Monday, March 31, 2014

Because the World Needs Another Post on Suey Park

Having followed the Suey Park saga on Twitter and read 32,921 tweets about it, and 214 articles, I now know the following.

  • Suey Park is a troll
  • Suey Park is brilliant
  • Suey Park is a satirist
  • Suey Park is a brilliant troll satirist
  • Suey Park has raised the conversation about stereotypes
  • Suey Park has muddled the conversation about stereotypes
  • White people don't get it
  • Men don't get it
  • Asians don't get it
  • White men don't get it
  • Asian men don't get it
  • Stephen Colbert is funny except when he's not
  • Humor that is not funny to some should be awful to all
  • Humor that is not funny to some is misunderstood 
See why I'm confused?   

Truthfully, after reading Suey Park's posts and articles, and those of people defending her, I do not know what to think, and that's the problem with Suey Park to me.   If Suey Park truly believes that "there’s no reason for me to act reasonable because I won’t be taken seriously anyway" then she truly doesn't deserve to be taken seriously.  If everything Suey Park does and says can be interpreted in any number of ways (She's deadly serious. No wait, she's simply being satirical in her responses.) then she has created performance art, not a coherent statement on her point of view, or a point of view that can help me understand how she feels as an Asian female.   While I can understand that out of context, Colbert's words aren't funny, in context they are the same type of humor that comedians of all races, genders, and nationalities have used to attack the evil of racism and racist terms.   By boiling the conversation down to a single black and white definition of what is funny and what isn't funny, what is racist and what isn't, Park has not furthered the conversation, but rather turned it into a muddled mess.   Perhaps it's just the dumb, liberal, paternalistic, white male in me, but that's not the type of conversation I find fruitful or productive.   

Sunday, March 23, 2014

Review: Missing You


Missing You
Missing You by Harlan Coben

My rating: 5 of 5 stars



Kat Donovan is a New York detective trying to get her life in order many years after the breakup with the love of her life and the death of her father at the hands of a mobster. A friend enrolls her in an online dating website and Kat soon finds herself staring at the boyfriend she lost. While trying to contact him, Kat soon finds herself wrapped up in the disappearance of a woman, secrets from her past, and a serial killer.

Harlan Coben's Missing You is a wonderfully taut thriller, that keeps you guessing and your head spinning literally right to the end. Coben is a master of parallel action, setting up events and moving the action away just in time to keep you flipping the pages. While I've loved Coben's Bolitar series, I must admit I've had trouble getting into his standalone books because they all seem to follow the same formula. Perhaps I was wrong. Missing You is a real treat. Highly recommended.

NOTE: This review is based on an ARC received for free via NetGalley.com.



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Thursday, March 20, 2014

Fred Phelps -- Patriarch of the Kardashians of Hate

Fred Phelps died today. The head of the gay bashing and funeral protesting Westboro Baptist Church was 84. I will not praise the man, nor will I condemn him, as many will, as a symbol of all that is evil in the world. To do that is to give him far more importance than he deserves.

When Phelps first appeared on the scene, we all questioned how horrible a human being could be, that he would indocrinate his family in a faith in which every person of note's death was cause for a "religious" protest against homosexuality and the supposed wickedness that the US had done in the name of it. Certainly no family deserves to have the worst time of their lives upstaged or interrupted by a pack of ass clowns hellbent on bringing attention to themselves via the worst possible messages.

But as time wore on, the Phelps' overwhelming message of hate got obliterated by outpourings of love. People who may have once had hatred or bigotry in their own hearts over homosexuality came to realize how completely asinine the message of the family and their own prejudices were. Bikers, cowboys, cops, college kids, servicemen and servicewomen, cops, old people, young people, rednecks and more came together every time the Phelps family would roll into town to form human chains, silent protests, and to surround both the grieving families and the GLBT community in the town a message of love and healing. In a way, the Phelps and Westboro Baptist Church seemed like bad performance art meant to antagonize the community into being better people.

Was this the intent of the Phelps family? Hell no. I doubt the Phelps even cared much about religion or gay bashing. The whole point of the family was to bring attention to themselves. And in that they certainly succeeded. But when you think of how much love was created because of this pack of attention seeking peckerwoods, I sometimes wonder if the world isn't better off because the Phelps caused us to be better people and look at hatred we'd been ignoring for so long.

Over time I've come to realize that Fred Phelps and his family were simply sad and empty individuals, cartoonish symbols of evil rendered more pathetic with each protest. Their loud hate never had any hope of succeeding. And certainly Phelps did far less to harm the GLBT community and their sense of self worth than many far less vocal or public pastors do within their own churches every Sunday. So to Fred Phelps, I hope death gives him some peace that eluded him in life. And to the rest of the family, I hope that one day the hatred this man gave them is replaced by a sense of purpose gained from seeking to do good in this world. And to the rest of us, I hope we recognize the hate within us and around us and do our best to replace it with love.

 

Wednesday, March 5, 2014

Review: Electric Barracuda


Electric Barracuda
Electric Barracuda by Tim Dorsey

My rating: 3 of 5 stars



Tim Dorsey's Electric Barracuda was a bit of a miss for me. While Dorsey, as always, provides a brilliant history lesson into the history and tourist traps within Florida, the book length chase between his serial killer main character Serge Storms (think Dexter meets Bugs Bunny via Bill Bryson) and a disturbed detective, Mahoney, drags on too long without the outlandish situations found in other Dorsey books. The reason for the entire chase becomes clear at the end of the book with a nice twist that ties it all together, but overall the book feels like padding. Recommended for fans, but others might do well to start with another Dorsey book first.



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Saturday, March 1, 2014

Reading is Fundamental

World Book Encyclopedia
If you asked me what two skills a child needs to become brilliant, I'd say there are three.  The first is to read.  The second is to be curious.   The third is to hang a picture correctly without drilling seven holes.   I have yet to master the third.

I learned to read when I was three.  This was the dark ages in which the closest thing to Google that most of us kids had was a set of 10 year old World Book Encyclopedias.  For you kids out there, World Book was a 28 volume set of books of articles about topics.  It was like Wikipedia, but with fewer articles about Real Housewives.     Whenever I wanted to know something, my mom and dad said "look it up" and I'd go through the dictionary, World Book, or library, looking for information, getting sidetracked to new thoughts and ideas, and getting lost in whole other worlds and information.    

Reading does many things for a young mind.  It teaches you how to write coherent sentences and the value of language.   It teaches you the power of logical arguments.  It exposes you to ideas and thoughts you never would have had before.   It teaches you how to research and assess the ideas around you.   And it allows you to eventually make sense of your world, the arguments around you, and your values and goals.   

I bring this up because the Internet makes it clear that so few of us anymore love to read, nor have the energy or curiosity to research.   Social networks are full of posts of articles followed by posts that make it clear that nobody read the article beyond the headline, nobody validated the sources of the article, nobody validated the information in the article, and nobody understands the basics of grammar and spelling.   

It saddens me that language, words, ideas, and thought seem to have been abandoned in the age of unlimited "information".   I'd love to see kids being encouraged to read books, magazines, and information other than 140 character tweets, and whatever's posted on the social media flavor of the week.

Now excuse me, there are kittens on You Tube doing funny things.