All My Familiarity Are Belong to 2004

by B.J. on 11/20/2008 07:25:00 AM 0 comments Print this post

2004 was the year I most remember laced with good stuff happening. Maybe the last time my soc relations were all fluid and interconnected via spontaneous phenomena.

-I was still at Santa Cruz with the Company, Dima Dims, DSL, Wach, 'Well,

-College 10 trashtalking at the dining table

-Hip-hop dancing girl and the accompanying Dirty Dancing Represent CUBA remix that she choreographed to

-Michelle Branch's Game of Love with Santana is just a fun song

-Madden 2004 and NFL Street 1

-Parties where I played DJ on a computer, downloaded, and bumped Zion I

-Intro to the Narratives of Popular Culture, the Anthropology of Religion

Damn, I like all of my life that has happened but this time in particular is my favorite to bring up and blow up to anyone who wants to read about my interpersonal connections.


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A New Blog I've Added and My New Career Interest

by B.J. on 10/19/2008 10:41:00 AM 0 comments Print this post

I started a new blog about Los Angeles and open spaces in it. The inspiration for the name comes from an organization that organizes public lectures in LA, Zocalo. Their tag line is "to provide a welcoming, inclusive space in a city with too few welcoming spaces." Mish mash that with the existence of Skid Row just a few blocks from a revivalist downtown and Mike Davis' city of Quartz and voila, Los Angeles Public Space at

I've been talking about the walkability of things, free events, and Watts. I talk about everything possible in the public realm but only from a perspective I'm comfortable with. I know some of what's going on, but I won't pretend to be an expert with years of experience. For now, I'm just the man on the sidewalk.

That said, the introduction of the blog, and the ease with which I write on, kinda helped me realize my professional and career interests.

This will be my professional shpiel, and I am now practicing it.

I've decided mentally officially that I want to be a Cognitive Anthropologist with a focus on urban settings. It's my way of bridging my interest in urban planning and psychological anthropology and the possible subfield of "neuroanthropology."

Specifically, I am interested in memory as expressed in the public and social realm. I'm curious about what people remember about events, and how they use that recall to formulate...something I developed from years of Chicago Bulls basketball message board reading.

I have had the luxury of having a well-developed and active message board community.
Sure there are fans from other teams, but this is a community of namely Bulls fans, and virtually all of the fighting and conflict stems from within the Bulls fan commmunity.

The conflict stems from certain decisions made by management. There are factions that support management decisions, others that don't. There are factions of fans that support players over others, there are factions that dislike certain players ON THE TEAM.

There may not always be news regarding the team, but there is definitely a community that stays active even when there is no action. It can be seen in the number of Off-topic (OT) threads that are started, specifically during the offseason.

I think these factions represent a community and the individuals/actors within them reflect real world politics and beliefs. Those beliefs are all but embedded in the language they use. Sometimes they reflect hidden racist attitudes, or liberalist viewpoints. Having spent years on these message boards with the same characters, I could sort of anticipate whose going to comment on what, and how they're going to respond to a certain situation.

One thing I've been struck by on these message boards in relation to memory is that fans don't usually remember a lot of facts or details when they argue about the value of players. No one can recall the details to every game ever played, not even self-professed fanatics. Recalling those details turns out not to be important in that most people never seem to reference them again. The reality of the message board is not so much to make published, lasting statements, but for fluid human-like conversation. Most people operate on a type of working memory that does not lead them to progress in their understanding of the different players and team.

Instead, the fans who rely on that working memory and fluid-conversation seem to be stuck and glued to their modes of thought. As the Sapir-Whorf Hypothesis postulates, language creates thought. I think those who use working memory more often are likely not to take in and fully register the new language/discourse expressed upon understanding players. Without taking in that language, they aren't likely to make new distinctions or give meaning to new distinctions and nuances. They aren't likely to be detailed, but not taking in the discourse allows them to reproduce their statements and in turn inflate more meaning into their repeated discourse.

I think this kind of interest has implications for understanding the political mind, how people make decisions, and other such fields as marketing, psychology, etc.

On a more personal note, I don't want to do this just because it's my interest, but also because I want to show that Filipinos, minorities, people of color can be influential and do other things, specifically in academia and where the knowledges are created. I want to show that my race and ethnicity, the hip-hop I rock, the language we use is not stupid, we won't be fooled, and we can make things happen.

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The Concept of Poverty: Abstractions and Voids

by B.J. on 10/15/2008 05:52:00 PM 0 comments Print this post

...Has driven my political and spiritual leanings since high school.

Maybe it was also my mom's do-gooderness, my high school's "Man for Others" philosophy (a Catholic school near downtown Los Angeles), but I just couldn't imagine why this wasn't a big deal for people or people in power. I couldn't imagine why poverty, homelessness was not that big a deal. It was like people didn't know it existed, when it was right there.

Downtown Los Angeles, around my school, and just about anywhere we went, there were people panhandling. And after a while, it's normal to build an immunity to giving any change at all to anyone.

Every Thanksgiving or Christmas season, I've imagined myself without the luxuries that I have and still do enjoy. I find myself asking the internal ego: what would I be without my education, my computers, my parents? How would I deal with the battle for food from the garbage? How would I walk 6 miles a day to fetch clean water?

When I say I "imagined myself", I actually can't, so the best I could do is sit on my thumbs and feel bad. Or sometimes go down to Skid Row. Or sometimes offer change to a homeless guy. Pretty randomly distributing my funds at that, sometimes not at all depending on my mood and the context.

What do I know about poverty, other than I don't want it to happen to others, I feel bad for people who can be considered in it, and I do not want it to happen to me?

I was an AmeriCorps VISTA in orientation when we had this discussion about the concept of poverty.

Poverty is in my estimation a combination of not having resources, not having support systems, and not enough money. It's a socally determined condition, which means it was created by us, which in theory means it could be resolved by us.

Historically located, the concept seems to be one outcome of the field of statistics.

Poverty the concept is a tool that serves as a reminder for the local, state, national, and global level that there are a chunk of people who do not have resources. It's a tool that helps us think about social ecology. It brings us awareness via numbers that people are not doing well.

To the casual observer, they are people who try to make the ends meet, as if they were trying to bend a steel bar to meet one end to another. They are people who do not have means, which means in this society that they lack money. Consequently, with a lack of money, they do not speak a language of repetitive acquistion that can connect us from "us" to "them".

There's a scene in Rush Hour 2 where Chris Tucker's police character is in Hong Kong in a taxi. Chris Tucker orders the driver to follow a limo, but the driver apparently doesn't speak any English. In a hurry to follow a car, Chris drops a bunch of cash on the driver, to which the taxi driver replies in English "Now You're speaking my language."

In a somewhat similar, yet less humorous way, without speaking that language of money, people described in a state of poverty easily become demarcated as a group. They are a group unlike the rest of "us", but they become "them." As them, seperate from us, "they" can become objects, rather than the part of "us" who are subjects, people like us, people we can relate to.

They are to be studied up, labeled as if to be filed away like information, and accordingly stereotyped.

Or they in poverty become entirely invisible.

I've spent a lot of time in South Los Angeles, East Los Angeles, and Downtown Los Angeles. I can't believe that it's still Los Angeles I'm in. It definitely isn't the Los Angeles you see in popular tv unless you're watching one of Boyz N the Hood or Cheech and Chong or Born and Raised in East LA. Stars like to shine their spotlights to their causes, but not over here.

Poverty is an abstraction to describe people who have voids. People who are void of resources, people, and currency.

The people with those physical voids become voids themselves within the larger community. Voids meaning invisible dark holes. In popular discourse, they are rendered virtually invisible and non-existant, perhaps only there on occasion for a celebrity's opportunistic photo op, or as community service projects for high school students, dissertations for researchers, or even objects for me to write about. As these voids, they are particularly vulnerable to be used as tools, objects for other people to use.

When we don't ask these broke folks about their stories, people presuppose and make up stories about why they don't have money or why they become "voids" can easily be rationalized away.

Money is supposed to signify work done. If you don't work, you don't get money. This quickly becomes a moral slippery slope of reductionism, which presupposes that there is always work available, which might be true in theory, but doesn't explain why the unemployment rate is at 6.1% and why California has seen its rate shoot up its highest since 1996.

Ironically when they aren't being ignored, they become the convenient target for blame. "They" eat up resources in the form of "handouts". They sit on welfare, they have too many kids, they take up too much space. They are dead weight.

To the blunting of their humanness, their emotional developments, their stories, their intelligences.

I'm curious as to what these people are not as objects of inquiry, but as subjects. As people with their own stories of human life with language, codes, humors, and intelligence.

Story Continues...

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Mr. Tony Ilao, Man This Is For You

by B.J. on 10/11/2008 09:15:00 PM 0 comments Print this post

Man, life is way too short to deal with BS.

Anthony, if you ever read this, man, this is for you too, man.

We just moved out of Silver Lake to Panorama City only a few weeks ago. The man was sick, and we weren't supposed to make too much noise. We lived next door, but we also lived upstairs.

The last time I remember seeing him and interacting with him was when they got TFC. The Filipino Channel. He was crazy excited, I could feel, and I wouldn't get in his way.

It was slightly annoying whenever he'd asked me if I was moving our car on Saturday or Sunday mornings or street cleaning days. It meant that he was just going to take my parking space and I'd have to stay out of the house until the late afternoon. Fucking hipsters and street cleaning days.

But, the man, was a good man. Mr. Ilao was a good man, or at least a good memory for me in Silver Lake.

He was always by his red Chevy van, cigarette in mouth, whether in a pair of shorts or his security guard uniform. When Anthony was heading out to the Navy, he proudly slapped on the back window of that red van a bumper sticker "Proud Parent of a Sailor."

He offered me advice on where I should upkeep my car. He'd ask me if I was going "jogging," I guess he knew that I was participating in the marathon. He'd always tell Mercy to keep quiet when she kept barking at me. This past Christmas I remember him grilling chicken and offered it to us. Best fuckin' chicken I had that Christmas.

Well, I hope you've got all the Filipino Channel you could handle up there.



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Unconsciousness, Consciousness, Popular Discourse, Race, and the Presidential Election

by B.J. on 10/11/2008 10:28:00 AM 0 comments Print this post

When I think of the word "consciousness", I think of Mos Def's line in his Close to the Edge Freestyle on the Chappelle Show.

So, stop with the nonsense, like he conscious
I'm just awake dawg, I'm doin' great dawg

He was talking about "conscious", meaning a state of knowing what's going on. He says being conscious is not really a state worthy of praise or congratulated for; it's just him simply being awake. By implication, this means he's noticing things.

Consciousness, specifically human consciousness was the main topic in the book the User Illusion by Tor Norretander.

The main thing I got from the book was that 80% of what we do is done unconsciously. Breathing, heart rate, thoughts, especially during sleep. Unconscious. We can sense a billion things a minute, but only a few bits actually enter our stream of thought and movement called our "consciousness."

I'm inclined to say that consciousness is about maintaining and exacting control. Consciousness acts so you don't go crazy processing every bit of information. It acts as yet another filter of information for the world around you.

It simplifies your life, your thought, emotion, movement process, the way that the User Interface on your computer simplifies your life as a computer user. You don't have to enter code just to do anything. You can click on your My Computer icon, the start button, which is nice, but there's so much work involved in making it look that easy. The binary coding, the programming language, the time it took to develop all that. That's all hidden.

Consciousness like that user interface that hides a lot of those details like the binary code and the programming language.

One thing I notice is that what you do become conscious of, you're probably insecure about. Which brings me to self-consciousness.

I'm conscious right now about my math abilities.

Kanye West says he's so self-conscious, but he's the only one to admit it.

It's a bad thing in this socio-cultural milieu to be "self-conscious" because it means you're too worried about what people think. You don't act the way you want to because you're trying to control what people think about you. Or at least limit the bad thoughts.

When you become conscious, it seems like you don't really do anything, but you observe. The "I" part of you becomes active, but you cannot envision that "I" part of you committing to an action.

Basketball players, soccer players are said to be unconscious when they're making quick decisions with their respective balls. In those contexts, where timing is of the essence, you're not supposed to think, you're supposed to act. There is no room for pondering. There is no room for the "I" to perceive, and then decide to act because the moment is already over. Hesitation usually doesn't mean anything good in sports. The solution is to act before you think. Acting unconsciously.

Essentially, the book by Norretander is about how happiness tends to happen more when we are unconsciously acting. Unconsciousness means we act rather than let the consciousness creep in and instill doubt.

Then I thought back to what Mos Def said about consciousness.

So, stop with the nonsense, like he conscious
I'm just awake dawg, I'm doin' great dawg

Even outside of Mos Def's context, we use "consciousness" a lot in youth hip-hop culture here in the US of A to indicate someone who seems to be thoughtful and knows about harsh realities. As opposed to someone who isn't conscious. By implication, a person who isn't conscious isn't thoughtful and skips over harsh realities.

There is even a demarcation of "conscious" hip-hop and non-conscious hip-hop. "Conscious hip-hop" is hip-hop that invokes thoughtfulness and harsh realities.

There seems to be a parallel between consciousness and harsh realities. Consciousness seems to recognize "harsh realities" all the time. With its recognition of harsh realities, it notices limitations as well. Consciousness by proxy notices limitations.

Consciousness. Realities. Limitations. Consciousness knows realities and knows limitations.

Acting unconsciously. Happiness. When you act unconsciously, you're generally happier.

Notice that we don't really care whether or not Britney Spears, Lindsey Lohan, or Paris Hilton are "conscious." I rarely hear that word used in any Hollywood Infotainment show. "Conscious."

It's probably because there's a kind of happy and upbeat discourse always surrounding them, regardless of what they actually are feeling. They live in an unconscious world where each of their missteps are exposed and judged harshly, yet anything positive they do, including losing 0.5 lbs of weight, is celebrated as an achievement. With the worlds they live in, they can fuck up royally,

When explaining why people are addicted to gossip about Hollywood celebrities, Danielle Fishel, formerly of Boy Meets World and apparently now a gossip host, said something to the effect of: "it's fun to follow their stories because their worlds are limitless." Limitless. Boundless. Unconscious. By implication, they have choices and can act on any whim, which makes their story more intriguing.

They get to act as unconsciously as they want.

Now that's something I wish I could do as a middle-class Filipino kid in America. I'm happy, but it feels like I have to walk on eggshells still. I have to carefully be something. I mean I wish I could just act ridiculous and stupid and then somehow bullshit my way into popularity. Or even something like the US presidency.

Only it feels like I can't. It feels like I can't just walk into a job interview and chum it up with old whitey. No matter the qualifications or knowledge I have, I have to match an employer's "comfortability, fit" factor (or maybe that was just me). The employer is usually somebody white. It feels like I can't just be an Eric Kandel from Vienna who studies literature and history as an undergrad, becomes a psychiatrist in training, and becomes a Noble Prize winning neuroscientists. My point is that it seems like everyone's doing something unconsciously, except me.

I'm just sitting here consciously, and observing.

Now this brings me to a question of whether or not I could act unconsciously on my way into something like the US Presidency?

Would I as a Filipino middle-class kid be able to George W. Bush/Sarah Palin my way through anything en route to the presidency?

It feels like I have to do everything by the book while other people, namely the white folks and asskissers of color get by on a steady diet of bullshit. I feel like I've had to do things at a higher and tighter level, so good just to get something that white people could get with just a minimum of effort.

The same I could say about Barack Obama.

Community organizer from the creme-de-la-creme, professor, organizer, awesome communicator matching up against an old guy who is respectable but is probably going to continue the Bush push, and some lady who came out of nowhere and prides herself on being a hockey mom.

It feels like this presidential "race" shouldn't even be a competition anymore. However, the polls are closee. He still seems to be walking on eggshells and is perpetually in doubt over the Bubba votes and the Bradley effect.

He's still defending against so many things: Reverend Wright, the unfettered linking of his middle name to Saddam's last name, the claims against his links to Islam.

All of these things shouldn't be issues, but have been made so, and he's had to straddle the line delicately to appease voters.

I think it took a lot of consciousness to play his positions the way he has. I do believe in his commitment to ALL working class folks. I really doubt he actually likes to support Israel, that he's actually steadfastly Christian, or that he's all for some kind of border security. Those seems like things in his form, his identity, that he consciously changed to make him palatable to broader demographics.

Not saying that's wrong, but that's how you win in politics --- more form than function. The right form to carry out the function. With the right form, the collective feels that it can unconsciously carry on with their functions.

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Ben Gordon, His Contract Negotiations, and the Bulls

by B.J. on 10/05/2008 10:28:00 AM 0 comments Print this post

I wish John Paxson would've read a bit of Sherlock Holmes before he became GM of the Bulls.

A man's brain originally is like a little empty attic, and you have to stock it with scuh furniture as you choose. A fool takes in all the lumber of every sort that he comes across, so that the knowledge which might be useful to him gets crowded out, or at best is jumbled up with a lot of other things, so that he has a difficulty in laying his hands upon it...It is of the highest importance, therefore, not to have useless fact elbowing out the useful ones.

Except John Paxson didn't crowd the Bulls with knowledge. He crowded them with overrated and overpaid players.

Kirk Hinrich, an unimpressive point guard, got an average of 9.5 million over 6 years to overdribble, complain on defense, choke in the clutch, and back-up Derrick Rose.

Ben Wallace got 14 million per year to deteriorate and watch other centers and power forwards grab rebounds. Ben Wallace's deterioration begat the 13 million dollar albatross that is Larry Hughes, whose seen better days, particularly those days when there wasn't a website dedicated to him telling him not to shoot so much.

Luol Deng is the latest to benefit from Paxson's fool strategy. He got 12 million per year, to stay injured and to perform his disappearing act when it matters.

Kirk Hinrich, Larry Hughes, Luol Deng. They will make 31 million out of the 54 million under this year's salary cap. With the on/off Nocioni, that's 39 million invested in 4 players: a player who should've been traded, a player we traded for because of a bad signing, a bad signing, and Andres Nocioni.

In contrast, the San Antonio Spurs, a real franchise, invested 41 million dollars in 3 years, but in players who are actually the team's main producers: Tim Duncan, Tony Parker, and Manu Ginobili.

In Paxson's mistake-accumulating frenzy, he crowded out one of the team's main producers since 04-05. None other than the leading scorer over the past 3 years, Ben Gordon.

Despite his status as the clearcut #1 option on the offense, he wasn't going to be paid even Kirk Hinrich money, let alone Luol Deng money.

After a long and drawn out negotiating period, Ben Gordon signed the 1-year qualifying offer for 6.4 million dollars. The consensus is now that he is good as gone after that 1 year. After this one year, he becomes an unrestricted free agent, meaning he could sign anywhere and the Bulls would be left with nothng to show for the 3rd pick in the 2004 draft.

Yes, he comes off the bench, and yes he was leading scorer for a losing team.

However, bench scoring is one of the few things going for us, ever, and he was leading scorer for a 41 win team, and a 49 win team as well.

I've followed this team since the first Bush was still in office. I was the jump-rope monitor for my class. I've since advanced to playground monitor.

I didn't even know who Ben Gordon was out of college. I wouldn't care too much about him if he didn't help the Bulls shoot themselves out of the pile of dung they were in.

I simply recognize a good, winning product when I see it. Ben Gordon is exactly that.

Unfortunately, the Bulls wouldn't know. If anyone has inclinations of using any variation of the phrase, "wouldn't know [insert item of curiosity here, in this case for the Chicago Bulls, WINNING PLAYERS/DIFFERENCE MAKERS] if it was biting them in the ass", the Chicago Bulls are a good modern-day point of reference.

He was a huge reason we even had a resurgence in 04-05. We were supposed to be monumentally bad and supposed to continue in that direction. Luol Deng was the first guy I noticed, I thought he was a star, after a Lakers game, but we still lost. I lost all hope in the season after watching us muff a Clippers game.

Then out of nowhere we won a game in Utah.

It was cute. The rookie was doing something we could've had Jamal Crawford done. Nice!

We then won against the Lakers at home.

I thought that this Ben Gordon guy might be worth something after all, but it would be impossible for this team to do anything else.

He solidified his status as 4th quarter magic in 2 games against the Knicks. By the time he was done, he was a league-wide sensation and the Bulls were suddenly out of the worst 6 year funk in pro team sports history. He had 20 games where he had 10 points or more in the 4th quarter. He was a reason that announcers talked about clutch statistics. 6th man of the year as a rookie.

However, that was probably a curse in disguise for the perception of his game.

Scott Skiles pigeonholed him as being effective only as a 6th man.

For the better part of 3 years, Gordon would have to fight for his playing time, let alone starting time in ways most star scorers would never have to. In 06-07, despite being a league top 20 scorer at 21.4 points per game, he averaged the least minutes (33), and scored at the rate of and more than Amare Stoudamire, a guy who operates in the post.

However, instead of giving this leading scorer, this guy who's helped to re-energize your franchise more room to grow even more, Scott Skiles seemed to punish Gordon. Particularly in 05-06, BG was subject to benchings for in-game defensive lapses and turnovers. Skiles jerked him on and off the bench, starting each season with Gordon as a starter, before relegating him, and subsequently reinstating him.

At work in Skiles' mercurial management of Gordon was the principle of "the more things change, the more they stay the same." As in as they kept trying to change BG's role and his minutes around, the more his status to the team, his reputation stayed the same, the perception of his improvement stayed the same.

The league-wide expectation is that if you are a bench player, your ultimate goal is to become a starter.

However, the line fed to us by the Skiles regime was that Gordon was our very special bench player, not the traditional bench player who stunk, but the one who gave us a boost from the bench. Bench scoring, tops in the league, thanks in no small part to Ben Gordon.

But still even with Skiles' explanation, casual fans and media pundits alike completely missed that point this summer when analyzing Gordon's situation.

They missed that point when they were calling him simply a bench player, who was fair value worth no more than 8-9 million dollars a year. They missed that when they de-valued his contribution as the leading scorer.

Bench players in the NBA tend to get conflated into one category. Not good enough to play unless you are Manu Ginobili and Leandro Barbosa, players on the bench on winning teams. If you're not on a winning team, bench players are players of excess. Ben Gordon is a bench player. Ben Gordon is of excess.

The other argument was against his ability as a #1 option. He was "only" a leading scorer has also been used against him. It's implied that playing offense on a losing team means you're not that good on offense, that you're shooting and chucking because no one else will.

That mode of NBA trend generalization doesn't jibe well with the reality that Gordon's effective FG percentage was well over 50%, meaning he wasn't just randomly shooting and wasn't inefficient.

Despite all the herking and jerking of his playing time, and an everchanging role as defined by an idiotic coach, BG has still been the player whom most fans anticipated to "heat up." "Heat up" as in hit shots. "Hit shots" to actually win the basketball game. No one on this team would have expectation of Hinrich, Luol Deng, or Andres Nocioni to "get hot." There is no Hinrich time, or Luol time. It's Gordon everyone expects to salvage a game.

Gordon heat up in a 19-2 run scoring 16 in the 4th quarter against Indiana.

This was a game in which we were down 19 with 6 minutes to go. If we didn't win this game, we might have not made the playoffs. If we didn't win that game

A few games later, he heat up against the Wizards. He shot 9 for 9 behind the 3-point line. This was the game that sealed our entrance into the playoffs.

Perhaps this 6th man heating up and leading the team in scoring is not such a trivial attribute after all. It might actually be useful, particularly if we were interested at all in winning any championships.

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Self-Diagnosed and Induced Dyscalculia: My Math Experience and Its Relation to Working Memory

by B.J. on 9/28/2008 08:00:00 AM 0 comments Print this post

In my first two years of high school, math was one of my best classes. I did well in Algebra I that I got into Honors Geometry. From Honors Geometry, I did well enough to progress into Honors Algebra II.

Honors Algebra II...where fecal matter made contact with the fan, and my confidence in my math skills evaporated like a fart in the wind.

Mind you, when I took my SATs the following year, I still got the same exact low score on verbal as I did my math, but given my scores in SAT II subject tests, I figured I was just headed for a life without math. Plus, I didn't want to start behind in college, at precalculus, so I just thought I'd avoid it altogether.

Thanks to a vague "quantitative" requirement at UC-Santa Cruz, in which I would be able to use introductory science classes to satisfy the requirement, I was able to slip by my classes without doing much math.

Six years on, two years out of college, staring down options for graduate school, I am still wondering when I am going to take the GRE and/or the CBEST.

At the center of this standardized test hold-up: my fear of my performing poorly in the maths sections. A paralyzing dual fear of 1) forgotten methods and even scarier, 2) miscalculations.

I am now studying all that math that I forgot.

I tried re-doing math when I transferred to LA by re-doing precalculus, but I was practically run over by the speed at which we went through material and it felt like I never had a solid foot on just what the hell was going on. I probably forgot what to do which was one thing, but another thing was simple miscalculation --- getting things wrong in simple division, subtraction, addition, and multiplication, which I shouldn't have!

In just one moment of failure in math, in high school, I atrophied almost a life-time of accumulated skills.

Nowadays, when I look at even just the idea of rational numbers, everything seems very rote. "Rote" as in unbelievably dull, disparate, disconnected, meaningless. I could throw numbers around and not care. Numbers and signs are symbols of an arduous, painful journey upon which I eventually need to take steps.

I might've been keen just continuing what I was doing, but, I've had an education in deconstruction that has taken me in a 270 degree turn almost back to where I was as a math student. Almost.

Numbers in themselves are not 'bad' or 'good.' It is merely a language that communicates trust. Trust across different academic disciplines, communicating trust from government to person, from media or business to consumer. The key is that numbers are merely language. Language is merely a tool for expressing thought. Using math is a tool for expressing thought, but in terms of quantification and precision. It expresses a discreet, definite answer to a societally important question of 'how much.'

In a highly-interconnected society with lots of buildings, roads, people, and objects, but apparently not enough time, space, and/or resources, the question of "how much" is now that much more important.

However, just because its that much more important and perhaps has increased its utility doesn't necessarily mean people want to or actually do learn that language.

I had been wondering why this language of math suddenly became so daunting for me.

One clue from my heightened love for languages and neurosciences:

Dyscalculia arises because a person cannot develop adequate representations of how many things there are.­ /releases/2006/03/060320221545.htm

So the inverse logic is that perhaps I probably have lost an adequate representation of how many things there actually were: I let numbers become too generalized so that they lost their adequate representation. Subsequently, all numbers, notations, and symbols somehow all became similar, particularly when I arrived at answers. I was neglecting negative signs, forgetting to add, subtract, multiply, divide.

Why did numbers become so "generalized?"

Perhaps because I started putting concepts in my own terms.

I had learned in my high school psychology class the next year about alternative memory methods. By this time I figured I was heading into the social sciences and humanities, so I focused on just remembering everything in psychology or history. To remember all of what I was learning, I was trying to make the subject material more relevant to me. I was putting concepts in my own terms, making ideas teachers presented to me, relevant to my own experiences.

I was trying to metaphor-ize social science and history subjects to things in my daily life.

Metaphors are imperfect tools of language which seeks to underline and understand similarity. It seeks to understand relationships. The similarities are almost always arbitrary, but it makes it easy to remember because I see their connection to things that I've experienced. The new concept simply adds to that experience. Metaphors are about understanding relationships between things.

When doing my social science thing, I don't necessarily accept terms used to describe things as they appear to be. In fact, I fight a lot of them, because I don't think people like being reduced. I don't think I'd ever call anyone an "illegal immigrant" lest we call everyone in the United States.

Why do we label in the first place? We do it to make fast manipulations when making fast decisions --- a survival mechanism. It's a tool to help us model just what the hell is immediately happening around us.

Conversely, math is about manipulating or changing relationships, and it depends heavily on acknowledging labels in the first place. Labels, symbols, notations. -4 + 5 is different from 4 + 5. You have to acknowledge that '-' before the 4, which is exactly the kind of thing I was forgetting in my GRE test exams.

How to manipulate and change relationships and acknowledge those relationships?

Ostensibly, it seems to depend on developing visuo-spatial ability. Rubik's cube people, chess players are said to have a visuo-spatial abilities, which they can co-opt to their advantage. Einstein's brain was said to be 15% larger in the part of the brain that deals with these abilities. He was said to "think in pictures."

Surprisingly or not, video game playing improves visuo-spatial skills.

That Causes Some People To Be Lousy In Math. ScienceDaily. Retrieved August 20, 2008, from­ /releases/2006/03/060320221545.htm

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Filipino American. Heterosexual. Masculinity. Los Angeles. Indian Game Show.

by B.J. on 9/14/2008 10:30:00 AM 0 comments Print this post

With the UCLA Bruins temporarily, literally, figuratively not existing, at least till next Saturday, there's been a serious void in my Saturday afternoon.

How did I spend it?

Reading the RealGM Chicago Bulls message boards running across enlightened political discussion, watching this video on the moments immediately before John McCain popped the question to Sarah Palin, and a video of an Indian man slapping a woman reality TV show host... below:

The clip is from an Indian reality tv show called Dadagiri, or "bully." The premise of the show is that contestants "beat the bullies", enduring emotional torture from four different bullies as if they were in high school. The four different bullies berate them through each and every challenge.

The one woman in the show, Esha the Goddess, perhaps in character or not (she carries a whip around), slaps the contestant. Without blinking, the contestant retaliates with a more forceful slap of his own. He's immediately separated by some of the people, crying out "How can she slap? How can she slap?" as a group of people proceed to stomp him.

At first, I didn't understand its appeal as comedic relief or internet sensation.

All I know is that I felt really bad for the man because I had read this piece of information from the RealGM Bulls basketball boards:

This is a Indian reality show where they degrade folks who are generally lower-class. The winnings are Rs. 50,000 or about $1250. Not a lot, even when compared to Indian economical standards.

Oh, and the mob at the end... That happens a lot in India. If you do something wrong, the public will beat you up. I saw a car driver get beat-up almost to near-death for striking a bicyclist. And of-course since the mob all work for the reality show, they were biased against the contestant.

So I looked at this clip from this perspective: here was a man enduring emotional torture, being stripped of his dignity, all for a few peanuts of money, while the bourgeosie classes got their entertainment, and laughter.

Incidentally, research has established that emotional pain is generally found to be more damaging than physical pain.

My reaction shifted as I watched more of the clip and read more of the story.

The events preceding the slap was particularly of interest.

What was actually steering my interest forward were the comments people were leaving on the different youtube video iterations of the same clip.

I was expecting racist comments along the lines of "what a weak-ass Indian guy" (and of course there were some, most of them here), but instead I was treated to a plethora of "yeah, she got what she deserved", to put it mildly.

Only when she is on her knees with her lips around your cock! This leads me to question Gender Equality. Seriously, hitting/beating women is wrong, no doubt about it! But when that bitch decided to slap him, she was not prepared for what she recieved. And what did she recieve? Gender Equality in the form of a slap! Women want gender equality, they can have it, just be prepared to accept the consequences!

If you think it's alright to hit a guy but you think it's wrong for a guy to retaliate than you are against equal rights.

There's a kitchen and you're not in it.

Return to your position.

maybe she needs to be put into forced labour camp so that she can slowly become humble.

and perhaps a serious spanking in bed until her ass is swollen and she begs for mercy..

should of knocked that bitch out and gang raped her.

I hope all men would have the balls to slap any cunt back just like that guy. I hope Indian television never allows her to work again. Sorry cunt back to the whore house you go..

should have pulled out a mascheti and carved her like a peace of meat, the stupid slut.

slut bitch.. she should be raped. props to dude who mashed her face up

fucking bitch i would cut her tits off with a cheese grater

The thing that was interesting was the performance of masculinity in and people's understanding of equal rights.

"You want gender equality? Well, here it is!"

Yes, I guess that's correct, but the show is about being able to withstand emotional and a certain amount of physical torment (I don't think he signed up to be actually beaten to a pulp by a mob, though). My understanding is that the show presents itself as this bully show, so contestants would at least expect a fair amount of beating from a show that calls itself the "meanest show on television." The contestant is a guy who signed up for something. Maybe she was thinking it was part of her role as this whip-carrying dominatrix-like figure and that she was immune to harm because she assumed the guy would take it as part of the show.

How would I have reacted? Being a lower-class person, being called "stupid", "gay", the prospect of not getting much money even if I do win, getting beaten up by a gang of dudes that you know you could take on one-on-one, I'm not sure.

Surely, I still felt bad for the man and the beating he took afterwards.

But with the rash of user-generated comments, I also started feeling for the woman, not because of what she did to incite it, but people's reminding her of her place in the world as a woman. Lots of people with nothing better to do than react back with youtube threats of sexual violence and brute violence.

I was also struck at the number of times I saw her called ho, slut, whore, bitch, cunt. I'm struck at how many times people talked about fucking her, even raping her. I'm struck at how easy it is to throw around, yet still weighs heavy on women.

Yes, it's youtube commentary and there is a distance between saying something anonymously on the internet and actually doing and advocating for something, and as long as that boundary is observed, it's OK but that boundary does get crossed. On one hand the video and its commentary space is a good place for people to vent what they normally wouldn't say, and subsequently for people to mediate, but then on the other hand, maybe for someone else it feeds an ambiguous desire to make such a thing happen.

I would never advocate for the shutting down of the video or its trailing commentaries, but I'm not fond of the user-generated commentary/discourse on the count of immature comments. The video is a utility, a piece of equipment, a tool...something that people can manipulate as they please to converge with their world views.

Things probably would be "boring" if everyone made sober commentaries. However, since I have a platform on which to stand, which gives me a bit more responsibility, I'd use it to take the drunken discussions into some form of sobriety.

Language and the labels/categories we use play a role in determining how we think. The more we think of a label or category like "slut", "bitch", or "whore" and its associated meanings, the more that label or category and those meanings become they become realities...

And I'd rather not think of reality as that simple, nor as that throwaway.

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