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December 28, 2018

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Sweet story, lj. I had seen a print version of it but hadn't heard the story out loud. Now I'm trying to figure out who Barkley's accent reminds me of.

If you've ever written about this I missed it or don't remember it, but how much of his life did your dad spend in Hawaii? Was he culturally more Japanese or Hawaiian? (If that question even makes any sense.)

Hey Janie, the question makes perfect sense. I would definitely say he was more Hawaiian than Japanese, he never lived in Japan for any extended period. He was the 8th child and at that point, he spoke English and my grandparents replied in Japanese. The first brother was sent back to Japan for schooling, and fortunately finished that in the late 30's, so was back in the US when the war started. However, I have visited Okinawa and a few other islands, and there is an alignment of those cultures, though there is a lot of interchange that might contribute to that.

Yes, lovely story lj. And a heartfelt amen to your last sentence.

I’m afraid. have no time for baseball.

The story still made me cry.

Nigel Nigel Nigel, Sir Charles (one of his nicknames) played basketball, not baseball. I know all these roundball games are hard to tell apart...... ;-)

Other than that -- this business of the threading of ethnicity and culture is, as I'm sure has been obvious over the years, one of my favorite topics. If I get time I'll come back to it, but right now I'll just observe that if lj had stayed in the US, I suspect he would more likely have been seen as "Japanese-American" than as "English-American" (his mother's side). Like me: Italian-American, not English-American.

Granted, my English side, or at least the bit of it that I know about, has been over here for almost 400 years. But still, it's symptomatic of one of our biggest difficulties in this country that some groups are hyphenated Americans and some are not, even among recent arrivals.

It's also pretty ironic that the people whose ancestors were here first are among the hyphenated groups, whereas the groups that took the land from them are by and large the ones that aren't hyphenated.

Then again, that's not totally true either, since the southwestern US was originally colonized by Spain, and Latinos/Hispanics are most definitely hyphenated Americans.

Jesus said, "The poor you will always have with you." I suspect we'll also always have the minimal group paradigm with us, and the least we can do is keep trying to minimize the damage.

Here's to a year where we manage our human failings, both personal and collective, as productively and compassionately as we can.

Apologies, JanieM.
I have so little interest I didn’t even notice my own typo (I actually have some interest in baseball, if only as an inferior analogue of cricket... hoops, I am afraid, not at all - though some years back I do recall enjoying White Men Can’t Jump).

The rest of it was fascinating,

Then again, that's not totally true either, since the southwestern US was originally colonized by Spain, and Latinos/Hispanics are most definitely hyphenated Americans.

It's one of the reasons that those of us who grew up here (California), as opposed to moving here, get so impatient with the hysteria over encountering Spanish in America. Not only are Spanish place names thick on the ground, and so don't seem alien. But you don't get thru California (or, I suspect, the rest of the Southwest) public schools without getting real clear that the Spanish arrived first.

And that kid named Gonzalez in the next row? Maybe he and his family just arrived last year. Then again, his family may have been here for centuries -- long before your ancestors made it out of Europe. So probably not a good idea to get into a pissing contest about who is the (relative) wetback.

the hysteria over encountering Spanish in America

Any hysteria will do when the goal is to manufacture a scary "other" for people to hate on.

But I have a bemusing story about Spanish...

The older I get, the more I feel like I keep repeating the same stories, so maybe I've mentioned this one before. But I ran across a fresh instance just this fall, and it's awfully quiet around here, so what the heck.

The first time I saw an American big box store with signs in two languages was when Best Buy came to Central Maine ten or twelve years ago. There were huge signs hung from the ceiling identifying the sections of the store in both English and --- would you say French, at a time when there are still pockets of French speakers in the state, and when the vastly most common surnames other than "English" ones are French? --- well, you might have said that, but you'd have been wrong. The second language was, of course, Spanish.

This past September I was driving up along the northern edge of Vermont, close enough to the border with Quebec so that I could almost have thrown a stone across it. Some of the small mom-and-pop stores in the area (and in border-edging NY state as well) do have some of their essential signs in both French and English, being on the border of a French-speaking province and all.

So I went into a McDonald's for a snack and encountered, for the first time, the kiosks where you can order without going up to the counter to speak to a human.

And the second language available at the kiosks was.........yup, Spanish. (I chose the counter, I'd rather interact with a human.)

Corporate America: a nod in the direction of diversity, yes. Tone-deaf and incapable of nuance or complexity -- also yes.

****

Here's an interesting site about languages. Maine has a higher percentage of French speakers than Louisiana, and a higher percentage of French speakers than Spanish speakers. I'm actually surprised that Spanish comes in second. I would have thought that by this time it would be Somali. I guess maybe the African immigrant group is diverse enough so that their languages fall into several of the categories.

Nigel -- no need to apologize, lord knows I'm clueless about cricket, even though I've tried to read about it a bit. (Wimsey of Balliol triggers a curiosity, don'cha know.)

ObWi isn't much of a sports crowd, but in case anyone is ever interested, The Breaks of the Game, by David Halberstam, is a good book about pro basketball -- and sports in America, race in sports and in America, and other interesting topics. Not to mention that my all-time favorite basketball player, Bill Walton, figures prominently in it.

I also meant to say: I too shed some tears at the story of Charles Barkley and Lin Wang, both times I encountered it.

The story is fascinating as a rare of example of someone sort of capitalizing on a connection with a celebrity, but in the name of the genuineness of the connection and the sweetness of the story. I don't know Barkley's persona as a commentator on TV, I just remember that as a player he was kind of a bad boy -- which makes it all the more fun to see the generous, geniuine guy behind the public persona.

Well, it's quiet here as well, we just finished our temaki sushi (our family's New Year's tradition) so to pick up a thread about Charles Barkley.

In a comment to the story that I read somewhere, a person who worked with Charles Barkley said something to the effect that most of the people he had worked with of Charles' stature were assholes who wanted to convince you they were good guys, but Charles was a good guy who wanted to convince you he was an asshole. To understand why that might be the case, check out Ta-Nehisi Coates who, after talking about Kayne West, talks about his own brush with fame and how it warps

What I felt, in all of this, was a profound sense of social isolation. I would walk into a room, knowing that some facsimile of me, some mix of interviews, book clubs, and private assessment, had preceded me. The loss of friends, of comrades, of community, was gut-wrenching. I grew skeptical and distant. I avoided group dinners. In conversation, I sized everyone up, convinced that they were trying to extract something from me. And this is where the paranoia began, because the vast majority of people were kind and normal. But I never knew when that would fail to be the case.

https://www.theatlantic.com/entertainment/archive/2018/05/im-not-black-im-kanye/559763/

Finally read TNC's Between the World and Me. a quick and important read, although having read his Atlantic stuff and excerpts, felt I'd already heard it all, not that that makes it any less important or powerful a critique of America and those who believe themselves white.

This is great: most of the people he had worked with of Charles' stature were assholes who wanted to convince you they were good guys, but Charles was a good guy who wanted to convince you he was an asshole.

The TNC quote is interesting. I have a friend who is particularly interested in the royal family, but also in all celebrities, from the point of view of how they cope with the thing TNC is talking about. As a confirmed introvert, I can't imagine. But on the lighter side (in the Barkley-Wang mold if not as touching), here's story that's the converse of TNC's fears: where a bigger celebrity got in touch with a much lesser one, and they got acquainted:

Penny’s relationship with the Clintons is well-documented. When her husband, Michael Whitehead, died last September, Hillary Clinton sent a letter of condolence despite being in the final stretch of the U.S. presidential election campaign.

My daughter and I went to a Louise Penny book launch in her village of Knowlton, Quebec, in August of 2017, a week or two after the Clintons had been there. You couldn't go far without running across the info that the Clintons had just been in the neighborhood.

lj:

a) temaki sushi - what a perfect new year's tradition, I envy you!

b) What I felt, in all of this, was a profound sense of social isolation. I would walk into a room, knowing that some facsimile of me, some mix of interviews, book clubs, and private assessment, had preceded me. The loss of friends, of comrades, of community, was gut-wrenching.

I think this is one of the best descriptions I have read about what sudden fame does to people. You can occasionally observe it happening in real time. That's why, when today's kids say (as they often do) that they want to be rich and famous, I always think "Rich yes, I can see the real advantages of that. But famous? No thanks!"

Having enough money to be relaxed about expenses, and a functioning social circle -- those are fine. But being rich, and/or famous? Those have to be managed, or they will eat you alive.

Anyone who doubts that need only follow the story of pretty much any lottery winner. It doesn't matter whether it's the literal lottery, just winning a genetic lottery which makes you a star (athlete or otherwise), or inventing something that leaves you a tech multimillionaire. Some people are grounded enough that they manage to cope. Most do not.

"Rich and famous" -- asking for a mess. But if you look like heading that way, try to slide into rich and safely anonymous. You'll be far happier.

I think actual lottery winners are the worst placed by far. If you make a lot of money in sport, you'll have new friends in sport who are similarly placed. If you win a lottery, who are your friends?

Everybody, and nobody.

At the risk of derailing the thread, this interesting article seemed quite relevant to the musings on American identity:
https://www.theatlantic.com/ideas/archive/2018/08/what-trumps-supporters-think-of-corruption/568147/

The idea of ‘corruption’ discussed is utterly alien to me, but undeniably a potent motive for some.

In good news for the new year,
https://www.bbc.com/news/science-environment-46729898

It will take 20 months for all the data to get transmitted back to earth. But, as is typical with NASA missions, we will learn a lot. And end up with a new round of questions that we now know enough to ask.

Pity the guys working the mission are working for free at the moment. And had to get a special waiver to do that. Hopwfully they will get paid when (if) the government reopens.

Per Nigel's link (and I consider it a character failing that I even clicked on it; this is supposed to be a new year, ha ha) --

I'm sick to death of hearing what Trump supporters think; they don't give a flying f*ck what I think, nor do the journalists who seem to have forgotten that the rest of us are here.

But I want to comment on this: ...what they fear most isn’t the corruption of American law; it’s the corruption of America’s traditional identity.

Ding ding, wrong again. What they fear most is the corruption of their fantasy of America's original identity, and the corruption (or destruction -- if only!) of the notion that they and only they have the right to define it. Which is always, of course, that America's traditional identity is (what a coincidence!) people just like them.

F*ck them and the journalists they rode in on.

P.S. I have been saying this for years, at least since Dan Quayle and his "real Americans" bullsh!t. But my recent reading of American Nations has given me a much more fully fleshed out framework from which to assert that America's original identity was that of a coalition of disparate and in many ways deepy antagonistic elements, with a frightening diversity of value systems, and that the sainted founders were ... not saints.

GfNC, whenever I am waiting in line at the grocery store, facing those ranks of gossip magazines, I think how awful it must be for those people, who have no privacy at all. I could not live that way.

There is one family of relatively "famous" people who have managed to stay out of the gossip magazines almost entirely. I assume they did not find it easy, and I'm not going to contribute to their problem by mentioning their names. Not even in this sheltered little corner of the internet.

What they fear most is the corruption of their fantasy of America's original identity

hell yeah.

"What they fear most is the corruption of their fantasy of America's original identity"

Pretty much a universal fear. Theirs of course is based on fantasy, for all values of they.

Pretty much a universal fear.

Yet more fantasy, so very imaginative, LOL.

You are as afraid of them as they are of you. It isn't funny.

There is no 'original American identity'. There were a number of traditions in play at the founding, and I would probably not want to live under any of them. You probably wouldn't, either.

I've been hearing all about 'what motivates trump supporters' for almost three years now. It's not that interesting.

Thank you for the sweet story, LJ. I have seen references to it, but had not read it. Now I have and it was a healing sort of story. Made me feel good.

Didn't last long.

"what they fear most isn’t the corruption of American law; it’s the corruption of America’s traditional identity."


Their concept of traditional identity being THEM as the REAL Americans. It's racist and more: an attitude of entitlement for themselves and resentment toward all the uppity other people who threaten them by wanting some of the pie too. It takes an effort of will for me to remember that this snobbery is only one aspect of the character of each Trump voter. (SO I immediately think that another aspect is stupidity) But other aspects can and are positive, I have Trump supporter neighbors and they are lovely people in many ways, including being willing to discuss politics without getting mean.

It isn't funny.

I wasn't LOL-ing at what you seem to think I was. But anyhow, I'll decide what I think is funny without consulting you.

You are as afraid of them as they are of you.

Nor do you have the remotest shred of a clue what I'm afraid of, LOL.

But fantasize away if that's what you enjoy.

Their concept of traditional identity being THEM as the REAL Americans. It's racist and more: an attitude of entitlement for themselves and resentment toward all the uppity other people who threaten them by wanting some of the pie too.

My sense is that, even today (for all that it has eased some over the decades) race per se is still actually a pretty small part of the concept of "real Americans". The concept includes, for example, religion; non-Protestants (not just non-Christians) need not apply. It includes ethnicity; those with ancestors from south or east of France, Germany, and Scandinavia need not apply. (You can maybe get away with being genetically 1/8 or less something else European. As long as you retain zero cultural elements.)

And it includes "class" -- however you define that; being upper class (as distinct from merely rich) is, at minimum, something to be denied or rejected, no matter what your actual birth and upbringing. Indeed, I think it was a political plus for Trump that he was so blatantly not upper class. A wanna-be, to be sure, but nobody thought he actually was.

As Lance Wallnau, an evangelical author and speaker who appears in the film, once said, “I believe the 45th president is meant to be an Isaiah 45 Cyrus,” who will “restore the crumbling walls that separate us from cultural collapse.”

...

Today’s Christian nationalists talk a good game about respecting the Constitution and America’s founders, but at bottom they sound as if they prefer autocrats to democrats. In fact, what they really want is a king. “It is God that raises up a king,” according to Paula White, a prosperity gospel preacher who has advised Mr. Trump.

Ralph Drollinger, who has led weekly Bible study groups in the White House attended by Vice President Mike Pence and many other cabinet members, likes the word “king” so much that he frequently turns it into a verb. “Get ready to king in our future lives,” he tells his followers. “Christian believers will — soon, I hope — become the consummate, perfect governing authorities!”

It seems to me that a lot of people in the West want to reduce competition in the global labour market - Trumpists by protectionism, leftists by opposing globalization. And I think they have motives in common.

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