media

Twitter’s Travails

Julianne Smolinksi writing for New York Magazine on the problems with Twitter (emphasis mine):

Let me try to explain how I see it. Twitter is like a beloved public park that used to be nice, but now has a rusty jungle gym, dozens of really persistent masturbators, and a nighttime bat problem. Eventually the Parks Department might rip up the jungle gym, and make some noise about fixing the other problems, because that’s what invisible administrators like Twitter staff and municipal recreation departments tend to do. But if the perverts and the bats got to be bad enough with no recourse, you’d probably just eventually stop going.

(Additionally frustrating is that everybody is complaining about the safety issues at the park, and instead of addressing them, the city installs a crazy new slide. What? Nobody was calling for that. What about the perverts? What about the bats?)

Twitter has over two thousand engineers working for them (source: International Business Times and yet the service is still as arcane as it has ever been to use and find an audience. The number of my college friends who use the service on a regular basis is in the single digits, while many others have created accounts but haven’t touched them in the last three years. It’s a social service that provides an important need, and it sucks to see it stagnate like this.

Twitter’s Moments help people better consume the data coming through the service, but it doesn’t help alleviate the feeling that tweeting is like yelling in a deserted forest: You’re not sure if anyone can hear you, and even if there are, you’re not sure if they can hear you anyway.

The Worldwide Impact of 1MDB

A bit late on this article, but Michael Peel and Jeevan Vasagar at The Financial TImes write about the ever-growing global fallout and implications of the Malaysian government’s failed 1MDB “sovereign wealth fund”:

It is not just a matter of domestic politics. The impact of the cases is being felt way beyond Malaysia’s borders due to the amount of money allegedly involved and its scope. The parties said to be affected include foreign officials, leading banks and offshore financial centres, with transactions stretching from Kuala Lumpur to the Cayman Islands and from Abu Dhabi to New York.

1MDB has become a test of regulators’ ability, and desire, to penetrate a web of dealings that take full advantage of the privacy and cross-border complexity available in the global financial system. It is also being seen as a measure of how well authorities deal with cases of suspected grand corruption.

Honestly at this point I just wish Malaysia wasn’t only well-known for global calamities. Before, no one I talked to in the States even knew what Malaysia was. Now, when I tell someone I’m from Malaysia the usual response is “oh, isn’t that where that plane disappeared?” (and then the inevitable “do you know where it is?” Yeah, because clearly all Malaysians have been hiding this secret for the last couple years…)

On the Peter Liang Case

Jay Kang has a thought-provoking piece on the Asian-American reaction to the case of Peter Liang, the NYPD cop who was convicted of manslaughter for the killing of Akai Gurley:

“Even if you believe, as I do, that Liang should be in jail, the inevitable follow-up question — why only Liang? — suggests that the unjust protections routinely afforded to white officers should be extended either to everyone or to nobody at all. To ignore this suggestion is intellectually dishonest.

“But to engage with it is to ignore the overwhelming context of the case: yet another unarmed black man killed by yet another police officer. The cleanest response — one I’ve seen throughout social media, where clean, vaguely lobotomized responses often reign supreme — is to simply say that some justice is better than none. But how can any sincere confrontation of racial inequity in policing and the criminal-justice system ignore the inconvenient singularity of Liang’s conviction?”

Many Asian-Americans feel that Liang was the scapegoat to appease the growing discontent against police killings of unarmed black males around the country. So many white officers have not even been indicted for the killings (Daniel Pantaleo in Eric Garner’s case, Darren Wilson in Michael Brown’s [Ferguson] case), so why is it that the only guy that’s been convicted is an Asian-American? Indeed, I feel strongly that #blacklivesmatter, but the Liang case makes it difficult for me to explain to elders in my community that racial justice among other minority groups is something Asians have to fight for, too.

I remember a few years ago, I overheard an Asian-American student at Princeton remark, “well, Asians are basically white in America, right?” The Liang case forces us to reassess the unique situation our “racial” group is in, and why that behooves us to advocate for the rights of all other minority groups, rather than being complacent with an alleged position as a privleged group. I disagree with Kang’s opinion that to take up Liang’s cause is an inherently unjust cause, however. I think there are valid points, too, made by those who defend him. The issue of militarized policing in the United States is far larger than any single police officer – regardless of race – and can only be ameliorated by a nationwide revamping of training, education, and laws.

Minority Under-Representation in Hollywood

The New York Times on Hollywood’s “inclusion problem,” a problem that goes far beyond not nominating any minorities for the Oscars:

“The study found that women and girls made up less than 34 percent of speaking characters in movies and scripted series. The share was worse in films: About 29 percent of the parts went to female actors.

Minority groups represented a little more than 28 percent of speaking characters in films and series, about 10 percent less than their share of the general population, according to the study. Just 2 percent were identified as L.G.B.T.

Women were heavily outnumbered by men behind the camera, making up about 15 percent of directors, about 29 percent of writers and about 23 percent of series creators, the study found.”

“Comfort Women” in Californian Textbooks

The L.A. Times on the new proposal to teach the issue of “comfort women” in Californian history textbooks:

The new language on “comfort women” marks the first proposal to teach what has been a long-contentious political issue in East Asia in high school classrooms in the U.S. It has the potential to widely influence how textbooks address the topic.

The guidelines recommend that the subject of “comfort women” be taught to high schoolers “as an example of institutionalized sexual slavery, and one of the largest cases of human trafficking in the 20th century.”

Personally, I hope that secondary school history teachers spend more time encouraging students to understand the complex nature of history rather than essentializing an incredibly complicated time period down to one or two paragraphs. Yes, it’s important that more Americans know about the issue, but no one’s going to get a good understanding from the small side blurbs Asian history is usually reduced to in American history textbooks. Furthermore, it ignores the long and intimate relationship wartime soldiers had with prostitution and potentially coerced sexual services.

“Something Weird is Going On: What Did Jan Say?”

Something Weird is Going On: The Michael Scott Story

I’ve been a humongous fan of The Office ever since its fourth season (pretty sure the first episode I saw was “Fun Run”, which means I missed the long leadup to the Jim-Pam romance). It’s my go-to series when I do things, and it’s always a huge dose of nostalgia for my undergraduate years. I decided I wanted to bring to life a quote from Dwight:

Dwight: When you become close with someone, you develop a kind of sixth sense. You can read their moods like a book. And right now, the title of Michael’s book is, “Something Weird is Going On.” Colon, “What Did Jan Say? The Michael Scott Story. By Michael Scott, with Dwight Schrute.”