Firstly, A New Year's message from Yip Phanchan, an acclaimed Thai novelist with limited English, after the Bangkok bombings and my 'are you okay?' emails:
Happy New Year to you. I m ok but Thailand not ok.
Having lost the will to blog in December, here's a round-up of interesting loose ends I failed to mention in the last month or so.
For local ethnicity geeks:
Now that the National Party's all-out gambit for the centre ground is underway, isn't it time for some serious analysis of Bill English's perspective on the Treaty? After all, there's a strong chance that it's going to be the one that matters. Unlike the deeply shallow and easily mockable Brash-Bassett line, English's 2005 Chapman lecture was historically nuanced, too grown-up to work properly as a dog-whistle, and would take some serious thought and energy to address with any degree of justice, which is clearly why I haven't bothered doing it. Did you? Go swot up. You have less than two years.
An 'Asian' friend of mine google-stalked and wrote an inquiring email to Tahu Kukutai, the demographer quoted as 'warning' Maori about the impending swamping of Maori by 'Asians.' This angle of course, kick-started the Thread that Would Not Die. Tahu noted that she was quoted out of context, but that her qualifying statements somehow did not appear to be quite so interesting to the media. Shock! Horror! etc.
Five or six skinny 15-year old Freemans Bay wannabe gangstas (white and brown if you're interested) gave me the foreign-lady-love-you-long-time treatment, and a bit of a shove, in broad daylight on the Wellington St overbridge. I freaked them out by waving my umbrella threateningly and abusing them in English. One of them promised to 'fucking kill' me and reached swaggeringly into his little manbag, in some moment of pure 'Get Rich or Die Trying' filmic fantasy. He pulled out... a spraycan. 'What are you gonna do?' I asked, 'tag me to death?' They looked really embarrassed and ran away. That week, I saw a little Chinese student girl get her bag snatched in Mid City by someone who knew she wouldn't know how to shout for help, and one of my (fluent English-speaking Singaporean) Chinese 'Aunties', athritic and nearly 60, was weirdly bullied by a traffic cop who made her stand outside her car on a cold, windy day while he slowly wrote her a ticket, and wouldn't let her get back in, even when she knocked on his window to say she was cold. I guess he couldn't tell her apart from the boy racers. Cops, robbers, teenage idiots, could it be that they think Chinese women are meek easy targets? Horror! Shock! etc.
For Foreign Affairs & War geeks:
Global Voices is still the best one-stop shop for finding out what bloggers and dissidents in Iraq, Iran & China are thinking about Iraq, Iran & China, without having to deal with what American bloggers who can't read Arabic, Farsi or Chinese are thinking about Iraq, Iran & China (uh, who cares?).
For China Rising geeks:
In China, despite massive cable-disruption causing internet outage through most of Northeast Asia, we can still check on what the Chinese dissidents are up to. Tip 1: you can interview them legally now, if the government hasn't spirited them out of the urban centres to get them away from journalists. Tip 2: if you want to join in some legal/illegal Chinese strike action, start off with a rousing Mandarin chorus of the Internationale: Qilai! Qilai!
Will Hutton's causing a stir with a new book on China, which has some alarmist tendencies, but not the usual ones. It's worth looking at his excerpt in the Guardian, a less measured online article of his, which was subjected to some kneejerk postcolonial argy-bargy from Meghnad Desai, and a piece on Shanghai that gets the best of both worlds by Pankaj Mishra.
For Asian-American Pop culture geeks:
Jin has slapped down Rosie O'Donnell, who had slapped down Donald Trump for slapping down Rosie O'Donnell for slapping down Donald Trump for not slapping down a slapper beauty-queen, which was sort of unrelated to Rosie O'Donnell making 'ching-chong' noises while making fun of Danny DeVito, who appeared shit-faced drunk on her talkshow. I wonder if this has made it onto CCTV-4? MTV-Chi's Simon Yin goes and asks his mum, the kids at the pearl tea parlour, and his brother's poker game, what they thought. Yep, your mum, the pearl tea kids, and your bro's poker game are truly the new golden triumvirate of Diaspora Chinese Opinion.
Jen at Reappropriate live-blogged the whole series of Survivor: Race Wars, including the finale. As she observes, the race narrowed down into a competition between the 'Rainbow Coalition' and the crumbling 'White Alliance.'
Jeff Yang proposed that Asian-Americans invent their own holiday of late December considering that everyone else seems to have one, and name it after either Survivor's Super Asian Man Yul Kwon (Yul-tide or Kwonzaa) or Masi Oka from Heroes (X-Masi). The Asian-Americans have been emoting for months about Masi Oka - he's making all those geekboy-superhero dreams come true. On television.
If you're not some kind of geek, I can't help you.