko receives a present: a cutting-edge robot “friend” that will teach itself to anticipate Sayoko’s every need. Angelica wonders if she is about to be forced out of her much-needed job by an inanimate object—one with a preternatural ability to uncover the most deeply buried secrets of the humans around it. Meanwhile, Sayoko becomes attached to the machine. The old woman has been hiding secrets of her own for almost a century—and she’s too old to want to keep them anymore.
 What she reveals is a hundred-year saga of forbidden love, hidden identities, and the horrific legacy of WWII and Japanese colonialism—a confession that will tear apart her own life and Angelica’s. Is the helper robot the worst thing that could have happened to the two women—or is it forcing the changes they both desperately needed?

If This Is A Man | Primo Levi
'With the moral stamina and intellectual poise of a twentieth-century Titan, this slightly built, dutiful, unassuming chemist set out systematically to remember the German hell on earth, steadfastly to think it through, and then to render it comprehensible in lucid, unpretentious prose. He was profoundly in touch with the minutest workings of the most endearing human events and with the most contemptible. What has survived in Levi's writing isn't just his memory of the unbearable, but also, in The Periodic Table and The Wrench, his delight in what made the world exquisite to him. He was himself a magically endearing man, the most delicately forceful enchanter I've ever known' - Philip Roth.

Don't Call Us Dead | Danez Smith
Award-winning poet Danez Smith is a groundbreaking force, celebrated for deft lyrics, urgent subjects, and performative power. Don't Call Us Dead opens with a heartrending sequence that imagines an afterlife for black men shot by police, a place where suspicion, violence, and grief are forgotten and replaced with the safety, love, and longevity they deserved here on earth. Smith turns then to desire, mortality the dangers experienced in skin and body and blood and a diagnosis of HIV positive. "Some of us are killed / in pieces," Smith writes, some of us all at once. Don't Call Us Dead is an astonishing and ambitious collection, one that confronts, praises, and rebukes America--"Dear White America"--where every day is too often a funeral and not often enough a miracle.

A Little Life | Hanya Yanagihara
When four classmates from a small Massachusetts college move to New York to make their way, they're broke, adrift, and buoyed only by their friendship and ambition. There is kind, handsome Willem, an aspiring actor; JB, a quick-witted, sometimes cruel Brooklyn-born painter seeking entry to the art world; Malcolm, a frustrated architect at a prominent firm; and withdrawn, brilliant, enigmatic Jude, who serves as their center of gravity.
Over the decades, their relationships deepen and darken, tinged by addiction, success, and pride. Yet their greatest challenge, each comes to realize, is Jude himself, by midlife a terrifyingly talented litigator yet an increasingly broken man, his mind and body scarred by an unspeakable childhood, and haunted by what he fears is a degree of trauma that he’ll not only be unable to overcome—but that will define his life forever.

Frontier Taiwan: An Anthology of Modern Taiwanese Poetry | edited by N.G.D. Malmqvist
Taiwan has evolved dramatically from a little-known island to an internationally acclaimed economic miracle and thriving democracy. The history of modern Taiwanese poetry parallels and tells the story of this transformation from periphery to frontier. Containing translations of nearly 400 poems from 50 poets spanning the entire twentieth century, this anthology reveals Taiwan in a broad spectrum of themes, forms, and styles: from lyrical meditation to political satire, haiku to concrete poetry, surrealism to postmodernism. The in-depth introduction outlines the development of modern poetry in the unique historical and cultural context of Taiwan. Comprehensive in both depth and scope, Frontier Taiwan beautifully captures the achievements of the nation's modern poetic traditions.

How to Write an Autobiographical Novel | Alexander Chee
How to Write an Autobiographical Novel is the author’s manifesto on the entangling of life, literature, and politics, and how the lessons learned from a life spent reading and writing fiction have changed him. In these essays, he grows from student to teacher, reader to writer, and reckons with his identities as a son, a gay man, a Korean American, an artist, an activist, a lover, and a friend. He examines some of the most formative experiences of his life and the nation’s history, including his father’s death, the AIDS crisis, 9/11, the jobs that supported his writing—Tarot-reading, bookselling, cater-waiting for William F. Buckley—the writing of his first novel, Edinburgh, and the election of Donald Trump.
By turns commanding, heartbreaking, and wry, How to Write an Autobiographical Novel asks questions about how we create ourselves in life and in art, and how to fight when our dearest truths are under attack.

With love, love, love -- infallible and unbreakable,

What LC Read: Vol. 13

Tuesday, November 27, 2018

"If you want to know what God thinks of money, just look at the people he gave it to."
T H O M A S  G U T H R I E

The Official Filthy Rich Handbook | Christopher Tennant
I occasionally dabble in a full-fledged fascination with the lives of the 0.001%. The Official Filthy Rich Handbook opens with The Plutocrat's Primer, a profile of the different ways one might arrive at and experience outrageous wealth. My favorite (if only because I know so many of its descendants) was The Hedger, a new-school breed of money that insists "it's not enough to succeed. Others must fail." Educated at UPenn and Goldman Sachs. Fondest memory: Outbidding Paul Tudor Jones at the Greenwhich Country Day School fundraiser. If Annie Braddock of Nanny Diaries had actually published a sociology study on WASP affluence, this would be it in its best possible form. And I guess if you're a social climber/hoping to marry up (no shame in the upper mobility game!), this book is 200+ pages of dirty talk.
A dead-on, deadpan guide to living large in the land of plenty, The Official Filthy Rich Handbook yanks the monogrammed pashmina off a world few mortals ever get to see. Packed with insight and savvy, it brings this rarified universe to scandalous new life, feeding our endless fascination with the tastefully loaded, while offering practical instructions for those who dream of joining them. 

The Devil Wears Prada | Lauren Weisberger
I used to work in luxury fashion (it was a blind interview, okay?) and despite all of the "Devil Wears Prada" references I've made since ("it's exactly like DWP! I too worked for a Miranda!") I'd somehow never read the book. Apparently, I wasn't missing out on much. The movie is just too fucking good, and in a shocking twist of the movie/book paradigm, the book felt like the clunky, embarrassing rough draft of its much better-polished, better-examined screenplay.
THE DEVIL WEARS PRADA gives a rich and hilarious new meaning to complaints about "The Boss from Hell." Narrated in Andrea's smart, refreshingly disarming voice, it traces a deep, dark, devilish view of life at the top only hinted at in gossip columns and over Cosmopolitans at the trendiest cocktail parties. From sending the latest, not-yet-in-stores Harry Potter to Miranda's children in Paris by private jet, to locating an unnamed antique store where Miranda had at some point admired a vintage dresser, Andrea is sorely tested each and every day--and often late into the night with orders barked over the phone. She puts up with it all by keeping her eyes on the prize: a recommendation from Miranda that will get Andrea a top job at any magazine of her choosing. As things escalate from the merely unacceptable to the downright outrageous, however, Andrea begins to realize that the job a million girls would die for may just kill her. And even if she survives, she has to decide whether or not the job is worth the price of her soul.

The Givers: Wealth, Power, and Philanthropy in a New Gilded Age | David Callahan
I almost went into a career in philanthropy consulting until trusted incumbents hissed at me to run away. I realize now that I, with only four years of Economics studies and a starry-eyed, albeit vague, inclination to "do good" would have been completely unprepared for the complexity and scale of philanthropy. Philanthropy, Callahan writes, "shapes the communities in which millions of people live. Much of this gets celebrated without many second thoughts. Parks, libraries, and museums make cities livable; top universities and medical research centers make them great, attracting talent from around the world. What's not to like? Maybe a bunch of things, from who is making choices over public life to who actually benefits from these choices. What's happening in cities like New York and Houston is a microcosm of a broader power shift whereby private donors-- who are both more numerous and more wealthy-- are stepping into a vacuum created by the decline of the public sector."
David Callahan charts the rise of these new power players and the ways they are converting the fortunes of a second Gilded Age into influence. He shows how this elite works behind the scenes on education, the environment, science, LGBT rights, and many other issues--with deep impact on government policy. Above all, he shows that the influence of the Givers is only just beginning, as new waves of billionaires like Mark Zuckerberg turn to philanthropy. Based on extensive research and interviews with countless donors and policy experts, this is not a brief for or against the Givers, but a fascinating investigation of a power shift in American society that has implications for us all. 

What’s more, most Americans don’t attend selective schools like Johns Hopkins. About 75 percent of undergraduates go to a school that accepts more than half of its applicants, and only 4 percent go to schools where the acceptance rate is below 25 percent. Hopkins’s acceptance rate is about 12 percent. Changing things at Hopkins, or even changing things at Hopkins and inspiring other selective schools to do likewise, doesn’t change the situation for the vast majority of college students who won’t attend an elite institution.

I'm probably just naive, but it never occurred to me to critique philanthropy in higher education, particularly if it went to endowments that funded scholarships. I myself attended a relatively elite private university on a donor-funded full scholarship. I've publicly praised and gushed over this. But I realize in retrospect that the quarter million dollars funneled into my little life was a quarter million dollars not funneled into several students attending community or state college whose aggregate returns could have far exceeded mine. It's a tricky one.
The richer schools are getting richer; the poor are getting poorer. Three-quarters of the $516 billion in endowment wealth held by U.S. colleges and universities in 2014 was concentrated in the hands of just 11 percent of schools. When LaGuardia Community College in New York City received a $2 million donation from Goldman Sachs in 2015, it doubled the school's endowment. The gift was unusual enough to make the New York Times. By comparison, Harvard raised an average of $3.1 million a day during 2015. 
Some delicious Asian American/Asian works of poetry/etc. to come.
Love always,

The Catalogue: No. 19

Monday, November 26, 2018

"If I love you, I have to make you conscious of the things you do not see."
J A M E S  B A L D W I N

This week, in things that make me angry.

I Love America. That’s Why I Have to Tell the Truth About It | Viet Thanh Nguyen for TIME
Being immune to the flag and the anthem does not make me less American than those who love those symbols. Is it not more important that I love the substance behind those symbols rather than the symbols themselves? The principles. Democracy, equality, justice, hope, peace and especially freedom, the freedom to write and to think whatever I want, even if my freedoms and the beauty of those principles have all been nurtured by the blood of genocide, slavery, conquest, colonization, imperial war, forever war. All of that is America, our beautiful and brutal America.
Specter of Meddling by Beijing Looms Over Taiwan’s Elections | Chris Horton for The New York Times
The Taiwan authorities say they suspect that Beijing is also illegally funneling money to political campaigns through Taiwan businesses in mainland China. Late last month, the government said that it was building cases against candidates who were being funded by Beijing and that it had shut down two underground money exchanges through which funds earmarked for influencing the election had been flowing.
Progressive Taiwanese Civil Society Sees Defeat By Way of National Referendum | Brian Hioe for New Bloom Magazine
In the years before the Sunflower Movement and afterward, a certain political consensus came to emerge among Taiwanese social movement activists. Despite the fact that issues as support for gay marriage, opposition to nuclear energy, support for environment-friendly, renewable sources of energy, support for referendum reform, and advocacy for Taiwanese independence may have had no inherent relation to each other, these issues were broadly embraced by Taiwanese civil society under the framework of progressive politics.
Yet referendums on supporting gay marriage, LGBTQ-friendly Gender Equality Education, legal provisions to phase out nuclear energy by 2025, and the call for Taiwan to participate in the 2020 Tokyo Olympics as “Taiwan” rather than “Chinese Taipei” were voted down yesterday. 
Scientists ‘Went Rogue’ and Genetically Engineered Two Human Babies | Kat Eschner for Popular Science
“I don’t want to convey that I’m categorically against [gene editing on embryos] ever being done,” says Musunuru. But in this case—in secrecy and without oversight—he says it’s totally unacceptable. Perhaps the biggest problem, to him, is the fact that the two embryos showed evidence of mosaicism and off-target mutations. Mosaicism is when some of the cells in an organism have a mutation, like the one that He was trying to make, but others do not. Off-target mutations are exactly what they sound like: genetic changes that weren’t the ones intended by the gene edit, potentially introducing congenital diseases or other unforeseen consequences.
Lena Dunham Comes to Terms With Herself | Allison P. Davis for The Cut
Dunham internalized the feedback — sort of. It sometimes seemed as if her newsletter, founded in 2015 with Konner, was a line of defense against a certain strain of Dunham criticism: Lenny Letter featured writers and artists of color and LGBTQ voices writing about issues of identity. Somehow — was it the whiff of insincerity that clings to reflexive apologies? — her efforts to use her platform for righteous causes only made people more annoyed by her.
 Can We Ever Really #Cancel Dolce & Gabbana? | Rachel Tashjian for Garage
When fashion fanatics unleash vitriol against Dolce & Gabbana online, that vitriol carries the weight of a hundred other rejections, misdeeds, and pain that can’t be vocalized because of the reality Diet Prada recognizes: at the end of the day, every part of the fashion industry is still tethered to a need for institutional respect. Does #cancel culture ask for structural change to those institutions, or is it asking for the structure as it exists to accept it? 
A Full Timeline of the Crisis at Dolce & Gabanna | Rachel Tashjian for Garage
In anticipation of “The Great Show,” Dolce & Gabbana release a series of video advertisements in which a Chinese model was “instructed” on how to eat various Italian foods, such as pasta and cannoli, with chopsticks. In one segment, the model struggles and giggles with a cannolo as a voiceover says, “Is it too huge for you?” According to Jing Daily, “Many social media users in China labeled this video stereotypical, racist and disrespectful for Asian female upon its release.”
Note: I don't know if I have the bandwidth or ethos for it, but there has to be some article tying together how prestigious Western institutions, be these of art/fashion/commerce or higher education, pander to Chinese affluence without genuine consideration of Chinese people. And in the same vein, the way that access to Western symbols of approval/wealth (European handbags, stints at their boarding schools/universities, being Asia-born but England-educated) have a stronghold in Chinese culture that still reinforces European hegemony. The relationship between those who will accept the cash but not its holder; and those who grovel to hand it over, still. Am I reaching?

Trans Woman Was Beaten in ICE Custody Before Death, Autopsy Finds | Scott Bixby,
Betsy Woodruff for Daily Beast
Even before her detention in New Mexico, Hernández Rodriguez had walked an extremely difficult path on her way to the United States. In an interview with Buzzfeed News a month before her death, Hernández Rodriguez said she decided to flee Honduras after she was gang-raped by four members of the MS-13 gang, resulting in her being infected with HIV.
“She journeyed thousands of miles fleeing persecution and torture at home only to be met with neglect and torture in this country’s for-profit human cages,” Free said.
How a March at the US-Mexico Border Descended into Tear Ga and Chaos | Dara Lind for Vox
Many migrants in the caravan weren’t expecting the wait or the conditions. They’ve already been traveling for weeks, often with children in tow, with the hope of getting asylum in the US. In many cases, they’ve had the mistaken expectation that asylum would be granted immediately after they arrived. That hasn’t happened, and they’re getting desperate. And desperate people do desperate things.
 Many of the children who will be most affected are the victims of unspeakable violence and have been exposed to trauma. Children do not immigrate, they flee. They are coming to the U.S. seeking safe haven in our country and they need our compassion and assistance. Broad scale expansion of family detention only exacerbates their suffering.
“We don’t have the ability to easily predict [the] effects [of tear gas] unless there is more history of use against children,” Cordesman told The Post. “It looks like we’re setting the precedent.”
And finally, on a lighter note:
The Ultimate Guide to 'Fantastic Beasts 2' | Rob Bricken of Nerd Processor
Can you briefly summarize the movie? A bunch of wizards run maniacally around Paris until Johnny Depp gives a TED Talk. 
With love always,

What Taiwanese Americans Can Learn from Taiwanese Politics

Sunday, November 25, 2018

O R I G I N A L L Y  O N  T A I W A N E S E A M E R I C A N . O R G
One of the opportunities of sitting at the masthead of is continually engaging with the borders and expectations of this community. What does it mean to be Taiwanese, American, and Taiwanese American? What is our role as citizens of the diaspora? And, heavily on my mind in the aftermath of the November 24th election:

Do we need an acute awareness of — or even interest in — Taiwanese politics to identify as Taiwanese American?

My impulse is to say yes, we do — because what are pride and identity without their due contexts, histories, and traumas? What is Taiwanese identity, if it cannot claim its own protests and absences?
But I also want to recognize the ways that diasporic children inherit the ideologies of their parents, how family histories are often proxy for entire cultures. It is no coincidence that so many poets and artists conflate mother and motherland. For many of us, Taiwan is an enigmatic product of our parents’ imaginations and itineraries. And our parents, the products of a generation defined by emigration, martial law, and political censorship. However you came to identify as Taiwanese American — or even the ways you question it — can be personal and complex; I do not want to serve as gatekeeper to such a fragile sense of self and allegiance.
But here’s what I do want to share with you:
Taiwan held its first direct presidential election the year I was born, in 1996. I’d venture that its democracy is a little like most twenty-somethings: deeply unsure of itself, restless, overwhelmed by its own potential and frustrations. Functional (if like me— barely so). The burden of those who love this twenty-two year old, then, is to forgive its trespasses, its temper tantrums, the many failures and falls that will predate any sort of real victory. A lot of people were disappointed by the outcomes of this election — in particular, the losses for progressive values like marriage equality and sex education. But this referendum was a singular event in the bigger project of a democratic process that can still produce and be better. My father remarked the other day that he hadn’t anticipated how, with freedom and free will, I’d make so many choices he didn’t agree with. Such, I reminded him, was parenthood. Such is a democracy. However it disappoints you, you will keep it alive the same way you brought it into being: with whatever it takes. With indignation, with love, with your fists clenched and arms raised.
Taiwanese Americans, our cousins overseas are more alike us than we think. Whatever languages or politics we share or don’t, know that they, too, are confronting generational differences at the ballot, chipping away at an older, conservative, and fearful hegemony. Just take a look at how comparisons between United States president Donald Trump and Kaohsiung mayor-elect Han Guo-yu challenge us to recognize resentment and fear in its powerful, loud forms. How the racialized identity politics dominating American discourse dissolve when every candidate looks like family. How we can extend our Thanksgiving consciousness of indigenous Americans to indigenous Taiwanese tribes also fighting for lands, rights, and recognition.
If you want to know what is happening overseas, there are dozens of English-language reporters, both Taiwanese and not, creating that bridge for you. As editor of, my sole hope is to convince you to cross over. I’m asked very often, particularly by first-generations, how we can convince the Taiwanese diaspora to care. I always struggled to articulate any sort of practicality, deferring instead to the poetics of how understanding Taiwanese history allowed me to better understand myself.

But I’m more confident in my answer now: that perhaps dual identities allow us to be doubly empathetic. 

We are third culture kids who will spend our entire lives straddling the borders between tradition and progress. We are the children or grandchildren of immigrants, both undocumented and not. We have been outsiders; we’ve also cast outsiders. We can decide whether to check our racist aunties and conservative uncles. We can decide when to be filial; when not to be. We can protest police brutality in remembrance of White Terror. We can support and donate to Native American coalitions as the descendants of indigenous tribes. We can protect sister democracies: one over two hundred years old, one barely twenty.
Doesn’t it make sense, then, that we can be better Taiwanese Americans when we embrace these synergies?
Like many American families post-midterm elections, my Taiwanese family — here and overseas — will have to navigate the tension of our political differences laid bare in the aftermath of a referendum. The LINE group chat is a little awkward. But there are exciting and uncertain times ahead. I hope you’ll want to be a part of them.

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